Page images
PDF
EPUB

for youth: when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice.—She must have change, she must: therefore put money in thy purse.--If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money thou canst: If sanctimo. ny and a frail vow, betwixt an erring barbarian 3 and a supersubtle Venetian, be not too hard for my wits, and all

3

An anonymous correspondent imforms me, that the fruit of the locust-tree, (which, I believe, is here meant,) is a long black pod, that contains the seeds, among which there is a very sweet luscious juice of much the same consistency as fresh honey. This (says he) I have often tasted. Steevens.

That viscous substance which the pod of the locust contains, is, perhaps, of all others, the most luscious. From its likeness to ho. ney, in consistency and favour, the locust is called the honey-tree also. Its seeds, enclosed in a long pod, lie buried in the juice.

Henley. Mr. Daines Barrington suggests to me, that Shakspeare perhaps had the third chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel in his thoughts, in which we are told that John the Baptist lived in the wilderness on locusts and wild honey. Malone.

betwixt an erring barbarian - ) We should read errant ; that is, a vagabond, one that has no house nor country.

Warburton. Sir T. Hanmer reads, arrant. Erring is as well as either.

Fohnson. So, in Hamlet :

“Th’extravagant and erring spirit hies

“ To his confine.” Steevens. An erring Barbarian perhaps means a rover from Barbary. He had before said: “You 'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse.” Malone.

I rather conceive barbarian to be here used with its primitive sense of—a foreigner, as it is also in Coriolanus :

“I would they were barbarians, (as they are)

Though in Rome litter'd.” Steevens. The word erring is sufficiently explained by a passage in the first scene of the play, where Roderigo tells Brabantio that his daughter was

* Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortune,

“ To an extravagant and wheeling stranger." Erring is the same as erraticus in Latin.

The word erring is used in the same sense in some of Orlando's verses in As you Like it :

“ Tongues I 'll hang on every tree, ..
" That shall civil sayings show.

Some, how brief the life of man
“Runs his erring pilgrimage; M. Mason.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek rather to be hanged in conipassing thy joy, than to be drowned and go without her.

Rod. Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the issue?

lago. Thou art sure of me;-Go, make money :-I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor: My cause is hearted ;* thine hath no less reason: Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, and me a sport. There are many events in the womb of time, which will be delivered. Traverse ;5 go; provide thy money. We will have more of this to-morl'ow. Adieu.

Rod. Where shall we meet i’ the morning?
Iago. At my lodging.
Rod. I'll be there betimes.
lago. Go to; farewel. Do you hear, Roderigo ?6
Rod. What say you?
Iago. No more of drowning, do you hear.
Rod. I am changed. I'll sell all my land.

Iago. Go to; firewel: put money enough in your purse.

[Exit Rod.

hearted;} This adjective occurs again in Act III: “. hearted throne.” Dr. Johnson in his Dictionary has unguardedly said, that it is only used in composition: as, for instance, hardhearted. Steevens.

5 Traverse;} This was an ancient military word of command. So, in King Henry IV, P. II, Bardolph says: “Hold, Wart, traverse; thus, thus, thus.” Steevens.

6-Do you hear, Roderigo?) In the folio, instead of this and the following speeches, we find only these words:

Iago. Go to; farewel. Do you hear, Roderigo?
Rod. I'll sell all my land.

(Exit. lago. Thus do I ever, &c. The quarto, 1622, reads:

Iago. Go to; farewel: do you hear, Roderigo ?
Rod. What say you?
Iago. No more of drowning, do you hear.
Rod. I am chang'd.

[Exit Rod. lago. Go to; farewel: put money enough in your purse. Thus do I ever, &c. The reading of the text is formed out of the two copies.

Malone.

Thus do I ever make

my
fool

my purse :
For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane,
If I would time expend with such a snipe,?
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my

sheets
He has done my office: I know not, if 't be true ;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do, as if for surety. 8 He holds me well;o
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio 's a proper man: Let me see now;
To get his place, and to plume up my will;'
A double knavery,—How? how ?-Let me see:-
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear,
That he is too familiar with his wife:
He hath a person, and a smooth dispose,
To be suspected; fram’d to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature, 2
That thinks men honest, that but seem to be so;
And will as tenderly be led by the nose,
As asses are.
I have't;—it is engender'd: Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.

[Exit.

7— a snipe,] Woodcock is the term generally used by Shakspeare to denote an insignificant fellow; but lago is more sarcas. tick, and compares his dupe to a smaller and meaner bird of almost the same shape. Steevens.

8 as if for surety.] That is, “ I will act as if I were certain of the fact." M. Mason.

He holds me well;] i. e. esteems me. So, in St. Matthew, xxi, 26: “ all hold John as a prophet." Again, in Hamlet:

* Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood.” Reed.
to plume up &c.] The first quarto reads to make up &c

Steevens. a The Moor is of a free and open nature,] The first quarto reads:

The Moor, a free and open nature too,
That thinks &c. Steevens.

1

ACT II.....SCENE I.

A Sea-port Town in Cyprus. 3 A Platform.

Enter Montano and Two Gentlemen. Mon. What from the cape can you discern at sea?

1 Gent. Nothing at all: it is a high-wrought flood; I cannot, 'twixt the heaven and the main,

3

in Cyprus.] All the modern editors, following Mr. Rowe, have supposed the capital of Cyprus to be the place where the scene of Othello lies during four Acts: but this could not have been Shakspeare's intention; Nicosia, the capital city of Cy. prus, being situated nearly in the center of the island, and thirty miles distant from the sea. The principal sea-port town of Cyprus was FAMAGUSTA; where there was formerly a strong fort and commodious haven, the only one of any magnitude in the is. land ; and there undoubtedly the scene should be placed. “ Neere unto the haven (says Knolles) standeth an old CASTLE, with four towers after the ancient manner of building." To this castle, we find Othello presently repairs

It is observable that Cinthio in the novel on which this play is founded, which was first published in 1565, makes no mention of any attack being made on Cyprus by the Turks. From our poet's having mentioned the preparations against this island, which they first assaulted and took from the Venetians in 1570, we may sup. pose that he intended that year as the era of his tragedy; but by mentioning Rhodes as also likely to be assaulted by the Turks, he has fallen into an historical inconsistency: for they were then in quiet possession of that island, of which they became masters in December, 1522; and if, to evade this difficulty, we refer Othello to an era prior to that year, there will be an equalincongruity; for from 1473, when the Venetians first became possessed of Cyprus, to 1522, they had not been molested by any Turkish armament.

Malone. - 'twixt the heaven -] Thus the folio; but perhaps our author wrote-the heaveus. The quarto, 1622, probably by a printer's error, has-haven. Steevens.

The reading of the folio affords a bolder image; but the article prefixed strongly supports the original copy; for applied to heaven, it is extremely aukward. Besides; though in The Winter's Tale our poet has made a Clown talk of a ship boring the moon with her maininast, and say that “ between the sea and the firmament you cannot thrust a bodkin's point," is it probable, that he should put the same hyperbolical language into the mouth of a gentleman, answering a serious question on an important occasion? In a subsequent pas. sage indeed he indulges himself without impropriety in the eleyated diction of poetry.

Of the haven of Famagusta, which was defended from the main

Descry a sail.

Mon. Methinks, the wind hath spoke aloud at land; A fuller blast ne'er shook our battlements : If it hath ruffian'd so upon the sea,5 What ribs of oak, when mountains melt on them, 6

6

by two great rocks, at the distance of forty paces from each other,
Shakspeare might have found a particular account in Knolles's
History of the Turks, ad. ann. 1570, p. 863. Malone.
5 if it hath ruffiand so upon the sea,] So, in Troilus and Cressida:

“ But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
“ The gentle Thetis, —.” Malone.

- when mountains melt on them,] Thus the folio. The quiarto reads:

when the huge mountain melts.This latter reading might be countenanced by the following passage in The Second Part of King Henry IV:

the continent
" Weary of solid firmness, melt itself

" Into the sea This phrase appears to have been adopted from the Book of Judges, ch. v, 5: “ The mountains melted from before the Lord," &c. Steevens.

The quarto is surely the better reading; it conveys a more natural image, more poetically expressed. Every man who has been on board a vessel in the Bay of Biscay, or in any very high sea, must know that the vast billows seem to melt away from the ship, not on it. M. Mason

I would not wilfully differ from Mr. M Mason concerning the value of these readings; yet surely the mortoise of a ship is in greater peril when the watry mountain melts upon it, than when it melts from it. When the waves retreat from a vessel, it is safe. When they break over it, its structure is endangered. So, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre;

a sea

66 That almost burst the deck.” Steevens. The quarto, 1622, reads—when the huge mountain melts; the letter s, which perhaps belongs to mountain, having wandered at the press from its place.

I apprehend, that in the quarto reading (as well as in the folio) by mountains the poet meant not land-mountains, which Mr. Stee. vens seems by his quotation to have thought, but those huge surges, (resembling mountains in their magnitude) which, " with high and monstrous main seem'd to cast water on the burning bear." So, in a subsequent scene:

“ And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas,

« Olympus high, Again, in Troilus and Cressida:

« PreviousContinue »