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I' the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be Made all of false-fac'd soothing! When steel grows
[When steel softens to the condition of the parasite's silk, the peaceful hymns of devotion should be employed to excite to the charge.] Now, in the first instance, the thought, in the common reading, was entirely lost by putting in courts for camps; and the latter miserably involved in nonsense, by blundering hymns into him. WARBURTON.
The first part of the passage has been altered, in my opinion, unnecessarily by Dr. Warburton; and the latter not so happily, I think, as he often conjectures. In the latter part, which only I mean to consider, instead of him, (an evident corruption) he substitutes hymns; which perhaps may palliate, but certainly has not cured, the wounds of the sentence. I would propose an
alteration of two words:
- when steel grows
"Soft as the parasite's silk, let this [i. e. silk] be made "A coverture for the wars!"
The sense will then be apt and complete. When steel grows soft as silk, let armour be made of silk instead of steel.
It should be remembered, that the personal him, is not unfrequently used by our author, and other writers of his age, instead of it, the neuter; and that overture, in its musical sense, is not so ancient as the age of Shakspeare. What Martial has said of Mutius Scævola, may however be applied to Dr. Warburton's proposed emendation;
"Si non errâsset, fecerat ille minus." STEEVEns.
Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, interprets the word Overture thus: "An overturning; a sudden change." The latter sense suits the present passage sufficiently well, understanding the word him to mean it, as Mr. Steevens has very properly explained it. When steel grows soft as silk, let silk be suddenly converted to the use of war.
We have many expressions equally licentious in these plays. By steel Marcius means a coat of mail. So, in King Henry VI, P. III:
"Shall we go throw away our coats of steel,
"And wrap our bodies in black mourning gowns?" Shakspeare has introduced a similar image in Romeo and Juliet: "Thy beauty hath made me effeminate,
"And in my temper soften'd valour's steel.”
Overture, I have observed since this note was written, was
Soft as the parasite's. silk, let him be made
As if I loved my little should be dieted
Too modest are you; More cruel to your good report, than grateful To us that give you truly by your patience, If 'gainst yourself you be incens'd, we'll put you (Like one that means his proper harm,) în manacles,
Then reason safely with you.-Therefore, be it known,
As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius
With all the applause and clamour of the host,
used by the writers of Shakspeare's time in the sense of prelude or preparation. It is so used by Sir John Davies and Philemon Holland. MALONE.
9 For what he did &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "After this showte and noyse of the assembly was somewhat appeased, the consul Cominius beganne to speake in this sorte. We cannot compell Martius to take these giftes we offer him, if he will not receaue them: but we will geue him suche a rewarde for the noble seruice he hath done, as he cannot refuse. There fore we doe order and decree, that henceforth he be called Coriolanus, onles his valiant acts haue wonne him that name before our nomination." STEEVENS.
'The folio-Marcus Caius Coriolanus. STEEVENS.
Bear the addition nobly ever!
[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and Drums.
ALL. Caius Marcius Coriolanus!
COR. I will go wash;
And when my face is fair, you shall perceive Whether I blush, or no : Howbeit, I thank you :I mean to stride your steed; and, at all times, To undercrest your good addition,
To the fairness of my power.2
COM. So, to our tent: Where, ere we do repose us, we will write To Rome of our success.-You, Titus Lartius, Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome The best, with whom we may articulate,* For their own good, and ours.
To undercrest your good addition,
To the fairness of my power.] A phrase from heraldry, signifying, that he would endeavour to support his good opinion of him. WARBURTON.
I understand the meaning to be, to illustrate this honourable distinction you have conferred on me by fresh deservings to the extent of my power. To undercrest, I should guess, signifies properly, to wear beneath the crest as a part of a coat of arms. The name or title now given seems to be considered as the crest; the promised future achievements as the future additions to that HEATH.
When two engage on equal terms, we say it is fair; fairness may therefore be equality; in proportion equal to my power.
"To the fairness of my power"-is, as fairly as I can.
The best,] The chief men of Corioli. JOHNSON.
-with whom we may articulate,] i. e. enter into articles. This word occurs again in King Henry IV. Act V. sc. i:
"Indeed these things you have articulated."
i. e. set down article by article. So, in Holinshed's Chronicles of Ireland, p. 163: "The earl of Desmond's treasons articulated." STEEVENS.
I shall, my lord,
COR. The gods begin to mock me. I that now Refus'd most princely gifts, am bound to beg Of my lord general.
Take it 'tis yours.-What is't?
COR. I sometime lay, here in Corioli,
But then Aufidius was within my view,
And wrath o'erwhelm'd my pity: I request you To give my poor host freedom.
Сом. O, well begg'd! Were he the butcher of my son, he should Be free, as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus. LART. Marcius, his name?
By Jupiter, forgot :
I am weary; yea, my memory is tir'd.-
Go we to our tent:
The blood upon your visage dries: 'tis time It should be look'd to: come. [Exeunt.
At a poor man's house;] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "Only this grace (said he) I craue, and beseeche you to grant me. Among the Volces there is an old friende and hoste of mine, an honest wealthie man, and now a prisoner, who liuing before in great wealthe in his owne countrie, liueth now a poore prisoner in the handes of his enemies: and yet notwithstanding all this his miserie and misfortune, it would doe me great pleasure if I could saue him from this one daunger; to keepe him from being solde as a slaue." STEEVENS.
-free, as is the wind.] So, in As you like it:
-I must have liberty,
Withal, as large a charter as the wind." MALone.
The Camp of the Volces.
A Flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, bloody, with Two or Three Soldiers.
AUF. The town is ta'en!
1 SOL. 'Twill be deliver❜d back on good condi tion.
I would, I were a Roman; for I cannot,
I' the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,
And would'st do so, I think, should we encounter As often as we eat.-By the elements,
If e'er again I meet him beard to beard,
Being a Volce, &c.] It may be just observed, that Shakspeare calls the Volci, Volces, which the modern editors have changed to the modern termination [Volcian.] I mention it here, because here the change has spoiled the measure:
Being a Volce, be that I am.-Condition! JOHNSON. The Volci are called Volces in Sir Thomas North's Plutarch, and so I have printed the word throughout this tragedy.
-meet him beard to beard,] So, in Macbeth : "We might have met them dareful, beard to beard—.” STEEVENS,
for where-] Where is used here, as in many other places, for whereas. MALONE.