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Spcak, for my heart is full.
Iago. 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?
Emil. You told a lie; an odious, damned lie;
tongue. Emil. I will not charm my tongue; I am bound to
All. O heavens forefend!
Villainy, villainy, villainy!
charm your tongue.] By this expression, Charm you tongue, the poet meant no more than to make Iago say,_" Apply some power, strong as 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 Fairy 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,
“ Is—break her neck:-a politician did it.” The same phrase is also employed by Chapman in his version of the fifth Iliad :
“ Downe from the chariot he fell, his gay arms shin'd
“ The swift horse trembled, and his soule for ever
charm'd his tongue. Pliny informs us, that fuvete linguis was the constant exclama. lion before any religious charm was applied. From this circumstance the phrase, to charm a tongue, might have originated.
Steevens. My mistress &c.] This line, and the following six speeches, are wanting in the first quarto. Steevens.
O villainy, villainy!
Jago. 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, lago, I will ne'er go home.
Oth. 0!0!0!0! [Hanging over his Wife.
Nay, lay thee down, and roar;
0, she was foul -- [Rising'. I scarce did know you, uncle : There lies your niece, Whose breath, indeed, these hands have newly stopp'd: I know, this act shows horrible and grim.
Gra. Poor Desdemona! I am glad thy father's dead;
Oth. 'Tis pitiful: but yet Iago knows,
I thought so then;] i. e. at the instant when she gave Desde. mona's handkerchief to lago : for even then Emilia appears to have suspected it was sought after for no honest purpose, and therefore asks her husband
“What will you do with it?" &c. See p. 326. Steevens.
Yea, curse his better angel from his side,
my female evil
reprobation.) Both the first and second folio read-reprobance. Steevens.
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 shows 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 first instance, might have passed still more often, before they were married, when Cassio
And she did gratify his amorous works
went between them; for she, who could find means to elude the
gilance of her father in respect of Othello, might have done so in respect of Cassio, 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." 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 discovery 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 public. Act III, sc. ji, Othello says.
• What sense had I of her stolen hours of lust?
I found not Cassio's kisses on her lips. “ On Othello's wedding night he and Cassio embarked from Ve. nice, 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 Cassio's kisses and Othello's sleeping the next night well ? Iago has said, 'I lay with Cassio lately, which he could not have done, unless they had been longer at Cyprus than is represented in the play; nor could Cassio 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 cite that in which Emilia says, “ That her husband had a hundred times woo'd her to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief."
It was a handkerchief, an antique token
Emil. O heaven! O heavenly powers!
Come, hold your peace. Emil. 'Twill out,'twill out:--I hold my peace, sir?no; No, I will speak as liberal as the air ;3
? It was a handkerchief, &c.] Othello tells his wife, Act III, sc. iy:
that handkerchief “ Did an Egyptian to my mother give." And here he says:
It was a handkerchief
My father gave my mother. This last passage has been censured as an oversight in the poet; but perhaps it exhibits only a fresh proof of his art. The first account of the handkerchief, as given by Othello, was purposely ostentatious, in order to alarm his wife the more. When he mentions it a second time, the truth was sufficient for his purpose.
This circumstance of the handkerchief is perhaps ridiculed by Ben Jonson, in his Poetaster : “ you shall see me do the Noor ; master, lend me your scarf.” Steevens.
I question whether Oihello was written early enough to be ridiculed by The Poetaster. There were many other Moors on the stage. It is certain at least, that the passage:
“Our new heraldry is hands, not hearts," could not be inserted before the iniddle of the year, 1611.
Farmer, If the allusion in The Poetaster (which was printed in 1601) were to Othello, it would fix its date much earlier than I conceive it to have been written. But the allusion in the passage quoted, is not to Othello, but to an old play called The Battle of Alcazar, 1594.-In The Poetaster, Pyrgus, who says, “ you shall see me do the Moor," proceeds in the same scene, and repeats an absurd speech of the Moor's, in The Battle of Alcazar, beginning with this line:
" Where art thou, boy? where is Calipolis ?" which ascertains the allusion to be to that play. Malone. 3 No, I will speak as liberal as the air;] The folio reads:
I'll be in speaking liberal as the north. Liberal is free, under no control. So, in Hamlet :
" Which liberal shepherds give a grosser name." This quality of the North wind is also mentioned in The White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona, 1612:
“ And let th' irregular North wind sweep her up." Again, in Jeronymo, i. c. the first part of The Spanish Tragedy, 1605:
Let heaven, and men, and devils, let them all,
Iago. Be wise, and get you home.
Villainous whore !
Filth, thou liest.
Are there no stones in heaven, But what serve for the thunder?Precious villain!
“ Now let your bloods be liberal as the sea.” Steevens. No, I will speak as liberal as the air;] The quarto, 1622, reads:
I'll be in speaking liberal as the air.
Are there no stones in heuven,
But what serve for the thunder?] Othello does not demand a thunderbolt for lago. He only asks, if there are no lesser degrees of chastisement more proportioned to the guilt of mortals ready to drop down on such villains as lago, though Omnipotence withholds its thunder, as too noble an instrument for the punishment of crimes like his? The same thought occurs in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1609 :
- Is there no thunder left ? or is 't kept up
** In stock, for heavier vengeance ?" Shakspeare might, however, mcan, does heaven reserve its thunder only to make a noise has it no implements of mischief to punish as well as terrify?
quum fulmina torques, Necquicquam horremus? cæcique in nubibus ignes “ Terrificant animos, et inania murmura miscent?”
Steevens. Steevens's last explanation of this passage appears to be just, his first was unnatural. We cannot suppose that Othello in the paroxysm of resentment, agitation, and despair, should think