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Another Alarum. The Volces and Romans re-enter, and
the Fight is renewed. The Volces retire into Corioli,
and MARCIUS follows them to the Gates. So, now the gates are ope:-Now prove good seconds: 'Tis for the followers fortune widens them, Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like.
[He enters the Gates, and is shut in. 1 Sol. Fool-hardiness; not I. 2 Sol.
Nor I. 3 Sol.
See, they Have shut him in.
[Alarum continues. All.
To the pot, I warrant him.
Slain, sir, doubtless.
O noble fellow! Who, sensible, outdares ' his senseless sword, And, when it bows, stands up! Thou art left, Marcius: A carbuncle entire,' as big as thou art, Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier Even to Cato's wish: not fierce and terrible
9 Who, sensible, outdares -] The old editions read:
Who sensibly out-dares Thirlby reads:
• Who, sensible, outdoes his senseless sword. He is followed by the later editors, but I have taken only his correction. Johnson.
Sensible is here, having sensation. So before: “ I would, your cambrick were sensible as your finger.” Though Coriolanus has the feeling of pain like other men, he is more hardy in daring exploits than his senseless sword, for after it is bent, he yet stands firm in the field. Malone,
The thought seems to have been adopted from Sidney's Arcadia, edit. 1633, p. 293:
“Their very armour by piece-meale fell away from them: and yet their Aesh abode the wounds constantly, as though it were lesse sensible of smart than the senselesse armour,” &c. Steevens. 1 A carbuncle entire, &c.] So, in Othello:
“If heaven had made me such another woman,
Only in strokes;2 but, with thy grim looks, and
2 __ Thou wast a soldier
Calvus' wish: Plutarch, in The Life of Coriolanus, relates this as the opinion of Cato the Elder, that a great soldier should carry terrour in his looks and tone of voice; and the poet hereby following the historian, is fallen into a great chronological impropriety. Theobald.
The old copy reads--Calues wish. The correction made by Theobald is fully justified by the passage in Plutarch, which Shakspeare had in view: “ Martius, being there [before Corioli ] at that time, ronning out of the campe with a fewe men with him, he slue the first enemies he met withal, and made the rest of them staye upon a sodaine; crying out to the Romaines that had turned their backes, and calling them againe to fight with a lowde voyce. For he was even such another as Cato would have a souldier and a captaine to be; not only terrible and fierce to lay about him, but to make the enemies afeard with the sounde of his voyce and grimnes of his countenance." North's translation of Plutarch, 1579, p. 240.
Mr. M. Mason supposes that Shakspeare, to avoid the chrono. logical impropriety, put this saying of the elder Cato “ into the nouth of a certain Calvus, who might have lived at any time.” Had Shakspeare known that Cato was not contemporary with Coriolanus, (for there is nothing in the foregoing passage to make him even suspect that was the case) and in consequence made this alteration, he would have attended in this particular instance to a point, of which almost every page of his works shows that he was totally negligent; a supposition which is so improbable, , that I have no doubt the correction that has been adopted by the modern editors, is right. In the first Act of this play, we have Lucius and Marcius printed instead of Lartius, in the original and only authentick ancient copy. The substitution of Calues, instead of Cato's, is easily accounted for. Shakspeare wrote, according to the mode of his time, Catoes wish; (So, in Beaumont's Masque, 1613:
« And what will Funoes Iris do for her?") omitting to draw a line across the t, and writing the o inaccurately, the transcriber or printer gave us Calues. See a subse. quent passage in Act II, sc. ult. in which our author has been led by another passage in Plutarch into a similar anachronism.
“— some say, the earth
Re-enter MARCIUS, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy. I Sol.
Look, sir. Lart.
'Tis Marcius: Let 's fetch him off, or make remain4 alike.
[They fight, and all enter the City.
Enter certain Romans, with Spoits.
[Alarum continues still a far off. Enter Marcius, and Titus LARTIUS, with a Trumpet, Mar. See here these movers, that do prize their
hours5 At a crack'd drachm! Cushions, leaden spoons, Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves, Ere yet the fight be done, pack up:-Down with them.com And hark, what noise the general makes! To him: There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius, Piercing our Romans: Then, valiant Titus, take Convenient numbers to make good the city; Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste To help Cominius.
4 - make remain – ] is an old manner of speaking, which means no more than remain. Hanmer.
5 prize their hours ] Mr. Pope arbitrarily changed the word hours to honours, and Dr. Johnson, too hastily I think, approves of the alteration. Every page of Mr. Pope's edition abounds with similar innovations. Malone.
A modern editor, who had made such an improvement, would have spent half a page in ostentation of his sagacity. Yohnson.
Coriolanus blames the Roman soldiers only for wasting their time in packing up trifles of such small value. So, in Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch: “Martius was marvellous angry with them, and cried out on them, that it was no time now to looke after spoyle, and to ronne straggling here and there to enrich themselves, whilst the other consul and their fellow citi. zens peradventure were fighting with their enemies." Steevens. 6_ doublets that hangmen would
Bury with those that wore them, ] Instead of taking them as their lawful perquisite. Malone.
Worthy sir, thou bleed'st;
Sir, praise me not:
Now the fair goddess, Fortune,
Thy friend no less
* Than dangerous to me: To Aufidius thus
I will appear, and fight.
Lart. Now the fair goddess, Fortune, ] The metre being here violated, I think we might safely read with Sir T. Hanmer (omitting the words--to me:)
T'han dangerous: To Aufidius thus will I
Now the fair goddess, Fortune – Steevens. 8 - The Roman gods,
Lead their successes as we wish our own;]i. e. May the Roman gods, &c. Malone.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. The citizens of Corioli have issued,
Though thou speak'st truth, Methinks, thou speak'st not well. How long is ’t since? Mess. Above an hour, my lord.
Com. 'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:
Spies of the Volces
Who 's yonder, That does appear as he were flay'd? () gods! He has the stamp of Marcius; and I have Before-time seen him thus. Mar.
Come I too late? Com. The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor, More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue From every meaner man's.1
9 confound an hour,] Confound is here used not in its common acceptation, but in the sense of-to expend. Conterere tempus. Malone. So, in King Henry IV, P. I, Act l, sc. iii:
“He did confound the best part of an hour," &c. Steevens. 1 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 scru. pulously 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. 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.