One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife]
This is one of the passages which must for the present be resigned to corruption and obscurity. I have nothing that I can, with any approach to confidence, propose. I cannot think it very plain from Act 3. Scene 1. that Cassio was or was not a Florentine.
I.i.30 (361,6) must be belee'd and calm'd] [--must be LED and calm'd. So the old quarto. The first folio reads belee'd: but that spoils the measure. I read LET, hindered. WARBURTON.] Belee'd suits to calm'd, and the measure is not less perfect than in many other places.
I.i.36 (361,7) Preferment goes by letter] By recommendation from powerful friends.
I.i.37 (361,8) And not by old gradation] [W: Not (as of old)] Old gradation, is gradation established byancient practice. Where is the difficulty?
I.i.39 (361,9) If I in any just term am affin'd] Affine is the reading of the third quarto and the first folio. The second quarto and all the modern editions have assign'd. The meaning is, Do I stand within any such terms of propinquit or relation to the Moor, as that it is my duty to love him?
I.i.49 (362,1) honest knaves] Knave is here for servant, but with a mixture of sly contempt.
I.i.63 (362,2) In compliment extern] In that which I do only for an outward shew of civility.
I.i.76 (363,3) As when, by night and negligence, the fire/Is spied in populous cities] [Warburton, objecting to "by": Is spred] The particle is used equivocally; the same liberty is taken by writers more correct.
The wonderful creature! a woman of reason! Never grave out of pride, never gay out of season.
I.i.115 (364,4) What profane wretch art thou?] That is, what wretch of gross and licentious language? In that sense Shakespeare often uses the word profane.
I.i.124 (365,6) this odd even] The even of night is midnight, the time when night is divided into even parts.
I.i.149 (366,7) some check] Some rebuke.
I.i.150 (366,8) cast him] That is, dismiss him; reject him. We still say, a cast coat, and a cast serving-man.
I.i.162 (366,9) And what's to come of my despised time] [W: despited] Despised time, is time of no value; time in which
"There's nothing serious in mortality, The wine of life is drawn, and the mere dregs Are left, this vault to brag of." --Macbeth.
I.i.173 (367,2) By which the property of youth and maidhood/May be abus'd?] By which the faculties of a young virgin may be infatuated, and made subject to illusions and to false imagination.
"Wicked dreams abuse The curtain'd sleep." --Macbeth.
I.ii.2 (368,3) stuff o' the conscience] This expression to common readers appears harsh. Stuff of the conscience is, substance, or essence of the conscience. Stuff is a word of great force in the Teutonic languages. The elements are called in Dutch, Hoefd stoffen, or head stuffs.
I.ii.13 (368,4) And hath, in his effect, a voice potential/As double as the duke's] [Warburton had given a source in Dioscorides and Theocritus for "double"] This note has been much censured by Mr. Upton, who denies, that the quotation is in Dioscorides, and disputes, not without reason, the interpretation of Theocritus.
All this learning, if it had even been what it endeavours to be thought, is, in this place, superfluous. There is no ground of supposing, that our author copied or knew the Greek phrase; nor does it follow, that, because a word has two senses in one language, the word which in another answers to one sense, should answer to both. Manus, in Latin, signifies both a hand and troop of soldiers, but we cannot say, that the captain marched at the head of his hand; or, that he laid his troop upon his sword. It is not always in books that the meaning is to be sought of this writer, who was much more acquainted with naked reason and with living manners.
Double has here its natural sense. The president of every deliberative assembly has a double voice. In our courts, the chief justice and one of the inferior judges prevail over the other two, because the chief justice has a double voice.
Brabantio had, in his effect, though not by law, yet by weight and influence, a voice not actual and formal, but potential and operative, as double, that is, a voice that when a question was suspended, would turn the balance as effectually as the duke's. Potential is used in the sense of science; a caustic is called potential fire.
I.ii.23 (370,7) speak, unbonnetted] [Pope: unbonnetting] I do not see the propriety of Mr. Pope's emendation, though adopted by Dr. Warburton. Unbonnetting may as well be, not putting on, as not putting off, the bonnet. Hamner reads e'en bonnetted.
I.ii.26 (370,8) unhoused] Free from domestic cares. A thought natural to an adventurer.
I.ii.28 (370,9) For the sea's worth] I would not marry her, though she were as rich as the Adriatic, which the Doge annually marries.
I.ii.30 (371,2) a land-carrack] A carrack is a ship of great bulk, and commonly of great value; perhaps what we now call a galleon.
I.ii.55 (372,3) be advis'd] That is, be cool; be cautious; be discreet.
I.ii.68 (372,4) The wealthy curled darlings of our nation] Curled is elegantly and ostentatiously dressed. He had not the hair particularly in his thoughts.
I.ii.74 (373,6) Abused her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals, That weaken notion] [T: notion] Hanmer reads with equal probability, That waken motion. [Originally motion].
I.iii.6 (375,9) As in these cases where they aim reports] [W: the aim] The folio has,
--the aim reports.
But, they aim reports, has a sense sufficiently easy and commodious. There men report not by certain knowledge, but by aim and conjecture.
I.ii.18 (375,1) By no assay of reason] Bring it to the test, examine it by reason as we examine metals by the assay, it will be found counterfeit by all trials.
I.iii.23 (376,2) facile question] Question is for the act of seeking. With more easy endeavour.
I.iii.24 (376,4) warlike brace] State of defence. To arm was called to brace on the armour.
I.iii.42 (376,5) And prays you to believe him] The late learned and ingenious Mr. Thomas Clark, of Lincoln's Inn, read the passage thus:
And prays you to relieve him.
But the present reading may stand. He intreats you not to doubt the truth of this intelligence.
I.iii.54 (377,6) Hath rais'd me from my bed; nor doth the general care] The word care, which encumbers the verse, was probably added by the players. Shakespeare uses the general as a substantive, though, I think, not in this sense.
I.iii.69 (373,8) though our proper son/Stood in your action] Were the man exposed to your charge or accusation.
I.iii.80 (378,9) The very head and front of my offending] The main, the whole, unextenuated.
I.iii.85 (379,2) Their dearest action] That is dear, for which much is paid, whether money or labour; dear action, is action performed at great expence, either of ease or safety.
I.iii.107 (380,4) overt test] Open proofs, external evidence.
I.iii.108 (380,5) thin habits and poor likelihoods/Of modern seeming] Weak shew of slight appearance.
I.iii.139 (381,6) And portance in my travel's history] [I have restored,
And with it all my travel's history:
From the old edition. It is in the rest,
And portance in my travel's history.
Rymer, in his criticism on this play, has changed it to portents, instead of portance. POPE.] Mr. Pope has restored a line, to which there is little objection, but which has no force. I believe portance was the author's word in some revised copy. I read thus,
Of being----sold To slavery, of my redemption, thence, And portance in't; my travel's history. My redemption from slavery, and behaviour in it.
I.iii.140-170 (381,7) Wherein of antres vast, and desarts idle] Whoever ridicules this account of the progress of love, shows his ignorance, not only of history, but of nature and manners. It is no wonder that, in any age, or in any nation, a lady, recluse, timorous, and delicate, should desire to hear of events and scenes which she could never see, and should admire the man who had endured dangers and performed actions, which, however great, were yet magnified by her timidity. [Pope: deserts wild] Every mind is liable to absence and inadvertency, else Pope could never have rejected a word so poetically beautiful. Idle is an epithet used to express the infertility of the chaotic state, in the Saxon translation of the Pentateuch. (1773)
I.iii.140 (382,8) antres] [French grottos. POPE.] Rather caves and dens.
I.iii.142 (382,9) It was my hint to speak] [W: hent] Hent is not used in Shakespeare, nor, I believe, in any other author; hint, or cue, is comnonly used for occasion of speech, which is explained by, such was the process, that is, the course of the tale required it. If hent be restored, it may be explained by handle. I had a handle, or opportunity, to speak of cannibals.
I.iii.144 (382,1) men whose heads/Do grow beneath their shoulders] Of these men there is an account in the interpolated travels of Mondeville, a book of that time.
I.iii.199 (384,4) Let me speak like yourself;] [W: our self] Hanmer reads,
Let me now speak more like your self.
Dr. Warburton's emendation is specious; but I do not see how Hanmer's makes any alteration. The duke seems to mean, when he says he will speak like Brabantio, that he will speak sententiously.
I.iii.213 (385,6) But the free comfort which from thence he hears] But the moral precepts of consolation, which are liberally bestowed on occasion of the sentence.
I.iii.232 (386,8) thrice-driven bed of down] A driven bed, is a bed for which the feathers are selected, by driving with a fan, which separates the light from the heavy.
I crave fit disposition for my wife; Due reverence of place, and exhibition]
I desire, that a proper disposition be made for my wife, that she may have precedency, and revenue, accommodation, and company, suitable to her rank.
For reference of place, the old quartos have reverence, which Hanmer has received. I should read,
Due preference of place.--
I.iii.246 (387,1) And let me find a charter in your voice] Let your favour privilege me.
I.iii.250 (387,2) My down-right violence and storm of fortunes] [W: to forms, my fortunes] There is no need of this emendation. Violence is not violence suffered, but violence acted. Breach of common rules and obligations. The old quarto has, scorn of fortune, which is perhaps the true reading.
I.iii.253 (388,3) I saw Othello's visage in his mind] It must raise no wonder, that I loved a man of an appearance so little engaging; I saw his face only in his mind; the greatness of his character reconciled me to his form.
Nor to comply with heat (the young affects, In me defunct) and proper satisfaction]
[T: me distinct, i.e. with that heat and new affections which the indulgence of my appetite has raised and created. This is the meaning of defunct, which has made all the difficulty of the passage. WARBURTON.] I do not think that Mr. Theobald's emendation clears the text from embarrassment, though it is with a little imaginary improvement received by Hanmer, who reads thus:
Nor to comply with heat, affects the young In my distinct and proper satisfaction.
Dr. Warburton's explanation is not more satisfactory: what made the difficulty, will continue to make it. I read,
--I beg it not, To please the palate of my appetite, Nor to comply with heat (the young affects In me defunct) and proper satisfaction; But to be free and bounteous to her mind.
Affects stands here, not for love, but for passions, for that by which any thing is affected. I ask it not, says he, to please appetite, or satisfy loose desires, the passions of youth which I have now outlived, or for any particular gratification of myself, but merely that I may indulge the wishes of my wife.
Mr. Upton had, before me, changed my to me; but he has printed young effects, not seeming to know that affects could be a noun. (1773)
I.iii.290 (391,6) If virtue no delighted beauty lack] [W: belighted] Hanmer reads, more plausibly, delighting. I do not know that belighted has any authority. I should rather read,
If virtue no delight or beauty lack.
Delight, for delectation, or power of pleasing, as it is frequently used.
I.iii.299 (391,8) best advantage] Fairest opportunity.
I.iii.317 (392,9) a Guinea-hen] A showy bird with fine feathers.
I.iii.346 (392,1) defeat thy favour with an usurped beard] [W: disseat] It is more English, to defeat, than disseat. To defeat, is to undo, to change.
I.iii.350 (393,2) It was a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt see an answerable 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.
I.iii.363 (393,4) betwixt an erring Barbarian] [W: errant] Hanmer reads, errant. Erring is as well as either.
II.i.15 (396,1) And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole] Alluding to the star Arctophylax.
His bark is stoutly timber'd, and his pilot Of very expert and approv'd allowance; Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death, Stand in bold cure]
I do not understand these lines. I know not how hope can be surfeited to death, that is, can be encreased, till it is destroyed; nor what it is to stand in bold cure; or why hope should be considered as a disease. In the copies there is no variation. Shall we read
Therefore my fears, not surfeited to death, Stand in bold cure?
This is better, but it is not well. Shall we strike a bolder stroke, and read thus?
Therefore my hopes, not forfeited to death, Stand bold, not sure.
II.i.49 (398,4) Of very expert and approv'd allowance] I read, Very expert, and of approv'd allowance.
II.i.64 (308,5) And in the essential vesture of creation/Does bear all excellency; We in terrestrial] I do not think the present reading inexplicable. The author seems to use essential, for existent, real. She excels the praises of invention, says he, and in real qualities, with which creation has invested her, bears all excellency.
Does bear all excellency----] Such is the reading of the quartos, for which the folio has this,
And in the essential vesture of creation Do's tyre the ingeniuer.
Which I explain thus,
Does tire the ingenious verse.
This is the best reading, and that which the author substituted in his revisal.
II.i.112 (401,9) Saints in your injuries] When you have a mind to do injuries, you put on an air of sanctity.
II.i.120 (402,1) I am nothing, if not critical] That is, censorious.
II.i.137 (402,2) She never yet was foolish] We may read,
She ne'er was yet so foolish that was fair, But even her folly help'd her to an heir.
Yet I believe the common reading to be right; the lay makes the power of cohabitation a proof that a man is not a natural; therefore, since the foolishest woman, if pretty, may have a child, no pretty woman is ever foolish.
II.i.146 (403,3) put on the vouch of very malice itself] To put on the vouch of malice, is to assume a character vouched by the testimony of malice itself.
II.i.165 (404,5) profane] Gross of language, of expression broad and brutal. So Brabantio, in the first act, calls Iago profane wretch.
II.i.165 (404,6) liberal counsellor.] Counsellor seems to mean, not so much a man that gives counsel, us one that discourses fearlessly and volubly. A talker.
II.i.177 (405,8) well kiss'd! an excellent courtesy!] [--well kissed, and excellent courtesy;--] This I think should be printed, well kiss'd! an excellent courtesy! Spoken when Cassio kisses his hand, and Desdemona courtesies. [The old quarto confirms Dr. Johnson's emendation. STEEVENS.]
II.i.208 (406,1) I prattle out of fashion] Out of method, without any settled order of discourse.
II.i.211 (406,2) the master] The pilot of the ship.
II.i.223 (406,3) Lay thy finger thus] On thy mouth, to stop it while thou art listening to a wiser man.
II.i.252 (407,5) green minds] Minds unripe, minds not yet fully formed.
II.i.254 (408,6) she is full of most bless'd condition] Qualities, disposition of mind.
II.i.274 (408,7) tainting his discipline] Throwing a slur upon hie discipline.
II.i.279 (408,8) sudden in choler] Sudden, is precipitately violent.
II.i.283 (408,9) whose qualification shall come into no true taste again] Whose resentment shall not be so qualified or tempered, as to be well tasted, as not to retain some bitterness. The phrase is harsh, at least to our ears.
II.i.306 (409,1) like a poisonous mineral] This is philosophical. Mineral poisons kill by corrosion.
II.i.314 (411,4) I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip] A phrase from the art of wrestling.
II.i.321 (411,6) Knavery's plain face is never seen] An honest man acts upon a plan, and forecasts his designs; but a knave depends upon temporary and local opportunities, and never knows his own purpose, but at the time of execution.
II.iii.14 (413,8) Our general cast us] That is, appointed us to our stations. To cast the play, is, in the stile of the theatres, to assign to every actor his proper part.
II.iii.26 (413,9) And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?] The voice may sound an alarm more properly than the eye can sound a parley.
II.iii.46 (413,1) I have drunk but one cap to-night, and that was carefully qualified too] Slily mixed with water.
II.iii.59 (414,2) The very elements; As quarrelsome as the as the discordia semina rerum; as quick in opposition as fire and water.
II.iii.64 (414,3) If consequence do but approve my dream] [T: my deer] This reading is followed by the succeeding editions. I rather read,
If consequence do but approve my scheme.
But why should dream be rejected? Every scheme subsisting only in the imagination may be termed a dream.
II.iii.93-99 (416,6) King Stephen was a worthy peer] These stanzas are taken from an old song, which the reader will find recovered and preserved in a curious work lately printed, intitled, Relicks of Ancient Poetry, consisting of old heroic ballands, songs, &c. 3 vols. 12.
II.iii.95 (416,7) lown] Sorry fellow, paltry wretch.
II.iii.135 (417,8) He'll watch the horologe a double set] If he have no drink, he'll keep awake while the clock strikes two rounds, or four and twenty hours.
Chaucer uses the ward horologe in more places than one.
"Well skirer was his crowing in his loge "Than is a clock or abbey horologe."]
The bracketed part of Johnson's note is taken verbatim from Zacbary Gray, Critical ... Notes on Shakespeare, 1754, II, 316.] (see 1765, VIII, 374, 6) (rev. 1778, I, 503, 9)
II.iii.145 (418,9) ingraft infirmity; An infirmity rooted, settled in his constitution.
II.iii.175 (419,3) it frights the isle, From her propriety] From her regular and proper state.
II.iii.180 (419,4) In quarter] In their quarters; at their lodging.
II.iii.194 (420,5) you unlace your reputation thus] Slacken, or loosen. Put in danger of dropping; or perhaps strip of its ornaments.
II.iii.195 (420,6) spend your rich opinion] Throw away and squander a reputation as valuable as yours.
II.iii.202 (420,7) self-charity] Care of one's self.
II.iii.211 (421,9) he that is approv'd in this offence] He that is convicted by proof, of having been engaged in this offence.
II.iii.274 (423,1) cast in his mood] Ejected in his anger.
II.iii.343 (425,4) this advice is free] This counsel has an appearance of honest openness, of frank good-will.
II.iii.348 (425,5) free elements] Liberal, bountiful, as the elements, out of which all things are produced.
II.iii.355 (425,6) to this parallel course] i.e. a course level, and even with his design.
II.iii.363 (425,8) That she repeals him] That is, recalls him.
Though ether things grew fair against the sun, Yet fruits, that blossom first, will first be ripe]
Of many different things, all planned with the same art, and promoted with the same diligence, some must succeed sooner than others, by the order of nature. Every thing cannot be done at once; we must proceed by the necessary gradation. We are not to despair of slow events any more than of tardy fruits, while the causes are in regular progress, and the fruits grow fair against the sun. Hanmer has not, I think, rightly conceived the sentiment; for he reads,
Those fruits which blossom first, are not first ripe.
I have therefore drawn it out at length, for there are few to whom that will be easy which was difficult to Hanmer.
III.i.3 (427,2) Why, masters, have your instruments been in Naples, that they speak i' the nose thus?] The venereal disease first appeared at the siege of Naples.
That policy may either last so long, Or feed upon such nice and waterish diet, Or breed itself so out of circumstance, That I, being absent, and my place supplied, My general will forget my love and service]
He may either of himself think it politic to keep me out of office so long, or he may be satisfied with such slight reasons, or so many accidents may make him think my re-admission at that time improper, that I may be quite forgotten.
III.iii.23 (431,7) I'll watch him tame] It is said, that the ferocity of beasts, insuperable and irreclaimable by any other means, is subdued by keeping them from sleep.
III.iii.47 (431,8) His present reconciliation take] [W: make] To take his reconciliation, may be to accept the submission which he makes in order to be reconciled.
III.iii.65 (432,1) the wars must make examples/Out of their best] The severity of military discipline must not spare the best men of the army, when their punishment nay afford a wholesome example.
III.iii.90 (433,2) Excellent wretch!--Perdition catch my soul,/But I do love thee!] The meaning of the word wretch, is not generally understood. It is now, in some parts of England, a term of the softest and fondest tenderness. It expresses the utmost degree of amiableness, joined with an idea, which perhaps all tenderness includes, of feebleness, softness, and want of protection. Othello, considering Desdemona as excelling in beauty and virtue, soft and timorous by her sex, and by her situation absolutely in his power, calls her Excellent wretch! It may be expressed,
Dear, harmless, helpless Excellence.
III.iii.91 (433,3) when I love thee not,/Chaos is come again] When my love is for a moment suspended by suspicion, I have nothing in my mind but discord, tumult, perturbation, and confusion.
III.iii.123 (435,4) They are close delations working from the heart, That passion cannot rule] They are cold dilations working from the heart, That passion cannot rule.] I know not why the modern editors are satisfied with this reading, which no explanation can clear. They might easily have found, that it is introduced without authority. The old copies uniformly give, close dilations, except that the earlier quarto has close denotements; which was the author's first expression, afterwards changed by him, not to cold dilations, for cold is read in no ancient copy; nor, I believe, to close dilations, but to close delations; to occult and secret accusations, working involuntarily from the heart, which, though resolved to conceal the fault, cannot rule its passion of resentment.
III.iii.127 (435,5) Or, those that be not, 'would they might seem none!] [W: seem knaves] I believe the meaning is, would they might no longer seem, or bear the shape of men.
III.iii.140 (436,6) Keep leets and law-days] [i.e. govern. WARBURTON.] Rather visit than govern, but visit with authoritative intrusion.
III.iii.149 (437,8) From one that so improbably conceits]--imperfectly conceits,] In the old quarto it is,
Which I think preferable.
III.iii.166 (437,9) the green-ey'd monster, which doth make/The meat it feeds on] which doth mock The meat it feeds on.] I have received Hanmer's emendation ["make"]; because to mock, does not signify to loath; and because, when Iago bids Othello beware of jealousy, the green-eyed monster, it is natural to tell why he should beware, and for caution he gives him two reasons, that jealousy often creates its own cause, and that, when the causes are real, jealousy is misery.
III.iii.173 (438,1) But riches, fineless] Unbounded, endless, unnumbered treasures.
Exchange me for a goat, When I shall turn the business of my soul To such exsuffolate and blown surmises, Matching thy inference]
This odd and far-fetched word was made yet more uncouth in all the editions before Hanmer's, by being printed, exsufflicate. The allusion is to a bubble. Do not think, says the Moor, that I shall change the noble designs that now employ my thoughts, to suspicions which, like bubbles blown into a wide extent, have only an empty shew without solidity, or that in consequence of such empty fears, I will close with thy inference against the virtue of my wife.
III.iii.188 (439,4) Where virtue is, those are most virtuous] An action in itself indifferent grows virtuous by its end and application.
I know our country disposition well; In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks]
Here Iago seems to be a Venetian.
III.iii.207 (440,7) And, when she seem'd to shake, and fear your looks,/She lov'd them most] This and the following argument of Iago ought to be deeply impressed on every reader. Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniencies they may for a time promise or produce, are, in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness. Those, who profit by the cheat, distruat the deceiver, and the act, by which kindness was sought, puts an end to confidence.
The same objection may be made with a lower degree of strength against the imprudent generosity of disproportionate marriages. When the first heat of passion is over, it is easily succeeded by suspicion, that the same violence of inclination, which caused one irregularity, may stimulate to another; and those who have shown, that their passions are too powerful for their prudence, will, with very alight appearances againat them, be censured, as not very likely to restrain them by their virtue. (see 1765, VIII, 397, 1)
III.iii.210 (440,8) To seel her father's eyes up, close as oak] There is little relation between eyes and oak. I would read,
She seel'd her father's eyes up close as owl's.
As blind as an owl, is a proverb.
III.iii.222 (441,1) My speech would fall into such vile success] [Success, far succession, i.e. conclusion; not prosperous issue. WARB.] I rather think there is a depravation, and would read,
My speech would fall into such vile excess.
If success be the right word, it seems to mean consequence or event, as successo is used in Italian.
III.iii.232 (441,2) will most rank] Will, is for wilfulness. It is so used by Ascham. A rank will, is self-will overgrown and exuberant.
III.iii.249 (442,3) You shall by that perceive him, and his means] You shall discover whether he thinks his best means, his most powerful interest, is by the solicitation of your lady.
III.iii.250 (442,4) strain his entertainnent] Press hard his re-admission to his pay and office. Entertainment was the military term for admission of soldiers.
III.iii.256 (442,5) Fear not my government] Do not distrust ay ability to contain my passion.
III.iii.259 (442,6) knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,/Of human dealings] The construction is, He knows with a learned spirit all qualities of human dealings.
III.iii.260 (442,7) If I do prore her haggard] A haggard hark, is a wild hawk, a hawk unreclaimed, or irreclaimable.
III.iii.262 (443,8) I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind,/ To prey at fortune] The falconers always let fly the hawk against the wind; if she flies with the wind behind her, she seldom returns. If therefore a hawk was for any reason to be dismissed, she was let down the wind, and from that time shifted far herself, and preyed at fortune. This was told me by the late Mr. Clark.
III.iii.276 (443,9) forked plague] In allusion to a barbed or forked arrow, which, once infixed, cannot be extracted.
III.iii.312 (445,2) And, to the advantage, I, being here, took it up] I being opportunely here, took it up.
III.iii.319 (445,3) Be not you known on't] Should it not rather be read,
Be not you known in't?
The folio reads,
Be not unknown on't.
The sense is plain, but of the expression I cannot produce any example.
III.iii.332 (446,5) that sweet sleep,/Which thou owedst yesterday] To owe is, in our author, oftener to possess, than to be indebted, and such was its meaning here; but as that sense was growing less usual, it was changed unnecessarily by the editors to hadst; to the sane meaning, more intelligibly expressed.
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife]
Dr. Warburton has offered fear-spersing, for fear-dispersing. But ear-piercing is an epithet so eminently adapted to the fife, and so distinct from the shrillness of the trumpet, that it certainly ought not to be changed. Dr. Warburton has been censured for this proposed emendation with more noise than honesty, for he did not himself put it in the text.
III.iii.369 (449,8) abandon all remorse] [Remorse, for repentance. WARBURTON.] I rather think it is, Let go all scruples, throw aside all restraints.
III.iii.429 (451,4) Oth. 'tis a shrewd doubt] [The old quarto gives this line, with the two following, to Iago; and rightly. WARB.] I think it more naturally spoken by Othello, who, by dwelling so long upon the proof, encouraged Iago to enforce it.
III.iii.448 (452,8) hearted throne] [W: parted] Hearted throne, is the heart on which thou wast enthroned. Parted throne has no meaning.
Let him command, And to obey, shall be in me remorse, What bloody business ever]
[Pope: Not to obey] [T: Nor, to obey.] [W: me. Remord] Of these two emendations, I believe, Theobald's will have the greater number of suffrages; it has at least mine. The objection against the propriety of the declaration in Iago is a cavil; he does not say that he has no principle of remorse, but that it shall not operate against Othello's commands. To obey shall be in me, for I will obey you, is a mode of expression not worth the pains here taken to introduce it; and the word remords has not in the quotation the meaning of withhold, or make reluctant, but of reprove, or censure; nor do I know that it is used by any of the contemporaries of Shakespeare.
I will offer an interpretation, which, if it be received, will make alteration unnecessary, but it is very harsh and violent. Iago devotes himself to wronged Othello, and says, Let him command whatever bloody business, and in me it shall be an act, not of cruelty, but of tenderness, to obey him; not of malice to other, but of tenderness for him. If this sense be thought too violent, I see nothing better than to follow Pope's reading, as it is improved by Theobald.
III.iv.26 (457,5) cruzadoes] [A Portugueze coin, in value three shillings sterling. Dr. GREY.] So called from the cross stamped upon it.
III.iv.46 (458,6) The hearts, of old, gave hands] [Warburton explains this is an allusion to James the First's practice of creating baronets for money and emends to "The hands of old gave hearts"] The historical observation is very judicious and acute, but of the emendation there is no need. She says, that her hand gave away her heart. He goes on with his suspicion, and the hand which he had before called frank, he now terms liberal; then proceeds to remark, that the hand was formerly given by the heart; but now it neither gives it, nor is given by it.
III.iv.51 (459,7) salt and sullen rheum]--salt and sorry rheum] The old quarto has,
--salt and sullen rheum---
That is, a rheum obstinately troublesome. I think this better.
A Sybil, that had numbred in the world The sun to course two hundred compasses]
The expression is not very infrequent; we say, I counted the clock to strike four; so she number'd the sun to course, to run two hundred compasses, two hundred annual circuits.
III.iv.79 (460,1) Why do you speak so startingly, and rash?] Is vehement, violent.
III.iv.103 (461,2) 'Tis not a year, or two, shews us a man] From this line it may be conjectured, that the author intended the action of the play to be considered as longer than is marked by any note of time. Since their arrival at Cyprus, to which they were hurried on their wedding-night, the fable seems to have been in one continual progress, nor can I see any vacuity into which a year or two, or even a month or two, could be put. On the night of Othello's arrival, a feast was proclaimed; at that feast Cassio was degraded, and immediately applies to Desdemona to get him restored. Iago indeed advises Othello to hold him off a while, but there is no reason to think, that he has been held off long. A little longer interval would increase the probability of the story, though it might violate the rules of the drama. See Act. 5. Sc. 2. (see 1765, VIII, 416, 1)
III.iv.113 (461,3) the duty of my heart] --the office of my heart.] The elder quarto reads,
--the duty of my heart.
The author used the more proper word, and then changed it, I suppose, for fashionable diction; but, as fashion is a very weak protectress, the old word is now ready to resume its place.
But to know so, must be my benefit]
"Si nequeo placidas affari Caesaris aures, "Saltem aliquis veniat, qui mihi dicat, abi."
III.iv.125 (462,7) in favour] In look, in countenance.
III.iv.128 (462,8) within the blank of his displeasure] Within the shot of his anger.
III.iv.141 (463,9) some unhatch'd practice] Some treason that has not taken effect.
for let our finger ach, And it endues our other healthful members Even to that sense of pain]
Endue with a sense of pain, is an expression, which, though it might be endured, if it were genuine, cannot deserve to be introduced by artifice. The copies, both quarto and folio, read, Endue our other healthful members even to a sense of pain. I believe it should be rather, SUBDUE our other healthful members to a sense of pain.
III.iv.151 (463,2) (unhandsome warrior as I am)] [W: wrangler] Unhandsome warrior, is evidently unfair assailant.
III.iv.178 (464,3) a more continuate time]--more convenient time] The folio has,
--more continuate time;
Time less interrupted, time which I can call more my own. It gives a more distinct image than convenient.
III.iv.180 (464,4) Take me this work out] The meaning is not, "Pick out the work, and leave the ground plain;" but, "Copy this work in another handkerchief."
Naked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm? It is hypocrisy against the devil]
Hypocrisy against the devil, means hypocrisy to cheat the devil. As common hypocrites cheat men, by seeming good, and yet living wickedly, these men would cheat the devil, by giving him flattering hopes, and at last avoiding the crime which he thinks them ready to commit.
IV.i.22 (467,8) Boding to all] Thus all the old copies. The moderns, less grammatically,
Boding to ill--
IV.i.42 (468,2) without sone instruction] [W: induction] This is a noble conjecture, and whether right or wrong does honour to its author. Yet I am in doubt whether there is any necessity of emendation. There has always prevailed in the world an opinion, that when any great calamity happens at a distance, notice is given of it to the sufferer by some dejection or perturbation of mind, of which he discovers no external cause. This is ascribed to that general communication of one part of the universe with another, which is called sympathy and antipathy; or to the secret monition, instruction, and influence of a superior Being, which superintends the order of nature and of life. Othello says, Nature could not invest herself in such shadowing passion without instruction. It is not words that shake me thus. This passion, which spreads its clouds over me, is the effect of some agency more than the operation of words; it is one of those notices which men have of unseen calamities.
IV.i.76 (471,4) Confine yourself but in a patient list] For attention; act of listening.
IV.i.82 (471,5) encave yourself] Hide yourself in a private place.
IV.i.89 (471,6) Or I shall say, you are all in all in spleen,/And nothing of a man] I read,
Or shall I say, you're all in all a spleen.
I think our author uses this expression elsewhere.
IV.i.121 (472,8) Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph?] Othello calls him Roman ironically. Triumph, which was a Roman ceremony, brought Roman into his thoughts. What (says he) you are now triumphing as great as a Roman?
IV.i.123 (472,9) a customer!] A common woman, one that invites custom.
IV.i.130 (473,1) Have you scar'd me? Have you made my reckoning? have you settled the term of my life? The old quarto reads, stored me. Have you disposed of me? have you laid me up?
IV.i.150 (473,2) 'Tis such another fitchew! marry, a perfum'd one] Shakespeare has in another place mentioned the lust of this animal. He tells Iago, that she is as lewd as the polecat, but of better scent, the polecat being a very stinking animal.
IV.i.244 (476,4) atone them] Make them one; reconcile them.
If that the earth could teem with woman's tears, Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile]
If womens tears could impregnate the earth. By the doctrine of equivocal generation, new animals were supposed producible by new combinations of matter. See Bacon.
whose solid virtue The shot of accident, nor dart of chance, Could neither graze nor pierce]
[T: of change] To graze is not merely to touch superficially, but to strike not directly, not so as to bury the body of the thing striking in the matter struck.
Theobald trifles, as is usual. Accident and chance may admit a subtle distinction; accident may be considered as the act, and chance as the power or agency of fortune; as, It was by chance that this accident befel me. At least, if we suppose all corrupt that is inaccurate, there will be no end of emendation.
IV.ii.57 (482,1) garner'd up my heart] That is, treasured up; the garner and the fountain are improperly conjoined.
Turn thy complexion there! Patience, thou young and rose-lipp'd cherubim; Ay, there, look grim as hell]
At such an object do thou, patience, thyself change colour; at this do thou, even thou, rosy cherub as thou art, look grim as hell. The old editions and the new have it,
I here look grim as hell.
I was written for ay, and not since corrected.
IV.ii.109 (484,4) The small'st opinion on my great'st abuse] The old quarto reads [for "least misuse"],
The small'st opinion on my great'st abuse.
Which I think is better.
IV.ii.140 (486,6) Some base notorious knave] For gross, not in its proper meaning for known.
IV.ii.144 (486,7) Speak within door] Do not clamour so as to be heard beyond the house.
IV.ii.146 (486,8) the seamy side without] That is, inside out.
IV.iii.27 (490,2) and he, she lov'd, prov'd mad,/And did forsake her] I believe that mad only signifies wild, frantick, uncertain.
IV.iii.31 (490,3) I have much to do,/But to go hang my head] I have much ado to do any thing but hang my head. We might read,
Not to go hang my head.
This is perhaps the only insertion made in the latter editions which has improved the play. The rest seem to have been added for the sake of amplification, or of ornament. When the imagination had subsided, and the mind was no longer agitated by the horror of the action, it became at leisure to look round for specious additians. This addition is natural. Desdemona can at first hardly forbear to sing the song; she endeavours to change her train of thoughts, but her imagination at last prevails, and she sings it.
Des. "The poor soul sat singing by a sycamore-tree, "Sing all a green willow]
This song, in two parts, is printed in a late collection of old ballads; the lines preserved here differ somewhat from the copy discovered by the ingenious collector.
Des. "I call'd my love false love; but what said he then? "Sing willow, &c.]
This couplet is not in the ballad, which is the complaint, not of a woman forsaken, but of a man rejected. These lines were probably added when it was accommodated to a woman.
IV.iii.94 (493,6) our former having] Our former allowance of experience.
IV.iii.107 (493,7) heaven me such usage send] --heaven me such uses send,] Such is the reading of the folio, and of the subsequent editions; but the old quarto has,
--such usage send.--
Usage is an old word for custom, and, I think, better than uses.
V.i.11 (494,1) I have rubb'd this young quat almost to the sense] In some editions,
I've rubb'd this young gnat almost to the sense, And he grows angry.]
This is a passage much controverted among the editors. Sir T. Hanner reads quab, a gudgeon; not that a gudgeon can be rubbed to much sense, but that a man grossly deceived is often called a gudgeon. Mr. Upton reads quail, which he proves, by much learning, to be a very choleric bird. Dr. Warburton retains gnat, which is found in the early quarto. Theobald would introduce knot, a small bird of that name. I have followed the text of the folio, and third and fourth quartos.
A quat in the midland counties is a pimple, which by rubbing is made to smart, or is rubbed to sense. Roderigo is called a quat by the same mode of speech, as a low fellow is now termed in lay language a scab. To rub to the sense, is to rub to the quick.
V.i.37 (496,2) No passage?] No passengers? No body going by?
V.i.42 (499,4) a heary night] A thick cloudy night, in which an ambush may be commodiously laid.
V.ii.1 (499,4) It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul;--/Let me not name it] The abruptness of this soliloquy makes it obscure. The meaning, I think, is this: "I am here (says Othello in his mind) overwhelmed with horror. What is the reason of this perturbation? Is it want of resolution to do justice? Is it the dread of shedding blood? No; it is not the action that shocks me, but it is the cause, it is the cause, my soul; let me not name it to you, ye chaste stars; it is the cause."
I must weep, But they are cruel tears: this sorrel's heavenly; It strikes, where it doth love.--She wakes--]
This tenderness, with which I lament the punishment which justice compels me to inflict, is a holy passion.
I wish these two lines could be honestly ejected. It is the fate of Shakespeare to counteract his own pathos.
V.ii.65 (502,8) A murder, which I thought a sacrifice] This line is difficult. Thou hast hardened my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I thought to have sacrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.
It must not be omitted, that one of the elder quartos reads, thou dost stone thy heart; which I suspect to be genuine. The meaning then will be, thou forcest me to dismiss thee from the world in the state of the murdered without preparation for death, when I intended that thy punishment should have been a sacrifice atoning for thy crime.
I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this dreadful scene. It is not to be endured.
V.ii.134 (505,3) false as water] As water that will support no weight, nor keep any impression.
V.ii.151 (506,4) villainy has made mocks with love] Villainy has taken advantage to play upon the weakness of a violent passion.
V.ii.162 (506,5) Thou hast not half that power to do me harm, /As I have to be hurt] [Hamner: to bear hurt] The Oxford Editor saw well the meaning of his author, but weakened his expression. She means to say, I have in this cause power to endure more than thou hast power to inflict.
V.ii.183 (507, 6) charm your tongue] I know not whether I have read, or whether my own thoughts hare suggested, an alteration of this passage. It seems to me not improbable, that Shakespeare wrote clam your tongue; to clam a bell, is to cover the clapper with felt, which drowns the blow, and hinders the sound.
V.ii.211 (509,7) she with Cassio had the act of shame/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.
V.ii.253 (512,2) It was a sword of Spain, the ice-brook's temper] [In the first edition it is, Isebroke'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. POPE.] I believe the old reading changed to ice-brook is right. Steel is hardened by being put red hot into very cold water.
I look down towards his feet; but that's a fable. If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee]
To see if, according to the common opinion, his feet be cloven.
V.ii.292 (513,4) Fall'n in the practice of a cursed slave] In the snare, by the stratagem.
V.ii.317 (514,5) in the interim] The first copy has, in the nick. It was, I suppose, thought upon revisal, that nick was too familiar.
V.ii.342 (515,6) Speak of me as I am] The early copies read, Speak of them as they are. The present reading has more force. (rev. 1778, X, 622, 6)
(520,2) General Observation. The beauties of this play impress themselves so strongly upon the attention of the reader, that they can draw no aid from critical illustration. The fiery openness of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his resolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the cool malignity of Iago, silent in his resentment, subtle in his designs, and studious at once of his interest and his vengeance; the soft simplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and conscious of innocence, her artless perseverance in her suit, and her slowness to suspect that she can be suspected, are such proofs of Shakespeare's skill in human nature, as, I suppose, it is vain to seek in any modern writer. The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps not be said of him as he says of himself, that he is a man not easily jealous, yet we cannot but pity him, when at last we find him perplexed in the extreme.
There is always danger, lest wickedness, conjoined with abilities, should steal upon esteem, though it misses of approbation; but the character of Iago is so conducted, that he is from the first scene to the last hated and despised.
Even the inferior characters of this play would be very conspicuous in any other piece, not only for their justness, but their strength. Cassio is brave, benevolent, and honest, ruined only by his want of stubbornness to resist an insidious invitation. Roderigo's suspicious credulity, and impatient submission to the cheats which he sees practised upon him, and which by persuasion he suffers to be repeated, exhibit a strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a false friend; and the virtue of Aemilia is such as we often find, worn loosely, but not cast off, easy to commit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villainies.
The scenes from the beginning to the end are busy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progression of the story; and the narrative in the end, though it tells but what is known already, yet is necessary to produce the death of Othello.
Had the scene opened in Cyprus, and the preceding incidents been occasionally related, there had been little wanting to a drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.
(LI 2) Appendix. Some apology perhaps is necessary for the inconvenience of an Appendix, which, however, we can justify by the strongest of all pleas, the plea of necessity. The Notes which it contains, whether communicated by correspondents, or collected from published volumes, were not within our reach when the plays were printed, to which they relate. Of that which chance has supplied, we could have no previous knowledge; and he that waited till the river should run dry, did not act with less reason than the Editor would do, who should suspend his publication for possibilities of intelligence, or promises of improvement. Had we foreseen the Oxford edition, the assistance we expected from it might have persuaded us to pause; but our volumes were completely finished before its publication. [There are no notes by Johnson in this Appendix; several are by Steevens.]