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And thus she is deliver'd.
the other useth it. Des. Well prais’d! How if she be black and witty?
Iago. If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
Des. Worse and worse.
Iago. She never yet was foolish that was fair;2
Des. These are old fond paradoxes, to make fools laugh i'the alęhouse. What miserable praise hast thou for her that's foul and foolish?
Iago. There's none so foul, and foolish thereunto, But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.
Des. O heavy ignorance !--thou praisest the worst best. But what praise could'st thou bestow on a deserving woman indeed ?3 one, that, in the authority of her merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself?4
her blackness fit.] The first quarto reads-hit. So, in King Lear: “ I pray you, let us hit together." I believe hit, in the present instance also, to be the true reading, though it will not bear, as in Love's Labour's Lost, explanation. Steevens. 2 She never yet was foolish &c.] We may read:
She ne'er was yet so foolish that was fair,
But even her folly help'd her to an heir. Yet I believe the common reading to be right: the law makes the power of cohabitation a proof that a man is not a natural; therefore, since the foolishest woman, if pretty, may have a child, no pretty woman is ever foolish. Fohnson.
3 But what praise couldst thou bestow on a deserving woman indeed?] The hint for this question, and the metrical reply of lago, is taken from a strange pamphlet, called Choice, Chance, and Change, or Conceits in their Colours, 1606; when afier Tidero has described many ridiculous characters in verse, Arnofilo asks him, “But, I pray thee, didst thou write none in commendation of some worthy creature ?” Tidero then proceeds, like Iago, to re. peat more verses. Steevens.
that, in the authority of her merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself?] The sense is this, one that was conscious of her own merit, and of the authority her character had with every one, that she durst venture to call upon malice itself to vouch for her. This was some commendation. And the character only of clearest virtue; which could force malice, even against its nature, to do justice. Warburton.
Iago. She that was ever fair, and never proud;
Des. To do what?
Des. O most lame and impotent conclusion !-Do not learn of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband.—How say you Cassio ? is he not a most profane 8 and liberal counsellor? 9
To put on the vouch of malice, is to assume a character vouched by the testimony of malice itself. Johnson. To put on is to provoke, to incite So, in Macbeth:
the powers above “ Put on their instruments.” Steevens. 5 To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail;] i. e. to exchange a delicacy for a courser fare. See Queen Elizabeth's Household Book for the 431 Year of her Reign: “ Item, the Master Cookes have to fee all the salmon's tuiles" &c p. 296 Steevens
Surely the poet had a further allusion, which it is not necessary to explain. The word frail in the preceding line shows that viands were not alone in his thoughts Malone.
A frail judgment, means only a weak one I suspect no equi. voque. Steevens.
6 See suitors following, and not look behind;] The first quarto omits this line. Steevens.
7 To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer. ] After enumerating the perfections of a woman, lago adds, that if ever there was such a one as he had been describing, she was, at the best, of no other use, than to suckle children, and keep the accounts of a household The expressions to suckie fools, and chronicle small beer, are only instances of the want of natural attection, and the predomi. nance of a critical censoriousness in lago, which he allows himself to be possessed of, where he says, 0! I am nothing, if not critical.
Steevens. - profane - ) Gross of language, of expression broad and brutal. So, Brabantio, in the first Act, calls lago profane wretch.
Fohnson. Ben Jonson, in describing the characters in Every Man ont of
Cas. He speaks home, madam; you may relish him more in the soldier, than in the scholar.
lago. [aside] He takes her by the palm : Ay, well said, whisper: with as little a web as this, will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon her, do; I will gyve theel in thine own courtship. You say true; 'tis so, indeed: if such tricks as these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had been better you had not kissed your three fingers so oft, which now again you are most apt to play the sir in.2 Very good; well kissed! an excellent courtesy !3 'tis so, indeed. Yet again your fingers to your lips? would, they were clyster-pipes for your sake!
-[trumpet] The Moor, I know his trumpet.
his Humour, styles Carlo Buffone, a publick, scurrilous, and profane jester. Steevens.
liberal counsellor.?] Liberal for licentious. Warburton. So, in The Fair Maid of Bristow, 1605, bl. 1:
“But Vallenger, inost like a liberal villain,
“Did give her scandalous, ignoble terms." Steevens. See Vol. II, p 200, n. 3. Valune.
Counsellor seems to mean, not so much a man that gives counsel, as one that discourses fearlessly and volubly. A talker. Johnson.
Counsellor is here used in the common acceptation. Desdemona refers to the answers she had received from lago, and particularly her last. Henley.
I will gyre thee —] i.e. catch, shackle. Pope. The first quarto read»-I will catch you in your own courtesies, the second quarto-I will catch you in your own courtship. The folio as it is in the text. Steevens.
2 — to play the sir in.) That is, to show your good breeding and gallantry. Henley.
well kissed! an excellent courtesy.!) Spoken when Cassio kisses his hand, and Desdemona courtesies. Johnson.
This reading was recovered from the quarto, 1622, by Dr. Johnson. The folio hasand excellent courtesy.
I do not believe that any part of these words relates to Desde. mona. In the original copy, we have just seen, the poet wrote
ay, smile upon her, do; I will catch you in your own courtesies." Here therefore he probably meant only to speak of Cassio, while kissing his hand. “ Well kissed! an excellent courtesy!" j. e. an excellent salute, Courtesy, in the sense of obeisance or salute, was in Shakspeare's time applied to men as well as women. See Vol. VIII, p. 271, n. 8. Malone.
Enter OTHELLO, and Attendants.
My dear Othello!
The heavens forbid,
40 my fair warrior!] Again, in Act III, Desdemona says:
- unhandsome warrior as I am.” This phrase was introduced by our copiers of the French Sonnetteers. Ronsard frequently calls his mistresses guerrieres ; and Southern, his imitator, is not less prodigal of the same appellation Thus, in his fifth Sonnet:
“ And, my warrier, my light shines in thy fayre eyes.” Again, in his sixth Sonnet:
“ I am not, my cruell warrier, the Thebain,” &c. Again, ibid:
“ I came not, my warrier, of the blood Lidain.” Had I not met with the word thus fantastically applied, I should have concluded that Othello called his wife a warrior, because she had embarked with him on a warlike expedition, and not in consequence of Ovid's observation“ Militat omnis amans, et habet sua castra Cupido.”
Steevens. come such calms,] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1622, reads-calmness. Steevens. 6 And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas,
Olympus-high; anel duck again as low
As hell's from heaven!!] So, in Sidney's Arcadia, B. I: “ The sea, making mountaines of itself, over which the tossed and tot. tering ship shouid climbe, to be straight carried downe againe to a pit of hellish darknesse.' Steevens.
If it were now to die, 'Twere now to be most happy;] So, Cherea, in The Eunuch of Terence, Act Ill, sc. v:
Proh Jupiter! “ Nunc tempus profecio est, cum perpeti me possum inter
feci, “ Ne vita aliquả hoc gaudium contaminet ægritudine."
But that our loves and comforts should increase,
Amen to that, sweet powers! -
[Kissing her.' That e'er our hearts shall make! lago.
O, you are well tun'd now! But I'll set down the pegs that make this musick, As honest as I am.
Come, let's to the castle.News, friends; our wars are done, the Turks are drown'd.
8 Eren as our days do grow!) Here is one of those evident in. terpolations which abound in our author's dramas Who does not perceive that the words-Even as our days, refer to the verb-increase in the foregoing line? Omit therefore the prosaick-do grow, (which is perfectly useless) and the metre will be restored to its original regularity. Fenton has adopted this thought in his Mariamne :
“And mutual passion with our years increase!" Steevens. 9 And this, and this, &c. Kissing her ] So, in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion :
“ I pri'thee, chide, if I have done amiss,
Malone. Marlowe's play was written before that of Shakspeare, who might possibly have acted in it. Steevens.
1-l'll set down —] Thus the old copies, for which the modern editors, following Mr Pope, have substituted-let down. But who can prove that to set down was not the language of Shak. speare's time, when a viol was spoken of — To set formerly sig. nified to tune, though it is no longer used in that sense. “It was then,” says Anthony Wood in his Diary, “that I set and tuned in strings and fourths,” &c. So, in Skialetheia, a Collection of Satires, &c. 1598:
to a nimbler key “ Set thy wind instrument." Malone. To “set down” has this meaning in no other part of our author's works. However, virtus post nummos: we have secured the phrase, and the exemplification of it may follow when it will.
Steevens. 2 News, friends ;] The modern editors read (after Mr. Rowe) Now friends. I would observe once for all, that (in numberless in. stances in this play, as well as in others,) where my predecessors had silently and without reason made alterations, I have as si. lently restored the old readings. Steevens.