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1 CIT. Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an't please you, deliver.
MEN. There was a time, when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it :-
I' the midst o' the body, idle and inactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest; where the other instruments
Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
1 CIT. Well, sir, what answer made the belly? MEN. Sir, I shall tell you.-With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus, you, I may
make the belly smile*,
Theobald reads-stale it. MALONE.
To scale, means also to weigh, to consider. If we understand it in the sense of to separate, as when it is said to scale the corn, it may have the same metaphorical signification as to discuss; but Theobald's emendation is so slight, and affords so clear a meaning, that I should be inclined to adopt it. BosWELL. DISGRACE with a tale:] Disgraces are hardships, injuJOHNSON.
WHERE the other instruments-] Where for whereas.
We meet with the same expression in the Winter's Tale :
2 - participate,] Here means participant, or participating. MALONE.
3 Which ne'er came from the lungs,] With a smile not indicating pleasure, but contempt. JOHNSON.
I may make the belly SMILE,] "And so the belly, all this notwithstanding, laughed at their folly and sayed," &c. North's translation of Plutarch, p. 240, edit. 1579. MALOne,
As well as speak,) it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts That envied his receipt; even so most fitly 5
As you malign our senators, for that
They are not such as you
1 CIT. Your belly's answer: What! The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye, The counsellor heart 7, the arm our soldier, Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter, With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabrick, if that they——
MEN. What then?'Fore me, this fellow speaks!-what then? what
1 CIT. Should by the cormorant belly be re
Who is the sink o' the body,
Well, what then?
1 CIT. The former agents, if they did complain, What could the belly answer?
I will tell you;
MEN, If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little,) Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer. 1 CIT. You are long about it. MEN.
Note me this, good friend; Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd.
even so most FITLY-] i. e. exactly. WARBUrton. They are not SUCH as you.] I suppose we should read"They are not as you." So, in St. Luke, xviii. 11: “God, I thank thee, I am not as this publican." The pronoun-such, only disorders the measure. STEEVENS.
7 The counsellor heart,] The heart was anciently esteemed the feat of prudence. Homo cordatus is a prudent man.
JOHNSON. The heart was considered by Shakspeare as the seat of the understanding. See the next note.
That I receive the general food at first,
Even to the court, the heart,-to the seat o' the brain;
-to the seat o' the brain ;] Seems to me a very languid expression. I believe we should read, with the omission of a particle:
"Even to the court, the heart, to the seat, the brain."
It is thus
He uses seat for throne, the royal seat, which the first editors probably not apprehending, corrupted the passage. used in Richard II. Act III. Sc. IV.:
“Yea, distaff-women manage rusty bills
Against thy seat.”.
It should be observed too, that one of the Citizens had just before characterized these principal parts of the human fabrick by similar metaphors:
"The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye,
"The counsellor heart- -." TYRWHItt.
I have too great respect for even the conjectures of my respectable and very judicious friend to suppress his note, though it appears to me erroneous. In the present instance I have not the smallest doubt, being clearly of opinion that the text is right. Brain is here used for reason or understanding. Shakspeare seems to have had Camden as well as Plutarch before him; the former of whom has told a similar story in his Remains, 1605, and has like our poet made the heart the seat of the brain, or understanding: Hereupon they all agreed to pine away their lasie and publike enemy. One day passed over, the second followed very tedious, but the third day was so grievous to them that they called a common counsel. The eyes waxed dimme, the feete could not support the body, the armes waxed lazie, the tongue faltered, and could not lay open the matter. Therefore they all with one accord desired the advice of the heart. There REASON laid open
before them," &c. Remains, p. 109. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ii. Art. Coriolanus, in which a circumstance is noticed, that shows our author had read Camden as well as Plutarch.
I agree, however, entirely with Mr. Tyrwhitt, in thinking that seat means here the royal seat, the throne. The seat of the brain, is put in opposition with the heart, and is descriptive of it. "I send it, (says the belly,) through the blood, even to the royal re
And, through the cranks and offices of man
1 CIT. Ay, sir; well, well.
Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each;
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
What say you to't? 1 CIT. It was an answer: How apply you this? MEN. The senators of Rome are this good belly, And you the mutinous members: For examine Their counsels, and their cares; digest things rightly,
Touching the weal o' the common; you shall find, No publick benefit which you receive,
But it proceeds, or comes, from them to you,
sidence, the heart, in which the kingly crowned understanding sits enthroned.
So, in King Henry VI. Part II. :
"The rightful heir to England's royal seat."
In like manner in Twelfth-Night our author has erected the throne of love in the heart:
"It gives a very echo to the seat
"Where love is throned."
Again, in Othello:
"Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne.” So, in King Henry V.:
"We never valued this poor seat of England." MALONE.
See Mr. Douce's note at the end of this play. BOSWELL.
- the cranks and offices of man,] Cranks are the meandrous
ducts of the human body. STEEVENS.
Cranks are windings. In Venus and Adonis our Author has employed the same word as a verb :
“He cranks and crosses, with a thousand doubles.”
He has a similar metaphor in Hamlet :
"The natural gates and alleys of the body." MALONE.
And no way from yourselves.-What do you think? You, the great toe of this assembly ?—
1 CIT. I the great toe? Why the great toe? MEN. For that being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost: Thou rascal, that art worst in blood, to run Lead'st first, to win some vantage'.
I Thou rascal, that art worst in blood, to RUN
Lead'st first, to win some vantage.] I think, we may better read, by an easy change:
“Thou rascal, thou art worst in blood, to ruin
"Lead'st first, to win, &c."
Thou that art the meanest by birth, art the foremost to lead thy fellows to ruin, in hope of some advantage. The meaning, however, is perhaps only this, 'Thou that art a hound, or running dog of the lowest breed, lead'st the pack, when any thing is to be gotten.' JOHNSON.
Worst in blood may be the true reading. In King Henry VI. Part I.:
"If we be English deer, be then in blood."
i. e. high spirits, in vigour.
Again, in this play of Coriolanus, Act IV. Sc. V.: "But when they shall see his crest up again, and the man in blood," &c.
Mr. M. Mason judiciously observes that blood, in all these passages, is applied to deer, for a lean deer is called a rascal; and that "worst in blood," is least in vigour. STEEVENs.
Both rascal and in blood are terms of the forest. Rascal meant a lean deer, and is here used equivocally. The phrase in blood was, I have remarked in a former note, a phrase of the forest. See vol. iv. p. 352.
Our author seldom is careful that his comparisons should answer on both sides. He seems to mean here, thou worthless scoundrel, though like a deer not in blood, thou art in the worst condition for running of all the herd of plebeians, takest the lead in this tumult, in order to obtain some private advantage to yourself.' What advantage the foremost of a herd of deer could obtain, is not easy to point out, nor did Shakspeare, I believe, consider. Perhaps indeed he only uses rascal in its ordinary sense. So afterwards
"From rascals worse than they."
Dr. Johnson's interpretation appears to me inadmissible; as the term, though it is applicable both in its original and metaphorical sense to a man, cannot, I think, be applied to a dog; nor