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Your special mandate, for the state affairs,
Hath hither brought.

Duke E Sen. We are very sorry for it.
Duke. What, in your own part, can you say to this?

Bra. Nothing, but this is so.
Oth. Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
My very noble and approv'd good masters,
That I have ta’en away this old man's daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her;
The very head and front of my offendinga
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless'd with the set phrase of peace ;3
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us’d
Their dearest action 4 in the tented field;

2 The very head and front of my offending -] The main, the whole, unextenuated. Fohnson.

Prons causæ non satis honesta est,” is a phrase used by Quin. tilian. Steevens. A similar expression is found in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590 :

“ The man that in the forehead of his fortunes

“ Beares figures of renowne and miracle.Again, in Troilus and Cressida:

“So rich advantage of a promis'd glory,

“ As smiles upon the forehead of this action." Malone. 3. And little bless'd with the set phrase of peace;] Soft is the reading of the folio. Johnson.

This apology, if addressed to his mistress, had been well expressed. But what he wanted, in speaking before a Venetian senate, was not the soft blandishments of speech, but the art and method of masculine eloquence. The old quarto reads it, there. fore, as I am persuaded Shakspeare wrote:

the set phrase of peace. Warburton.
Soft may have been used for still and calm, as opposed to the
clamours of war. So, in Coriolanus :

Say to them,
“ Thou art their soldier, and, being bred in broils,
“ Hast not the soft way, which thou dost confess

" Were fit for thee to use." Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:

'Tis a worthy deed,
“ And shall become you well, to entreat your captain

" To soft and gentle speech.” Malone.
4 Their dearest action - ] That is, dear, for which much is paid,
whether money or labour; dear action, is action performed at great
expence, either of ease or safety. Johnson,

And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;
And therefore little shall I grace my cause,
In speaking for myself: Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnish'd5 tale deliver

my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms, What conjuration, and what mighty magick, (For such proceeding I am charg'd withal) I won his daughter with.6 Bra.

A maiden never bold; Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion Blush'd at herself;? And she,-in spite of nature,


Their dearest action is their most important action. See Timon of Athens, Act V, sc. ii, Vol. XV. Malone.

Instead of their dearest action, we should say in modern language, their best exertion. Steevens.

I should give these words a more natural signification, and suppose that they mean—their favourite action, the action most dear to them. Othello says afterwards:

I do agnize " A natural and prompt alacrity " I find in hardness.” M. Mason. - unvarnishd-] The second quarto reads-unravished.

Steevens. 6 I won his daughter with.] [The first quarto and folio- I won his daughter. ] i. e. I won his daughter with: and so all the modern editors read, adopting an interpolation made by the editor of the second folio, who was wholly unacquainted with our poet's metre and phraseology. In Timon of Athens we have the same elliptical expression:

“Who had the world as my confectionary,
“ The mouths, the tongues, the eyes, and hearts of men,
“ At duty, more than I could frame employment i for)."

Malone. As my sentiments concerning the merits of the second folio are diametrically opposite to Mr. Malone's opinion of it, I have not displaced a grainmatical to make room for an ungrammatical expression.

What Mr. Malone has styled “similar pliraseology,” I should not hesitate to call, in many instances, congeniality of omissions and blunders made by transcribers, players, or printers.

The more I am become acquainted with the ancient copies, the less confidence I am disposed to place in their authority, as often as they exhibit anomalous language, and defective metre. Steevens.

7 Blush'd at herself;] Mr. Pope reads—at itself, but without ne. cessity. Shakspeare, like other writers of his age, frequently uses the personal, instead of the neutral pronoun. Stecvens.

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Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
To fall in love with what she fear'd to look on?
It is a judgment maim'd, and most imperfect,
That will confess-perfection so could err
Against all rules of nature; and must be driven
To find out practices of cunning hell,
Why this should be. I therefore vouch again,
That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood,
Or with some dram conjur'd to this effect,
He wrought upon her.

To vouch this, is no proof;8
Without more certain and more overt test, o
Than these thin habits, and poor

likelihoods Of modern seeming, do prefer against him.

1 Sen. But, Othello, speak;
Did you by indirect and forced courses
Subdue and poison this young maid's affections ?
Or came it by request, and such fair question
As soul to soul afi'ordeth?

I do beseech you,
Send for the lady to the Sagittary,2
And let her speak of me before her father:
If you do find me foul in her report,
The trust, the office, I do hold of you,3
Not only take away, but let your sentence
Even fall upon my life.

Fetch Desdemona hither.
Oth. Ancient, conduct them; you best know the

place. [Exeunt lago and Attendants.

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8 To vouch &c.] The first folio unites this speech with the preceding one of Brabantio; and instead of certain reads wider.

Steevens. 9-overt test,] Open proofs, external evidence. Fohnson.

thin habits, Of modern seeming,] Weak show of slight appearance.

Johnson. *the Sagittary,] So the folio here and in a former passage. The quarto in both places reads--the Sagittar. Malone.

The Sagittary means the sign of the fictitious creature so call. ed, i. e. an animal compounded of man and horse, and armed with a bow and quiver. Steevens, 3 The trust, &c.] This line is wanting in the first quarto.




And, till she come, as truly“ as to heaven
I do confess5 the vices of my blood,
So justly to your grave ears I 'll present
How I did thrive in this fair lady's love,
And she in mine.

Duke. Say it, Othello.

Oth. Her father lov'd me; oft invited me; Still question’d me the story of my life, From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes, That I have pass'd. I ran it through, even from my boyish days, To the very moment that he bade me tell it. Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances, Of moving accidents, by food, and field; Of hair-breadth scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach; Of being taken by the insolent foe, And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence, And portance in my travel's history: 6

4 as truly - ] The first quarto reads--as faithful. Steevens. 5 I do confess, &c.] This line is omitted in the first quarto.

Steevens. 6 And portance &c.] I have restored

And with it all my travel's history, from the old edition. It is in the rest :

And portance in my travel's history. Rymer, in his criticism on this play, has changed it to portents, instead of portance Pope

Mr. Pope has restoreil a line to which there is a little objection, but which has no force. I believe portance was the author's word in some revised copy I read thus: Of being

To slavery, of my redemption thence,

And portance in 't; my travel's history.
My redemption from slavery, and behaviour in it. Johnson.

I doubt much whether this line, as it appears in the folio, came from the pen of Shakspeare. The reading of the quarto may be weak, but it is sense; but what are we to understand by my de. meanour, or my sufferings, (which ever is the meaning) in my travel's history? Maione.

By-my portance in my travel's history, perhaps our author meant-my

behaviour in my travels as described in my history of them. Portance is a word already used in Coriolanus:

- took from you
“ The apprehension of his present portance,
“Which gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion," &c.

Wherein of antres vast,? and deserts idle, 8
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch


It was my hint to speak,' such was the process;

Spenser, in the third Canto of the second Book of the Fairy Queen, likewise uses it:

“But for in court gay portaunce he perceiv'd.” Steevens. 7 Wherein of antres vast, &c.] Discourses of this nature made the subject of the politest conversations, when voyages into, and discoveries of, the new world were all in vogue. So, when the Bastard Faulconbridge in King Fohn, describes the behaviour of upstart greatness, he makes one of the essential circumstances of it to be this kind of table-talk. The fashion then running altogether in this way, it is no wonder a young lady of quality should be struck with the history of an adventurer. So that Rymer, who professedly ridicules this whole circumstance, and the noble author of the Characteristicks, who more obliquely sneers at it, only expose their own ignorance. Warburton.

Whoever ridicules this account of the progress of love, shows his ignorance, not only of history, but of nature and manners. It is no wonder that, in any age, or in any nation, a lady, recluse, timorous, and delicate, should desire to hear of events and scenes which she could never see, and should admire the man who had endured dangers, and performed actions, which, however great, were yet magnified by her timidity. Johnson.

- antres -] French, grottos. Pope. Caves and dens. Johnson.

and deserts idle,] Every mind is liable to absence and in. advertency, else Pope (who reads-deserts wild,] could never have rejected a word so poetically beautiful. Idle is an epithet used to express the infertility of the chaotick state, in the Saxon translation of the Pentateuch. Johnson. So, in The Comedy of Errors:

Usurping ivy, briar, or idle moss." Mr. Pope might have found the epithet wild in all the three last folios. Steevens.

The epithet, idle, which the ignorant editor of the second folio did not understand, and therefore changed to wild, is confirmed by another passage in this Act: “. -either to have it steril with idleness, or manured with industry." Malone.

9 It was my hint to speak,] This implies it as done by a trap laid for her: but the old quarto reads hent, i. e. use, custom. (Hint is the reading of the folio.] Warburton.

Hent is not used in Shakspeare, nor, I believe, in any other au. thor. Hint, or cue, is commonly used for occasion of speech, which is explained by, such is the process, that is, the course of the tale required it. If hent be restored, it may be explained by handle. I had a handle, or opportunity, to speak of cannibals. Fohnsom


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