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Should I repent me:--but once put out thine,
Again, in King Henry VIII:
“ This candie burns not clear ; 'tis I must snuff it;
“ Then out it goes." Again, in his Rape of Lucrece :
“ Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
“ To darken her, whose light excelleth thine!” Let the words-put out her light, stand for a moment in the place of darken her, and then the sentence will run-Burn out thy light, fuir torch, and lend it not to put out her light, whose light is more excellent than thine. In the very same strain, says Othello, “ let me first extinguish the light I now hold, and then put out the light of life. But how different in effect and importance are these two acts! The extinguished taper can be lighted again, but the light of life, when once extinguished, can never, alas, be relumined !
The question is not, which regulation renders the passage most elegant and spirited, but what was the poet's idea.--I believe, however, that Shakspeare wrote--and then put out the light; and the reading of the original quarto in a subsequent line, " -- but once put out thine," seems to me to countenance this emendation,
In The Merchant of Venice the word light is used with equal ambiguity:
“ Let me give light, but let me not be light.” Malone.
put out thine,] Thus the quarto. The folio reads-put out thy light. I have chosen the former reading for the sake of measure, and to escape a useless repetition of the word-light.
Steevens. ? Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,] So, in Palmerin D'Olivia 1588, p. 1: those that beheld her, esteemed her for the chiefest piece of workmanshipp that ever nature framed.”
Reed. 8 That can thy light relume -] Thus the folio. The first quarto-return: the second quarto-relumine. Steevens. Our poet has illume for illuminate, in Hamlet :
“ Had made his course, to illume that part of heaven,
“ Where now it burns.” Malone. 9
thy rose,] Thus the folio. The quarto reads,--the rose. Again, the quarto reads :
I'll smell it on the tree.” The folio :
" I'll smell thee on the tree.” Steevens.
It needs must wither :--I 'll smell it on the tree.
Des. Who's there? Othello?
Ay, my lord.
Des. Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?
Oth. Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by:
Des. Talk you of killing?
Ay, I do.
This sorrow 's heavenly ;] This tenderness, with which I lament the punishment which justice compels me to inflict, is a holy passion.
I wish these two lines could be honestly ejected. It is the fate of Shakspeare to counteract his own pathos. Johnson.
Perhaps the poet would not have retained both these images, had he published the play himself, though in the hurry of composition he threw them both upon paper. The first seems adopted from the fabulous history of the crocodile, the second from a passage in the scripture. Steevens. “ Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.” M. Mason.
I would not kill thy soul.] So, in the First Part of the Straunge and Wonderful Adventures of Don Simonides, &c. bl. 1. 4to. 1581: “ for that her Master would putte her Mistris to shrifte, before he destroyed her bodie, yet to the savegarde of her soule.”
Sir W. D'Avenant has also borrowed this thought in his Albovine King of Lombardy, 1629 :
“ I am not fraught with devil's spleen; I would
“ Not hurt thy soul.” Othello appears to have been a favourite of his author; for be has bestowed on him that piety which he had refused to Hamlet. See Hamlet, Act III, sc. ii, Vol. XV. Steevens.
Then, heaven Have mercy on me! Oth.
Amen, with all my heart ! Des. If you say so, I hope you will not kill me. Oth. Humph!
Des. And yet I fear you; for you are fatal then, When your eyes roll so: Why I should fear I know not, Since guiltiness I know not; but yet, I feel, I fear.3
Oth. Think on thy sins.
They are loves I bear to you.
Peace, and be still! Des. I will so: What 's the matter?
Oth. That handkerchief, which I so loy'd, and gave thee,
No, by my life and soul;
Sweet soul, take heed, Take heed of perjury; thou ’rt on thy death-bed.
Des. Ay, but not yet to die.
3 Since guiltiness I know not; but yet, I feel, I fear.] Read:
Since guilt I know not; but yet, 7 feel, I fear, Guiltiness has been already misprinted for guilt. (See p. 397, line 7.] It is impossible that Shakspeare should lengthen a word merely to spoil his metre. Ritson.
The chivalry of criticism does not, in my opinion, require“us to defend the old copies (those grannams of the stage, balba de nare locute) when they so grossly offend against the laws of metre. In the earlier part of this work I have got rid of some of their deformities, but in this and a few of the latter plays I have been content with exposing them, being certain that their notoriety will hereafier prove the means of securing a privilege which, respecting the present editors, may be litigated. Steevens.
That death 's unnatural, that kills for loving.] This thought is likewise found in The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, a po. em, by H. L. 16mo. 1597:
“ Unnatural, which kill where you should kisse.” Again, in our poet's King Richard III:
“ It is a quarrel nost unnatural,
Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin ;
Des. Then, Lord have mercy on me!
I say, amen.
Oth. By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in his hand.
He found it then ;
He hath confess'd.
No, his mouth is stoppid; Honest Iago hath ta'en order for 't.7
5 A murder, which I thought a sacrifice : ] This line is difficult. Thou hast hardened my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a murderer when I thought to have sacrificed thee to jus. tice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.
It must not be omitted, that one of the elder quartos reads, thou dost stone thy heart; which I suspect to be genuine. The meaning then will be,--thou forcest me to dismiss thee from the world in the state of the murdered without preparation for death, when I intended that thy punishment should have been a sacrifice atoning for thy crime.
I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this dreadful scene. It is not to be endured. Johnson. Thy heart, is the reading of the original quarto, 1622. Malone.
That he hath-us'd thee.] The quarto, 1622, exhibits this line thus:
That he hath-uds death. Nalone.
hath ta'en order for 't.] i. e. has taken measures. So, in Holinshed's Reign of King John: “ - he took such order for him, that he was despoiled of all his goods and benefices.” p. 174. Steevens.
Des. My fear interprets then,- What, is he dead?
Oth. Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge Had stomach for them all.
Des. Alas! he is betray'd, and I undone.
But half an hour.
Being done, There is no pause. Des.
But while I say one prayer. Oth. It is too late.1
[He smothers her.
Again, in Dido, Queen of Carthage, by Marlowe and Nashe, 1594:
“ I will take order for that presently." Malone.
Had all his hairs been lives,] This thought appears to have been very common, as it occurs frequently in dramatick performances prior to Shakspeare's Othello. So, in The Devil's Charter, by Barnaby Barnes, 1607:
“ Know, Cæsai, had i now as many lives
“ I would,” &c.
but if all
“ In such a cause.” Again, in Hieronymo :
“ Had I as many lives as there be stars —" Steevens. King and no King, as appears by Sir Henry Herbert's papers, was produced in 1611. Malone. 9 Being done, There is no pause.] The first quarto omits this speech.
Steevens. 1 It is too late.] After this speech of Othello, the elder quarto adds an invocation from Desdemona, consisting only of the sacred name thrice repeated. As this must be supposed to have been uttered while she is yet struggling with death, I think an editor may be excused from inserting such a circumstance of şupererogatory horror, especially as it is found in but one of the ancient copies. Steevens.
This alteration was probably made in consequence of the statute of the 3d of James I, c. 21, which lays a penalty for the profane use of the name of God, &c. in stage-plays, interludes, May-games, &c. Tollet. VOL. XII.