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Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie,
Coriolanus himself is a complete character : his | love of reputation, his contempt of popular opinion,
his pride and modesty are consequences of each other. His pride consists in the inflexible sternness of his will : his love of glory is a determined desire to bear down all opposition, and to extort the admiration both of friends and foes. His contempt for popular favour, his unwillingness to hear his own praises, spring from the same source. He cannot contradict the praises that are bestowed upon him; therefore he is impatient at hearing them. He would enforce the good opinion of others by his actions, but does not want their acknowledgments in words.
His magnanimity is of the same kind. He admires in an enemy that courage which he honours in bimself: he places himself on the hearth of Aufidius with the same confidence that he would have met him in the field, and feels that by putting himself in his pow. er, he takes from him all temptation for using it against him.
In the titlepage of CORIOLANUS, it is said at the bottom of the Dramatis Personæ, “ The whole history exactly followed, and many of the principal speeches copied from the life of Coriolanus in Plutareh.” It will be interesting to our readers to see
how far this is the case. Two of the principal scenes, those between Coriolanus and Aufidius, and between Coriolanus and his mother, are thus given in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, 1579. The first is as follows :
" It was even twilight when he entered the city of Antium, and many people met him in the streets, but no man kpew him. So he went directly to Tullus Aufidius's house, and when he came thither, he got him up straight to the chimney hearth, and sat him down, and spake not a word to any man, bis face all muffled over. They of the house spying him, wondered what he should be, and yet they durst not bid him rise. For ill favouredly muffled and disguised as he was, yet there appeared a certain majesty in his countenance and in his silence: whereupon they went to Tullus, who was at supper, to tell him of the strange disguising of this man. Tullus rose presently from the board, and coming towards him, asked him what he was, and wherefore he came. Then Martius unmuffled himself, and after he had paused awhile, making no answer, he said unto himself, if thou knowest me not yet, Tullus, and seeing me, dost not perhaps believe me to be the inan, I am indeed, I must of necessity discover myself to be that I am. I am Caius Martius, who hatb done to thyself particularly, and to all the Volsces generally, great hurt and mischief, which I cannot deny for my surname of Coriolanus that I bear. For I never had other benefit nor recompense of the true and painful service I have done, and the extreme dangers I have been in, but this only surname : a good memory and witness of the malice and displeasure thou shouldest bear me. Indeed the name only rewaineth with me; for the rest, the envy and cruelty of the people of Rome have taken from me, by the sufferance of the dastardly nobility and magistrates, who have forsaken me, and let me be banished by the people. This extremity hath now driven me to come as a poor suitor, to take thy chimney-hearth, not of any hope I have to save my life thereby. For if I had feared death, I would not have come hither to put myself in hazard: but pricked forward with desire to be revenged of them that thus have banished me, which now I do begin, in putting my person into the hands of their enemies. Wherefore if thou hast any heart to be wrecked of the injuries thy enemies have done thee, speed thee dow, and let my misery serve thy turn, and so use it as my
service may be a benefit to the Volsces : promising thee, that I will fight with better good will for all you, than I did when I was against you, knowing that they fight more valiantly who know the force of the enemy, than such as have never proved it. And if it be so that thou dare not, and that thou art weary to prove fortune any more, then am I also weary to live any longer. And it were no wisdom in thee to save the life of him who hath been heretofore thy mortal enemy, and whose service now can nothing help, nor pleasure thee.' Tullus hearing what he said, was a marvellous glad man, and, taking him by the hand, he said unto hina : Stand up, O Martius, and be of good cheer, for in proffering thyself unto us, thou doest us great honour : and by this means thou mayest hope also of greater things at all the Volsces' hands.' So he feasted him for that time, and entertained him in the honourablest manner he could, talking with him of no other matter at that present : but within few days after, they fell to consultation together in what sort they should begin their
The meeting between Coriolanus and bis mother is also nearly the same as in the play.
“ Now was Martius set then in the chair of state, with all the honours of a general, and when he had spied the women coming afar off, he marvelled what the matter meant : but afterwards knowing his wife which came foremost, he deterinined at the first to persist in his obstinate and inflexible rancour. But overcome io the end with natural affection, and being altogether altered to see them, his heart would not serve him to tarry their coming to his chair, but coming down in haste, he went to meet them, and first he kissed his mother, and embraced her a pretty while, then his wife and little children. And nature so wrought with him, that the tears fell frons bis eyes, and he could not keep himself from making much of them, but yielded to the affection of his blood, as if he had been violently carried with the fury of a most swift ruoping stream. After he bad thus lovingly received them, and perceiving that his mother Voluinnia would begin to speak to him, he called the chiefest of the council of the Volsces to hear what she would say. Then she spake in this sort: •If we held our peace, my son, and determined not to speak, the state of our poor bodies, and present sight of our raiment, would easily betray to thee what life we have led at home, since thy esile
and abode abroad; but think now with thyself, how much more unfortunate than all the women living, we are conie hither, considering that the sight which should be most pleasant to all others to behold, spiteful fortune had made, most fearful to us : making myself to see my son, and my daughter bere her husband, besieging the walls of his native country : so as that which is the only comfort to all others in their adversity and misery, to pray unto the Gods, and to call to them for aid, is the only thing wbich plungeth us into most deep perplexity. For we cannot, alas, together pray, both for victory to our country, and for safety of thy life also: but a world of grievous curses, yea more than any mortal enemy can heap upon us, are forcibly wrapped up in our prayers. For the bitter sop of most hard choice is offered thy wife and children, to forego one of the two: either to lose the person of thyself, or the nurse of their native country. For myself, my son, I am determined not to tarry till fortune in my lifetime do make an end of this war. For if I cannot persuade thee rather to do good unto both parties, than to overthrow and destroy the one, preferring love and nature before the malice and calamity of wars, thou shalt see, my son, and trust unto it, thou shalt no sooner march forward to assault thy country, but thy foot shall tread upon thy mother's womb, that brought thee first into this world. And I may not defer to see the day, either that my son be led prisoner in triumph by his natural countrymen, or that he himself do triumph of them, and of his natural country. For if it were so, that my request tended to save thy country, in destroying the Volsces, must confess, thou wouldest hardly and doubtfully resolve on that. For as to destroy thy natural country, it is altogether unmeet and unlawful, so were it not just and less honourable to betray those that put their trust in thee. But my only demand consisteth, to make a goal delivery of all evils, which deliveretb equal benefit and safety, both to the one and the other, but most honourable for the Volsces. For it shall appear, that having victory in their hands, they have of special favour granted us singular graces, peace and amity, albeit themselves have no less part of both than we. Of which good, if so it came to pass, thyself is the only author, and so bast thou the only honour. But if it fail, and fall out contrary, thyself alone deservedly shalt carry the shameful reproach and burthen of either party. So, though the end of war be uncertain, yet this notwithstanding is most certain, that if it be thy chance to conquer, this beneßt, shalt thou reap of thy goodly con
quiest, to be chronicled the plague and destroyer of thy country. And if fortune overthrow thee, then the world will say, that through desire to revenge thy private injuries, thou hast for ever undone thy good friends, who did most lovingly and courteously receive thee.' Martius gave good ear unto his mother's words, without interrupting her speech at all, and after she had said what she would, he held his peace a pretty while, and answered not a word. Hereupon she began again to speak unto him, and said : “My son, why dost thou pot answer me? Dost thou tbink it good altogether to give place unto thy choler and desire of revenge, and thinkest thou it not honesty for thee to grant thy mother's request in so weighty a cause ? Dost thou take it honourable for a nobleman, to remember the wrongs and injuries done him, and dost not in like case think it an honest nobleman's part to be thankful for the goodness that parents do shew to their children, acknowledging the duty and reverence they ought to bear into them? No man living is more bound to shew himself thankful in all parts and respects than thyself ; who so universally shewest all ingratitude. Moreover, my son, thou bast sorely taken of thy country, exacting grievous payments upon them, in revenge of the injuries offered thee ; besides, thou hast not hitherto shewed thy poor mother any courtesy. And, therefore, it is not only honest, but due unto me, that without compulsion I should obtain my so just and reasonable request of thee. But since by reason I cannot persuade thee to it, to what purpose do 1 defer my last hope ? And with these words herself, his wife and children, fell down upon their knees before him : Martius seeing that, could refrain no longer, but went straight and lifted her up, crying out, "Oh mother, what have you done to me?' And holding her hard by the right band, Oh mother,' said he, you have won a happy victory for your country, but mortal and unhappy for your son: for I see myself vanquished by you alone.' These words being spoken openly, he spake a little apart with his mother and wife, and then let them return again to Rome, for so they did request him ; and so remaining in the camp that night, the next morning he dislodged, and marched homeward unto the Volsces' country again."
Shakspeare has, in giving a dramatick form to this passage, adhered very closely and properly to the text. He did not think it necessary to improve