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able to decide the controversy. But the author had a thinks that this and other passages seem to suppose clear meaning in his mind, and the only ditficulty is to a longer space comprised in the action of this play than decide which of the several meanings presented by va the scene includes. Mr. Tollet has adduced several ried punctuation and emphasis, is the one intended. instances in support of this opinion, as that in act iii. The punctuation adopted in the text is that first sug. scene 3:gested by Uplon and Warburton, which adds so much I slept the next night well, fed well, was free and merry ; beauty and force, that it has at last obtained general I found not Cassio's kisses on her lips.' reception even among those critics most tenacious of “ On Othello's wedding night, he and Cassio embarked the original readings. Warburton thus comments on from Venice, where Desdemona was left under the his reading :

care of lago. They all met at Cyprus; and since “The meaning is—I will put out the light, and then their arrival there, the scenes include only one night, proceed to the execution of my purpose. But the ex the night of the celebration of their nuptials. What pression of putting out the light bringing to mind the night was there to intervene between Cassio's kisses effects of the extinction of the light of life, he breaks and Othello's sleeping the next night well ? lago has short, and questions himself about the effects of this said, “I lay with Cassio lately,' which he could not metaphorical extinction, introduced by a repetition of well have done, unless they had been longer at Cyprus his first words, as much as to say— But hold, let me than is represented in this play; nor could Cassio have first weigh the reflections which this expression so na kept away for the space of a whole week from Bianca.” turally excites.”

Stevens obviates one objection, by supposing that what But the learned Dr. Farmer treats this as a fanciful Othello mentions might have passed before he was refinement, “giving a spirit which was never intended married, when Cassio went between them, and that by the author.” He says—“ It seems a mere play upon a thousand times is only an aggravated term for many words; to put the light out, was a phrase for to kill.times. Malone supports this opinion warmly, maintaining that The laws of dramatic writing as to time, are founded the Poet meant merely to say, “I will now put out the on the degree of acquiescence the mind can give to any lighted taper which I hold, and then put out the light imaginary prolongation of the supposed period of draof life.” He conjectures, too, the true reading to be matic action beyond that which actually passes, as the “and then put out thy light.” But the internal evi spectator witnesses the representation. The classic and dence of the connection of thought, the Shakespearian regular French drama, somewhat arbitrarily, confined characteristics of manner, and the increased impressive the duration of the plot to twenty-four hours. In the ness and pathos, have overcome these objections, and English, Gesman, and what is called generally the Ronow give very general acceptance to the later reading. mantic drama, there is given great allowance for a Knight, a verse as he is to innovation upon the folio, lapse of time of days and weeks in those intervals beagrees with Singer and Collier in adopting the amended tween the acts and scenes when the stage is empty; punctuation; and the younger Boswell, while he leaves and the spectator may as well believe a day to have Malone's text unaltered, thus comments upon it : elapsed as an hour. To this the imagination readily

“Broken sentences, as I have had occasion more lends itself. But ordinarily the mind is not ready to give than once to observe, are much in our Poet's manner, assent to a very much greater lapse of time, claimed by and are surely natural in the perturbed state of the poet as necessary for his story, than actually passes Othello's mind. I am unwilling to persuade myself while the stage is occupied by the same continuous diathat a regulation of the text which contains so much logue. beauty could be merely the refinement of a critic, and Now, to my mind, there are two distinct grounds of that our great author, in one of his most highly-wrought defence for our Poet in his alleged breach of the comscenes, instead of it, intended nothing but a cold con mon law of the English stage; for no one pretends ceit."

that he is amenable to the stricter statute of the clasAnd mak'st me call, what I intend to do,

sic drama. The English commentators have quite

overlooked the first and most obvious defence, which A murder

is strange. There is an interval of a sea-voyage be“This line is difficult. Thou hast hardened my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a mur

tween the first and second acts, after the marriage.

There is again an interval between the first and third derer when I thought to have sacrificed thee to justice

scenes of the third act, quite sufficient to allow as large with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.

an interval as an imagination at all excited by the * One of the quartos reads—thou dost stone thy

interest of the plot, could require. Cassio, after reheart;' which I suspect to be genuine. The meaning

questing an opportunity to solicit Desdemona's interthen will be thou forcest me to dismiss thee from the

cession for him, is not of necessity immediately admitworld in the state of the murdered without preparation

ted to an interview. For aught that appears, a week for death, when I intended that thy punishment should

may have elapsed in the two intervals, between the have been a sacrifice atoning for thy crime.

first and third scenes, while the stage is twice va“I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this

There is also an indefinite interval after the dreadful scene. It is not to be endured.”—Johnson.

first strong suspicions have been infused into Othello's Thy heart is the reading of the original quarto, breast, between the third and fourth acts. To my un1622.” -MALONE.

derstanding this is quite sufficient for Shakespeare's Singer's alteration of the punctuation is ingenious, vindication, upon the naked literal facts of the case, to and may possibly be right:

the most matter-of-fact and unpoetical comprehension. • And mak'st me call, what I intend to do

But the higher ground of the Poet's justification is, (A murder which I thought) a sacrifice.'

that even the fault charged does not offend against the i. e. Thou dost harden my heart, and mak’st me call

principle and intent of the dramatic law. It is the purwhat I before thought a murder, now only a sacrifice.

pose of the rule that the reader or spectator should not “So, so !”—There is no stage-direction at this place

be offended by palpable impossibility, so as to prevent in the original copies; but it is most probable that the

him from giving that transient assent to the reality of Poet intended Othello here to stab Desdemona, accord

the scene, which is necessary for any lively interest or ing to the practice of the modern stage. His previous deep emotion. Now in every scene of quick and exresolution, “ I'll not shed her blood," is forgotten in

citing action, whether it be the torrent-like rapidity of the agony and terror of the moment, when he says

events in Macbeth, or the crowded interest of the “Not dead! not yet quite dead ?”

Agamemnon of Eschylus, or Corneille's Cid, or even

the colder succession of incident in Addison's Cato, the “ – a THOUSAND times commilted.-Dr. Johnson events occurring as related are such as by no possi

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bility could occur within the limits of the actual repre- have a peculiarly Hebrew signification. We may mensentation; yet these are all received by the mind as at tion that a correspondent wishes to impress upon us least probable or conventional truths, sometimes even that the allusion was to Judas Iscariot. Boswell shows as living realities. Their suggestions are filled out by that tribe meant in Shakespeare's day kindred; that the workings of our thoughts, as the eye fills up for base is used in the sense of ignorant ; and, what is very itself the outline of a masterly sketch with the details important, that two poets, after Shakespeare, bave denecessary for truth of imitation. When the imagina- scribed the Indians as casting away jewels of which tion is warmed, the feelings engaged, the attention they knew not the value. Harrington, in his “Casfixed, the intellect busy, we do not stop to look at the tara,' has these lines :watch. Therefore it is that we follow Iago's machina

So the unskilful Indian those bright gems tions, and Othello's wrath kindling till it blazes into a

Which might add majesty to diaderns devouring flame, not as the mere witness of so many

'Mong the waves scatters.' minutes' dialogue, but as made privy to a plot of which

And Sir Edward Howard, in The Woman's Conquest,' this dialogue is but the outline, and which may have

has occupied days, and weeks, and even months, in its

Behold my queenprogress. When the Poet has once subjected us to his

Who with po more concern I'll cast away

Than Indians do a pearl, that ne'er did know control on the stage, there seems no reason why we

Its value.' should be more sensible of the short space of time into

Coleridge prefers Indian. He says Othello wishes to which he crowds his events, than the reader is in pursuing any imaginative and impassioned narrative. It does

excuse himself on the score of ignorance, and yet not to

excuse himself—to excuse himself by accusing. This not occur to us to inquire whether the catastrophe was

struggle of feeling is finely conveyed in the word base,' attained in an hour or two, or in as many weeks.

which is applied to the rude Indian, not in his own Such is certainly the experience as to OTHELLO; for until it became the subject of minute criticism by pro

character, but as the momentary representative of

Othello's.'» fessed critics and laborious commentators, it had been the delight of the stage and the closet, for a century

To these observations it may be added, that the rhythm

agrees better with Indian, unless the accent is laid and a half, before it occurred to any one that there was the smallest incongruity as to the time of action.

upon the first syllable of Judean, which (though not

without example) is not usual. Thus stood the quesIf my own experience can add any thing to the general suffrage, I can say that after thirty years' admira- reading, when Collier settled this with several other

tion, the better critical opinion inclining to the quarto tion and study of this drama, the difficulty above sug- doubtful readings in this play, by showing conclusively gested never attracted my attention until the prepara

that the quarto of 1630 was a separate and distinct aution of this edition led to a more minute examination

thority, bearing internal evidence that the two quartos of the commentators.

and the folio were all from separate manuscripts. This “Iago stabs EMILIA, then runs out,” etc.—The old last edition of original authority agrees with the first stage-direction is The Moor runs at lago; Iago kills

in “ Indian,” showing therefore that Judean was clearly his wife ;" but his exit is not marked until after Emil- a misprint, as well it might be. ia's next speech, although Gratiano before says “ He's gone.” It appears from the text that Montano disarms Othello. Wishing to preserve the author's original idea of the stage action, I have restored so much of the old stage-direction as had been omitted.

« the ICE-BROOK's temper.”—Thus the folio; but as it was printed in the quartos “isebrookes," Pope and Sir W. Blackstone would read, the “Ebro's temper." The folio is right, and the other a misprint, for the swords or blades of Spain were famous in these days, as we may learn from Ben Jonson and others, and it was the common practice to temper steel by putting it red-hot into very cold water. Stevens has shown from Justin and Martial, that in ancient Spain this was done by plunging weapons hot from the forge in the icy waters of the Salo and the Chalybes. “Gelidis hunc Salo tinrit aquis.It is not necessary to suppose that Shakespeare got this knowledge from classic reading, for the mode of tempering a “ Toledo” in those days, when every gentleman wore a sword and was curious as to its quality, must have been a common topic of information.

“ – towards his feet–To see (observes Johnson) if, according to the common opinion, his feet were cloven.

Like the base Indian”—The first quarto reads distinctly Indian ; the first folio, Iudean. The controversy as to reading Indian, or Judean, and who was the base Judean, occupies six pages of the Variorum Editions,

[Estradiot, or Greek Soldier, in service of Venice.) which Knight thus sums up:

“ Theobald maintained ihat he was Herod, who, in a fit of blind jealousy, threw away such a jewel of a wife as Marianne was to bim.' Stevens brings forward “The beauties of this play impress themselves so an old story of a Jew, who threw a pearl into the Adri- strongly upon the attention of the reader, that they can atic. This story looks excessively like a forgery, in draw no aid from critical illustration. The fiery openwhich art Stevens dabbled. He will not have the In- ness of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, dian, because he thinks "base an improper epithet. boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inMalone rejects him, because the word tribe appears to flexible in his resolution, and obdurate in his revenge ;

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the cool malignity of lago, silent in his resentment, his murdered wife bursts forth, with the painful sentisubtle in his designs, and studious at once of his inter- ment of annihilated reputation, and he assails himself est and his vengeance;—the soft simplicity of Desde- with the rage which a des pot displays in punishing a mona, confident of merit and conscious of innocence; runaway slave. He suffers as a double man; at once her artless perseverance in her suit, and her slowness in the higher and the lower sphere into which his being to suspect that she can be suspected;—are such proofs is divided.” of Shakespeare's skill in human nature, as, 1 suppose, All this is ingenious, original and eloquent; yet to it is in vain to seek in any modern writer. The gradual my mind widely different from the Poet's intention, and progress which lago makes in the Moor's conviction, the actual character he has so vividly pourtrayed. and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, So far as the passions of Love and Jealousy are are so artfully natural, that though it will not, perhaps, the results of our common nature, their manifestations be said of him, as he says of himself, that he is a man must be alike in the Moor and the European ; differing

not easily jealous, yet we cannot but pity him when only as modified by the more quickly excited and inat last we find him perplexed in the extreme.' There flammable temperament of the children of the sun, or is always danger lest wickedness, conjoined with abili- the slower and steadier temperament of the men of the ties, should steal upon esteem, though it misses of ap- north. But the critic confounds with this difference probation : but the character of lago is so conducted another one,—that resulting from the degraded and enthat he is, from the first scene to the last, hated and slaved state of woman in the half-civilized nations of despised.

the East. There the jealous revenge of the master* Even the inferior characters of this play would be husband, for real or imagined evil, is but the angry very conspicuous in any other piece, not only for their chastisement of an offending slave, not the terrible justness but their strength. Cassio is brave, benevo- sacrifice of his own happiness involved in the victim's lent, and honest; ruined only by his want of stubborn- punishment. When woman is a slave, a property, a ness to resist an insidious invitation. Roderigo's sus- thing, all that jealousy may prompt is done, to use picious credulity and impatient submission to the cheats Othello's own distinction, “ in hate” and “ not in love." which he sees practised upon him, (and which by per- But Othello is pourtrayed with no single trait in comsuasion he suffers to be repeated,) exhibit a strong pic- mon with the tyrant of the Eastern or African seture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a raglio. His early love is not one of wild passion, but false friend :--and the virtue of Emilia is such as we of esteem for Desdemona's gentle virtue, of gratitude often find,-worn loosely, but not cast off; easy to com- for her unlooked for interest in himself and his hismit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atro- tory, and of pride in her strong attachment. The cious villanies.

Poet has laboured to show that his is the calm and “ The scenes, from the beginning to the end, are busy, steady affection of “a constant, noble nature;" it is varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting respectful, confiding, “wrapt up in measureless conthe progress of the story: and the narrative in the end, tent," and manifesting a tender and protecting superithough it tells but what is known already, yet is neces- ority which has in it something almost parental. In sary to produce the death of Othello. Had the scene his jealousy and revenge, he resembles not the Ma. opened in Cyprus, and the preceding incidents been oc- hometan so much as the proud and sensitive Cas. casionally related, there had been little wanting to a tilian. He is characterized by all the higher qualities drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.”- of European chivalry, and especially by that quick JOHNSON.

sense of personal reputation “ which feels a stain like Johnson has left little to be added to his just and a wound, and makes his own life and that of others discriminating criticism; unless it be to observe that if alike cheap in his eyes compared with his honour. the scene of the play throughout had been laid in Cy- It is this, together with the other habits and character. prus, according to his wish, the drama would have istics of one trained in an adventurous military life, indeed acquired the arbitrary unity of the classic stage by which he is individualized. He is made a Moor, as to time and place, but nothing would be gained as not because that is at all necessary to the story, but to the more important unity of action and interest; because the Poet found it in the tale from which he while mere narrative could hardly have given us that derived the outline of his plot; and it was adopted as an familiar acquaintance with the personages of the drama, incident plastic to his purpose, and by its peculiarity and that deep respect for Othello's lofty and generous giving that air of reality to the story which accidental nature, which we derive from the actual exhibition of and unessential circumstances, such as pure imagination the prior part of his story during the first act at Venice. would not have indicated, can alone confer. It is on

Within a few years, a new view of Othello's charac- this account indeed that the original tale itself, to my ter has been maintained by Schlegel, which has found mind, has not the appearance of a product of fancy, favour with several English critics, who have repeated but seems, like many of our traditionary romantic narit in various forms. It is that in Othello the Poet has ratives, founded upon some occurrence in real life. painted not general nature, but the half-civilized Afri- Othello's Moorish blood is thus (to use a logical can Prince. Schlegel recognizes in him “the wild phrase) an accident, distinguishing the individual charnature of that glowing zone which generates the most acter, and adding to it the effect of life and reality; furious beasts of prey, and the most deadly poisons, but it is not in any sense essential to its sentiment or tamed only in appearance by the desire of fame, by passion. The tone of chivalrous honour and military foreign laws of honour, and by gentler manners.- bearing is much more so, and yet that serves only to His jealousy," says the German critic, “is not of the modify and colour the exhibition of passions common heart, which is compatible with the tenderest feeling to civilized man. The history and domestic traditions and adoration of the beloved object; it is of that sen- and legal records of Spain and Italy,—and even of Gersual sort which in torrid climes gives birth to the im- many, England, and America,-can exhibit many an prisonment of wives and other barbarous usages. A instance, in coarser and unpoetical forms, of jealous drop of this poison flows in the Moor's veins, and all revenge as fatal as that of the Moor. Even while this his blood is inflamed. He seems, and is noble, frank, edition is passing through the press, the newspapers confiding, grateful, a hero, a worthy general, a faithful relate two such bloody stories as having recently ocservant of the State; but the physical force of passion curred in private life within the United States; and the puts to flight at once all his acquired and accustomed jealous murderer was in one instance an Englishman, virtues, and gives the savage within him the rule over and in the other a Frenchman. the moral man. The tyranny of the blood over the Were Othello but the spirited portrait of a half-tamed will betrays itself in his desire of revenge against Cas- barbarian, we should view him as a bold and happy sio. In his repentant sorrow, a genuine tenderness for poetical conception, and, as such, the Poet's work might satisfy our critical judgment; but it is because it depicts “He whose genius has unfolded to him the knowa noble mind, wrought by deep passion and dark devices ledge of man's nature and the force of his passions; to agonies such as every one might feel, that it awakens has taught him the causes by which the soul is moved our strongest sympathies. We see in this drama a to strong emotions, or calmed to rest ; has enabled him grand and true moral picture; we read in it a profound not only to explain in words those emotions, but to exethical lesson; for (to borrow the just image of the hibit them vividly to other eyes; thus ruling, exciting, classical Lowth) while the matchless work is built up distracting, soothing our feelings,-this man, however to the noblest height of poetry, it rests upon the deepest little aided by the discipline of learning, is, in my judg. foundations of true philosophy.

ment, a philosopher of the highest rank. In this manThese notes upon Othello cannot be more appro- ner, in a single dramatic fable of our own Shakespeare, priately closed than by the remarkable criticism of the passion of jealousy, its causes, progress, incidents, Bishop Lowth, (just alluded to,) contained in his Lec- and effects, have been more truly, more acutely, more tures on Hebrew Poetry, which, often before quoted in copiously, and more impressively delineated than has its original exquisite Latinity, deserves to be more fam- | been done by all the disquisitions of all the philosophers iliarly known to the English reader :

who have treated on this dark argument." 62

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