Page images

Gra. The woman falls; sure, he has kill'd his wife.
Emil. Ay, ay; 0, lay me by my mistress' side!
Gra. He's gone, but his wife's kill'd.
Mon. 'Tis a notorious villain. Take you


Which I have here recover'd from the Moor:
Come, guard the door without; let him not pass,
But kill him rather; I ’ll after that same villain,
For 'tis a damned slave. [Exeunt Mon. and GRA.

I am not valiant neither,
But every puny whipster gets my sword:-
But why should honour outlive honesty?
Let it go all.

Emil. What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, can’st thou hear me? I will play the swan,
And die in musick ;5.-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.

[Dies. Oih. I have another weapon in this chamber,

[ocr errors]

any crimes more heinous than that of Iago.-It is difficult indeed to conceive a crime that demanded a heavier vengeance.

M. Mason. The meaning, I think, is-Has not Heaven one supernumerar'y bolt, to hurl directly at the head of this atrocious villain? Must all the stores of its arsenal be reserved for common and ordinary thunder, which, though sometimes destructive, is in the usual course of nature not specifically pointed at a particular object?

Magne regnator deûm,
“ Tam lentus audis scelera ? tam lentus vides?
“ Ecquando sævâ fulmen emittes manu,
“ Si nunc serenum est ?--
“ Cur dextra, divûm rector atque hominum, vacat
“ Tua, nec trisulcâ mundus ardescit face?
In hunc tones, hunc figas ?Malone.

I will play the swan, And die in musick ; &c.] This, and the two former lines of the speech, are wanting in the first quarto.

The same thought has already occurred in The Merchant of Venice :

he makes a swan-like end,

Fading in musick," Again, in King John :

This pale faint swan, “ Who chants a woful hymn to his own death.” Steevene.


[ocr errors]

It is a sword of Spain, the ice-brook's temper;
O, here it is: Uncle, I must come forth.
Gra. [within] If thou attempt it, it will cost thee



the ice-brook's temper;] In the first edition it is-Isebrooke's temper. Thence corrupted to Ice-brook's. Ebro's temper : the waters of that river of Spain are particularly famous for tempering of steel. The finest arms in the world, the Catalonian fusees. Pope.

I believe the old reading changed to ice-brook is right. Steel is hardened by being put red-hot into very cold water. Johnson.

The particular name of the ice-brook may be determined by the following passage in Martial. It was undoubtedly the brook or rivulet called Salo (now Xalon) near Bilbilis in Celtiberia. In this the Spaniards plunged all their swords and other weapons while hot from the forge; and to the icy quality of the waters, they were indebted for their stubborn temper:

“ Sævo Bilbilin optimam metallo
“ Et ferro Plateam suo sonantem,

Quam fluctu tenui sed inquieto

Armorum Sulo temperator ambit." Again :

“ Quibus remissum corpus astringes brevi

Salone qui ferrum gelat.Again :

Pugio, quem curvis signat brevis orbita venis,

“ Stridentem gelidis hunc Salo tinxit aquis.” Again, in Justin, 1. 44: “Præcipua his quidem ferri materia sed aqua ipsa ferro violentior ; quippe temperamento ejus ferrum acrius redditur ; nec ullum apud eos telum probatur quod non aut in Bilbili Auvio aut Chalybe tingatur. Unde etiam Chalybes fluvii hujus finitimi appellati, ferroque cæteris præstare dicun. tur.” These parts of Spain have been at all times famous for the temper of their arms. Steevens. I incline to read :

It is a sword of Spain, 'tis ebroes temper. If we suppose that the words ['tis ebroes] were huddled together either in transcribing or composing, thus, ['tisebroes} the compositor in running it over with his eye, might (to make it sense as he thought) add a couple of letters and divide the words thus [th'isebrokes] which is nearly as it stands in the old quarto. I doubt whether ice-brooks are usual in the climate of Spain.

Blackstone. the ice-brook's temper ; ] The quarto, 1622, has—Ise brookes, which is only the old spelling of Ice-brooke's, the read. ing of the folio. Sir William Blackstone doubts whether ic”. brooks, are usual in the climate of Spain. How that fact may be, I know not; and I am confident Shakspeare did not inquire. VOL XVI.



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.

Re-enter GRATIANO.
Gra. What is the matter?

Behold! I have a weapon ;
A better never did itself sustain
Upon a soldier's thigh:1 I have seen the day,
That, with this little arm, and this good sword,
I have made my way through more impediments
Than twenty times your stop:-But, () vain boast!
Who can control his fate? ’tis not so now..
Be not afraid, though you do see me weapon'd;'
Here is my journey's end, here is my

And very sea-mark of my utmost suil.
Do you go back dismay’d? 'tis a lost fear;
Man but a rush against Othello's breast,
And he retires ;– Where should Othello go?-
Now, how dost thou look now? O ill-starr'd wench!!


7 A better never did itself sustain

Upon a soldier's thigh:] So, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, by Beaumont and Fletcher, 1634 :

On his thigh a sword
“ Himg by a curious baldricke, when he frowns,
“ To seal his will by; better, on my conscience,

“ Never was soldier's friend." Malone.
& I have made my way through more impediments
Than twenty times your stop:] So, in Coriolanus, sc. i:

cracking ten thousand curbs
“ Of more strong link asunder, than can ever
“ Appear in your impediment." Steevens.

though you do see me weapon’d;] This uncommon participle is used by Sidney in his Arcadia. Malone.

O ill-sturr'l wench!] This and the six preceding lines, are omitted in the first quart Wench originally signified only a young woman. Cassandra, in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578, says of herself:

“ O wretched wench, where may I first complayne ?" Again:

6. Therefore, sweet wenche, helpe me to rue my woe.”. The word is used without any dishonourable meaning in the Bille: “ Now Jonathan and Animaaz stayed by En-rogel; (for they might not be seen to come into the city :) and a wench went and told them; and they went and told king Dávid.” 2 Siim. xvii, 17


Pale as thy smock! when we shall meet at compt,
This look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven,
And fiends will snatch at it. Cold, cold, my girl?
Even like thy chastity.-
O cursed, cursed slave ! - Whip me, ye devils,
From the possession of this heavenly sight!
Blow me about in winds! roast me in sulphur!
Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!
O Desdemona! Desdemona! dead?
Dead? 0!0!0!
Enter Lodovico, MONTANO, Cassio, carried in a Chair,

and Officers, with Iago, prisoner.
Lod. Where is this rash and most unfortunate man?
Oth. That 's he, that was Othello; here I am.
Lod. Where is that viper? bring the villain forth.
Oth. I look down towards his feet; --but that 's a fa-

ble : If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee.

[Oth. wounds Iago. Lod. Wrench his sword from him. Iago.

I bleed, sir; but not kill'd.
Oth. I am not sorry neither; I'd have thee live;
For, in my sense, 'tis happiness to die.3

Lod. O thou Othello, that was once so good,
Fall’n in the practice of a cursed slave,
What shall be said to thee?

Why, any thing :
An honourable murderer, if you will ;
For nought I did in hate, but all in honour.

Lod. This wretch hath part confess'd his villainy:

and he consent in Cassio's death?

Oih. Ay


And again, by Gawin Douglas, in his version of the Æneid:

audetque viris concurrere virgo.
“This wensche stoutlye rencounter durst with men."

Steevens, towards his feet; ] To see if, according to the common opinion, his feet be cloven. Johnson.

For, in my sense, 'tis happiness to die.] The same thought has already occurred in Antony and Cleopatra:

'Tis well thou 'rt gone,
- If it be well to live.” Steevens.
In the practice --] In the snare, by the stratagem.



[ocr errors]

Cas. Dear general, I never gave you cause.5

Oth. I do believe it, and I ask your pardon. Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil, Why he hath thus ensnar'd my soul and body? lago. Demand me nothing: What you know, you

From this time forth I never will speak word.

Lod. What? not to pray?

Torments will ope your lips. Oth. Well, thou dost best.

Lod. Sir, you shall understand what hath befall’n,
Which, as I think, you know not: Here is a letter,
Found in the pocket of the slain Roderigo;
And here, another: the one of them imports
The death of Cassio to be undertook
By Roderigo.

Oth. ( villain!

Most heathenish, and most gross!
Lod. Now here 's another discontented paper,
Found in his pocket too; and this, it seems,
Roderigo meant to have sent this damned villain;
But that, belike, Iago in the interim?
Came in and satisfied him.

O pernicious the caitiff
How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief
That was my wife's ?

I found it in my chamber:
And he himself confess’d, but even now,

5 Dear general, I never gave you cause.] Our poet probably without knowing it, has used the words of The Spanish Tragedy, 1605:

“ Hieronymo, I never gave thee cause ?" This phrase, a very familiar one, is also employed in p. 353, 1. 11 :

“ Alas, the day! I never gave him cause.Malone. * Oth. O villain!

Cas. Most heathenish, and most gross!] Read, for the sake of both sense and metre:

Oth. O villainy!

Most heathenish, and most gross. Ritson. in the interim -] The first copy has--in the nick. It was, I suppose, thought upon revisal, that nick was too familar.

Johnson. - confess’d, but even now,] The quarto, 1622, reads



« PreviousContinue »