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"I will provide thee with a princely osprey, "That as she flieth over fish in pools, "The fish shall turn their glitt'ring bellies up, “And thou shalt take thy liberal choice of all.” Such is the fabulous history of the osprey. I learn, however, from Mr. Lambe's notes to the ancient metrical legend of the Battle of Flodden, that the osprey is a rare, large, blackish, hawk, with a long neck, and blue legs. Its prey is fish, and it is sometimes seen hovering over the Tweed." STEEVENS.
-whether 'twas pride,
Which out of daily fortune ever taints
The happy man; whether— -] Aufidius assigns three probable reasons of 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 or helmet, to the cushion or chair of civil authority; but acted with the same despotism in peace as in war. JOHNSON.
To choak it in the utterance. -] He has a merit, for no other purpose than to destroy it by boasting it.
710. And power, unto itself most commendable,
Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair
To extol what it hath done.] This is a common thought, but miserably ill expressed. The sense is, The virtue which delights to commend itself, will find
the surest tomb in that chair wherein it holds forth its own commendations:
-unto itself most commendable,
i. e. which hath a very high opinion of itself.
714. Right's by right fouler,—] i. e. What is already right, and is received as such, becomes less clear when supported by supernumerary proofs. Such appears to me to be the meaning of this passage, which may be applied with too much justice to many of my own comments on Shakspere.
Fouled, however, is certainly an English word, and is used in Sidney's Arcadia, edit. 1633, p. 441.
"Thy all-beholding eye foul'd with the sight." There is likewise the following proverb-York doth foul Sutton-i. e. exceeds it on comparison, and makes it appear mean and poor. STEEVENS.
THAT have rack'd for Rome,] To rack
means to harass by exactions, and in this sense the poet uses it in other places:
"The commons hast thou rack'd; the clergy's bags "Are lank and lean with thy extortions.'
I believe it here means in general, You that have been such good stewards for the Roman people, as to get
their houses burned over their heads, to save the ex
pence of coals.
-memory] for memorial.
It was a bare petition] A bare petition, I believe, means only a mere petition. Coriolanus weighs the consequence of verbal supplication against that of actual punishment. STEEVENS.
59. He was not taken well; he had not din'd, &c.] 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. WARBURTON. Pope seems to have borrowed this idea. See Epist. I.
Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not din'd.”
STEEVENS. 75. I tell you, he does sit in gold,] He is enthron e in all the pomp and pride of imperial splendour.
JOHNSON. he was
So, in the old translation of Plutarch, " set in his chair of state, with a marvelous and unspeakable majestie." Shakspere has a somewhat similar idea in K. Henry VIII.
"All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods.”
81. Bound with an oath, to yield to his conditions:] This is apparently wrong. Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him, read,
Bound with an oath not to yield to new conditions. They might read more smoothly,
-to yield no new conditions.
But the whole speech is in confusion, and I suspect something left out. I should read,
-What he would do,
He sent in writing after; what he would not, Bound with an oath. To yield to his conditions. Here is, I think, a chasm. The speaker's purpose seems to be this: To yield to his conditions is ruin, and better cannot be obtained, so that all hope is vain. JOHNSON.
I suppose, Coriolanus means, that he had sworn to give way to the conditions, into which the ingratitude of his country had forced him. FARMER.
-What he would do,
He sent in writing after me; what he would not, Bound with an oath, to yield to his conditions. What he wonld do, i. e. the conditions on which he of. fered to return, he sent in writing after Cominius, intending that he should have carried them to Menenius (as appears from line 179, &c.)-What he would not, i. e. his resolution of neither dismissing his soldiers, nor capitulating with Rome's mechanicks, in case the terms he prescribed should be refused, he bound himself by an oath to maintain. If these conditions were admitted, the oath of course, being grounded on that proviso, must yield to them, and be cancelled. That this is the proper sense of the passage, is obvious from what follows, line 290,
-if you'd ask, remember this before; "The things I have foresworn to grant
"Be held by you denials. Do not bid me "Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate
Lot in French, signifies prize. Le gros lot. The ca
108. For I have ever verified my friends
-with all the size that verity, &c.] To verify, is to establish by testimony. One may say with propriety, he brought false witnesses to verify his title. Shakspere considered the word with his usual laxity, as importing rather testimony than truth, and only meant to say, I bore witness to my friends with all the size that verity would suffer
I must remark, that to magnify, signifies to exalt or enlarge, but not necessarily to enlarge beyond the truth. JOHNSON.
-upon a subtle ground,] Subtle means smooth,
level. So, Johnson, in one of his masques:
"Tityus's breast is counted the subtlest bowlingground in all Tartarus.”
Subtle, however, may mean artificially unlevel, as many bowling-greens are. STEEVENS.
-and in his praise
Have, almost, stamp'd the leasing:] i. e. given the sanction of truth to my very exaggerations. This appears to be the sense of the passage, from what is afterwards said by the 2. Guard. "Howsoever you have F