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Oth. "Tis pitiful; but yet Iago knows,
That she with Cassio hath the act of shame
A thousand times committed: 14 Cassio confess'd it;
Emil. O, Heaven! O, heavenly powers!
No, I will speak as liberal as the north:
14 "Thousand times" is evidently put for an indefinite number, or, as Steevens remarks, "an aggravated term for many times." Still the expression infers a good deal as to the space of time occupied by the play. We have already seen that a considerable period must have elapsed after the arrival in Cyprus before the end of Act iii. See Act iii. sc. 3, note 32; also sc. 4, note 16. Near the close of the third scene in Act iii., the Moor says to Iago, -"Within these three days let me hear thee say, that Cassio's not alive." We may presume this period to have elapsed between Act iii. and Act v. It is not unlikely that Othello may suppose the wickedness between his wife and Cassio to have been in progress before his marriage, when Cassio "came a-wooing with him.” This, of course, would greatly aggravate her offence in his eye, by causing the marriage to seem designed on her part but as a cover for her guilty indulgence. The play may be cited as a very remarkable instance of unity of interest making us irrespective of time; for until one goes into a critical scrutinizing of the scenes for that purpose, he never thinks but that the catastrophe occurs on the second night after the landing in Cyprus.
15 Thus the quarto of 1630. The folio gives the line thus: ""Twill out, 'twill out: I peace?"
16 The three originals have each a several reading in this line; the first quarto giving it thus: "I'll be in speaking liberal as the air;" the second, thus: "I'll be in speaking liberal as the north." It is not easy to choose between the readings. Some modern editions have a fourth reading made up from the folio and first quarto thus: "No, I will speak liberal as the air."— Of course liberal means free.
Let heaven, and men, and devils, let them all,
Emil. I will not.
I found by fortune, and did give my husband;
(More than, indeed, belong'd to such a trifle,) He begg❜d of me to steal it.
Villainous whore! Emil. She give it Cassio! no, alas! I found it, And I did give't my husband.
Filth, thou liest. Emil. By Heaven, I do not; I do not, gentlemen. O, murderous coxcomb! what should such a fool Do with so good a wife ?17
[The Moor runs at IAGO, and is disarmed by MONTANO. IAGO stabs EMILIA, then runs out.18
Oth. Are there no stones in heaven, But what serve for the thunder ? 19-Precious villain!
Gra. The woman falls: sure, he has kill'd his wife.
Emil. Ay, ay: O, lay me by my mistress' side! Gra. He's gone, but his wife's kill'd.
17 Thus the folio: both quartos have woman instead of wife.
18 The folio gives no stage-direction here: the quartos have, "The Moor runs at IAGO: IAGO kills his Wife." Montano's speech, just after, shows that Othello has been disarmed by him.
19 That is, "no bolts but what serve for the thunder." We have before had "thunder-stone" for thunder-bolt. See Cymbeline, Act iv. sc. 2, note 22.
Mon. 'Tis a notorious villain.20
Which I have here recover'd from the Moor.
[Exeunt MONTANO and GRATIANO.
What did thy song bode, lady? Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan, And die in music: "Willow, willow, willow." Moor, she was chaste; she lov'd thee, cruel Moor: So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true; So speaking as I think, I die, I die.
Oth. I have another weapon in this chamber, It is a sword of Spain, the ice-brook's temper.21 O! here it is. Uncle, I must come forth.
Gra. [Within.] If thou attempt it, it will cost thee dear:
Thou hast no weapon, and perforce must suffer.
Oth. Look in upon me, then, and speak with me, Or, naked as I am, I will assault thee.
Take you this
20 Strictly speaking, Iago was not a notorious villain, as his villainy had not been known. Probably the meaning is, worthy to be notorious. See Act iv. sc. 2, note 13.
21 The way of tempering steel is by plunging it red-hot into cold water; and the colder the water, the higher the temper attained. Steevens has shown from Martial and Justin that in Spain the waters of the Salo and the Chalybes, being remarkable for coldness, were used in tempering swords. As Toledo blades were famous all over Europe in the Poet's time, he might easily learn that they were of "the ice-brook's temper" without going to classical authorities.
Gra. What is the matter?
Upon a soldier's thigh: I have seen the day,
Behold! I have a weapon;
Even like thy chastity. -
22 This and the six following lines are not in the first quarto: the other quarto and the folio have them.
23 So both quartos: the folio gives the line thus: "O Desdemon! dead Desdemon: dead. Oh, Oh!" The folio repeatedly, in the course of the play, shortens Desdemona into Desdemon, and once or twice with good effect; but surely, in this case, the quarto reading is much the more impressive.
Enter LODOVICO, MONTANO, CASSIO carried in a
Lod. Where is this rash and most unfortunate
Oth. That's he, that was Othello: here I am.
If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee.
I bleed, sir; but not kill'd.
Lod. O, thou Othello! that wast once so good,
Cas. Dear general, I never gave you cause.
24 The words, "carried in a Chair," are not in the stage-direction of the folio, and are taken from the quartos. The modern custom of the stage is, for Cassio to walk in lame and supported, with his leg bandaged.
25 Alluding to the devil's fabled cloven feet. Othello looks down towards Iago's feet, to see if has that sign of being a devil, but then concludes that he may be just as much a devil without it.
26 Thus both quartos: the folio has cursed instead of damned.