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Spies of the Volces
Held me in chase, that I was forc'd to wheel
Come I too late?
COм. The shepherd knows not thunder from a
More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue
Come I too late?
COM. Ay, if you come not in the blood of others, But mantled in your own.
So, in King Henry IV. Part I. Act I. Sc. III. :
"He did confound the best part of an hour," &c.
Again, in Timon:
"Thersites body is as good as Ajax,
9 From every meaner MAN'S.] [Old copy-meaner man.] That is, from that of every meaner man. This kind of phraseology is found in many places in these plays; and as the peculiarities of our author, or rather the language of his age ought to be scrupulously attended to, Hanmer and the subsequent editors who read here every meaner man's, ought not in my apprehension to be followed, though we should now write so.
So, in Cymbeline:
"Friend or brother,
"He forfeits his own life that spills another." MALONE. When I am certified that this, and many corresponding offences against grammar, were common to the writers of our author's age, I shall not persevere in correcting them. But while I suspect (as in the present instance) that such irregularities were the gibberish of a theatre, or the blunders of a transcriber, I shall forbear to set nonsense before my readers; especially when it can be avoided by the insertion of a single letter, which indeed might have dropped out at the press. STEEVENS.
O! let me clip you
In arms as sound, as when I woo'd; in heart
Flower of warriors,
How is't with Titus Lartius ?
MAR. As with a man busied about decrees: Condemning some to death, and some to exile; Ransoming him, or pitying2, threat'ning the other; Holding Corioli in the name of Rome, Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash, To let him slip at will.
Where is that slave,
Which told me they had beat you to your trenches? Where is he? Call him hither.
Let him alone, He did inform the truth: But for our gentlemen, The common file, (A plague !--Tribunes for them!) The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat, as they did budge From rascals worse than they.
Where is the enemy? Are you lords o' the field?
We have at disadvantage fought, and did
-to BEDWARD.] So, in Albumazar, 1615:
Again, in Peacham's Complete Gentleman, 1627: "Leaping, upon a full stomach, or to bedward, is very dangerous." MALONE.
Again, in The Legend of Cardinal Lorraine, 1577, sign. G. 1: They donsed also, lest so soon as their backs were turned to the courtward, and that they had given over the dealings in the affairs, there would come in infinite complaints." REED.
2 Ransoming him, or PITYING,] i. e. remitting his ransom. JOHNSON.
MAR. How lies their battle? Know you on which
They have plac'd their men of trust?
COM. As I guess, Marcius, Their bands in the vaward are the Antiates *, Of their best trust: o'er them Aufidius, Their very heart of hope 3.
I do beseech you,
And that you not delay the present; but,
3 -on which side, &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch:
"Martius asked him howe the order of the enemies battell was, and on which side they had placed their best fighting men. The consul made him aunswer that he thought the bandes which were in the vaward of their battell, were those of the Antiates, whom they esteemed to be the warlikest men, and which for valiant corage would geve no place to any of the hoste of their enemies. Then prayed Martius to be set directly against them. The consul graunted him, greatly praysing his corage." STEEVENS.
4 - Antiates,] The old copy reads-Antients, which might mean veterans; but a following line, as well as the previous quotation, seems to prove-Antiates to be the proper reading: "Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates."
Our author employs—Antiates as a trisyllable, as if it had been written-Antiats. STEEVENS.
Mr. Pope made the correction.
5 Their very HEART OF HOPE.] The same expression is found in Marlow's Lust's Dominion:
thy desperate arm
"Hath almost thrust quite through the heart of hope."
In King Henry IV. Part I. we have:
"The very bottom and the soul of hope." STEEVENS. 6 And that you not DELAY the present;] Delay, for let slip. WARBURTON.
7 swords advanc'd,] That is, swords lifted high. JOHNSON.
If any think, brave death outweighs bad life,
And follow Marcius.
[They all shout, and wave their Swords; take him up in their arms, and cast up their Caps.
O me, alone! Make you a sword of me?
8 — if any fear
LESSER his person than an ill report;] The old copy has lessen. If the present reading, which was introduced by Mr. Steevens, be right, his person must mean his personal danger.If any one less fears personal danger, than an ill name, &c. If the fears of any man are less for his person, than they are from an apprehension of being esteemed a coward, &c. We have nearly the same sentiment in Troilus aud Cressida :
"If there be one among the fair'st of Greece, "That holds his honour higher than his ease,—' Again, in King Henry VI. Part III.:
"But thou prefer'st thy life before thine honour.” In this play we have already, p. 32, had lesser for less. MALONE.
Shall bear the business in some other sight,
March on, my fellows: Make good this ostentation, and you shall Divide in all with us.
9 Though thanks to all, must I select the rest
Shall bear, &c.] The old copy-I must select from all. I have followed Sir Thomas Hanmer in the omission of words apparently needless and redundant. STEEVENS.
I -Please you to march;
And FOUR shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclin'd] I cannot but suspect this passage of corruption. Why should they march, that four might select those that were best inclin'd? How would their inclinations be known? Who were the four that should select them? Perhaps we may read :
Please you to march ;
"And fear shall quickly draw out my command,
It is easy to conceive that, by a little negligence, fear might be changed to four, and least to best. Let us march, and that fear which incites desertion will free my army from cowards.
Mr. Heath thinks the poet wrote:
"And so I shall quickly draw out," &c.
Some sense, however, may be extorted from the ancient reading. Coriolanus may mean, that as all the soldiers have offered to attend him on this expedition, and he wants only a part of them, he will submit the selection to four indifferent persons, that he himself may escape the charge of partiality. If this be the drift of Shakspeare, he has expressed it with uncommon obscurity. The old translation of Plutarch only says: "Wherefore, with those that willingly offered themselves to followe him, he went out of the cittie." STEEVENS.
Coriolanus means only to say, that he would appoint four sons to select for his particular command or party, those who were best inclined; and in order to save time, he proposes to have this choice made, while the army is marching forward. They all march towards the enemy, and on the way he chooses those who are to go on that particular service. M. MASON.