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bendeth so, that it swerveth either to the right hand or to the left, by excess or defect, from that exact rule whereby human actions are measured." Clean kam appears to have been corrupted into kim-kam; of which word Holland's Plutarch furnishes several instances: "First mark, I beseech you, the comparison, how they go clean kim-kam, and against the stream, as if rivers run up hills."
13. [Enter Volumnia.] Mrs. Jameson says that "in Volumnia, Shakespeare has given us the portrait of a Roman matron, conceived in the true antique spirit, and finished in every part. Although Coriolanus is the hero of the play, yet much of the interest of the action and the final catastrophe turn upon the character of his mother, Volumnia, and the power she exercised over his mind, by which, according to the story,' she saved Rome and lost her son.' Her lofty patriotism, her patrician haughtiness, her maternal pride, her eloquence, and her towering spirit, are exhibited with the utmost power of effect; yet the truth of female nature is beautifully preserved, and the portrait, with all its vigour, is without harshness."
68 et seq. Coriolanus's fierce outburst when the name of traitor is flung at him proves, as Brandes thinks, that Shakespeare did not look upon treason as a pardonable crime.
1, 2. the beast with many heads:-That is, the many-headed multitude. Coriolanus is by no means free from personal pride and ambition, and yet his foremost wish at all times is but the good of his country. A plebeian government, in his eyes, is the greatest of misfortunes. He considers all political rights as connected with birth, because it includes all virtues-love of country, valour and nobility of mind. He is the pure embodiment of the aristocratic principle. Hence the harshness, the stubbornness and the passionate vehemence with which he rejects every com
promise, every demand which he regards as derogatory; this is the cause of his contempt of the common herd. This contempt is as immoderate, as exaggerated, as his pride and admiration of true personal dignity and virtue.
1. he's gone, and we'll no further:-Rome is preserved from cleaving in the midst by the virtues of the state, the reverence for the political majesty which pervades both the contending parties. The senate averts the last evil by timely concession of the tribunitian power first, and then by sacrifice of a favourite champion of their own order, rather than civil war shall break out and all go to ruin in quarrel for the privilege and supremacy of a part. Rather than this they will concede, and trust to temporizing, to negotiating, to management, to the material influence of their position and the effect of their own merits and achievements, to secure their power or recover it hereafter. Among the people, on the other hand, there is also a restraining sentiment, a religion that holds back from the worst abuses of successful insurrection or excited faction. The proposition to kill Marcius is easily given up. Even the tribunes are capable of being persuaded to forego the extremity of rancour against the enemy of the people, and of their authority.
The matter of this short scene is more fully presented in North's Plutarch: "Now in the city of Antium there was one called Tullus Aufidius, who for his riches, as also for his nobility and valiantness, was honoured among the Volsces as a king. Martius knew very well that Tullus did more malice and envy him than he did all the Romans besides: because that many times, in battles where they met, they were ever at the encounter one against another, like lusty courageous youths striving in all emulation of honour, and had encountered many times together. Insomuch as, besides the common quarrel between them, there was bred a marvellous private hate one against another. Yet notwithstanding, considering that Tullus Aufidius was a man of great mind, and that he above all other of the Volsces most desired revenge of the Romans, for the injuries they had done unto them: he did an act that confirmed the words of an ancient poet to be true, who said:
"It is a thing full hard, man's anger to withstand, If it be stiffy bent to take an enterprise in hand. For then most men will have the thing that they desire, Although it cost their lives therefore, such force hath wicked ire.'
And so did he. For he disguised himself in such array and attire, as he thought no man could ever have known him for the person he was, seeing him in that apparel he had upon his back: and as Homer said of Ulysses:
'So did he enter into the enemies' town.'
It was even twilight when he entered the city of Antium, and many people met him in the streets, but no man knew him. So he went directly to Tullus Aufidius's house."
68 et seq. The quick change that takes place in the demeanour of Coriolanus, after his sentence of banishment, is most expressive: his nature is now in truth subjected by a deeper feeling than it ever owned before. He who could not soothe either populace, tribunes or patricians, is seen an actual dissimulator for the time, as he urges composure-himself apparently composed, on his wailing and indignant family and mourning friends. For the first time he has embraced a bold counsel, and holds it concealed. In the presence of his former hated enemy Tullus, he learns such deliberate and impressive speech that gains him over immediately, and the feelings of the Volscian are the subject of a revulsion as sudden as those of Coriolanus himself.
216, 217. directitude :-" The third servant," says Clarke, "wishing to use a fine long word and intending to coin some such term as discreditude from discredit, or dejectitude from dejectedness (Shakespeare using the words discredit, deject, and dejected in such a way as to countenance either of these suggestions), blunders out his grandiloquent directitude. The author's relish of the joke is pleasantly indicated by his making the first servant repeat the word amazedly, as if not knowing what to make of it, and ask its meaning; and then making the third servant avoid the inconvenient inquiry by not noticing it, but running on with his own harangue."
1. We hear not of him, etc.:-The expulsion of Coriolanus is proof and witness of the young vitality of the body politic, which is able thus harmlessly and decisively to thrust out an element that is hostile; for Coriolanus is a type of all the trouble and mischief that befel the republic in ensuing years, from the traitorous selfishness of otherwise well-meriting servants that it retained within its bosom.
34. osprey:-This fine allusion is well explained by the following from Drayton's Polyolbion, xxv. 134:
"The ospray oft here seen, though seldom here it breeds, Which over them the fish no sooner do espy,
But (betwixt him and them, by an antipathy)
Turning their bellies up, as though their death they saw,
And in Peele's Battle of Alcazar, 1594:—
"I will provide thee of a princely osprey, That, as she flieth over fish in pools,
The fish shall turn their glistening bellies up,
Again, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, i. 1:—
Soon as they move, as ospreys do the fish,
37-43. whether 'twas pride cushion:-"Aufidius," says Johnson, "assigns three probable reasons for the miscarriage of Coriolanus; pride, which easily follows an uninterrupted train of success; unskilfulness to regulate the consequences of his own victories; a stubborn uniformity of nature, which could not make the proper transition from the casque to the cushion, or chair of civil authority; but acted with the same despotism in peace as in war."
49, 50. So our virtues, etc.:-Whitelaw explains the passage as follows: "Our virtues are virtues no longer if the time interprets
them as none. The soldier who is all soldier is misinterpreted in time of peace; for his unfitness for peace is seen, his fitness for war is not seen."
50. This observation is not only from nature, and finely expressed, but admirably befits the mouth of one who, in the beginning of the play, had told us that he loved convivial doings.
59, 60. "In the last Act," says Lloyd, "when old Menenius consents to try his influence, the tribune assures him, 'You know the very road into his kindness, and cannot lose your way'; and whatever oddity there may be in the way he attempts, I do not doubt it was that which he thought, and justly, gave him the best chance. 'Shakespeare wanted a buffoon,' says Johnson in reference to Menenius, and he went into the senate-house for that with which the senate-house would most certainly have supplied him.' Johnson had not reported and written debates for the Lords' house without making some observations; but as regards Menenius, it is unfair to call him a buffoon, for he evinces so much sober earnestness in the scenes of the senate-house, that he would not have failed had the occasion invited such a display again."
22 et seq. Mrs. Jameson says: "When the spirit of the mother and the son are brought into immediate collision, he yields before her; the warrior who stemmed alone the whole city of Corioli, who was ready to face the steep Tarpeian death, or at wild horses' heels,vagabond exile-flaying,' rather than abate one jot of his proud will-shrinks at her rebuke. The haughty, fiery, overbearing temperament of Coriolanus, is drawn in such forcible and striking colours, that nothing can more impress us with the real grandeur and power of Volumnia's character than his boundless submission to her will-his more than filial tenderness and respect."
94 et seq. Again Mrs. Jameson: "The triumph of Volumnia's character, the full display of all her grandeur of soul, her patriotism, her strong affections, and her sublime eloquence, are reserved