Imatges de pÓgina
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And fay, befides,-that in Aleppo once,

Richer than all his tribe, feems to point out the Jew again in a mercantile light; and may mean, that the pearl was richer than alt the gems to be found among a fet of men generally trading in them. Neither do I recollect that Othello mentions many things, but what he might fairly have been allowed to have had knowledge of in the courfe of his peregrinations. Of this kind are the fimiles of the Euxine fea flowing into the Propontick, and the Arabian trees dropping their gums. The reft of his fpeeches are more free from mythological and hiftorical allufions, than almost any to be found in Shakspeare, for he is never quite clear from them; though in the defign of this character he seems to have meant it for one who had spent a greater part of his life in the field, than in the cultivation of any other knowledge than what would be of ufe to him in his military capacity. It should be obferved, that moft of the flourishes merely ornamental were added after the first edition; and this is not the only proof to be met with, that the poet in his alterations fometimes forgot his original plan.

The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine woman, may, for aught I know, be very common; but in the inftances Dr. Warburton has brought to prove it fo, there are found circumftances that immediately show a woman to have been meant. So, in Troilus and Crefida:

"HER BED IS INDIA, there SHE lies a pearl.

Why SHE is a pearl whose price hath launch'd" &c. In Othello's fpeech we find no fuch leading expreffion; and are therefore at liberty, I think, to take the passage in its literal meaning.

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Either we are partial to discoveries which we make for ourselves, or the fpirit of controverfy is contagious; for it usually happens that each poffeffor of an ancient copy of our author, is led to affert the fuperiority of all fuch readings as have not been exhibited in the notes, or received into the text of the laft edition. On this account, our prefent republication (and more especially in the celebrated plays) affords a greater number of thefe diverfities than were ever before obtruded on the publick. A time however may arrive, when a complete body of variations being printed, our readers may luxuriate in an ample feaft of thats and whiches; and thenceforward it may be prophecied, that all will unite in a wifh that the selection had been made by an editor, rather than submitted to their own labour and fagacity.

To this note fhould be fubjoined (as an apology for many others which may not be thought to bring conviction with them) that the true fenfe of a paffage has frequently remained undetermined, till repeated experiments have been tried on it; when one commentator,

Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk

making a proper use of the errors of another, has at laft explained it to univerfal fatisfaction. When mistakes have fuch effects, who would regret having been mistaken, or be forry to prove the means of directing others, by that affinity which a wrong reading or interpretation fometimes has to the right, though he has not been fo lucky as to produce at once authorities which could not be queftioned, or decifions to which nothing could be added?

STEEVENS. Shakspeare seems

I abide by the old text, "the bafe Judian."
to allude to Herod in the play of Mariamne:
"I had but one ineftimable jewel

"Yet I in fuddaine choler caft it downe,
"And dafht it all to pieces." FARMER.

The words quoted by Dr. Warburton from Hamlet do not prove what they are adduced for. The Herod there alluded to, was a character in one of the ancient Myfteries. [See Candlemas-day, or the killing of the children of Ifrael," a Mystery, in Hawkins's Origin of the English Drama, Vol. I.]

I once thought that the accent here given to Judean was a strong objection to this reading: and that the word must have been Judean or Judæan, (as a derivative from Judæa) which would not fuit the metre. But the objection was founded on a mistake; for derivative words of this kind were thus accented in Shakspeare's time. Thus, in The Merry Wives of Windfor, we have in the old copies," an Epicurian rafcal," which afcertains the pronunciation of that word to have been different formerly from what it is now. The word is thus fpelt by North also in his translation of Plutarch. Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:

"Keep his brains fuming, Epicurean cooks."

So, in Hamlet, we have the Némean lion (which is written in the old copy Nemian).

Those who would adopt the original reading, Indian, may urge in its fupport that the pearl naturally brings a people of the Eaft to Shakspeare's mind; the connexion in his time being confidered fo ftrong, that a contemporary author has diftinguished the inhabitants of India by an epithet founded on the circumítance of their abounding in pearls:

8 Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk-] I am told that it is immediate death for a Chriftian to ftrike a Turk in Aleppo. Othello is boafting of his own audacity. STEEVENS.

Beat a Venetian, and traduc'd the state,
I took by the throat the circumcifed dog,
And fmote him-thus.

[Stabs himfelf.

LOD. O bloody period!

GRA.

All, that's fpoke, is marr'd.

OTH. I kifs'd thee, ere I kill'd thee;-No way but this, [Falling upon DESDEMONA. Killing myself, to die upon a kifs."

[Dies. CAS. This did I fear, but thought he had no

weapon;

For he was great of heart.

LOD.
O Spartan dog,'
More fell than anguish, hunger, or the fea!
Look on the tragick loading of this bed;

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[To IAGO.

where the bright fun with his neighbour beams "Doth early light the pearled Indians." Cornelia, a tragedy, by T. Kyd, 1594. On the other hand, the word tribe is ftrongly in favour of the reading of the text, and I have now no doubt that it is the true

one.

Webfter in his Appius and Virginia appears to have had this paffage in his thoughts:

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Had your lordship yesterday
"Proceeded as 'twas fit, to a juft fentence,
"The apparel and the jewels that she wore,

"More worth than all her tribe, had then been due
"Unto our client." MALONE.

9 Killing myself, to die upon a kifs.] So, in the Second Part of Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590:

"Yet let me kifs my lord before I dye,

"And let me dye with kiffing of my lord." STEEVENS. 2 O Spartan dog,] The dogs of Spartan race were reckoned among thofe of the most fierce and favage kind. HANMER. They are again mentioned in A Midsummer Night's Dream: When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear "With bounds of Sparta." HENLEY.

The Spartan dogs in our poet's contemplation, were blood-bounds. See Vol. V. p. 128. MALONE.

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This is thy work: the object poifons fight;-
Let it be hid.-Gratiano, keep the house,
And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor,
For they fucceed to you.-To you, lord governor,
Remains the cenfure of this hellish villain;3

3

To you, lord governor,

Remains the cenfure of this hellish villain;] Rymer, who had neither vigour of imagination to make a poet, nor ftrength of judgement to make a critick, as appears from his Edgar, and his Remarks on Shakspeare, had yet juft enough to play the buffoon and caviller. His criticifm on the Poets of the laft Age, with only a mixture of trite remarks, transcribed from the French commentators on Ariftotle, are one continued heap of ignorance and infolence, Almoft the only remark on Shak fpeare, which, I think, deferves an anfwer, is upon Iago's character, which he thus cenfures: To entertain the audience (fays he) with something new and surprising, against common fenje and nature, he would pass upon us a close, diffembling, falje, ungrateful rafcal, instead of an open-hearted, frank, plain-dealing foldier, a character conftantly worn by them for fome thoufands of years in the world. This hath the appearance of fenfe, being founded on that rule of Nature and Ariftotle, that each character should have manners convenient to the age, fex, and condition.

Etatis cujufque notandi funt tibi mores, &c.

fays Horace. But how has our critick applied it? According to this rule it is confeffed, that a foldier fhould be brave, generous, and a man of honour. This is to be his dramatick character. But either one or more of any order may be brought in. If only one, then the character of the order takes its denomination from the manners of that one. Had therefore the only foldier in this play been lago, the rule had been tranfgreffed, and Rymer's cenfure well founded. For then this eternal villain must have given the character of the foldiery; which had been unjust and unnatural. But if a number of the fame order be reprefented, then the character of the order is taken from the manners of the majority; and this according to nature and common fenfe. Now in this play there are many of the order of the foldiery; and all, excepting Iago, reprefented as open, generous, and brave. From thefe the foldier's character is to be taken; and not from Iago, who is brought as an exception to it unless it be unnatural to fuppofe there could be an exception; or that a villain ever infinuated himself into that corps. And thus Shakspeare ftands clear of this impertinent criticifm. WARBURTON.

The time, the place, the torture,-O enforce it!
Myfelf will ftraight aboard; and, to the state,
This heavy act with heavy heart relate. [Exeunt.

the cenfure-] i. e. the fentence. See Vol. III. p. 179, n. 5. STEEVENS.

See alfo Vol. VII. p. 48, n. 3. MALONE.

4 The beauties of this play imprefs themselves fo ftrongly upon the attention of the reader, that they can draw no aid from critical illuftration. The fiery opennefs of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his refolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the cool malignity of Iago, filent in his refentment, fubtle in his defigns, and ftudious at once of his interest and his vengeance; the foft fimplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and confcious of innocence, her artless perfeverance in her fuit, and her flowness to fufpect that she can be fufpected, are fuch proofs of Shakspeare's skill in human nature, as, I fuppofe, it is vain to feek in any modern writer. The gradual progrefs which lago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the circumftances which he employs to enflame him, are fo artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps not be faid of him as he fays 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, left wickednefs, conjoined with abili ties, fhould fteal upon efteem, though it miffes of approbation; but the character of Iago is fo conducted, that he is from the first scene to the laft hated and defpifed.

Even the inferior characters of this play would be very confpicuous in any other piece, not only for their juftnefs, but their ftrength. Caffio is brave, benevolent, and honest, ruined only by his want of ftubbornness to refift an infidious invitation. Roderigo's fufpicious credulity, and impatient fubmiflion to the cheats which he fees practifed upon him, and which by perfuafion he fuffers to be repeated, exhibit a strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful defires to a falfe friend; and the virtue of Emilia is fuch as we often find, worn loosely, but not caft off, eafy to commit fmall crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villainies.

The fcenes from the beginning to the end are bufy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progreffion of the itory; and the narrative in the end, though it tells but what is known already, yet is neceffary to produce the death of Othello.

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