Page images

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 fmall beer.?

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 8 and liberal counsellor?!

s To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail ;] i. e. to ex. change a delicacy for coarser fare. See Queen Elizabeth's H usehold Book for the 430 year of her reign: Item, the Master Cookes have to fee all the salmon's tailes&c. p. 296. STEEVENS.

Surely the poet had a further allufion, which it is not necessary to explain. The word frail in the preceding line shews that viands were not alone in his thoughts. MALONE.

A frail judgement, means only a weak one. I suspect no equivoque. STEEVENS.

See fuitors following, and not look behind;] The first quarto omits this line. STEEVENS.

7 To juckle fools, and chronicle small beer.] After enumerating the perfections of a woman, Iago adds, that if ever there was such a one as he had been describing, she was, at the best, of no other use, than to fuckle children, and keep the accounts of a household. The exprefsions to fuckle fools, and chronicle small beer, are only instances of the want of natural affection, and the predominance of a critical censoriousness in Iago, which he allows himself to be pofieiled of, where he says, O! I am nothing, if not critical. STEEVENS.

8 — profane - Grofs of language, of expression broad and brutal. So Brabantio, in the first act, calls Iago profane wretch.

JOHNSON, Ben Jonson in describing the characters in Ezery Man out of his Humour, styles Carlo Buffone, a publick, scurrilous, and profane jefter. STEEVENS.

9- liberal counsellor?] Liberal for licentinus. WARBURTON. So, in The Pair Maid of Bristow, 1605, bl. 1:

" But Vallenger, most like a liberal villain,
“ Did give her scandalous, ignoble terms." STEEVENS.

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 Caflio. Ay, smile upon her, do; I will gyve 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 kiss'd your three fingers so oft, which now again you are most apt to play the fir in. Very good; well kiss'd! an excellent courtesy! 4 'tis fo, indeed. Yet again your fingers to your lips? would, they were clyfter-pipes for your fake!--[Trumpet.] 'The Moor, -I know his trumpet.

See p. 295, n. 4. Malone.

Counsellor seems to mean, not so much a man that gives counsel, as one that discourses fearlessly and volubly. A talker. Johnson,

Counsellor is here used in the common acceptation. Desdemona refers to the answers The had received from Iago, and particularly her last. HeNLEY.

2 I will gyve thee ] i. e. catch, shackle. Pope.

The first quarto reads I will catch you in your own courtefies ; the second quarto_ I will catch you in your own courtship. 1 be folio as it is in the text. STEEVENS.

3 to play the fir in.] That is, to show your good breeding and gallantry. Henley.

4 well kiss'd! an excellent courtesy!] Spoken when Callio kisses his hand, and Desdemona courtesies. JOHNSON.

This reading was recovered from the quarto, 1622, by Ds. Johnson. The folio has--and excellent courtesy.

I do not believe that any part of these words relates to Defde. mona. In the original copy, we have just seen, the poet wrote“ ay, smile upon her, do; I will catch you in your own courteftes." Here therefore he probably meant only to speak of Callio, while killing his hand. “Well kiss'd! an excellent courtesy !" i. e. an excellent salute. Courtesy, in the sense of an obeisance or falute, was in Shakspeare's time applied to men as well as women. Sec Vol. VIII. p. 510, n. 4. MALONs.

Cas. 'Tis truly so.
Des. Let's meet him, and receive him.
Cas. Lo, where he comes !

Enter Othello, and Attendants.

Oth. O my fair warrior!"

My dear Othello!
Oth. It gives me wonder great as my content,
To see you here before me. O my soul's joy!
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken'd death!
And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas,
Olympus-high; and duck again as low
As hell's from heaven!: If it were now to die,

so my fair warrior!] Again, in Act III. Desdemona says: “ – unhandsome warrior as I am.” This phrase was introduced by our copiers of the French Sonnetteers. Ronsard frequently calls his mistreiles guerrieres; and Southern, his imitator, is not less prodigal of the same appellation. Thus, in his fifth Sonnet :

“ And, my warrier, my light shines in thy fayre eyes.” Again, in his fixth Sonnet :

“ I am not, my cruell warrier, the Thebain," &c. Again, ibid:

« I came not, my warrier, of the blood Lidain." Had I not met with the word thus fantastically applied, I should have concluded that Othello called his wife a warrior, because the had embarked with him on a warlike expedition, and not in consequence of Ovid's observation

Militat omnis amans, et habet sua caftra Cupido. STEEVENS. 6- come such calms,] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1622, reads-calmness. STEEVENS. 7 And let the labouring bark climb hills of feas,

Olympus-bigh; and duck again as low

As hell's from heaven!] So, in Sidney's Arcadia, B. I: “ The fea, making mountaines of itself, over which the tossed and tottering ship should climbe, to be straight carried downe againe to a pit of belligh darkenefje.Steeve NS.

'Twere now to be most happy ;? for, I fear,
My soul hath her content fo absolute,
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate.

The heavens forbid,
But that our loves and comforts should increase,
Even as our days do grow ! 8 .

Amen to that, sweet powers !I cannot speak enough of this content, It stops me here; it is too much of joy : And this, and this, the greatest discords be,

[Killing ber. That e’er our hearts shall make!

O, you are well tun'd now! But I'll set down the pegs that make this musick,

[ocr errors]

9 If it were now to die,

'Twere now to be most happy;] So Cherea, in The Eunuch of Terence, Act III. sc. v:

“ Proh Jupiter!
“ Nunc tempus profecto est, cum perpeti me possum inter-

Ne vita aliquâ hoc gaudium contaminet ægritudine.”

MALONE. 8 Even as our days do grow!] Here is one of those evident interpolarions which abound in our author's dramas. Who does not perceive that the words--Even as our days, refer to the verb-increase in the foregoing line? Omit therefore the prosaick-dograr, (which is perfectly uleless) and the metre will be restored to its original regularity. Fenton has adopted this thought in his Mariamne :

“ And mutual passion with our years increase!" STEEVENS. 9 And this, and this, &c. Kiffing her.] So, in Marlowe's Luff's Dominion:

“ I pri'thee, chide, if I have done amiss,
“ But let my punishment be this and this.[Kifing the Most.

MALONE. Marlowe's play was written before that of Shakspeare, who might posibly have acted in it. STEEVENS.

: I'll set down — Thus the old copies, for which the

As honest as I am.

[Aside. Orh.

Come, let's to the castle. News, friends;} our wars are done, the Turks are

How do our old acquaintance of this isle?-
Honey, you shall be well delir'd in Cyprus,
I have found great love amongst them. O my

I prattle out of fashion, and I dote
In mine own comforts.-I pr’ythee, good lago,
Go to the bay, and disembark my coffers:
Bring thou the master to the citadel;

modern editors, following Mr. Pope, have substituted let down. But who can prove that to set down was not the language of Shakspeare's time, when a viol was spoken of ?-To set formerly fignified to tune, though it is no longer used in that sense. " It was then,” says Anthony Wood in his Diary, “ that I set and tuned in strings and fourths,” &c. So, in Skialetheia, a Collection of Satires, &c. 1598:

"— to a nimbler key

Set thy wind inftrument.” MALONE. To “ fet down” has this meaning in no other part of our au. thor's works. However, virtus poft nummos: we have secured the phrase, and the exemplification of it may follow when it will.

STEEVENS. 3 News, friends ;] The modern editors read (after Mr. Rowe) Now friends. I would observe once for all, that (in numberless instances in this play, as well as in others) where my predecessors had filently and without reason made alterations, I have as silently restored the old readings. STEEVENS.

*— well desir'd in Cyprus,] i. e. much folicited by invitation. So, in The Letters of the Palton Family, Vol. I. p. 299:“- at the whych weddyng I was with myn hoftes, and also desyryd by ye jentylman hymselfe.” Steevens.

s I prattle out of fashion,] Out of method, without any settled order of discourse. Johnson.

6 — the master - ] Dr. Johnson fupposed, that by the malter was meant the pilot of the ship, and indeed had high authority for this fuppofition; for our poet himself seems to have confounded

« PreviousContinue »