Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

And here, another: the one of them imports
The death of Caffio to be undertook
By Roderigo.

ОTH. O villain!

CAS.

Most heathenish, and moft grofs!" LOD. Now here's another difcontented paper, Found in his pocket too; and this, it seems, Roderigo meant to have fent this damned villain; But that, belike, Iago in the interim2 Came in and fatisfied him.

Отн.

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

Cas.

I found it in my chamber: And he himself confefs'd, but even now,' That there he dropp'd it, for a fpecial purpose, Which wrought to his defire.

Отн. O fool! fool! fool! CAS. There is, befides, in Roderigo's letter,How he upbraids Iago, that he made him Brave me upon the watch; whereon it came That I was caft: And even but now he fpake, After long feeming dead,-Iago hurt him, lago fet him on.

Oth. O villain!

Caf. Moft heathenijh, and moft grofs!] Read, for the sake of both fenfe and metre:

Oth. O villainy!
Caf.

Moft heathenifh, and muft gross! RITSON. ———in the interim-] The firft copy has,-in the nick. It was, I fuppofe, thought upon revifal, that nick was too familiar.

JOHNSON.

3 — confefs'd, but even now,] The quarto, 1622, reads— confefs'd it even now. The folio-confefs'd it, but even now. The word it was manifeftly caught by the compofitor's eye glancing on the fubfequent line. MALONE.

7

LOD. You muft forfake this room, and go with

us;

Your power and your command is taken off,
And Caffio rules in Cyprus. For this flave,-
If there be any cunning cruelty,.

That can torment him much, and hold him long,
It fhall be his: You fhall close prifoner reft,
Till that the nature of your fault be known
To the Venetian ftate:-Come, bring away.

OTH. Soft you; a word or two, before you go. I have done the state some service, and they know

it;

No more of that:-I pray you, in your letters,
When you fhall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor fet down aught in malice: then muft you speak
Of one, that lov'd not wifely, but too well;
Of one, not eafily jealous, but, being wrought,
Perplex'd in the extreme; of one, whose hand,
Like the bafe Júdean, threw a pearl away,
Richer than all his tribe; of one, whose subdu'd

eyes,

• Speak of me as I am;] The first quarto reads,-Speak of them as they are. The prefent reading, which is the reading of the folio, has more force. JOHNSON.

5. of one, whofe hand,

Like the bafe Judean, threw a pearl away,

Richer than all his tribe ;] I have restored Judian, from the elder quarto, as the genuine and more eligible reading. Mr. Pope thinks this was occafioned probably by the word tribe just after: I have many reafons to oppofe this opinion. In the first place, the moft ignorant Indian, I believe, is fo far the reverfe of the dungbill-cock in the fable, as to know the estimation of a pearl beyond that of a barley corn. So that, in that refpect, the thought itself would not be juft. Then, if our author had defigned to reflect on the ignorance of the Indian without any farther reproach, he would have called him rude, and not bafe. Again, I am perfuaded, as my friend Mr. Warburton long ago obferved, the phrafe is not

Albeit unused to the melting mood,"

here literal, but metaphorical; and, by his pearl, our author very properly means a fine woman. But Mr. Pope objects farther to the reading Judian, becaufe, to make fenfe of this, we must prefuppofe fome particular ftory of a Jew alluded to; which is much lefs obvious: but has Shakspeare never done this, but in this fingle inftance? I am fatisfied, in his Judian, he is alluding to Herod; who, in a fit of blind jealoufy, threw away fuch a jewel of a wife as Mariamne was to him. What can be more parallel in circumftance, than the conduct of Herod and Othello? Nor was the ftory fo little obvious as Mr. Pope feems to imagine: for, in the year 1613, the lady Elizabeth Carew publifhed a tragedy called MARIAM, the Fair Queen of JEWRY. I fhall only add, that our author might write Judian, or Judean, (if that fhould be alledged as any objection) inftead of Judean, with the fame licence and change of accent, as, in his Antony and Cleopatra, he shortens the fecond fyllable of Euphrates in pronunciation: which was a liberty likewife taken by Spenfer, of whom our author was a ftudious imitator. THEOBALD.

Like the bafe Júdean,] Thus the folio. The firft quarto, 1622, reads-Indian. Mr. Theobald therefore is not accurate in the preceding note, in his account of the old copies. MALONE.

The elder quarto reads Judian, and this is certainly right. And by the Judian is meant Herod, whofe ufage to Mariamne is fo appofite to the fpeaker's cafe, that a more proper inftance could not be thought of. Befides, he was the fubject of a tragedy at that time, as appears from the words in Hamlet, where an ill player is defcribed,

[ocr errors]

to out-herod Herod."

The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine woman, is fo common as fcarce to need examples. In Troilus and Creffida, a lover says of his mistress,

"There she lies a PEARL.”—

And again,

6

Why fhe is a pearl, whose price" &c. WARBURTON.

I cannot join with the learned criticks in conceiving this paffage to refer either to the ignorance of the natives of India, in respect

—whofe fubdu'd eyes,

Albeit unused to the melting mood,] So, in our poet's 30th Sonnet:

"Then can I drown an eye unus'd to flow." MALONE. VOL. XV.

U u

Drop tears as faft as the Arabian trees

of pearls, or the well-known ftory of Herod and Mariamne. The poet might juft as fairly be fuppofed to have alluded to that of Jephthah and his daughter.

Othello, in deteftation of what he had done, feems to compare himfelf to another perfon who had thrown away a thing of value, with fome circumstances of the meanest villainy, which the epithet bafe feems to imply in its general fenfe, though it is fometimes ufed only for low or mean. The Indian could not properly be termed bafe in the former and moft common fenfe, whofe fault was ignorance, which brings its own excufe with it; and the crime of Herod furely deferves a more aggravated diftinction. For though in every crime, great as well as fmall, there is a degree of baseness, yet the furiis agitatus amor, fuch as contributed to that of Herod, feems to afk a ftronger word to characterize it; as there was fpirit at least in what he did, though the fpirit of a fiend, and the epithet bafe would better fuit with petty larceny than royal guilt. Befides, the fimile appears to me too appofite almoft to be used on the occafion, and is little more than bringing the fact into comparison with itfelf. Each through jealoufy had deftroyed an innocent wife, circumftances fo parallel, as hardly to admit of that variety which we generally find in one allufion, which is meant to illuftrate another, and at the fame time to appear as more than a fuperfluous ornament. Of a like kind of imperfection, there is an instance in Virgil, Book XI. where after Camilla and her attendants have been defcribed as abfolute Amazons:

"At medias inter cædes exultat Amazon,

"Unum exerta latus pugnæ pharetrata Camilla.—
"At circum lectæ comites," &c.

we find them, nine lines after, compared to the Amazons themfelves, to Hippolyta or Penthefilea, furrounded by their com panions:

"Quales Threiciæ, cum flumina Thermodontis
"Pulfant, et pictis bellantur Amazones armis :
"Seu circum Hippolyten, feu cum fe martia curru
"Penthefilea refert."

What is this but bringing a fact into comparison with itself? Neither do I believe the poet intended to make the prefent fimile coincide with all the circumftances of Othello's fituation, but merely with the fingle act of having bafely (as he himself terms it) destroyed that on which he ought to have fet a greater value. As the pearl may bear a literal as well as a metaphorical fenfe, I would rather choose to take it in the literal one, and receive Mr. Pope's rejected explanation, pre-fuppofing fome flory of a Jew alluded to, which might be well understood at that time, though now perhaps for

Their medicínal gum: Set you down this:

gotten, or at leaft imperfectly remembered. I have read in fome book, as ancient as the time of Shakspeare, the following tale; though, at prefent, I am unable either to recollect the title of the piece, or the author's name:

"A Jew, who had been prifoner for many years in diftant parts, brought with him at his return to Venice a great number of pearls, which he offered on the 'change among the merchants, and (one alone excepted) difpofed of them to his fatisfaction. On this pearl, which was the largest ever shown at market, he had fixed an immoderate price, nor could be perfuaded to make the least abatement. Many of the magnificoes, as well as traders, offered him confiderable fums for it, but he was refolute in his firft demand. At laft, after repeated and unfuccefsful applications to individuals, he affembled the merchants of the city, by proclamation, to meet him on the Rialto, where he once more expofed it to fale on the former terms, but to no purpose. After having expatiated, for the last time, on the fingular beauty and value of it, he threw it fuddenly into the fea before them all."

Though this anecdote may appear inconfiftent with the avarice of a Jew, yet it fufficiently agrees with the fpirit fo remarkable at all times in the scattered remains of that vindictive nation.

Shakspeare's feeming averfion to the Jews in general, and his conftant defire to expofe their avarice and bafenefs as often as he had an opportunity, may ferve to ftrengthen my fuppofition; and as that nation, in his time, and fince, has not been famous for crimes daring and confpicuous, but has rather contented itself to thrive by the meaner and more fuccefsful arts of baseness, there feems to be a particular propriety in the epithet. When Falstaff is juftifying himself in King Henry IV. he adds, "If what I have faid be not true, I am a Jew, an Ebrew Jew," i. e. one of the moft fufpected characters of the time. The liver of a Jew is an ingredient in the cauldron of Macbeth; and the vigilance for gain, which is described in Shylock, may afford us reafon to fuppofe the poet was alluding to a story like that already quoted.

1 Their medicínal gum:] Thus the quarto, 1622. This word is also used by our author in The Winter's Tale; and occurs in the works of two of our greatest poets-Milton and Dryden.

STEEVENS.

any

I have preferred the reading of the folio [medicinable] because the word occurs again in Much Ado about Nothing: impediment will be medicinable to me." i. e. falutary.

66

-

MALONE.

« AnteriorContinua »