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Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
* And, in the brunt of seventeen battles since,] The number seventeen, for which there is no authority, was suggested to Shakspeare by North's translation of Plutarch: “ Now Martius followed this custome, showed many woundes and cutts upon his bodie, which he had received in seventeene yeeres service at the warres, and in many sundry battels.” So also the original Greek; but it is undoubtedly erroneous; for from Coriolanus's first campaign to his death, was only a period of eight years.
MALONE. 9 He lurch'd all swords o'the garland.] Ben Jonson has the same expression in The Silent Woman:
have lurch'd your friends of the better half of the garland.” Steevens.
To lurch is properly to purloin ; hence Shakspeare uses it in the sense of to deprive. So, in Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, by Thomas Nashe, 1594 : “ I see others of them sharing halfe with the bawdes, their hostesses, and laughing at the punies they had lurched.”
I suspect, however, I have not rightly traced the origin of this phrase. To lurch, in Shakspeare's time, signified to win a maiden set at cards, &c. See Florio's Italian Dict. 1598: « Gioco marzo.
A maiden set, or lurch, at any game." See also Cole's Latin Dict. 1679 : “ A lurch, Duplex palma, facilis victoria."
“ To lurch all swords of the garland,” therefore, was, to gain from all other warriors the wreath of victory, with ease,
and incontestable superiority. MALONE.
as waves before
And fell below his stem :] [First folio_weeds.] The editor of the second folio, for weeds substituted waves, and this capri
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
cious alteration has been adopted in all the subsequent editions. In the same page of that copy, which has been the source of at least one half of the corruptions that have been introduced in our author's works, we find defamy for destiny, sir Coriolanus, for “ sit, Coriolanus," trim'd for tim’d, and painting for panting: but luckily none of the latter sophistications have found admission into any of the modern editions, except Mr. Rowe’s. Rushes falling below a vessel passing over them is an image as expressive of the prowess of Coriolanus as well can be conceived. A kindred image is found in Troilus and Cressida:
there the strawy Greeks, ripe for his edge, « Fall down before him, like the mower's swath."
MALONE. Waves, the reading of the second folio, I regard as no trivial evidence in favour of the copy from which it was printed. Weeds, instead of falling below a vessel under sail, cling fast about the stem of it. The justice of
sailor or waterman will confirm.
But were not this the truth, by conflict with a mean adversary, valour would be depreciated. The submersion of weeds resembles a Frenchman's triumph over a soup aux herbes; but to rise above the threatening billow, or force a way through the watry bulwark, is a conquest worthy of a ship, and furnishes a comparison suitable to the exploits of Coriolanus. Thus, in Troilus and Cressida:
“ The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cuts,
“ Like Perseus' horse."
The stem is that end of the ship which leads. From stem to stern is an expression used by Dryden in his translation of Virgil:
“ Orontes' bark-
His sword, death's stamp,
Old copy :
The mortal gates o'the city, which he painted
Worthy man! 1 SEN. He cannot but with measure fit the ho
This passage should be pointed thus :
His sword death's stamp)
He was a thing of blood, &c. TYRWHITT. I have followed the punctuation recommended. STEEVENS. every
motion Was timd with dying cries.] The cries of the slaughter'd regularly followed his motion, as musick and a dancer accompany each other. JOHNSON.
3 The mortal gate-] The gate that was made the scene of death. Johnson.
* With shunless destiny,] The second folio reads, whether by accident or choice :
With shunless defamy.
TYRWHITT. It occurs often in John Bale's English Votaries, 1550.
“ Be as a planetary plague, when Jove
Which we devise him.
Our spoils he kick'd at;
He's right noble; Let him be call'd for. 1 SEN.
Call for Coriolanus.' OFF. He doth appear.
Men. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas'd To make thee consul. COR.
I do owe them still My life, and services.
He cannot but with measure fit the honoursą] That is, no honour will be too great for him; he will show a mind equal to any elevation. Johnson.
Than misery itself would give ;] Misery for avarice; because a miser signifies an avaricious. WARBURTON.
and is content To spend the time, to end it.] I know not whether my conceit will be approved, but I cannot forbear to think that our author wrote thus :
To spend his time, to spend it.
MALONE. . Call for Coriolanus.] I have supplied the preposition--for, to complete the measure. ' STEEVENS.
It then remains,
I do beseech you,
Sir, the people
Put them not to't:
" It then remains,
That you do speak to the people.] Coriolanus was banished U.C. 262. But till the time of Manlius Torquatus, U.C. 393, the senate chose both the consuls : And then the people, assisted by the seditious temper of the tribunes, got the choice of one. But if Shakspeare makes Rome a democracy, which at this time was a perfect aristocracy; he sets the balance even in his Timon, and turns Athens, which was a perfect democracy, into an aristocracy. But it would be unjust to attribute this entirely to his ignorance; it sometimes proceeded from the too powerful blaze of his imagination, which, when once lighted up, made all acquired knowledge fade and disappear before it. For sometimes again we find him, when occasion serves, not only writing up to the truth of history, but fitting his sentiments to the nicest manners of his peculiar subject, as well to the dignity of his characters, or the dictates of nature in general. WARBURTON. - The inaccuracy is to be attributed, not to our author, but to Plutarch, who expressly says, in his Life of Coriolanus, that “ it was the custome of Rome at that time, that such as dyd sue for any office, should for certen dayes before be in the market-place, only with a poor gowne on their backes, and without any coate underneath, to praye the people to remember them at the day of election." North's translation, p. 244. MALONE.