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So sweet was ne'er so fatal. I must weep,
Ay, Desdemona. · Des. Will you come to bed, my lord ?
Oth. Have you pray'd to-night, Desdemona ? Des.
Ay, my lord. Oth. If you bethink yourself of any crime, Unreconcil'd as yet to heaven and grace, Solicit for it straight.
Des. Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?
Oth. Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by : I would not kill thy unprepared spirit; No,—Heaven forefend !-I would not kill thy soul. Des. Talk you of killing?
Ay, I do. Des.
2 This forrow's heavenly;] This tenderness, with which I lament the punishment which juftice compels me to inflict, is a holy passion.
I wish these two lines could be honestly ejected. It is the fate of Shakspeare to counteract his own pathos. Johnson.
Perhaps the poet would not have retained both these images, had he published the play himself, though in the hurry of com. position he threw them both upon paper. The first seems adopted from the fabulous history of the crocodile, the second from a passage in the scripture. STEVENS.
co Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.” M. Mason. 3- I would not kill thy foul.] Sir W. D'Avenant has borrowed this thought in his Albovine King of Lombardy, 1629 :
“ I am not fraught with devil's spleen; I would
" Not hurt thy joul.” Othello appears to have been a favourite of his author; for he has beitowed on him that piety which he had refused to Hamlet, See p. 216, n. 7. STEEVENS,
Have mercy on me!
Amen, with all my heart! Des. If you say so, I hope you will not kill me. OTH. Humph!
Des. And yet I fear you; for you are fatal then, When your eyes roll fo: Why I should fear, I know
not, Since guiltiness I know not ; but yet, I feel, I fear.
OTH. Think on thy sins.
They are loves I bear to you.
4 Since guiltiness I know not; but yet, I fecl, I fear.] Read,
Since guilt I know not; but yet, I feel, I fear. Guiltine's has been already misprinted for guilt. See p. 627, line 2.1 It is impossible that Shakspeare should lengthen a word merely to spoil his metre. Ritson.
The chivalry of criticism does not, in my opinion, require us to defend the old copies (those grannams of the stage, balba de nare locutæ when they so grossly offend against the laws of metre. In the earlier part of this work I have got rid of some of their deformities, but in this and a few of the latter plays I have been content with exposing them, being certain that their notoriety will hereafter prove the means of securing a privilege which, respecting the present editors, may be litigated. Steevens.
s That death's unnatural, that kills for loving.] This thought is likewise found in The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, a poem, by H. L. 16mo. 1597
“ Unnatural, which kill where you should kisse,” Again, in our poet's King Richard III:
" It is a quarrel most unnatural,
Peace, and be still! Des. I will fo: What's the matter? Oth. That handkerchief, which I so lov'd, and
gave thee, Thou gav'st to Cassio. Des.
No, by my life and soul; Send for the man, and ask him. OTH.
Sweet soul, take heed, Take heed of perjury; thou’rt on thy death-bed.
Des. Ay, but not yet to die.
Des. Then, Lord have mercy on me!
I say, amen.
.6 A murder, which I thought a sacrifice :] This line is difficult. Thou haft hardened my heart, and makejt me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I thought to have sacrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.
It mutt not be omitted, that one of the elder quartos reads, thou deft ftune thy heart; which I suspect to be genuine. The meaning then will be,-thou forceft me to dismiss thee from the world in the state of the murdered without preparation for death,
I saw the handkerchief.
He found it then;
He hath confess’d.
How? unlawfully? OTH. Ay. Des. He'll not say so. Oth.
No, his mouth is stopp'd; Honest Iago hath ta'en order for't. 8 Des. My fear interprets then,-What, is he
dead? Otu. Had all his hairs been lives,' my great re,
venge Had stomach for them all.
when I intended that thy punishment should have been a facrifice atoning for thy crime.
I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this dreadful scene, It is not to be endured. Johnson. Thy heart, is the reading of the original quarto, 1622.
MALONE, 7 That he hath-us’d thee.] The quarto, 1622, exhibits this line thus:
That he hath-uds death. Malone. 8 — hath ta'en order for't.] i. e. has taken measures. So, in Holinshed's Reign of King John: " he took such order for him, that he was despoiled of all his goods and benefices," p. 174.
STEVENS, Again, in Dido Queen of Carthage, by Marlowe and Naihe, 1594:
“ I will take order for that presently.” MALONE. 9 Had all his hairs been lives,] This thought appears to have been very common, as it occurs frequently in dramatick per
Des. Alas! he is betray'd, and I undone.
But half an hour. Ot1.
Being done, There is no pause. · Des.
But while I say one prayer. Orh. It is too late.+
[He fmotbers her.
formances prior to Shakspeare's Othello. So, in The Devil's Charter, by Barnaby Barnes, 1607:
- Know Cæsar, had I now as many lives
" I would,” &c.
but if all
“ In such a cause." Again, in Hieronymo:
“ Had I as many lives as there be stars ~,” STEEVEXS. King and no King, as appears by Sir Henry Herbert's papers, was produced in 1611. See The Historical Account of the Englijh Siage, Vol. II. MALONE. 3 Being done, There is no pause.] The first quarto omits this speech.
STEEVENS. 4 It is too late.] After this speech of Othello, the elder quarto adds an invocation from Desdemona, consisting only of the facred name thrice repeated. As this muit be supposed to have been uttered while she is yet itruggling with death, I think an editor may be excused from inferring such a circumstance of supererogatory horror, especially as it is found in but one of the ancient copies.
STEEVENS. This alteration was probably made in confequence of the stature of the 3d of James I. c. 21. which lays a penalty for the profane