Imatges de pàgina
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'Tis deftiny uushunnable, like deaths;
Even then this forked plague is fated to us,
When we do quicken. Desdemona comes ?:
base have more prerogative in this respect than the great, that is, that
the base or poor are less likely to endure this forked plague, our pcet has
maintained a doctrine contrary to that laid down in As you like it :-
“ Horns ? even fo.-Poor men alone? No, no; the nobleft deer bas chem
as huge as the rascal." Here we find all mankind are placed on a level
in this respect, and that it is “ destiny unthunnable, like death."
Shakspeare would have been more consistent, if he had written,

« Prerogativ'd are they more than che base ?
Othello would then have answered his own question : (No ;] 'Tis
destiny, &c. MALONE.

s 'Tis destiny unsounnable, like dearb;) To be consistent, Othello muit mean, that it is destiny unthunnable by great ones, not by all mankind.

MALONE. 6 – forked plague-] In allufion to a barbed or forked arrow, which, once infixed, cannot be extracted. JOHNSON.

Or rather, the forked plague is the cuckold's horns. PERCY.

Dr. Johnson may be right. I meet with the same thought in Mid. dleton's comedy of, A Mad World my Masters, 1608 :

" While the broad arrow, with the forked bead,

“ Misles his brows but narrowly." Again, in King Lear :

though the fork invade “ The region of my heart,-," STEEVENS. I have no doubt that Dr. Percy's interpretation is the true one. Let our poet speak for himself. “ Quoth the," says Pandarus, in Trcilas ord Cressida, “ which of these hairs is Paris, my husband? The ferard one, quoth he; pluck it out, and give it him.” Again, in Tbe Winter's Tale:

o'er head and ears a fork'd one." So, in Tarleton's News out of Purgatorie :-" but the old squire, knight of tbe forked order,–."

One of Sir John Harrington's epigrams, in which our poet's very expreflion is found, puts the matter beyond a doubt:

“ Actæon guiltless unawares espying
« Naked Diana bathing in her bowre,
“ Was plagu'd with bornes ; his dogs did him devoure ;
“ Wherefore take heed, ye that are curious, prying,
“ With some fuch forked plague you be not smitten,
“ And in your foreheads see your faults be written."

MALONE.
1 Desdemona comes :) Thus the quartos. The folio reads: Lock
wbere jke comes. STEEVENS.
4

Erter

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Enter DeSDEMONA, and Emilia.
If she be false, O, then heaven mocks itself!
I'll not believe it.

Def. How now, my dear Othello?
Your dinner, and the generous islanders 9
By you invited, do attend your presence.

Oth. I am to blame.
Def. Why is your speech fo faint ? are you not welli
Oib. I have a pain upon my forehead here.

Def, Faith, that's with watching ; 'twill away again :
Let me but bind it hard, within this hour
It will be well.
Oih. Your napkin'is too little ;

[He puts the handkerchief from him, and it drops. Let it alone. Come, I'll go in with you. Def. I am very sorry that you are not well.

[Exeunt Des. and OTH, Emil. I am glad, I have found this napkin; This was her first remembrance from the Moor : My wayward husband hath a hundred times Woo'd me to steal it : but she so loves the token, (For he conjur'd her, she should ever keep it,) That the reserves it evermore about her,

8 If she be false,0, ben beaven mocks itself!-] i.e. renders its own labours fruitiers, by forming so beautiful a creature as Desdemona, and íutfering the elegance of her person to be disgraced and sullied by the impurity of her mind. Such, I think is the meaning.–The conftruction, however, may be different. If the be false, O, then even beaven itself cheats us with unreal mockeries,” with false and specious appearances, intended only to deceive. MALONE.

9. - ibe generous islanders--) are the illanders of rank, diftin&tion. So, in Measure for Measure.

“ The generous and graveft citizens

“ Have hent the gates." Generous has here the power of generofus, Lat. This explanation, however, may be too particular. STE EVENS.

1 Your napkin-1 In the North of England, and in Scotland, this term for a handkerchief is still used. The word has already often oc. curred. SecVol. IV. p. 337, n. 7, and Vol. VII. p. 374, n. 7. MALONI.

То

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To kiss, and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out,
And give it Iago:
What he'll do with it, heaven knows, not I;
I nothing, but to please his fantasy 3.

Enter IAGO.
lago. How now w! what do you here alone ?
Emil. Do not you chide ; I have a thing for you.
Iago. A thing for me ?-it is a common thing.
Emil, Ha!
lago. To have a foolish wife.

Emil. O, is that all? What will you give me new For that same handkerchief?

lago. What handkerchief?

Emil. What handkerchief?
Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona ;
That which so often you did bid me steal.

Iago. Haft stolen it from her?
Emil. Ņo, faith ; she let it drop by negligence ;

I'll have tbe avork ta'en out,] That is, copied. Her firit thoughts are, to have a copy made of it for her huiband, and restore the original to Desdemona. But the sudden coming in of lago, in a surly humour, makes her alter her resolution, to please him. The same phrase afterwards occurs between Callio and Bianca, in fc. iv.

BLACKSTONE. This scheme of getting the work of this valued handkerchief copied, and restoring the original to Desdemona, was, I suppose, introduced by the poet, to render Emilia less unamiable.

It is remarkable, that when the perceives Othello's fury on the loss of this token, though she is represented as affectionate to her mistress, the never attempts to relieve her from her distress; which she might easily have done by demanding the handkerchief from her husband, or divulging the story, if he refused to restore it.-But this would not have served the plot.

Shakspeare fell into this incongruity by departing from Cinthio's novel; for there, while the artless Desdemona is carefling the child of Othello's ancient, (the Iago of our play,) the villain steals the hand. kerchief which hụng at her girdle, without the knowledge ofhis wife.

MALONE. 3 I nothing, but to please bis fantasy.) Thus the folio. The quarto, 1622, reads: I nothing know but for his fantasy, STEEVENS.

And,

And, to the advantage +, I, being here, took it up.
Look, here it is.

lago. A good wench ; give it me.
Emil. What will you do with it, that you have been so

earnest To have me filch it?

lago. Why, what's that to you? [/natching it.

Emil. If it be not for some purpose of import, Give it me again : Poor lady! The'll run mad, When the shall lack it.

lago. Be not you known of 'ts; I have use for it. Go, leave me.

[Exit Emil. I will in Cano's lodging lose this napkin, And let him find it: Trifles, light as air, Are, to the jealous, confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ. This may do fomething. The Moor already changes with my poisono: Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons, Which, at the first, are scarce found to distalte ; But, with a little act upon the blood, Burn like the mines of sulphur.-I did say so?:

Enter 4 - forbe advantage, &c.] I being opportunely here, took it up.

JOHNSON. 5 Be not you known of 't ;] Thus the quarto, except that it has on't, the vulgar corruption in speaking and writing, of of's or of it; as is proved by various passages in these plays as exhibited in the folio and quarto, where in one copy we find the corrupt and in the other the genuine words : and both having the same meaning. The folio reads, as Mr. Steevens has observed-Be not acknown on't, i. e. do not aca knowledge any thing of this matter. The reading of the quarto affords the same meaning.

The participial adjective, found in the folio, is used by Thomas Kyd, in his Cornelia, a tragedy, 1594 :

« Our friends' misfortune doth increase our own,

Cic. But ours of others will not be acknown." MALONE. Again, in The Life of Ariosto, subjoined to Sir John Harrington's translation of Orlando, p. 418. edit. 1607 : “ Some say, he married to her privilie, but durit not be acknowne of it.Porson.

6 Tbe Moor already, &c.] Thus the folio. The line is not in the iginal copy, 1622.' MALONE.

7- I did say so :) As this passage is supposed to be obscure, I Ball attempt an explanation of it.

Jage

Enter OTHELLO.
Look, where he comes ! Not poppy, nor mandragora?,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever med’cine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ow’dft yesterday 8.

Oth. Ha! ha! false to me? to me?
lago. Why, how now, general ? no more of that.

Oih. Avaunt! be gone! thou haft set me on the rack :-
I swear, 'tis better to be much abus’d,
Than but to know't a little.

lago. How now, my lord?

Oih. What sense had I of her stolen hours of lufto? I saw it not, thought it not, it harm'd not me:

I slept

7

lago first ruminates on the qualities of the passion which he is la. bouring to excite ; and then proceeds to comment on its effects. Jealousy (says he) wirb ibe smallest operation on tbe bloed, flames out quitb all ibe violence of sulpbur, &c.

I did say 10;

Look where he comes ! j.e. I knew that the least touch of such a passion would not permit the Moor to enjoy a moment of repose :- have just said that jealousy is a reftiers commotion of the mind; and lock where Othello approaches, to confirm the propriety and justice of my observation.

STEEVENS. - nor mandragora,] The mandragoras or mandrake has a loporifick quality, and the ancients used it when they wanted an opiate of the most powerful kind. So Antony and Cleopatra, A&. I. sc. vi.

give me to drink mandragora,
" That I may fieep out this great gap of time

« My Antony is away." STEEVENS. See Vol. VII. p. 451, n. 9.

MALONE. & Shall ever med'cire ibee to obar sweet peep,

Wlich ebou ow'dit yesterday.) To owe, as Dr. Johnson has obo served, signified formerly to presso See Vol. IV. p. 473, n.7.

MALONE, 9 Wbat sense bad I, &c.] A similar passage to this and what fol. lows it, is found in an unpublished tragi-comedy by Thomas Middleton, called Tbe Wircb:

I feels

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