Page images

Emil. [Within.] My lord, my lord! what ho!

my lord! my lord ! Oth. What noise is this?-Not dead! not yet

quite dead?
I, that am cruel, am yet merciful;
I would not have thee linger in thy pain.-
So, so.

Emil. [Within.] What ho! my lord, my lord!

Who's there? Emil. [Within.] O, good my lord, I would speak

a word with you. Oth. Yes ;—'tis Emilia :-by and by.-She's

dead. 'Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio's death; The noise was high.-Ha! no more moving ? Still as the grave. Shall the come in? Were't good? I think, she stirs again:-No.- What's the best? If she come in, she'll sure speak to my wife :My wife! my wife! what wife?- I have no wife : O, insupportable! O heavy hour! 6

use of the name of God, &c. in Itage-plays, interludes, Maygames, &c. Tollet.

The statute was necessary; for not only the ancient moralities, but the plays (those of Chapman in particular) abound with the most wanton and shocking repetitions of a name which never ought to be mentioned in such an irreverend manner on the stage.

STEEVENS. The alteration was undoubtedly made by, the Matter of the Revels. MALONE.

s My wife! my wife! what wife?-I have no wife:] “ Filium unicum adolescentulum habeo: ah! quid dixi habere me? imo habui, Chreme." Ter, Heantont. STEEVENS.

oo heavy hour!] In the first scene of this act we have “ a heavy night." This epithet likewise occurs in a sense somewhat unusual in Letters from the Pafton Family, Vol. II. p. 193: - it is demyd yt my Lady wolde herafter be the rather myn hevy Lady for ye delyng-," STEEVENS,

Methinks, it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon; and that the affrighted globe
Should yawn at alteration.
Emil. [Within.] I do beseech you I may speak

with you, O, good my lord !

Oth. I had forgot thee: 0, come in, Emilia :Soft,—by and by :-Let,me the curtains draw.Where art thou? What's the matter with thee now?

[Unlocks the door.

Enter EMILIA. Emil. O, good my lord, yonder's foul murder

done. Orh. What? now? EMIL.

But now, my lord ? Oth. It is the very error of the moon; She comes more near the earth than she was wont; And makes men mad. Emil. Cassio, my lord, has kill'd a young Ve

netian, Call’d-Roderigo. Orh.

Roderigo kill'd!
And Cassio killid?

No, Cassio is not kill'd.
Oth. Not Cassio kill'd? Then murder's out of

tune, And sweet revenge grows harsh.

Des. O, falsely, falsely murderd !?

70, falsely, falsely murder'd!] It cannot be supposed that a person who had been effectually strangled or smothered, could speak again; for if the power of breathing returned after the instrument of suf

[ocr errors]

Alas! what cry's that? Oth. That! what?

EMIL. Oät, and alas! that was my lady's voice:Help! help, ho! help!--O lady, speak again!

ocation was removed, no act of violence had in reality taken place by which the conclusion of life could be brought on. But Tuch is the peculiar fate of Desdemona, that she is supposed to be fmothered, revives to acquaint us that the smothered herself, and then dies without any oftenfible cause of death. I am of opinion that some theatrical direction has been omitted; and that when Othello says:

Not dead? not yet quite dead?
“ I, that am cruel, am yet merciful;
“ I would not have thee linger in thy pain :-

« So, fo.He then stabs her, repeating the two last words, as he repeats the blow. Thus, Virgil :

fic, fic juvat ire sub umbras." After the repetition of wounds, Desdemona might speak again, with propriety, and yet very soon expire; as says Callio of Roderigo:

" even but now he spake,

“ After long seeming dead.” The firit resolution of Othello was to poison her, but from this measure he is dissuaded by the policy of lago. He is next determined to use the poniard; but, his tenderness awaking, he cannot bear to deform those beauties which be had so often approached with other fenfations, and for different purposes. Therefore, says


" I'll not shed her blood,
" Nor scar that whiter skin of her's than snow,

" And smooth as monumental alabaster :" And this resolution we are to imagine he would have kept, but that he was averse to employing those means again, which had already appeared to be uncertain in their effect.

If this apparent want of a play-house direction had occafioned any absurdity in the original representation of the play, probably it is glanced at by Ben Jonson in The Alchemist, Act V: “ Didít hear a cry, said'st thou? Yes, fir, like unto a man that had been Arangled an hour, and could not speak." STEEVENS,

The Alchemist was first represented in the year 1610, and this paffage is found in the original copy prin.d in that year.


Sweet Desdemona! O, sweet mistress, speak!

Des. A guiltless death I die.

O, who hath done This deed?

Des. Nobody; I myself; farewell : Commend me to my kind lord; O, farewell. [Dies.

Oth. Why, how should she be murder'd ?

Alas, who knows? Oth. You heard her say herself, it was not I. Emil. She said so; I must needs report the truth.

Oth. She's, like a liar, gone to burning hell;? 'Twas I that kill'd her. Emil.

O, the more angel she, And you the blacker devil!

Oth. She turn’d to folly, and she was a whore.
EMIL. Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil.
Oth. She was false as water.'

Thou art rash as fire, to say That she was false; O, she was heavenly true!

7 She's, like a liar, gone to burning hell;] Here is nothing faulty in this passage, but it may be read,

She's, like a liar, gone to burn in hell. The vulgar denunciation of future vengeance is, I think, you'll burn in hell for this. WHALLEY. So, in King Richard II: “ That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire, -".

STEEVENS, & She turnd 10 folly, and me was a whore.] Folly, signifies here, as in the sacred writings, depravity of mind. So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece:

“ Her fad behaviour feeds his vulture folly." MALONE. So, in Deuteronomy, xxii. 21:“ — he hath wrought folly in Ifrael, to play the whore" &c: STEVENS.

9- false as water.] As water that will support no weight, nor keep any impression. Jounson.

OTH. Cassio did tup her; ask thy husband else.
0, I were damn'd beneath all depth in hell,
But that I did proceed upon just grounds
To this extremity;? Thy husband knew it all.

EMIL. My husband ?
Oth. Thy husband.
Evil. That she was false to wedlock?

Ay, with Cassio,
Nay, had the been true,
If heaven would make me such another world
Of one entire and perfect chrysolite,
I'd not have sold her for it.

Evil. My husband ?

Ay, 'twas he that told me first;3
An honest man he is, and hates the lime
• That sticks on filthy deeds.

My husband ?
Oth. What needs this iterance, 4 woman? I say,

thy husband.
Evil. O mistress, villainy hath made mocks

with love!"

2 — this extremity ;] Perhaps our author wrote-to this extreme. The measure demands a shorter word than the former. Thus, in Romeo and Juliet :

“'Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife

« Shall play the umpire." STEEVENS. 3 — that rold me first;] The folio reads,--that told me on her firit. STEEVENS. 4- iterance,] Thus the folio. The quarto reads—iteration.

STEEVENS. 5 Emil.] The first quarto omits this and the following speech.

STEEVENS. 6 — villainy hath made mocks with loze!] Villainy has taken advantage to play upon the weakness of a violent patrion.

JOHNSON. I have sometimes thought that these words might mean, that Vol. XV.


« PreviousContinue »