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Whether for east, or west: The dearth is great ; The people mutinous: and it is rumour'd, Cominius, Marcius your old enemy,
(Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,)
Whither 'tis bent: most likely, 'tis for you:
Our army's in the field:
Nor did you think it folly,
To keep your great pretences veil'd, till when They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching,
It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery, We shall be shorten'd in our aim; which was, To take in many towns, ere, almost, Rome Should know we were afoot.
Take your commission; hie you to your bands:
generally so spelt in Shakspeare's time: so distrest, blest, &c. I believe press'd in its usual sense is right. It appears to have been used in Shakspeare's time in the sense of impress'd. So, in Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus, translated by Sir T. North, 1579: the common people-would not appeare when the consuls called their names by a bill, to press them for the warres." Again, in King Henry VI. Part III. :
"From London by the kingdom was I press'd forth."
9 TO TAKE in many towns,] To take in is here, as in many other places, to subdue. So, in The Execration of Vulcan, by Ben Jonson :
The Globe, the glory of the Bank,
Again, more appositely, in Antony and Cleopatra:
cut the Ionian sea,
"And take in Toryne." STEEVENS,
If they set down before us, for the remove
O, doubt not that I speak from certainties. Nay, more 2. Some parcels of their powers are forth already, And only hitherward. I leave your honours. If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet, 'Tis sworn between us, we shall never strike Till one can do no more.
AUF. And keep your honours safe!
The gods assist you!
Rome. An Apartment in MARCIUS' House.
Enter VOLUMNIA, and VIRGILIA: They sit down on two low Stools, and sew.
VOL. I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a more comfortable sort: If my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence
The remove and their remove are so near in sound, that the transcriber's ear might easily have deceived him. But it is always dangerous to let conjecture loose where there is no difficulty. MALONE.
2 I speak from certainties. Nay, more.] Sir Thomas Hanmer completes this line by reading:
"I speak from very certainties," &c. STEEVENS.
wherein he won honour, than in the embracements of his bed, where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way; when, for a day of kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding; I,-considering how honour would become such a person; that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown made it not stir,-was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak 4. I tell thee, daughter,—I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child, than now in first seeing he had proved himself a
VIR. But had he died in the business, madam ? how then?
VOL. Then his good report should have been my son; I therein would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely :-Had I a dozen sons,-each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius,-I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country, than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
Enter a Gentlewoman.
GENT. Madam, the lady Valeria is come to visit
VIR. 'Beseech you, give me leave to retire myseif 5
3 - when youth with comeliness PLUCKED ALL GAZE HIS way;] i. e. attracted the attention of every one towards him. DOUCE. -brows bound with oak.] The crown given by the Romans to him that saved the life of a Citizen, which was accounted more honourable than any other. JOHNSON.
5 to RETIRE myself.] This verb active (signifying to withdraw) occurs in The Tempest:
VOL. Indeed, you shall not.
Methinks, I hear hither your husband's drum;
As children from a bear, the Volces shunning him :
VIR. His bloody brow! O, Jupiter, no blood!
VIR. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius! VOL. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee, And tread upon his neck.
Re-enter Gentlewoman, with VALERIA and her
VAL. My ladies both, good day to you,
"Retire me to my Milan-."
Again, in Timon of Athens, vol. xiii. p. 306:
6 With his MAIL'D hand then wiping,] i. e. his hand cover'd or arm'd with mail. Douce.
7 Than GILT his trophy :] Gilt means a superficial display of gold, a word now obsolete. So, in King Henry V.:
"Our gayness and our gilt, are all besmirch'd." STEEVENS. 8 At Grecian swords' contending.-Tell Valeria,] The accuracy of the first folio may be ascertained from the manner in which this line is printed:
"At Grecian sword. Contenning, tell Valeria."
VIR. I am glad to see your ladyship.
VAL. How do you both? you are manifest housekeepers. What, are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith.-How does your little son?
VIR. I thank your ladyship; well, good madam. VOL. He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than look upon his school-master.
VAL. O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear, 'tis a very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o' Wednesday half an hour together: he has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again; and over and over he comes, and up again; catched it again: or whether his fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his teeth, and tear it; O, I warrant, how he mammocked it1!
VOL. One of his father's moods.
VAL. Indeed la, 'tis a noble child.
VAL. Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.
9 A fine spot,] This expression (whatever may be the precise meaning of it,) is still in use among the vulgar : "You have made a fine spot of work of it," being a common phrase of reproach to those who have brought themselves into a scrape. STEEVENS. Surely it means a pretty spot of embroidery. We often hear of spotted muslin. BosWELL.
MAMMOCKED it!] To mammock is to cut in pieces, or to tear. So, in The Devil's Charter, 1607:
“That he were chopt in mammocks, I could eat him.” STEEVENS.
2 A CRACK, madam.] Thus, in Cynthia's Revels by Ben Jonson :
Since we are turn'd cracks, let's study to be like cracks,
act freely, carelessly, and capriciously."
Again, in The Four Prentices of London, 1615:
"A notable, dissembling lad, a crack."
Crack signifies a boy-child. See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note on The Second Part of King Henry IV. Act III. Sc. II. STEEVENŞ.