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Richer than all his tribe, seems to point out the Jew again in a mercantile light; and may mean, that the pearl was richer than all the gems to be found among a set of men generally trading in them. Neither do I recollect that Othello mentions many things, but what he might fairly have been allowed to have had knowledge of in the course of his peregrinations. Of this kind are the similes of the Euxine sea flowing into the Propontick, and the Arabian trees dropping their gums. The rest of his speeches are more free from mythological and historical allusions, than almost any to be found in Shakspere, for he is never quite clear from them; though in the design of this character he seems to have meant it for one who had spent a greater part of his life in the field, than in the cultivation of any other knowledge than what would be of use to him in his military capacity. It should be observed, that most of the flourishes merely ornamental were added after the first edition; and this is not the only proof to be met with, that the poet in his alterations sometimes forgot his original plan.
The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine woman, may, for aught I know, be very common; but in the instances Dr. Warburton has brought to prove it so, there are found circumstances that immediately shew a woman to have been meant. So, in Troilus and Cressida:
“ Her BED IS INDIA, there she lies a pearl.
In Othello's speech we find no such leading expression; and are therefore at liberty, I think, to take the passage in its literal meaning.
Either we are partial to discoveries which we make for ourselves, or the spirit of controversy is contagious ; for it usually happens that each possessor of an ancient copy of our author is led to assert the supe. riority of all such readings as have not been exhibited in the notes, or received into the text of the last edition. On this account, our present republication (and more especially in the celebrated plays) affords a greater number of these diversities than were ever be. fore obtruded on the publick. A time however may arrive, when a complete body of variations being printed, our readers may luxuriate in an ample feast of thats and whiches; and thenceforward it may be prophesied, that all will unite in a wish that the se. lection had been made by an editor, rather than sub. mitted to their own labour and sagacity.
To this note should be subjoined (as an apology for many others which may not be thought to bring conviction with them] that the true sense of a passage has frequently remained undetermined, till repeated experiments have been tried on it; when one commentator, making a proper use of the errors of ano. ther, has at last explained it to universal satisfaction. When mistakes have such effects, who would regret having been mistaken, or be sorry to prove the means of directing others, by that affinity which a wrong reading or intepretation sometimes his to the right, though he has not been so lucky as to produce
at once authorities which could not be questioned, or decisions to which nothing could be added ?
“ I had but one inestimable Jewel
FARMER. Mr. Theobald is often unfaithful in his account of the ancient copies. He says, he has restored Judean from the elder quarto; but both the quartos readIndian, as does the second folio. Judean is found only in the folio, 1623. In the MS. of that age n is scarcely distinguishable from u, and they who are conversant with the press well know, that if by negligence a dot is omitted over i, a compositor always considers it as an e. Hence probably the mistake in the first folio. It is surely no trivial objection to the reading Judean, that there is no such word. The country is Judæa, or Judéa, and the derivative must. be Judéan. For these reasons, I believe Indian to have been our author's word. His tribe perhaps does not refer either to Judéan or Indian, but to the pearl : A pearl richer than the whole class of pearls. His for its is common in our author.
Whether we understand pearl in its primitive or figurative sence, I strongly incline to read Indian, because, I think, the pearl would naturally bring the
people of the East to Shakspere's mind ; the connexion in his time being considered so strong, that a contemporary author has distinguished the inhabitants of India by an epithet founded on the circumstance of their abounding in pearls:
where the bright sun with his neighbour
beams “ Doth early light the pearled Indians." Cornelia, a tragedy by T. Kyd, 1594.
MALONE. 544. Where a malignant and a turband Turk] I am told that it is immediate death for a Christian to strike a Turk in Aleppo. Othello is boasting of his own audacity.
ANON. 551. Killing myself to die upon a kiss.] So, in the Second Part of Marlow's Tamburlaine, 1590:
“ Yet let me kiss my lord before I dye,
STEEVENS. 554. O Spartan dog !] The dogs of Spartan race were reckoned among those of the most fierce and
HANMER. They are again mentioned in A Midsummer Night's Dream :
“ When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear “ With hounds of Sparta."
HENLEY. 560. -To you, tordugovernor,
Remains the censure of this hellish villain ;] Rymer, who had neither vigour of imagination to make a poet, nor strength of judgment to make a
critick, as appears from his Edgar, and his Remarks on Shakspere, had yet just enough to play the buffoon and caviller. His criticism on the Poets of the last age, with only a mixture of trite remarks, transcribed from the French commentators on Aristotle, are one continued heap of ignorance and insolence. Almost the only remark on Shakspere, which, I think, deserves an answer, is upon Iago's character, which he thus censures. To entertain the audience (says he) with something new and surprising, against common sense and nature, he would pass upon us a close, dissembling, false, ungrateful rascal, instead of an open-hearted, frank, plaindealing soldier, a character constantly worn by them for some thousands of years in the world. This hath the appearance of sense, being founded on that rule of Nature and Aristotle, that each character should have manners convenient to the age, sex, and condition.
Ætatis cujusque notandi sunt tibi mores, &c. says Horace. But how has our critick applied it? According to this rule it is confessed, that a soldier should be brave, generous, and a man of honour, This is to be his dramatick character But either one or more of any order may be brought in. If only one, then the character of the order takes its denomination from the manners of that one. Had therefore the only soldier in this play been Iago, the rule had been transgressed, and Rymer's censure well founded : for then this eternal villain must have given the character of the soldiery ; which had been unjust and ur natural. But if a number of the same order be re