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Speed how it will. I shall ere long have know
Of my success
He'll never hear him.
COM. I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye Red as 'twould burn Rome; and his injury The gaoler to his pity. I kneel'd before him; 'Twas very faintly he said, Rise; dismiss'd me Thus, with his speechless hand: What he would
He sent in writing after me; what he would not, Bound with an oath, to yield to his conditions 1: So, that all hope is vain,
8 Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success,] There could be no doubt but Menenius himself would soon have knowledge of his own success. sense therefore requires that we should read:
"Speed how it will, you shall ere long have knowledge Of my success.' M. MASON.
That Menenius at some time would have knowledge of his success is certain; but what he asserts, is, that he would ere long gain that knowledge. MALONE.
All Menenius designs to say, may be I shall not be kept long in suspense as to the result of my embassy.' STEEVENS. 9 I tell you, he does sit in gold.] He is enthroned in all the pomp and pride of imperial splendour:
χρυσόθρονΘ Ἥρη. Hom.
JOHNSON. So, in the old translation of Plutarch: " he was set in his chaire of state, with a marvellous and unspeakable majestie." Shakspeare has a somewhat similar idea in King Henry VIII. Act I. Sc. I. :
"All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods."
The idea expressed by Cominius occurs also in the 8th Iliad, 442:
Αὐτὸς δὲ χρύσειον ἐπὶ θρόνον εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
In the translation of which passage Mr. Pope was perhaps indebted to Shakspeare:
"Th' eternal Thunderer sat throned in gold." STEEVENS. 1 Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions:] This is apparently wrong. Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him, read:
Unless his noble mother, and his wife;
"Bound with an oath not yield to new conditions." They might have read more smoothly:
to yield no new conditions.”
But the whole speech is in confusion, and I suspect something out. I should read:
What he would do,
"He sent in writing after; what he would not, "Bound with an oath. To yield to his conditions.Here is, I think, a chasm. The speaker's purpose seems to be this: "To yield to his conditions is ruin, and better cannot be obtained, so that all hope is vain.' JOHNSON.
I suppose, Coriolanus means, that he had sworn to give way to the conditions, into which the ingratitude of his country had forced him. FARMER.
The amendment which I have to propose, is a very slight deviation from the text-the reading, "in his conditions," instead of "to his conditions."-To yield, in this place, means to relax, and is used in the same sense, in the next scene but one, by Coriolanus himself, where, speaking of Menenius, he says:
to grace him only,
"That thought he could do more, a very little
What Cominius means to say, is, "That Coriolanus sent in writing after him the conditions on which he would agree to make a peace, and bound himself by an oath not to depart from them."
The additional negative which Hanmer and Warburton wish to introduce, is not only unnecessary, but would destroy the sense; for the thing which Coriolanus had sworn not to do, was to yield in his conditions. M. MASON.
if you'd ask, remember this before;
Again with Rome's mechanicks."- HENLEY.
"What he would do," i. e. the conditions on which he offered to return, he sent in writing after Cominius, intending that he should have carried them to Menenius. "What he would not," i. e. his resolution of neither dismissing his soldiers, not capitulating with Rome's mechanics, in case the terms he prescribed should be refused, he bound himself by an oath to maintain. If these conditions were admitted, the oath of course, being grounded on that proviso, must yield to them, and be cancelled. That this is the proper sense of the passage, is obvious from what follows:
For mercy to his country 2. Therefore, let's hence, And with our fair entreaties haste them on.
I believe two half lines have been lost; that Bound with an oath was the beginning of one line, and to yield to his conditions the conclusion of the next. See vol. ix. p. 5, n. 3. Perhaps, however, to yield to his conditions, means-to yield only to his conditions; referring to these words to oath that his oath was irrevocable, and should yield to nothing but such a reverse of fortune as he could not resist. MALONE.
2 So, that all hope is vain,
Unless his noble mother and his wife;
Who as I hear mean to solicit him
For mercy to his country.-] Unless his mother and wife, -do what? The sentence is imperfect. We should read: "Force mercy to his country.
and then all is right. WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton's emendation is surely harsh, and may be rendered unnecessary by printing the passage thus:
mean to solicit him
"For mercy to his country
This liberty is the more justifiable, because, as soon as the remaining hope crosses the imagination of Cominius, he might suppress what he was going to add, through haste to try the success of a last expedient.
It has been proposed to me to read :
"So that all hope his vain,
"Unless in his noble mother and his wife," &c.
In his, abbreviated in's, might have been easily mistaken by such innaccurate printers. STEEVENS.
No amendment is wanting, the sense of the passage being complete without it. We say every day in conversation,-You are my only hope-He is my only hope,-instead of My only hope is in you, or in him. The same mode of expression occurs in this sentence, and occasions the obscurity of it. M. MASON.
That this passage has been considered as difficult, surprizes me. Many passages in these plays have been suspected to be corrupt, merely because the language was peculiar to Shakspeare, or the phraseology of that age, and not of the present; and this surely is one of them. Had he written-his noble mother and his wife are our only hope, his meaning could not have been doubted; and is not this precisely what Cominius says?-So that we have now no other hope, nothing to rely upon but his mother and his wife, who, as I am told, mean, &c. Unless is here used for except.
An advanced Post of the Volcian Camp before Rome. The Guard at their Stations.
Enter to them, MENENIUS.
1 G. Stay: Whence are you? 2 G.
Stand, and go back 3. MEN. You guard like men; 'tis well: But, by your leave,
am an officer of state, and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
1 G. You may not pass, you must return: our general
From whence * ?
Will no more hear from thence.
2 G. You'll see your Rome embrac'd with fire, before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.
MEN. Good my friends, If you have heard your general talk of Rome, And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks 3,
For an explanation of the word unless in this sense, see H. Tooke's EIIEA IITEPOENTA, vol. i. p. 161. BosWELL.
3 Stand and go back.] This defective measure might be completed by reading-" Stand, and go back again." STEEVENS.
4 FROM whence?] As the word from is not only needless, but injures the measure, it might be fairly omitted, being probably caught by the compositor's eye from the speech immediately following. STEEVENS.
5 LOTS to blanks,] A lot here is a prize. JOHNSON. Lot, in French, signifies prize. Le gros lot. The capital prize. S. W.
I believe Dr. Johnson here mistakes. Menenius, I imagine, only means to say, that it is more than an equal chance that his name has touched their ears. Lots were the term in our author's time for the total number of tickets in a lottery, which took its
My name hath touch'd your ears: it is Menenius.
I tell thee, fellow,
The book of his good acts, whence men have read'
(Of whom he's chief,) with all the size that verity
name from thence. So, in the Continuation of Stowe's Chronicle, 1615, p. 1002: "Out of which lottery, for want of filling, by the number of lots, there were then taken out and thrown away threescore thousand blanks, without abating of any one prize." The lots were of course more numerous than the blanks. If lot signified prize, as Dr. Johnson supposed, there being in every lottery many more blanks than prizes, Menenius must be supposed to say, that the chance of his name having reached their ears was very small; which certainly is not his meaning.
"Her face the book of praises, where is read," &c. Again, in Macbeth :
"Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
8 For I have ever VERIFIED my friends,
Lots to blanks is a phrase equivalent to another in King Richard III.:
"All the world to nothing." STEEVENS.
my LOVER :] This also was the language of
7 The book of his good acts, whence men have read, &c.] So, in Pericles:
with all the size that VERITY, &c.] To verify, is to establish by testimony. One may say with propriety," he brought false witnesses to verify his title." Shakspeare considered the word with his usual laxity, as importing rather testimony than truth, and only meant to say, I bore witness to my friends with all the size that verity would suffer.”
I must remark, that to magnify, signifies to exalt or enlarge, but not necessarily to enlarge beyond the truth. JOHNSON.
Mr. Edwards would read varnished; but Dr. Johnson's explanation of the old word renders all change unnecessary.
To verify may, however, signify to display. Thus in an ancient metrical pedigree in possession of the late Duchess of Northum