Page images

And bade me, if I had a friend that lov'd her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint, I spake:
She lov'd me for the dangers I had pass'd;
And I lov’d her, that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us’d;
Here comes the lady, let her witness it.

Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO, and Attendants.
Duke. I think, this tale would win my daughter

too. Good Brabantio, Take

up this mangled matter at the best: Men do their broken



use, Than their bare hands. Bra.


pray you, hear her speak; If she confess, that she was half the wooer, Destruction on my head, if my bad blame Light on the man!—Come hither, gentle mistress; Do you perceive in all this noble company, Where most you owe obedience ? Des.

My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty : To you, I am bound for life, and education; My life, and education, both do learn me How to respect you; you are the lord of duty, I am hitherto your daughter: But here's my husband; And so much duty as my mother show'd To you, preferring you before her father, So much I challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor, my lord.

Bra. God be with you!—I have done: Please it your grace, on to the state affairs; I had rather to adopt a child, than get it.Come hither, Moor: I here do give thee that with all my heart,

Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
I would keep from thee.—For your sake, jewel,
I am glad at soul I have no other child;
For thy escape would teach me tyranny,
To hang clogs on them.- I have done, my lord.
Duke. Let me speak like yourself30; and lay a

sentence, Which, as a grise 31, or step, may help these lovers Into your

favour. When remedies are past, the griefs are ended 32, By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended, To mourn a mischief that is past and gone, Is the next way to draw new mischief on. What cannot be preserv'd when fortune takes, Patience her injury a mockery makes. The robb’d, that smiles, steals something from the

thief; He robs himself, that spends a bootless grief.

Bra. So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile; We lose it not, so long as we can smile. He bears the sentence well, that nothing bears But the free comfort which from thence he hears: But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow, That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow. These sentences, to sugar, or to gall, Being strong on both sides, are equivocal:


30 i. e. 'let me speak as yourself would speak, were you not too much heated with passion.'—Sir J. Reynolds.

31 Grise or greese is a step; from grés, French. The word occurs again in Timon of Athens :

for every grize of fortune

Is smooth'd by that below.' Ben Jonson, in his Sejanus, has degrees in the same sense:-

• Whom when we saw lie spread on the degrees.' 32 This is expressed in a common proverbial form in Love's Labour's Lost:

• Past cure is still past care.'

But words are words; I never yet did hear,
That the bruis'd heart was pierced through the ear33.
I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state.

Duke. The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for Cyprus :—Othello, the fortitude of the place is best known to you: And though we have there a substitute of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer voice on you; you must therefore be content to slubber 34 the gloss of your new fortunes with this more stubborn and boisterous expedition.'

Oth. The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
My thrice-driven bed of down 35: I do agnize 36
A natural and prompt alacrity,
I find in hardness; and do undertake
These present wars against the Ottomites.

that the wounds of sorrow were ever cured by the words of consolation. Pierced is here used for penetrated. Spenser has employed the word in the same figurative sense, Faerie Queepe, b. vi. c. 9 :

· Whose senseful words empierst his hart so neare

That he was rapt with double ravishment.' So in his fourth book, c. viii.:

"Her words

Which passing through the eares, would pierce the hart.' 34 To ślubber here means to obscure. So in Jeronimo, 1605,

33 i. e.

first part

• The evening too begins to slubber the day.' The latter part of this metaphor has already occurred in Macbeth:

golden opinions Which should be worn now in their newest gloss.', 35 A driven bed is a bed for which the feathers have been selected by driving with a fan, which separates the light from the heavy.

36 To agnize is to acknowledge, confess, or avow. Thus in a Summarie Report, &c. of the Speaker relative to Mary Queen of Scots, 4to. 1586:—- A repentant convert agnizing ber Majesty's great mercie,' &c. It sometimes signified to know by some token, to admit, or allow.'


Most humbly therefore bending to your state,
I crave fit disposition for my wife;
Due reference of place, and exhibition 37.
With such accommodation, and besort,
As levels with her breeding.

If you please,
Be't at her father's.

I'll not have it so.
Oth. Nor I.

Nor I; I would not there reside,
To put my father in impatient thoughts,
By being in his eye. Most gracious duke,
To my unfolding lend a gracious ear
And let me find a charter in your voice 39,
To assist my simpleness.
Duke. What would


Desdemona ? Des. That I did love the Moor to live with him, My downright violence and storm of fortunes 40 May trumpet to the world; my heart's subdued Even to the very quality 41 of my

37 I desire that proper disposition be made for my wife, that she may have a fit place appointed for her residence, and such allowance, accommodation, and attendance as befits her rank.' Exhibition for allowance has already occurred in King Lear, and in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

38 Thus in the quarto 1622. The folio, to avoid the repetition of the same epithet, reads :

Most gracious duke, To my unfolding lend a prosperous ear. i. e. a propitious ear.

39 That is, ' let your favour privilege me.'

40 By her downright violence and storm of fortunes’ Desdemona means, the bold and decisive measure she had taken, of following the dictates of passion, and giving herself to the Moor, regardless of her parent's displeasure, the forms of her country, and the future inconveniences she might be subject to, by tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes, in an extravagant and wheeling stranger, of here and every where.' This was truly taking her fortunes by storm.

41 Quality here, as in other passages of Shakspeare, means

lord :

[ocr errors]


I saw Othello's visage in his mind;
And to his honours, and his valiant parts,
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites, for which I love him, are bereft me,
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence: Let me go with him.
Oth. Your voices, lords—’beseech you, let her

will Have a free way. Vouch with me, heaven; I therefore beg it not, To please the palate of my appetite; Nor to comply with heat (the young affects, In me defunct) and proper satisfaction 42 ; profession. My heart is so entirely devoted to Othello, that I will even encounter the dangers of his military profession with him. The quarto reads, “My heart's subdued even to the utmost pleasure of my lord.' 42 Steevens reads, at the suggestion of Sir T. Hanmer:

* Nor to comply with beat, the young affects,

In my distinct and proper satisfaction.'
Malone reads disjunct instead of distinct. In the Bondman of
Massinger we have a passage evidently copied from this speech
of Othello :-

Let me wear
Your colours, lady, and though youthful heats
That look no further than your outward form
Are long since buried in me, while I live,

I am a constant lover of you mind,' &c. Mr. Gifford observes that, as this shows how Shakspeare's contemporaries understood the lines, it should, I think, with us be decisive of their meaning.'— The admirers of Shakspeare cannot but recollect with dismay the prodigious mass of conjectural criticism accumulated on this simple passage, as well as the melancholy presage with which it terminates; that after all it will probably prove a lasting source of doubt and controversy. I confess I see little or rather no occasion for either : nor can I possibly conceive why, after the rational and unforced explanation of Johnson, the worthless reveries of Theobald, Tollet, &c. were admitted.Affects occur incessantly in the sense of passions, affections : - young affects are therefore per

« PreviousContinue »