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Abus'd her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals,
3 Abus'd her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals,
That waken motion :] [Old copy-weaken.] Hanmer reads with probability:
That waken motion: Fohnson. Motion in a subsequent scene of this play is used in the very sense in which Sir Thomas Harmer would employ it:-“ But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts." Steevens.
To weaken motion is, to impair the faculties. It was till very lately, and may with some be still an opinion, that philtres or love potions have the power of perverting, and of course weakening or impairing both the sight and judgment, and of procuring fondness or dotage toward any unworthy object who administers them. And by motion, Shakspeare means the senses wbich are depraved and weakened by these fascinating mixtures. Ritson. The folio, where alone this passage is found, reads:
That weaken motion : I have adopted Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation, because I have a good reason to believe that the words weaken and waken were in Shakspeare's time pronounced alike, and hence the mistake might easily bave happened. Motion is elsewhere used by our poet precisely in the sense required here. So, in Cymbeline :
for there's no motion
" It is the woman's part.” Again, in Hamlet:
- sense sure you have; “ Else could you not have motion.". Again, in Measure for Measure:
one who never feels “ The wanton stings and motions of the sense." So also, in A Mad World my Masters, by Middleton, 1608:
6 And in myself sooth up adulterous motions,
“ And such an appetite as I know damns me.” We have in the play before us-waken'd wrath, and I think in: some other play of Shakspeare-waken'd love. So, in our poet's 117th Sonnet:
“But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate." Ben Jonson in his preface to Volpone has a similar phraseology:
it being the office of the comick poet to stirre up gentle af: fections."
Mr. Theobald reads That weaken notion, i. e. says he, her right conception and idea of things; understanding, judgment.
This reading, it must be acknowledged, derives some support from a passage in King Lear, Act II, sc. iv :-" either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargy'd.” But the objection to it is, that no opiates or intoxicating potions or powders of any sort can distort or pervert the intellects, but by destroying them for a.
'Tis probable, and palpable to thinking.
time; nor was it ever at any time believed by the most credulous, that love-powders, as they were called could weaken the understanding, though it was formerly believed that they could fascinate the affections: or in other words, waken motion. Brabantio afterwards asserts.
“ That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood,
“ He wrought upon her." (Our poet, it should be remembered, in almost all his plays uses blood for passion. See Hamlet, Act IV, sc. iv, Vol. XV; and Troi. lus and Cressida, Act II, sc. iii, Vol XII.) And one of the Se. nators asks Othello, not, whether he had weaken’d Desdemona's understanding, but whether he did
by indirect and forced courses “ Subdue and poison this voung maid's affections." The notion of the efficacy of love-powders was formerly so prevalent, that in the parliament summoned by K. Richard the Third, on his usurping the throne, it was publickly urged as a charge against lady Grey, that she had bewitched King Edward the Fourth,“ by strange potions and amorous charms." See Fabian, p. 495; Speed, p_913, edit 1632; and Habington's History of King Edward the Fourth, p. 35. Malone.
In the passages adduced by Mr. Steevens and Mr. Malone, to prove that motion signifies lustful desires, it may be remarked that the word derives this peculiar meaning, either from some epithet, or restrictive mode of expression, with which it stands connected. But, had it been used absolutely, in that sense, with what consist. ency could Brabantio attribute the emotions of lust in his daughter, to the irritation of those very philtres, which he, in the selfsame breath, represents as abating it?
The drugs or minerals, "ith which Othello is charged as having abused the delicate youth of Desdemona, were supposed to have accomplished his purpose, by
Charming her blood with pleasing heaviness," thereby weakening motion, that is, subduing her MAIDEN PUDENCY, and lulling her WONTED COyness into a state of acqui
That this is the sense of the passage, is further evident from what follows; for so bashful was she of disposition,
that her MOTION
I vouch again,
“He wrought upon her.” Henley. 4 For an abuser &c.] The first quarto reads--Such an abuser &c
Of arts inhibited and out of warrant:
Hold your hands,
my inclining, and the rest :
To prison; till fit time
What if I do obey?
the duke be therewith satisfied;
'Tis true, most worthy signior,
How! the duke in council!
$ To bring - ] The quartos read-To bear. Steevens.
6 Bond-slaves and pagans,] Mr. Theobald alters pagans to pa. geants, for this reason, " That pagans are as strict and moral all the world over, as the most regular Christians, in the preservation of private property.” But what then? The speaker had not this high opinion of pagan morality, as is plain from hence, that this important discovery, so much to the honour of paganism, was first made by our editor. Warburton.
The meaning of these expressions of Brabantio seems to have been mistaken. I believe the morality of either christians or pagans was not in our author's thoughts. He alludes to the common condition of all blacks, who come from their own country, both slaves and pagans ; and uses the word in contempt of Othello and his complexion. If this Moor is now suffered to escape with impunity, it will be such an encouragement to his black countrymen, that we may expect to see all the first offices of our state filled up by the pagans and bond-slaves of Africa. Steedens.
attending Duke. There is no composition in these news, That gives them credit. 1 Sen.
Indeed, they are disproportion'd; My letters say, a hundred and seven gallies.
Duke. And mine, a hundred and forty. 2 Sen.
And mine, two hundred: But though they jump not on a just account, (As in these cases, where the aim reports, 9 'Tis oft with difference,) yet do they all confirm A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.
Duke. Nay, it is possible enough to judgment;
In our author's time pagan was a very common expression of contempt. So, in King Henry IV, P. II:
“What pagan may that be?". See Vol. IX, p. 53, n. 2 Malone.
7 There is no composition - Composition, for consistency, concordancy. Warburton.
- these news,] Thus the quarto, 1622, and such was frequently the phraseology of Shakspeare's age. So, in The Spanish Tragedy, 1610:
“The news are more delightful to his soul, See also Vol. X., p. 211, n. 7. The folio reads—this news. Malone.
9 As in these cases, where the aim reports,] The folio has the aim reports. But, they aim reports, (the reading of the quarto] has a sense sufficiently easy and commodious. Where men report not by certain knowledge, but by aim and conjecture.
Fohnson. To aim is to conjecture. So, in The Tiro Gentlemen of Verona :
“But fearing lest my jealous aim miglit err. Again, in the manuscript known by the title of William and the Werwolf, in the library of King's College, Cambridge: “No man upon mold, might ayme the number.” P. 56. Steevens.
where the aim reports,] In these cases where conjecture or suspicion tells the tale. Aim is, again used as a substantive, in this sense, in Julius Cæsar: “What you would work me to, I have some aim."
Sailor. [within] What ho! what ho! what ho!
Enter an Officer, with a Sailor.
Now? the business?
This cannot be, By no assay of reason ;l 'tis a pageant, To keep us in false gaze: When we consider The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk; And let ourselves again but understand, That, as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes, So
may he with more facile question3 bear it, For that it stands not in such warlike brace, But altogether lacks the abilities That Rhodes is dress’d in:-if we make thought of this, We must not think, the Turk is so unskilful, To leave that latest which concerns him first; Neglecting an attempt of ease, and gain, To wake, and wage, a danger profitless.6
Duke. Nay, in all confidence, he's not for Rhodes.
1 By signior Angelo.] This hemistich is wanting in the first quarto. Steevens
2 By no assay of reason ;] Bring it to the test, examine it by reason as we examine metals by the assay, it will be found counterfeit by all trials. Johnson.
with more facile question - ] Puestion is for the act of seeking. With more easy endeavour. Johnson.
So may he with more facile question bear it,] That is, he may carry it with less dispute, with less opposition. I don't see how the word question can signify the act of seeking, though the word quest niay. M. Mason.
4 For that it stands not &c.[ The seven following lines are added since the first edition. Pope.
warlike brace,] State of defence. To arm was called to brace on the armour. Johnson.
6 To wake, and wage, a danger profitless.] To wage here, as in many other places in Shakspeare, signifies to fight, to combat. Thus, in King Lear:
“To wage against the enmity of the air.” It took its rise from the common expression, to wage war.