Imagens da página

them. I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.

Both Cit. The gods give you joy, sir, heartily![Exeunt.

Cor. Most sweet voices!
Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire' which first we do deserve.
Why in this woolvish gown' should I stand here,
To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,

plete your knowledge. The seal is that which gives authenticity to a writing. Johnson.

9— the hire -] The old copy has higher, and this is one of the many proofs that several parts of the original folio edition of these plays were dictated by one and written down by another.

Malone. - this woolvish gown -] Signifies this rough hirsute gown.

Fohnson. The first folio reads—this wolwish tongue. Gown is the reading : of the second folio, and, I believe, the true one.

Let us try, however, to extract some meaning from the word exhibited in the elder copy.

The white robe worn by a candidate was made, I think, of white lamb-skins. How comes it then to be called wooloish, unless in allusion to the fable of the wolf in sheep's clothing? Per. haps the poet meant only, Why do I stand with a tongue deceitful as that of the wolf, and seem to flatter those whom I would wish to treat with my usual ferocity? We might perhaps more distinctly read :

with this woolvish tongue, unless tongue be used for tone or accent. Tongue might, indeed, be only a typographical mistake, and the word designed be toge, which is used in Othello. Yet, it is as probable, if Shakspeare originally wrote-toge, that he afterwards exchanged it for gown, a word more intelligible to his audience. Our author, however, does not appear to have known what the toga hirsuta was, be. cause he has just before called it the napless gown of humility.

Since the foregoing note was written, I met with the following passage in "A Merye Jest of a Man called Howleglas,” bl. l. no date. Howleglas hired himself to a tailor, who “ caste unto him a husbande mans gown, and bad him take a wolfe, and make it up.-Then cut Howleglas the husbandmans, gowne and made thereof a woulfe with the head and feete, &c. Then sayd the maister, I ment that you should have made up the russet gown, for a husbandman's gowne is here called a wolfe." By a wolvish gown, therefore, Shakspeare might have meant Coriolanus to compare the dress of a Roman candidate to the coarse frock of a ploughman, who exposed himself to solicit the votes of his fellow rusticks. Steevens.

Mr. Steevens has in his note on this passage cited the ro

Their needless vouches ?2 Custom calls me to 'tim
What custom wills, in all things should we do 't,

[ocr errors]

mance of Howleglas to show that a husbandman's gown was call. ed a wolf; but quære if it be called so in this country it must be remembered that Howleglas is literally translated from the French where the word “loup” certainly occurs, but I believe it has not the same signification in that language. The French co. py also may be literally rendered from the German. Douce.

Mr. Steevens, however, is clearly right, in supposing the allu. sion to be to the “ wolf in sheep's clothing;” not indeed that Co. riolanus means to call himself a wolf; but merely to say, “ Why should I stand here playing the hypocrite, and simulating the humility which is not in my nature ?Ritson.

Why in this woolvish gown should I stand here,] I suppose the meaning is, Why should I stand in this gown of humility, which is little expressive of my feelings towards the people ; as far from being an emblem of my real character, as the sheep's clothing on a wolf is expressive of his disposition. I believe wooluish was used by our author for false or deceitful, and that the phrase was suggested to him, as Mr. Steevens seems to think, by the common expression,-."a wolf in sheep's clothing.” Mr. Mason says, that this is “ a ludicrous idea, and ought to be treated as such.” I have paid due attention to many of the ingenious commenta. tor's remarks in the present edition, and therefore I am sure he will pardon me when I observe that speculative criticism on these plays will ever be liable to error, unless we add to it an intimate acquaintance with the language and writings of the predecessors and contemporaries of Shakspeare. If Mr. Mason had read the following line in Churchyard's Legend of Cardinal Wolsey, Mirror for Magistrates, 1587, instead of considering this as a ludicrous interpretation, he would probably have ad. mitted it to be a natural and just explication of the epithet before us:

“O fye on wolves, that march in masking clothes." The woolvish [gown or] toge is a gown of humility, in which Coriolanus thinks he shall appear in masquerade ; and not in his real and natural character.

Woolvish cannot mean rough, hirsute, as Dr. Johnson interprets it, because the gown Coriolanus wore has already been describ. ed as napless.

The old copy has tongue ; which was a very natural error for the compositor at the press to fall into, who almost always substitutes a familiar English word for one derived from the Latin, which he does not understand. The very same mistake has happened in Othello, where we find “ tongued consuls,” for toged conguls--The particle in shows that tongue cannot be right. The editor of the second folio solved the difficulty as usual, by substi. tuting gown, without any regard to the word in the original copy.

Malone. % To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,

Their needless pouches?] Why stand I here,-to beg of Hob

The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heap'd.
For truth to over-peer.-Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus.-I am half through;
The one part suffer'd, the other will I do.

Enter Three other Citizens.
Here come more voices,
Your voices: for your voices I have fought;
Watch'd for your voices; for your voices, bear
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six3
I have seen, and heard of; for your voices, have
Done many things, some less, some more: your voices:
Indeed, I would be consul.

5 Cit. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man's voice.

6 Cit. Therefore let him be consul: The gods give him joy, and make him good friend to the people!

All. Amen, amen.God save thee, noble consul! [Exeunt Citizens. Cor.

Worthy voices! Re-enter MENENIUS, with BRUTUS, and SICINIUS. Men. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes Endue you with the people's voice: Remains, That, in the official marks invested, you Anon do meet the senate. Cor.

Is this done?

and Dick, and such others as make their appearance here, their unnecessary voices? Fohnson.

By strange inattention our poct has here given the names (as in many other places he has attributed the customs) of England, to ancient Rome. It appears from Minsheu's DICTIONARY, 1617, in v. QUINTAINE, that these were some of the most common names among the people in Shakspeare's time; “A QUINTAINE or QUINTELLE, a game in request at marriages, where Jac and Tom, Dic, Hob, and Will, strive for the gay garland.”

Malone. Again, in an old equivocal English prophecy :

“The country gnuffs, Hob, Dick, and Hick,

“With staves and clouted shoon” &c. Steevens. s battles thrice six, &c.] Coriolanus seems now, in earnest, to petition for the consulate : perhaps we may better read:

- battles thrice six
I've seen, and you have heard of; for your voices
Done many things, &c. Farmer.

Sic. The custom of request you have discharg'd:
The people do admit you; and are summon’d
To meet anon, upon your approbation.

Cor. Where? at the senate-house?

There, Coriolanus.
Cor. May I then change these garments ?

You may, sir, Cor. That I 'll straight do; and, knowing myself again, Repair to the senate-house.

Men. I 'll keep you company.-Will you along?
Bru. We stay here for the people.

Fare you well.

TExeunt Cor, and MEN. He has it now; and by his looks, methinks, 'Tis warm at his heart. Bru.

With a proud heart he wore His humble weeds: Will you dismiss the people?

Re-enter Citizens. Sic. How now, my masters? have you chose this man? 1 Cit. He has our voices, sir. Bru. We pray the gods, he may deserve your loves.

2 Cit. Amen, sir: To my poor unworthy notice, He mock'd us, when he begg’d our voices. 3 Cit.

Certainly, He flouted us down-right.

1 Cit. No, 'tis his kind of speech, he did not mock us.

2 Cit. Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says,
He us'd us scornfully: he should have show'd us
His marks of merit, wounds receiv'd for his country.
Sic. Why, so he did, I am sure.

No; no man saw 'em.

[Several speak. 3 Cit. He said he had wounds, which he could show in

And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
I would be consul, says he: aged custom,5
But by your voices, will not so permit me;


4 May I then, &c.] Then, which is wanting in the old copy, was supplied, for the sake of metre, by Sir T. Hanmer. Steevens.

5 aged custom,] This was a strange inattention. The Romans at this time had but lately changed the regal for the consular government: for Coriolanus was banished the eighteenth year after the expulsion of the kings. Warburton.

Your voices therefore: When we granted that,
Here was;-I thank you for your voices,-thank you,
Your most sweet voices :now you have left your voices,
I have no further with you :-Was not this mockery?

Sic. Why, either, were you ignorant to see 't ?6
Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
To yield your voices?

Could you not have told him, .
As you were lesson'd,When he had no power,
But was a petty servant to the state,
He was your enemy; ever spake against
Your liberties, and the charters that you bear
l' the body of the weal: and now, arriving
A place of potency, and sway of the state,
If he should still malignantly remain
Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said,
That, as his worthy deeds did claim no less
Than what he stood for; so his gracious nature
Would think upon you for your voices, and
Translate his malice towards you into love,
Standing your friendly lord.
Sic. 9

Thus to have said, As you were fore-advis'd, had touch'd his spirit,

Perhaps our author meant by aged custom, that Coriolanus should say, the custom which requires the consul to be of a certain prescribed age, will not permit that I should be elected, unless by the voice of the people that rule should be broken through. This would meet with the objection made in p. 65, n. 4; but I doubt much whether Shakspeare knew the precise consular age even in Tully's time, and therefore think it more probable that the words aged custom were used by our author in their ordinary sense, however inconsistent with the recent establishment of consular government at Rome. Plutarch had led him into an error concerning this aged custom. See p. 70, n. 1. Malone.

6 ignorant to see 't?] Were you ignorant to see it, is, did you want knowledge to discern it! Johnson.

arriving A place of potency, ] Thus the old copy, and rightly. So, in The Third Part of King Henry VI, Act V, sc. iii :

“— those powers that the queen

“Hath rais'd in Gallia, have arriv'd our coast.Steevens. 8 Would think upon you -] Would retain a grateful remembrance of you, Bc. Malone.


« AnteriorContinuar »