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mean only, “that it is too soon to judge of a husband's “ disposition; or that Desdemona must not be sur
prised at the discovery of Othello's jealousy, for it “ is not even a year or two that will display all the
failings of a man."
Mr. Tollet, however, on this occasion has produced several instances in support of Dr. Johnson's opinion ; and as I am unable to explain them in favour of my own supposition, I shall lay them before the publick. Act iii. line 443, Othello says:
What sense had I of her stolen hours of lust?
I found not Cassio's kisses on her lips. On Othello's wedding night he and Cassio embarked from Venice, where Desdemona was left under the care of lago. They all meet at Cyprus; and since their arrival there, the scenes include only one night, the night of the celebration of their nuptials. lago had not then infused any jealousy into Othello's mind, nor did he suspect any former intimacy between Cassio and Desdemona, but only thought it “ apt and of great credit that she loved him.” What night then was there to intervene between Cassio's kisses and Othello's sleeping the next night well? Iago has said, “I lay with Cassio lately,” which he could not have done, unless they had been longer at Cyprus than is represented in the play; nor could Cassio have kept away, for the space of a whole week, from Bianca.
391. It was an handkerchief, &c.] Othello tells his wife, act iii. line 658 :
Did an Egyptian to my mother give. And here he says:
It was an handkerchief
My father gave my mother. This last passage has been censured as an oversight in the poet: but perhaps it exhibits only a fresh proof of his art. The first account of the handkerchief, as given by Othello, was purposely ostentatious, in order to alarm his wife the more. When he mentions it a second time, the truth was sufficient for his purpose.
This circumstance of the handkerchief is perhaps ridiculed by Ben Jonson, in his Poctaster-"you shall see me do the Moor; master, lend me your scarf.”
STEEVENS. I question, whether Othellowas written early enough to be ridiculed by the Poetaster. There were many other Moors on the stage. It is certain at least, that the passage,
“ Our new heraldry is hands, not hearts." could not be inserted before the middle of the year 1611.
FARMER. If the allusion in the Poetaster (which was printed in 1601) were to Othello, it would fix its date much earlier than I conceive it to have been written.-But the allusion in the passage quoted, is not to Othello, but to an old play called the Battle of Alcazar, 1594.
In the Poetaster, Pyrgus, who says, you “ shall see me do the Moor," proceeds in the same scene, and repeats an absurd speech of the Moor's in the Battle of Alcazar, beginning with this line :
“ Where art thou, boy ? where is Calipolis ?" which ascertains the allusion to be to that play.
-as the north ;] The old quarto reads,
I'll be in speaking liberal as the air. Liberal, is free, under no controul. This quality of North-wind is mentioned in Victoria Corombona, &c. 1612 :
“And let th’ irregular North-wind sweep her up." Again, in Jeronimo, i. e. the first part of the Spanish Tragedy, 1605 : “ Now let your bloods be liberal as the sea."
STEEVENS. 415. Are there no stones in heaven
But what serve for the thunder ? -] Shakspere might mean, does heaven reserve its thunder only to make a noise ? has it no implements of mis. chief to punish as well as terrify?
quum fulmina torques “ Necquicquam horremus ? cæcique in nubibus
ignes « Terrificant animos, et inania murmura mis. cent?'
STEEVENS. 431. And die in musick, &c.] Tlis, and the two foriner lines of the speech, are wanting in the first quarto.
436. -the ice-brook's temper;] In the first edition it is Isebrooke's temper. Thence corrupted to Ice-brook's. Ebro's temper; the waters of that river of Spain are particularly famous for tempering of steel. The finest arms in the world are the Catalonian fusees.
РОРЕ. I believe the old reading changed to ice-brook is right. Steel is har ned by being put red hot into very cold water.
JOHNSON. The particular name of the ice-brook may be determined by the following passages in Martial. It was undoubtedly the brook or rivulet called Salo (now Xalun), near Bilbilis in Celtiberia. In this the Spaniards plunged all their swords and other weapons while hot from the forge; and to the icy quality of the waters, they were indebted for their stubborn temper :
“ Sævo Bilbilin optimam metallo
Quam fluctu tenui sed inquieto
“ Armorum-Salo temperator ambit." Again,
“ Quibus remissum corpus astringes brevi,
“ Salone, qui ferrum gelat.” Again,
Pugio, quem curvis fignat brevis orbita
“ Stridentem gelidis hunc Salo tinxit aquis.” Again, in Justin, l. 44. “ Præcipua his quidem ferri materia, sed aqua ipsa ferro violentior; quippe tempe
ramento ejus ferrum acrius redditur ; nec ullum apud eos telum probatur quod non aut in Bilbili fluvio aut Chalybe tingatur. Unde etiam Chalybes fluvii hujus finitimi appellati, ferroque cæteris præstare dicuntur.” These parts of Spain have been at all times famous for the temper of their arms.
STBEVENS. I incline to read,
It is a sword of Spain, 'tis ebroes temper. If we suppose that the words ['tis ebroes] were hud. dled together either in transcribing or composing, thus ['tisebroes] the compositor in running it over with his eye, might (to make it sense as he thought) add a • couple of letters, and divide the words thus (th’isebrokes), which is nearly as it stands in the old quarto.
I doubt whether ice-brooks are usual in the climate of Spain.
BLACKSTONE. 456. - ill-starr'd wench !] This and the six preceding lines, are omitted in the first quarto. Wench originally signified only a young woman. Cassandra, in Whetstone's Promos, &c. 1578, says of herself; « Oh wretched wench, where may I first com
playne?" Again, “ Therefore, sweet u'enche, helpe me to rue my
woe.” The word is used without any dishonourable meaning in the Bible.
“ And a winch tild him," &c. And again, by Gavin Douglas, in his version of the Æneid :