Page images
PDF
EPUB

And in the essential vesture of creation,
Does bear all excellency '1.-How now? who has

put in ?

Re-enter second Gentleman. 2 Gent. 'Tis one Iago, ancient to the general.

Cas. He has had most favourable and happy speed: Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling winds, The gutter'd rocks, and congregated sands, Traitors ensteep'd 12 to clog the guiltless keel, As having sense of beauty, do omit Their mortal 13 naturez, letting go safely by The divine. Desdemona. Mon.

What is she? Cas. She that I spake of, our great captain's

captain, Left in the conduct of the bold Iago; Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts, A se'nnight's speed.—Great Jove, Othello guard, And swell his sail with thine own powerful breath;

11 This is the reading of the quartos: the folio has :

* And in the essential vesture of crèution

Do's tyre the Ingeniuer.' By the essential vesture of creation the poet means her outward form, which he in another place calls “the muddy vesture of decay. If the reading of the folio be adopted, the meaning would be this: She is one who excels all description, and in real beauty, or outward form, goes beyond the power of the inventive pencil of the artist.– Fleckno, in his discourse on the English Stage, 1664, speaking of painting, mentions the stupendous works of your great ingeniers.' And Ben Jonson, his Sejanus, Act iy. Sc. 4:

• No, Silius, we are no good ingeniers,

We want the fine arts." An ingenier or ingeniuer undoubtedly means an artist or painter; and is perhaps only another form of engineer, anciently used for any kind of artist or artificer.

12 • Traitors ensteeped' are merely traitors concealed under the water.

13 Mortal is deadly, destructive.

That he may bless this bay with his tall ship,
Make love's quick pants in Desdemona's arms,
Give renew'd fire to our extincted spirits,
And bring all Cyprus comfort !-o, behold,
Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, IAGO, RODERIGO,

and Attendants.
The riches of the ship is come on shore 14 !
Ye men of Cyprus; let her have your knees:
Hail to thee, lady! and the grace of heaven,
Before, behind thee, and on every hand,
Enwheel thee round !
Des.

I thank you, valiant Cassio. What tidings can you tell me of my

lord ? Cas. He is not yet arriv’d; nor know I aught But that he's well, and will be shortly here.

Des. 0, but I fear;—How lost you company?

Cas. The great contention of the sea and skies Parted our fellowship: But, hark ! a sail.

[Cry within, A sail, a sail! Then guns heard. 2 Gent. They give their greeting to the citadel; This likewise is a friend. Cas.

See for the news

[Exit Gentleman. Good ancient, you are welcome ;-Welcome, mistress:

[T. EMILIA. Let it not gall your patience, good Iago, That I extend my manners; 'tis my breeding That gives me this bold show of courtesy.

[Kissing her. Iago. Sir, would she give you so much of her lips As of her tongue she oft bestows on me, You'd have enough.

15.

14 • The riches of the ship is come on shore.' Shakspeare uses riches as a singular in his eighty-seventh Sonnet:

* And for that riches, where is my deserving ?' 15 The first quarto reads. So speaks this voice.'

Des.

Alas, she has no speech.
Iago. In faith too much;
I find it still, when I have list to sleep:
Marry, before your ladyship, I grant,
She puts her tongue a little in her heart,
And chides with thinking.
Emil.

You have little cause to say so. Iago. Come on, come on; you are pictures out

of doors, Bells in your parlours, wild cats in your kitchens, Saints in your injuries 16, devils being offended, Players in your housewifery, and housewives in

your beds.

Des. 0, fye upon thee, slanderer!

Iago. Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk; You rise to play, and go to bed to work.

Emil. You shall not write my praise. lago.

No, let me not. Des. What would'st thou write of me, if thou

should'st praise me? lago. O gentle lady, do not put me to't; For I am nothing, if not critical 17. Des. Come on, assay:- :-There's one gone to the

harbour ? lago. Ay, madam.

Des. I am not merry; but I do beguile The thing I am, by seeming otherwise. Come, how would'st thou praise me?

Iago. I am about it; but, indeed, my invention 16 That is when you have a mind to do injuries, you put on an air of sanctity. In Pattenham's Art of Poesie, 1589, we have almost the same thoughts:—We limit the comely parts of a woman to consist in four points; that is, to be a shrew in the kitchen, a saint in the church, an angel at board, and an ape in the bed; as the chronicle reports by mistress Shore, paramour to King Edward the Fourth. There is something similar in Middleton's Blurt Master Constable, 1602; and it is alluded to in The Miseries of Inforc'd Marriage, 1607.

17 i.e. censorious.

Comes from my pate, as birdlime does from frize18,
It plucks out brains and all: But my muse labours,
And thus she is deliver'd.
If she be fair and wise, fairness, and wit,
The one's for use, the other useth it.

Des. Well prais'd! How if she be black and witty?

Iago. If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
She'll find a white that shall her blackness fit 19.

Des. Worse and worse.
Emil. How, if fair and foolish ?

Iago. She never yet was foolish that was fair;
For even her folly help'd her to an heir.

Des. These are old fond paradoxes, to make fools laugh i'the alehouse. What miserable praise hast thou for her that's foul and foolish ?

Iago. There's none so foul, and foolish thereunto, But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.

Des. O heavy ignorance!—thou praisest the worst best.

But what praise could'st thou bestow on a deserving woman indeed 20! one, that, in the autho-.. rity of her merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself 21 ?

Iago. She that was ever fair, and never proud;
Had tongue at will, and yet was never loud;
Never lack'd gold, and yet went never gay ;
Fled from her wish, and yet said, -now I may;

18 A similar thought occurs in The Puritan :- The excuse stuck upon my tongue like ship-pitch upon a mariner's gown.'

19 The quarto reads—hit.

20 The hint for this question and the metrical reply of Iago is taken from a strange pamphlet called Choice, Chance, and Change, or Conceits in their Colours, 1606.

21 The sense is this one that was so conscious of her own merit, and of the authority her character had with every one, that she durst call upon malice itself to vouch for her. This was some commendation. And the character only of clearest virtue; which could force malice, even against its nature, to do justice. - Warburton. To put on is to provoke, to incite.

She that, being anger'd, her revenge being nigh,
Bade her wrong stay, and her displeasure fy:
She, that in wisdom never was so frail,
To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail 22;
She that could think, and ne'er disclose her mind,
See suitors following, and not look behind;
She was a wight,—if ever such wight were,

Des. To do what?
Iago. To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer 23.

Des. O most lame and impotent conclusion ! Do not learn of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband.—How say you, Cassio ? is he not a most profane 24 and liberal counsellor?

Cas. He speaks home, madam; you may relish him more in the soldier, than in the scholar.

Iago. [Aside.] He takes her by the palm: Ay, well said, whisper: with as little a web as this, will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon her, do; I will gyve 25 thee in thine own courtship. You say true; 'tis so indeed: if such tricks as these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had been better you had not kissed your three fingers so oft, which now again you are most apt to play the sir in.

23

3 i. e.

[ocr errors]

22 That is to exchange a delicacy for coarser fare. See Queen Elizabeth's Household Book for the forty-third year of her reign : Item, the master cookes have to fee all the salmons' tailes,' &c. p. 296.

to suckle children and keep the accounts of the household.' These expressions are only instances of the 'want of natural affection, and the predominance of a critical censoriousness in Iago, which he allows himself to be possessed of, where he says '0! I am nothing if not critical.'

24 See Act i. Sc. 1, note 20. Liberal is licentious. 25 To gyve is to fetter, to shackle. The first quarto reads—I will catch you in your own courtsies. It may be as well to observe that courtship is the same as courtesy, i. e. complimentary or courtly behaviour. To play the sir is to show good breeding and gallantry.

« PreviousContinue »