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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 MONTANO and GRATIANO.
Emil. What did thy song bode, lady?
[Dies. Oth. I have another weapon in this chamber, It is a sword of Spain, the ice-brook's temper 34; O, here it is:-Uncle, I must come forth.
Gra. [Within.] If thou attempt it, it will cost thee dear;
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.
Gra. What is the matter?
Behold! I have a weapon;
33 So in The Merchant of Venice :
he makes a swanlike end,
Fading in musick.'
34 The particular name of the ice-brook may be determined from several passages in Martial. (See lib. i. ep. 50, lib. iv. ep. 55.) 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 supposed to be indebted for their stubborn temper. See also Justin, i. 44. It should be remembered that Spain was famous for producing the best sword blades.
A better never did itself sustain
Upon a soldier's thigh: I have seen the day,
Do you go back dismay'd? 'tis a lost fear;
O cursed, cursed slave!-Whip me, ye devils,
Enter LODOVICO, MONTANO, CASSIO, carried in
35 Thus in Coriolanus, Sc. 1:
Cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder, than can ever
36 This and the six preceding lines are omitted in the first quarto. Wench originally signified only a girl or young woman. It is so used in our old version of the Scriptures, and by many of our early writers.
Oth. I look down towards his feet 37-but that's
If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee.
[OTHELLO wounds IAGO.
I bleed, sir; but not kill'd.
Lod. Wrench his sword from him.
Oth. I am not sorry neither; I'd have thee live; For, in my sense, 'tis happiness to die 38.
Lod. O thou Othello, that was once so good, Fall'n in the practice 39 of a cursed slave,
What shall be said to thee?
Why, any thing:
For nought I did in hate, but all in honour.
Cas. Dear general, I never gave you cause.
From this time forth I never will speak word.
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
37 To see if, according to the common opinion, his feet be cloven.
38 The same thought occurs in Antony and Cleopatra :'Tis well thou'rt gone,
If it be well to live.'
39 In the snare, by the stratagem.
The death of Cassio to be undertook
Oth. O 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 40,
Came in and satisfied him.
How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief
O the pernicious caitiff?
I found it in my chamber:
And he himself confess'd, but even now,
O fool! fool! fool!
Cas. There is, besides, in Roderigo's letter,— How he upbraids Iago, that he made him Brave me upon the watch; whereon it came That I was cast; And even but now he spake, After long seeming dead,-Iago hurt him, Iago set him on.
Lod. You must forsake this room, and go with us;
That can torment him much, and hold him long,
Oth. Soft you; a word or two, before you go.
40 The first quarto reads-' in the nick.'
Speak of me as I am11; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
41 Thus the folio. The quarto reads- Speak of them as they are.'
42 The quarto 1622 reads-Indian. The folio has Judean. Warburton, Theobald, and Dr. Farmer think that the allusion is to Herod, who in a fit of blind jealousy threw away such a jewel in his wife Mariamne. Steevens admits the reading Judean, but thinks the allusion is not to the story of Herod, on account of the epithet base; and because the simile appears almost too apposite to be used on the occasion, and would be little more than bringing the fact into comparison with itself.' He thinks that the allusion is to the story of a Jew who not being able to find a purchaser for a very large pearl at an immoderate price, publicly threw it into the sea at Venice. Malone once objected to Judean on account of the wrong accent, but subsequently changed his opinion, and thought the word tribe strongly favoured that reading. To this Mr. Boswell replies, that the word tribe was never alone peculiarly applicable to the Jews, but meant a kindred, and is constantly used at this day in speaking of a peculiar race or set of Indians. That the early travellers are full of descriptions of 'the pearled treasures' of the Indians, who may be called base on account of their ignorance, and the facility with which they would part with them, a circumstance to which two succeeding poets have alluded:
So the unskilfull Indian those bright gems
Habington-To Castara weeping.
'Thus also in The Woman's Conquest, by Sir Robert Howard:
Behold my queen—
Who with no more concern I'll cast away
Than Indians do a pearl, that ne'er did know
Shakspeare himself connects India with pearls in Troilus and
'Her bed is India, where she lies a pearl.'
It is here figuratively used for a fair woman.
I conclude with
Mr. Boswell, that the arguments are strong in favour of Indian, the reading of the earliest copy.