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And have not those soft parts of conversation?
That chambererss have: Or, for I am declin'd
Into the vale of years ;-yet that 's not much;-
She 's gone ; I am abus'd; and my

Must be—to loath her. O curse of marriage,
That we can call these delicate creatures ours,
And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad,
And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love,
For others' uses. Yet, 'tis the plague of great ones;
Prerogativ'd are they less than the base :9
'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death;!


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parts of conversation -] Parts seems here to be synonymous with arte, as in 'Tis Pity she 's a Whore, Act II, speak. ing of singing and musick:

They are parts I love.Reed.

chamberers -] i. e. men of intrigue. So, in the Countess of Pembroke's Antonius, 1590:

“ Fal'n' from a souldier to a chamberer." Again, in Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose, ver. 4935 :

“ Only through youth the chamberere.Thus, in the French Poem:

“ Par la jeunesse la chambriere.” Steevens. The sense of chamberers may be ascertained from Rom. xiii. 13, where un KOITAIL is rendered, in the common version, not in CHAMBERING.Henley.

Chambering and wantonness are mentioned together in the sacred writings. Malone.

Prerogativ’d are they less than the base ;] In asserting that the base have more prerogative in this respect than the great, that is, that the base or poor are less likely to endure this forked plague, our poet has maintained a doctrine contrary to that laid down in As you Like it :-" Horns? even so.-Poor men alone? No, no; the noblest deer has them as huge as the rascal.Here we find all mankind are placed on a level in this respect, and that it is “ destiny unshunnable, like death.” Shakspeare would have been more consistent, if he had writ.

Prerogativ'd are they more than the base? Othello would then have answered his own question: [No:] 'Tis destiny, &c. Malone.

Allowance must be made to the present state of Othello's mind: passion is seldom correct in its effusions. Steevens.

1 'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death ;] To be consistent, Othello must mean, that it is destiny unshunnable by great ones, not by all mankind. Malone.


Even then this forked plague’ is fated to us,
When we do quicken. Desdemona comes:3

If she be false, 0, then heaven mocks itself!4-
I'll not believe it.

How now, my dear Othello?



- forked plague - ] In allusion to a barbed or forked arrow, which, once infixed, cannot be extracted. Johnson. Or rather, the forked plague is the cuckold's horns. Percy.

Dr. Johnson may be right. I meet with the same thought in Middleton's comedy of A Mad World my Masters, 1608:

“ While the broad arrow, with the forked head,

“ Misses his brows but narrowly.” Again, in King Leur :

though the fork invade “ The region of my heart.” Steevens. I have no doubt that Dr. Percy's interpretation is the true one. Let our poet speak for himself. “ Quoth she," says Pandarus, in Troilus and Cressida,“ which of these hairs is Paris, my husband? The forked one,” quoth he; “pluck it out, and give it him.” Again, in The l'inter's Tale :

o'er head and ears a fork'd one." So, in Tarleton's News out of Purgatorie : but the old squire, knight of the forked order, -."

One of Sir John Harrington's Epigrams, in which our poet's very expression is found, puts the matter beyond a doubt:

“ Actæon guiltless unawares espying
“ Naked Diana bathing in her bowre,
“ Was plagu’d with hornes; his dogs did him devoure:
“ Wherefore take heed, je that are curious, prying,
“ With some such forked plague you be not smitten,
And in your foreheads see your faults be written.”

Malone. Desdemona comes :] Thus the quarto. The folio reads Look where she comes. Steevens.

4 If she be false, 0, then heaven mocks itself!] i. e. renders its own labours fruitless, by forming so beautiful a creature as Des. demona, and suffering the elegance of her person to be disgraced and sullied by the impurity of her mind.-Such, I think, is the meaningThe construction, however, may be different. If she be false, 0, then even heaven itself cheats us with“ unreal moc. keries,” with false and specious appearances, intended only to deceive. Malone.

The first of the foregoing explanations, is, I believe the true one. If she be fulse, heaven disgraces itself by creating woman after its own image. To have made the resemblance perfect, she should have been good as well as beautiful. Steevens.


Your dinner, and the generous islanderss
By you invited, do attend your presence.

Oth. I am to blame.
Des. Why is your speech so faint ? are you not well?
Oth. I have a pain upon my forehead here.

Des. Faith that 's with watching ; 'twill away again :
Let me but bind it hard, within this hour
It will be well.

Your napkin is too little ;) [He puts the handkerchief from him, and it drops. Let it alone. Come, I 'll go in with you. Des. I am very sorry that you are not well.

[Exeunt Orh. and Des. Emil. I am glad I have found this napkin; This was her first remembrance from the Moor: My wayward husband hath a hundred times Woo'd me to steal it : but she so loves the token, (For he conjur'd her, she should ever keep it,) That she reserves it evermore about her, To kiss, and talk to. I 'll have the work ta'en outy?


the generous islanders - ] Are the islanders of rank, distinction. So, in Measure for Measure :

“ The generous and gravest citizens

“ Have hent the gates." Generous has here the power of generosus, Lat. This explanation, however, may be too particular. Steevens.

Your napkin &c.] Ray says, that a pocket-handkerchief is so called about Sheffield in Yorkshire. So, in Greene's Never too Late, 1616: “ I can wet one of my new lockeram napkins with weeping.”

Napery signifies linen in general. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 :“ prythee put me into wholesome napery." Again, in Chapman's May Day, 1611:“Besides your munition of manchet, napery, plates, &c. Again, in Hide Park by Shirley, 1637 : “ A gentleman that loves clean napery." Naperia, Ital. Steevens.

In the North of England, and in Scotland, this term for a handkerchief is still used. The word has already often occurred. See Vol. VII, p. 102, n. I ; and Julius Cæsar, Act IIT, sc. ii, Vol XIV. Malone.

I'll have the work ta'en out,] That is, copied. Her first thoughts are, to have a copy made of it for her husband, and restore the original to Desdemona. But the sudden coming in of lago, in a surly humour, makes her alter her resolution, to please him. The same phrase afterwards occurs between Cassio and Bianca, in scene iv. Blackstone. This scheme of getting the work of this valued handkerchief


And give it Iago :
What he 'll do with it, heaven knows, not I;
I nothing, but to please his fantasy.

Enter Iago.
Iago. How now! what do you here alone?
Emil. Do not you chide; I have a thing for you.
lagy. A thing for me?-it is a common thing.
Emil. Ha!
lago. To have a foolish wife.

Emil. O, is that all? What will you give me now
For that same handkerchief?

What handkerchief?
Emil. What handkerchief?
Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona;
That which so often you did bid me steal.

Iago. Hast stolen it from her?

Emil. No, faith ; she let it drop by negligence;
And, to the advantage, I, being here, took 't up."
Look, here it is.

A good wench; give it me.
Emil. What will you do with it, that you have been

so earnest To have me filch it?

Iago. Why, what 's that to you? [Snatching it. Emil. If it be not for some purpose of import,

copied, and restoring the original to Desdemona, was, I suppose, introduced by the poet, to render Emilia less ‘unamiable.

It is remarkable, that when she perceives Othello's fury on the loss of this token, though she is represented as affectionate to her mistress, she never aitempts to relieve her from her distress ; which she might easily have done by demanding the handker. chief from her husband, or divulging the story, if he refused to restore it.-But this would not have served the plot.

Shakspeare fell into this incongruity by departing from Cinthio's novel ; for there, while the artless Desdemona is caressing the child of Othello's ancient, (the lago of our play) the villain steals the handkerchief which hung at her girdle, without the knowledge of his wife. Malone.

I nothing, but to please his fantasy.) Thus the folio. The quarto, 1622, reads :

I nothing know but for his fantasy. Steevens.

to the advantage, &c.] I being opportunely here, took it up. Johnson. So, Marlowe's King Edward II:

“ And they stay time's advantage with your son.Reed.


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Give it me again: Poor lady! she 'll run mad,
When she shall lack it.

Iago. Be not you known of 't ;' I have use for it.
Go, leave me.

[Exit EMIL I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin, And let him find it: Trifles, light as air, Are, to the jealous, confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ. This may do something. The Moor already changes with my poison :Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons, Which, at the first, are scarce found to distaste; But, with a little act upon the blood, Burn like the mines of sulphur. I did say so :3


Be not you known of 't;] i. e. seem as if you knew nothing of the matter. The folio reads-Be not acknown on't; meaning perhiaps,-“ do not acknowledge any thing of the matter."

This word occurs also in the seventh Book of Golding's trans. lation of Ovid's Metamorphoses :

“ Howbeit I durst not be so bolde of hope acknowne to

be.” Again, in Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie, 1589, p. 212:

so would I not have a translatour be ashamed to be acknowen of his translation.” Steevens.

Again, in The Life of Ariosto, subjoined to Sir John Harrington's translation of Orlando, p. 418, 'edit. 1607 : “ Some say, he was married to her privilie, but durst not be acknowne of it.

Porson. Be not you known of 't;] Thus the quarto, except that it has on 't, the vulgar corruption in speaking and writing, of of 't or of it; as is proved by various passages in these plays as exhibited in the folio and quarto, where in one copy we find the corrupt and in the other the genuine words : and both having the same meaning:

The participal adjective, found in the folio, is used by Tho. mas Kyd, in his Cornelia, a tragedy, 1594 :

Our friends' misfortune doth increase our own. Cic. But ours of others will not be acknown." Malone.

The Moor already &c.] Thus the folio. The line is not in the original copy, 1622. Malone.

I did say so :] As this passage is supposed to be obscure, I shall attempt an explanation of it.

Iago first ruminates on the qualities of the passion which he is labouring to excite; and then proceeds to comment on its effects. Jealousy (says he) with the smallest operation on the blood, flumes out with all the violence of sulphur, &c.

I did say so; “ Look where he comes !” i. e. I knew that the least touch of such a passion would not per



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