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Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS, and SICINIUS VELUTUS.
1 SEN. Marcius, 'tis true, that you have lately told us;
The Volces are in arms".
You have fought together. MAR. Were half to half the world by the ears, and he
Upon my party, I'd revolt, to make
Sir, it is;
And I am constant 7.-Titus Lartius, thou
No, Caius Marcius;
I'll lean upon one crutch, and fight with the other,
O, true bred!
'tis true, that you have lately told us;
The Volces are in arms.] Coriolanus had been just told himself that "the Volces were in arms." The meaning is, 'The intelligence which you gave us some little time ago of the designs of the Volces is now verified; they are in arms.' JOHNSON.
7 constant.] i. e. immoveable in my resolution. So, in Julius Cæsar :
"But I am constant as the northern star." STEEVENS.
1 SEN. Your company to the Capitol; where, I
Our greatest friends attend us.
Follow, Cominius; we must follow you;
Noble Lartius ?! 1 SEN. Hence! To your homes, be gone.
[To the Citizens. Nay, let them follow: The Volces have much corn; take these rats thither,
Lead you on:
To gnaw their garners :-Worshipful mutineers,
SIC. Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius? BRU. He has no equal.
SIC. When we were chosen tribunes for the
BRU. Mark'd you his lip, and eyes?
Nay, but his taunts. BRU. Being mov'd, he will not spare to gird 2 the gods.
Right worthy you priority.] You being right worthy of precedence. MALONE.
Mr. M. Mason would read-your priority. STEEvens.
9 Noble LARTIUS!] Old copy-Martius. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. I am not sure that the emendation is necessary. Perhaps Lartius in the latter part of the preceding speech addresses Marcius. MALONE.
Your valour puts well forth :] tiny shown fair blossoms of valour. So, in King Henry VIII. :
That is, You have in this mu-
·To-day he puts forth
"The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms," &c.
to GIRD-] To sneer, to gibe. So Falstaff uses the noun, when he says, every man has a gird at me." JOHNSON.
SIC. Be-mock the modest moon.
BRU. The present wars devour him: he is grown Too proud to be so valiant 3.
Again, in The Taming of The Shrew :
"I thank thee for that gird, good Tranio." Many instances of the use of this word might be added.
To gird, as an anonymous correspondent observes to me, “in some parts of England means to push vehemently. So, when a ram pushes at any thing with his head, they say he girds at it." To gird likewise signified, to pluck or twinge. Hence probably it was metaphorically used in the sense of to taunt, or annoy by a stroke of sarcasm. Cotgrave makes gird, nip, and twinge, synonymous. MALONE.
3 The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.] Mr. Theobald says, "This is obscurely expressed," but that "the poet's meaning must certainly be, that Marcius is so conscious of, and so elate upon the notion of his own valour, that he is eaten up with pride," &c. According to this critick then, we must conclude, that when Shakspeare had a mind to say, A man was eaten up with pride, he was so great a blunderer in expression, as to say, He was eaten up with war. But our poet wrote at another rate, and the blunder is his critick's. The present wars devour him, is an imprecation, and should be so pointed. As much as to say, May he fall in those wars! The reason of the curse is subjoined, for (says the speaker) having so much pride with so much valour, his life, with increase of honours, is dangerous to the republick. WARBURTON.
I am by no means convinced that Dr. Warburton's punctuation, or explanation, is right. The sense may be, that "the present wars annihilate his gentler qualities." To eat up, and consequently to devour, has this meaning. So, in The Second Part of King Henry IV. Act IV. Sc. IV.:
"But thou [the crown] most fine, most honour'd, most re-
"Hast eat thy bearer up."
To be "eat up with pride," is still a phrase in common and vul
"He is grown too proud to be so valiant," may signify, 'his pride is such as not to deserve the accompanyment of so much valour.' STEEVENS.
I concur with Mr. Steevens. "The present wars," Shakspeare uses to express the pride of Coriolanus grounded on his military prowess; which kind of pride Brutus says devours him. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act II. Sc. III. :
He that's proud, eats up himself.”
Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Fame, at the which he aims,In whom already he is well grac'd,—cannot Better be held, nor more attain'd, than by A place below the first: for what miscarries Shall be the general's fault, though he perform To the utmost of a man; and giddy censure Will then cry out of Marcius, O, if he Had borne the business!
Besides, if things go well, Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall Of his demerits rob Cominius *.
Come: Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius, Though Marcius earn'd them not; and all his faults To Marcius shall be honours, though, indeed, In aught he merit not.
SIC. Let's hence, and hear How the despatch is made; and in what fashion,
Perhaps the meaning of the latter member of the sentence is, "he is grown too proud of being so valiant, to be endured."
4 Of his DEMERITS rob Cominius.] Merits and Demerits had anciently the same meaning. So, in Othello:
and my demerits
"May speak," &c.
Again, in Stowe's Chronicle, Cardinal Wolsey says to his serI have not promoted, preferred, and advanced you all according to your demerits." Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Epistle to T. Vespasian, 1600 : his demerit had been the greater to have continued his story." STEEVENS. Again, in Hall's Chronicle, Henry VI. fol. 69: this noble prince, for his demerits called the good duke of Gloucester —.”
More than in singularity, he goes
Let's along. [Exeunt,
Corioli. The Senate-House.
Enter TULLIUS AUFIDIUS, and certain Senators,
1 SEN. So, your opinion is, Aufidius, That they of Rome are enter'd in our counsels, And know how we proceed.
I have the letter here; yes, here it is: [Reads.
5 More than in singularity, &c.] We will learn what he is to do, besides going himself; what are his powers, and what is his appointment. JOHNSON.
Perhaps the word singularity implies a sarcasm on Coriolanus, and the speaker means to say-after what fashion, beside that in which his own singularity of disposition invests him, he goes into the field. So, in Twelfth-Night: "Put thyself into the trick of singularity." STEEvens.
HATH been thought on-] Old copy-have. Corrected by the second folio. STEEVENS. Elliptically, whatever things. BOSWELL.
'Tis not four days GONE,] i. e. four days past.
8 They have PRESS'D a power,] Thus the modern editors. The old copy reads-They have prest a power; which may signify, have a power ready; from pret. Fr. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
"And I am prest unto it." See note on this passage, vol. v. p. 17. STEEVENS.
The spelling of the old copy proves nothing, for participles were