Page images
PDF
EPUB

My husband say, that she was false ?
Oth.

He, woman; I say, thy husband ; Doft understand the word? My friend, thy husband, honest, honest Iago.

Emil. If he say so, may his pernicious soul Rot half a grain a day! he lies to the heart; She was too fond of her most filthy bargain.

Orh. Ha!

EMIL. Do thy worst:
This deed of thine is no more worthy heaven,
Than thou wast worthy her.
OTH.

Peace, you were best. Emil. Thou hast not half the power to do me

harm, As I have to be hurt.? O gull! O dolt ! As ignorant as dirt! thou hast done a deed,- . I care not for thy sword; I'll make thee known, Though I lost twenty lives :-Help! help, ho! help! The Moor has kill'd my mistress; Murder! mur

der !

** villainy hath play'd on its object under a pretence of kindness." So, in Macbeth:

o the surfeited grooms

« Do mock their charge with snores." But in this I have very little confidence. MALONE. .? Thou hast not half the power to do me harm,

As I have to be hurt.] She means to say,-I have in this canle power to endure more than thou hast power to infiiet.

Johnson. This sentiment is more expanded in King Henry VIII:

“ I am able now, methinks,
“ (Out of a fortitude of soul I feel,)
To endure more miseries and greater far,

“ Than my weak-hearted enemies dare offer." Again, in King Henry VI. Part II:

" More can I bear than you dare execute.” Of this last line there is no trace in the old play on which Shakspeare formed the Second Part of King Henry VI. MALONE.

Enter Montano, Gratiano, and Iago.

Mon. What is the matter?-How now, general? · Emil. O, are you come, Iago ? you have done

well, That men must lay their murders on your neck.' Gra. What is the matter?

EMIL. Disprove this villain, if thou be'st a man: He says, thou told'ft him that his wife was false; I know, thou didst not, thou’rt not such a villain; Speak, for my heart is full. Lago. I told him what I thought, and told no

more
Than what he found himself was apt and true.

Emil. But did you ever tell him, she was false?
Iago. I did.

Emil. You told a lie; an odious, damned lie;
Upon my soul, a lie; a wicked lie:-
She false with Cassio !-Did you say, with Cassio ?
Iago. With Cassio, mistress; Go to, charm your

tongue.8

8- charm your tongue.] By this expression, Charm your tongue, the poet meant no more than to make Iago say," Apply fome power, strong as a charm would be, to your tongue; for nothing less can stop its volubility. So, in King Henry VI. Part III:

“ Peace, wilful boy, or I will charm your tongue.' Again, Ben Jonson, in Cynthia's Revels :

" charm your skipping tongue.” Again, in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. V. c. ix:

« That well could charm his tongue, and time his speech," Again, in The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608:

“ The surest way to charm a woman's tongue,
“ Ism-break her neck:--a politician did it."

Emil. I will not charm my tongue; I am bound

to speak;
My mistress' here lies murder'd in her bed.

All. O heavens forefend!
Emil. And your reports have set the murder on.
Oth. Nay, stare not, masters; it is true, indeed.
GRA. 'Tis a strange truth."
Mon. O monstrous act !
Emil

Villainy, villainy, villainy!-
I think upon't, I think, I smell’t ;-0 villainy!
I thought so then ;-l'll kill myself for grief.-
O villainy, villainy!
lago. What, are you mad? I charge you, get you

home. Emil. Good gentlemen, let me have leave to

speak;
*Tis proper I obey him, but not now:-
Perchance, Iago, I will ne'er go home.

Oth. O! O! O! O! [Hanging over his wife.
Emil.

Nay, lay thee down, and roar;
For thou hast kill'd the sweetest innocent,
That e'er did lift up eye.
OTH.

O, she was foul !

[Rising: I scarce did know you, uncle: There lies your

niece, Whose breath, indeed, these hands have newly

stopp'd:

Pliny informs us, that favere linguis was the constant exclamation before any religious charm was applied. From this circumitance the phrase, to charm a tongue, might have originated.

STEEVENS. 9 My mistress &c.] This line, and the following fix speeches, are wanting in the first quarto. Sreevens.

I know, this act shows horrible and grim.
Gra. Poor Desdemona! I am glad thy father's

dead;
Thy match was mortal to him, and pure grief
Shore his old thread in twain: did he live now,
This fight would make him do a desperate turn,
Yea, curse his better angel from his side,
And fall to reprobation.

Oth. 'Tis pitiful: but yet lago knows, That she with Cassio hath the act of shame A thousand times committed ;* Callio confess'd it :

3 Vea, curse his better angel from his side, And fall to reprobation.) So, in our author's 144th Sonnet:

my female evil “ Tempteth my better angel from my fide.MALONE. - reprobation. Both the first and second folio read reprobance. STEEVENS.

4 A thousand times committed;] This is another passage which seems to suppose a longer space comprised in the action of this play than the scenes include. JOHNSON.

That she with Cassio hath the act of shame

A thousand times committed ; And again :

'Tis not a year or two bows us a man. I am not convinced from these passages only, that a longer space is comprised in the action of this play than the scenes include.

What Othello mentions in the firit instance, might have passed still more often, before they were married, when Caffio went between them; for she, who could find means to elude the vigilance of her father in respect of Othello, might have done so in respect of Callio, when there was time enough for the occurrence supposed to have happened. A jealous person will aggravate all he thinks, or speaks of; and might use a thousand for a much less number, only to give weight to his censure: nor would it have answered any purpose to have made Othello a little nearer or further off from truth in his calculation. We might apply the poet's own words in Cymbeline :

“ - spare your arithmetick;
" Once, and a million."

And she did gratify his amorous works
With that recognizance and pledge of love
Which I first gave her; I saw it in his hand;
It was a handkerchief, an antique token
My father gave my mother. ;

The latter is a proverbial expression, and might have been introduced with propriety, had they been married only a day or two. Emilia's reply perhaps was dictated by her own private experience; and seems to mean only, “ that it is too soon to judge of a husband's disposition; or that Desdemona must not be surprised at the difcovery of Othello's jealousy, for it is not even a year or two that will display all the failings of a man.”

Mr. Tollet, however, on this occasion has produced several instances in support of Dr. Johnson's opinion; and as I am unable to explain them in favour of my own supposition, I shall lay them before the publick. Act III. sc. iii. Othello says:

“ What sense had 1 of her stolen hours of luft?
“ I saw it not, thought it not, it harm’d not me:
I sept the next night well, was free and merry :

« I found not Callio's kisses on her lips. ** On Othello's wedding night he and Cassio embark'd from Venice, where Desdemona was left under the care of lago. They all meet at Cyprus; and since their arrival there, the scenes include only one night, the night of the celebration of their nuptials. Iago had not then infused any jealousy into Othello's mind, nor did he suspect any former intimacy between Cassio and Desdemona, but only thought it apt and of great credit that she loved him.' What night then was there to intervene between Callio's kisses and Othello's lleeping the next night well? Iago has said, “I lay with Caffro lately,' which he could not have done, unless they had been longer at Cyprus than is represented in the play; nor could Callio have kept away, for the space of a whole week, from Bianca."

STEEVENS. In confirmation of Johnson's observation, that this and several other passages tend to prove that a larger space of time is comprized in the action of this play than the scenes include, we may ciie that in which Emilia says, “ That her husband had a hundred times woo'd her to steal Desdemona's handkerchief.” M. Mason.

s It was a handkerchief, &c.] Othello tells his wife, Act III. sc, iv:

" - that handkerchief
« Did an Egyptian to my mother give."

« PreviousContinue »