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The violent fit o' the time craves it as physick
What must I do?
MEN. Return to the tribunes. COR Well, what then? what then? MEN. Repent what you have spoke. COR. For them ?—I cannot do it to the gods'; Must I then do't to them?
You are too absolute; Though therein you can never be too noble, But when extremities speak 2. I have heard you
Honour and policy, like unsever'd friends,
In peace, what each of them by th' other lose,
MEN. A good demand. VOL. If it be honour, in your wars, to seem The same you are not, (which, for your best ends, You adopt your policy,) how is it less, or worse, That it shall hold companionship in peace
"You shames of Rome! you herd of ·
Herd was anciently spelt heard. Hence heart crept into the old copy. MALONE.
1 For them ?-1 cannot do it to the gods ;] So, in Philaster: Hide me from Pharamond!
"When thunder speaks, which is the voice of Jove,
Though I do reverence, yet I hide me not;
"And shall a stranger prince have leave to brag
"Unto a foreign nation that he made
"" Philaster hide himself."
You are too absolute;
Though therein you can never be too noble,
But when extremities speak.] Except in cases of urgent necessity, when your resolute and noble spirit, however commendable at other times, ought to yield to the occasion. MALONE.
With honour, as in war; since that to both
COR. Why force you3 this? VOL. Because that now it lies you on to speak To the people; not by your own instruction, Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you*, But with such words that are but roted in 5 Your tongue, though but bastards, and syllables Of no allowance, to your bosom's truth 6.
3 Why FORCE you-] Why urge you. JOHNSON. So, in King Henry VIII. :
"If you will now unite in your complaints,
4 Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,] Perhaps the meaning is, which your heart prompts you to. We have many such elliptical expressions in these plays. See vol. xiii. p. 390, n. 8. So, in Julius Cæsar:
"Thy honourable metal may be wrought
But I rather believe, that our author has adopted the language of the theatre, and that the meaning is, which your heart suggests to you; which your heart furnishes you with, as a prompter furnishes the player with the words that have escaped his memory. So afterwards: " Come, come, we'll prompt you." The editor of the second folio, who was entirely unacquainted with our author's peculiarities, reads-prompts you to, and so all the subsequent copies read. MALONE.
I am content to follow the second folio; though perhaps we ought to read :
"Nor by the matter which your heart prompts in you." So, in A Sermon preached at St. Paul's Crosse, &c. 1589: "-for often meditatyon prompteth in us goode thoughtes, begettyng thereon goode workes," &c.
Without some additional syllable the verse is defective.
3 ROTED in-] Old copy, roated. Perhaps we should read— rooted. BoSWELL.
6 bastards, and syllables
Of no ALLOWANCE, to your bosom's truth.] I read: "of no alliance;" therefore bastards. Yet allowance may well enough stand, as meaning legal right, established rank, or settled authority. JOHNSON.
Allowance is certainly right. So, in Othello, Act II. Sc. I. :
Now, this no more dishonours you at all,
I would dissemble with my nature, where
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
"Of very expert and approv'd allowance."
Dr. Johnson's amendment, however, is countenanced by an expression in The Taming of the Shrew, where Petruchio's stirrups are said to be "of no kindred." STEEVENS.
I at first was pleased with Dr. Johnson's proposed emendation, because of no allowance, i. e. approbation, to your bosom's truth," appeared to me unintelligible. But allowance has no connection with the subsequent words, to your bosom's truth." The construction is-though but bastards to your bosom's truth, not the lawful issue of your heart. The words, "and syllables of no allowance," are put in opposition with bastards, and are as it were parenthetical. MALONE.
5 Than to take in a town --] To subdue or destroy. See, p. 25, n. 9. MALONE.
I am in this,
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
And you, &c.] Volumnia is persuading Coriolanus that he ought to flatter the people, as the general fortune was at stake; and says, that in this advice, she speaks as his wife, as his son; as the senate and body of the patricians; who were in some measure link'd to his conduct. WARBURTON.
I rather think the meaning is, "I am in their condition, I am at stake, together with your wife, your son." JOHNSON.
"I am in this," means, I am in this predicament. M. MASON. I think the meaning is, In this advice, in exhorting you to act thus, I speak not only as your mother, but as your wife, your son, &c. all of whom are at stake. MALONE.
our general lowts-] Our common clowns. JOHNSON." that WANT] The want of their loves. JOHNSON.
Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so, Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
Of what is past.
VOL. I pr'ythee now, my son, Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand1; And thus far having stretch'd it, (here be with them,)
Thy knee bussing the stones, (for in such business Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant More learned than the ears,) waving thy head, Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart 2,
9 Nor what-] In this place not seems to signify not only. JOHNSON.
- with THIS bonnet in thy hand;] Surely our author wrote-with thy bonnet in thy hand; for I cannot suppose that he intended that Volumnia should either touch or take off the bonnet which he has given to Coriolanus. MALONE.
When Volumnia says-" this bonnet," she may be supposed to point at it, without any attempt to touch it, or take it off.
waving thy HEAD,
Which OFTEN, thus, correcting thy stout heart,] But do any of the ancient or modern masters of elocution prescribe the "waving the head," when they treat of action? Or how does the waving the head correct the stoutness of the heart, or evidence humility? Or, lastly, where is the sense or grammar of these words, "Which often thus," &c. ? These questions are sufficient to show that the lines are corrupt. I would read therefore : waving thy hand,
"Which soften thus, correcting thy stout heart."
This is a very proper precept of action, suiting the occasion; Wave thy hand, says she, and soften the action of it thus,-then strike upon thy breast, and by that action show the people thou hast corrected thy stout heart. All here is fine and proper.
The correction is ingenious, yet I think it not right. Head or hand is indifferent. The hand is waved to gain attention; the head is shaken in token of sorrow. The word wave suits better to the hand, but in considering the author's language, too much stress must not be laid on propriety, against the copies. I would read thus:
That humble, as the ripest mulberry 3,
waving thy head,
"With often, thus, correcting thy stout heart." That is, shaking thy head, and striking thy breast. The alteration is slight, and the gesture recommended not improper.
Shakspeare uses the same expression in Hamlet: "And thrice his head waving thus, up and down." STEEVENS. I have sometimes thought that this passage might originally have stood thus:
waving thy head,
"(Which humble thus ;) correcting thy stout heart,
As there is no verb in this passage as it stands, some amendment must be made, to make it intelligible; and that which I now propose, is to read bow instead of now, which is clearly the right reading. M. MASON.
I am persuaded these lines are printed exactly as the author wrote them, a similar kind of phraseology being found in his other plays. Which, &c. is the absolute case, and is to be understood as if he had written-It often, &c. So, in The Winter's Tale : This your son-in-law,
"And son unto the king, (whom heavens directing,) "Is troth-plight to your daughter." Again, in King John:
he that wins of all,
"Of kings, and beggars, old men, young men, maids,Who having no external thing to lose,
"But the word maid,-cheats the poor maid of that. In the former of these passages, whom heavens directing," is to be understood as if Shakspeare had written, him heavens directing; (illum deo ducente ;) and in the latter, "who having has the import of They having. Nihil quod amittere possint, præter nomen virginis, possidentibus.
This mode of speech, though not such as we should now use, having been used by Shakspeare, any emendation of this contested passage becomes unnecessary. Nor is this kind of phraseology peculiar to our author; for in R. Raignold's Lives of all the Emperours, 1571, fol. 5, b. I find the same construction:
as Pompey was passing in a small boate toward the shoare, to fynde the kynge Ptolemey, he was by his commaundement slayne, before he came to land, of Septimius and Achilla, who