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III. Yet well and wisely hath the poet said, That “all exists by elemental strife, And passions are the elements of life”.” This moving world were as a dreamless bed— Grave of the living—if stagnation dread Held in its base enthralment Nature's realm, And man's unslumbering soul. Though storms o'erwhelm Life's scene awhile, eternal stillness dead Were heavier fate for human heart to bear. We know not what we ask ; but, blind and weak, Madly neglect the blessings that we share, And hidden evils ignorantly seek. Oh 1 if his own fixed fate could man bespeak
How oft for change would rise the impatient prayer :
STANZAS WRITTEN AT SEA.
LIKE blossoms pale the vernal orchard strewing
Through the stiff shrouds the gale is loudly singing,
The thundering cannon's rampart-shaking balls.
But here no human foes with fierce commotion
Confess, with mighty mirth, their Maker's reign.
TO A YOUNG LADY ON HER BIRTH-DAY.
SONNET-SUN-RISE. How gloriously yon mighty monarch rears, His proud resplendent brow—like Fame's first light Breaking oblivion's gloom | His tresses bright Inwreathe the rosy clouds. All nature wears A bliss-reviving smile.—The glittering tears, Shed by the pensive spirits of the night Like verdant meadows, vanish from the sight, Like rain-drops on the sea! The warm beam cheers The drowsy herd, and thrills the feather'd throngs Of early minstrels, whose melodious songs Seem like a gush of joy. Now mortals send Their orisons above, while shrubs and flowers On whispering winds ambrosial odours blend,
To charm and consecrate the morning hours!
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CoLERIDGE gave it out as a discovery, that Othello was not jealous. This is either an idle truism or an outrageous paradox. If he meant that the Moor was not naturally suspicious, he merely echoed the general judgment; but if he really thought that the cunning insinuations of Iago instilled no jealousy into Othello's mind, and that it was not Shakespeare's intention to exhibit the progress and effects of that passion, his opinion is equally new and strange”.
It is true that the jealousy of the Moor is not of that despicable character which always anticipates evil, and is ever on the watch.
He is not one of those sly and greedy listeners who, according to the vulgar proverb, never hear any good of themselves. He is not a Paul Pry. His is the jealousy of a fiery and impassioned A nature that cannot brook a taint of dishonour either in love or War. “A savage jealousy that sometimes savours nobly.” Twelfth-Night. If his jealousy had been of that cast which characterizes mean and suspicious minds, instead of sympathizing with him in his afflictions, we should have regarded him with mingled hatred and contempt. His distress would have seemed a fitting punishment. Even if his jealousy had spontaneously arisen in his own heart, instead of its being forced upon him, as it was, by the circumvention of a fiend in human form, it would have greatly lessened our sympathy and respect. It is almost unnecessary to observe that it was not Shakespeare's desire to render him repulsive or contemptible, but on the contrary to compel us to love and honor him even while he is writhing with a passion which would have rendered a meaner nature intolerably hateful, Though he becomes the murderer of his spotless wife, he only deepens our pity. The more pure and precious was that angelic being, the heavier was his misfortune, We forget his guilt in his agony. Who does not sympathize with that terrible straining of the heartstrings, when the sense of his wife's death comes suddenly home to his apprehension, while Amelia is knocking at the chamber.
* Dr. Lowth observes, “that the passion of jealousy, its causes, circumstances, progress, and effects, are more accurately, more copiously, more satisfactorily described in this one drama of Shakespeare, than in all the disputations of philosophy.”
“If she come in, she'll sure speak to my wife: My wife, my wise what wife!—I have no wife. O, insupportable ! O, heavy hour !” We never cease to remember, that it was the intensity of his love and the boundless confidence of his friendship that exposed him to the subtle treachery of Iago. We could not despise him for his credulity without insulting virtue. It is not the credulity of weakness like that of Roderigo, who by the dark-lantern of his own mean imagination sometimes catches a slight glimpse of the dreadful interior of Iago's mind, and then all is veiled again. A noble spirit like that of Othello could form no conception of those hideous images that haunt the obscure cells of a villain's brain. But the Moor and Roderigo* were not the only dupes of the plotting and malignant “ancient.” He must have deceived even the more keen and worldly-minded of his associates, for he had obtained such a character for truth and frankness that they must have been nearly as tired of hearing of the honesty of Iago as the Athenians of the justice of Aristides. That Othello should have rejected as he did, the first suggestions of Iago, insinuated with such consummate address, and with such apparent reluctance, shows that he was not “easily jealous,” though “being wrought, perplexed in the extreme.” No man could have wholly resisted the shrewd hints and the circumstantial evidence adduced by Iago, backed as they were by his reputation for sincerity. When the poison of jealousy has once fairly entered the heart, the most trivial circumstances tend to strengthen and confirm its influence; but with such a man as Othello, the misery is not at first self-inflicted. The Moor was the very reverse of a suspicious character, which is always a mean one. In the words of Dr. Johnson, he was magnanimous, artless, and credulous—ardent in his affection, and boundless in his confidence. Even Iago, who “knew all qualities with a learned spirit of human dealing,” repeatedly acknowledges the generous trustfulness and high character of the man whom he hates. “The Moor—howbeit that I endure him not, Is of a constant, loving, noble nature ;