Page images
PDF
EPUB

Of feather'd Cupid seel with wanton dulness
My speculative and active instruments,
That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,
And all indign and base adversities
Make head against my estimation !?

Duke. Be it as you shall privately determine, Either for her stay, or going: the affair cries—haste, And speed must answer it; you must hence to-night.

Des. To-night, my lord ?
Duke.

This night.
Oth.

With all my heart. Duke. At nine i’ the morning here we'll meet again. Othello, leave some officer behind, And he shall our commission bring to you; With such things else of quality and respect,

6

“By expresse word?” From defendre, Fr. Steevens.

when light-wing'd toys
Of feather'd Cupid seel with wanton dulness

My speculative and active instruments,] Thus the folio, except that instead of active instruments, it has offic'd instrument. Malone.

For a particular explanation of the verb-to seel, the reader is referred to Vol. VII, p. 139, n. 5. The quarto reads:

when light-wing'd toys
And feather'd Cupid foils with wanton dulness

My speculative and active instruments All these words (in either copy) mean no more than this:- When the pleasures and idle toys of love make me unfit either for seeing the duties of my office, or for the ready performance of them, &c.

So, in Chapman's translation of the eighteenth Book of Ho. mer's Odyssey:

- and were palsied " In his mind's instruments - Steevens. Speculative instruments, in Shakspeare's language, are the eyes ; and active instruments, the hands and feet. So, in Coriolanus:

where, the other instruments “ Did see, hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,&c. To seel, is to close the eyelids of a bawk by running a thread through them. As it is here metaphorically used, it applies very properly to the speculative instruments; but foils, the reading of the quarto, agrees better with active instruments. Wanton dulness is dulness arising from wanton indulgences.

Malone. my estimation!] Thus the folio ; the quarto-reputation.

Steevens.

[ocr errors]

7

As doth import you.
Oih.

Please your grace, my ancient;
A man he is of honesty, and trust :
To his conveyance I assign my wife,
With what else needful your good grace shall think
To be sent after me.
Duke.

Let it be so. Good night to every one. And, nobie signior, [To BRA. If virtue no delighted beauty lack,8 Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.

1 Sen. Adieu, brave Moor! use Desdemona well.

Bra. Look to her, Moor; have a quick eye to see; 9 She has deceiv'd her father, and may thee.

[Exeunt Duke, Senators, Officers, &c. Oth. My life upon her faith.-Honest lago, My Desdemona must I leave to thce: I pr’ythee, let thy wife attend on her; And bring them after? in the best advantage.2 — Come, Desdemona; I have but an hour Of love, of worldly matters and direction, To spend with thee: we must obey the time.

[Exeunt Oth. and Des. Rod. lago. Iago. What say'st thou, noble heart?

8. If virtue no delighted beauty lack,] The meaning, I believe, is, if virtue comprehends every thing in itself, then your virtuous son-in-law of course is beautiful: he has that beauty which delights every one. Delighted, for delighting ; Shakspeare often uses the active and passive participles indiscriminately. Of this practice I have already given many instances. The same sentiment seems to occur in Twelfth Night:

“ In nature is no blemish, but the mind;
“None can be call'd deform’d, but the unkind:

Virtue is beautySteevens. Delighted is used by Shakspeare in the sense of delighting, or delightful. See Cymbeline, Act V:

“ Whom best I love, I cross, to make my gift,
“ The more delay'd, dlelighted.Tyrwhitt.

have a quick eye to see;] Thus the eldest quarto. The folio reads:

- if thou hast ejes to see. Steevens. 1 And bring them after -] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1622, reads—and bring her after. Malone.

best advantage.] Fairest opportunity. Fohnsar. VOL. XVI.

Z

Rod. What will I do, thinkest thou?
lago. Why, go to bed, and sleep.
Rod. I will incontinently drown myself.

lago. Well, if thou dost, I shall never love thee after it. Why, thou silly gentleman !

Rod. It is silliness to live, when to live is a torment: and then have we a prescription to die, when death is our physician.

Iago. O villainous! I have looked upon the world for four times seven years :3 and since I could distinguish between the benefit and injury, I never found a man that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say, I would drown myself for the love of a Guinea-hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon.

Rod. What should I do? I confess, it is my shame to be so fond; but it is not in virtue to amend it.

lago. Virtue? a fig! 'uis in ourselves, that we are thus, or thus. Our bodies are our gardens; to the which, our wills are gardeners

ers: so that if we will plant nettles, or sow lettuce; set hyssop, and weed up thyme; supply it

3 I have looked upon the world for four times seven years:) From this passage lago's age seems to be ascertained ; and it corres. ponds with the account in the novel on which Othello is founded, where he is described as a young, handsome man. The French translator of Shakspeare is, however, of opinion, that lago here only speaks of those years of his life in which he had looked on the world with an eve of observation. But it would be difficult to assign a reason why he should mention the precise term of twenty. cight years; or to account for his knowing so accurately when bis understanding arrived at maturity, and the opperation of his sagacity, and bis observations on mankind, commenced.

That lago meant to say he was but twenty-eight years old, is clearly ascertained, by his marking particularly, though indefi. nitely, a period within that time, f" and since I could distinguishi," &c.] when he began to make observations on the characters of

Waller on a picture which was painted for him in his youth, by Cornelius Jansen, and wbich is now in the possession of his heir, has expressed the same thought: Anno ætatis 23; vitæ vix primo."

Malone. 4 camera a Guinea heri,] A showy bird with fine feathers. Johnson.

A Guinea-hen was anciently the cant term for a prostitute. So, in Albertus Walenstein, 1640 :

Yonder's the cock o'the game,
“ About to tread yon Guinea-hen; they're billing."

Steevens.

nen.

with one gender of herbs, or distract it with many; either to have it steril with idleness,5 or manured with industry; why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous conclusions: But we have reason, to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts;7 whereof I take this, that you call-love, to be sect, or scion.8

Rod. It cannot be.

lago. It is merely a lust of the blood, and a permission of the will. Come, be a man: Drown thyself? drown cats, and blind puppies. I have professed me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness; I could never better stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse; follow these wars; defeat thy favour with an usurped beard;" I say, put mo

[ocr errors]

7

- either to have it steril with idleness,] Thus the authentick copies. The modern editors following the secon:l folio, have omitted the word to.--I have frequently had occasion to remark that Shakspeare often begins a sentence in one way, and ends it in a different kind of construction. Here he has made Iago say, if we will plant, &c. and he concludes, as if he had written-it our will is either to have it, &c. See p. 227, n. 9. Malone.

See Vol. II, p. 15, n. 5, where the remark on which the fore. going note is founded was originally made. Steevens.

6 If the balance &c.) The folio reads---If the brain. Probably a mistake for-beam. Steevens.

reason, to cool-our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts;] So, in A Knack to know an Honest Man, 1596:

Virtue never taught thee that; “She sets a bit upon her bridlei lusts." See also As you Like it, Act II, sc. vi:

“For thou thyself hast been a libertine;

“ As sensual as the brutish sting itself.” Malone.

- a sect, or scion.] Thus the folio and quarto. A sect is wbat the more modern gardeners call a cutting. The modern editors read--a set. Steevens.

defeat thy favour with an usurped beard;] To defeat, is to undo, to change. Fohnson.

Defeat is from defaire, Fr. to undo. Of the use of this word I have already given several instances. Steevens.

Favouy here means that combination of features which gives the face its distinguishing character. Defeat, from defaire, in Fr.

8

[ocr errors]

ney in thy purse. It cannot be, that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor,-put money in thy purse ;-nor he is to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration ;' ---put but noney in thy purse.—These Moors are changeable in their wills ;-—-fill thy purse with money: the food that to bim now is luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida.? She must change

signifies to unmake, decompose, or give a different appearance to, either by taking away something, or adding. Thus, in Don Quixote, Cardenio defeated his favour by cutting off his beard, and the Barber his, by putting one on. The beard which Mr. Ashton u surped when he escaped from the Tower, gave so different an appearance to his fuce, that he passed through his guards without the leasi suspicion. In The Winter's Tale, Autołycus had recourse tv an expedient like Cardenio's, (as appears from the pocketing up his perdur's excrement) to prevent his being known in the garb of the prince. Henley.

it was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an an. swerable sequestration;] There seems to be an opposition of terms here intended, which has been lost in transcription. We may read, it was a violent conjunction, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration; or, what seems to me preferable, it was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an answerable sequel. Johnson.

I believe the poet uses sequestration for sequel. He might con. clude that it was immediately derived from sequor. Sequestration, however, may mean no more than separation. So, in this play—"a sequester from libertu." Steevens.

Surely sequestration was used in the sense of separation only, or in modern language, purting. Their passion began with violence, and it shall end as quickly, of which a separation will be the consequence. A total and voluntary sequestration necessarily includes the cessation or end of affection.- We bave the same thought in several other places. So, in Romeo and Juliet:

“ These violent delights, hare violent ends,

“ And in their triumph die.” Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:

“ Thy violent ranities can never last.” I hate here followed ihe first quarto. The folio reads it was a violent commencement in her, &c. The context shows that the original is the true reading. Othello's love for Desdemona has been just mentioned, as well her's for the Moor. Malone.

las luscious as locusts, - as bitter as coloquintida.) The old quarto reads--as acerb as coloquintida.

Ai Tonquin the insect locusts are considered as a great delicacy, not only by the poor but by the rich ; and are sold in the markets, as larks and quails are in Europe. It may be added, that the Levitical law permits four sorts of them to be eater.

« PreviousContinue »