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It is the cause.-Yet I'll not shed her blood;
(takes off bis sword.
I can Joul be avenged on such as this?" In imitation of this the poet meant, if his interrupted expreffions were completed, to say, “ It is the cause, the cause of virtue and cbaftity, wbich I am going to maintain: my foul, rbis is the offence tbou ball to avenge: but let me not name the offence to you, ye chaste tars; it is the cause of cbaftity, and the muit die, elle The'll betray more men. Juftice demands is from me.
ANONYMUS. s Tet pe mufi die, elle pe'll betray more men.] This is the second attempt of Othello to justify what he has undertaken. First he says, It is obe cause, i. e. his own cause; now he is willing to suppose him. felf the preventer of succeeding mischief to others. STEEVENS.
6 Put out tbe light, and rben put out the ligbe :) This is one of the pallages to which I alluded in a note on As you like it, Vol. III. p. 133, n. 5; in which by a modern regulation our poet's words have obtained a meaning, which in my opinion was not in his thoughts. Mr. Upton was the first person who introduced the conceit in this line, which has been adopted since his book appeared, by pointing it thus :
Put out the light, and then-Put out the light ! &c. His explanation is as follows. “I'll put out tbe ligbt, and ibenArangle her, he was going to say ; but this recals a thousand tender thoughts to his troubled foul: he stops fhört; If I quencb obe saper, bow easy is it ro reftere ies former ligbe; but O Desdemona, if I once put out thy light, &c.
On this Dr. Warburton grounded the following note :
“ The meaning is, I will put out the light, and eben proceed to the execution of my purpose. But the expreßion of putting out the ligbr, bringing to mind the effects of the extinction of the light of life, he breaks thort, and questions himself about the effects of this metaphorical extin&tion, introduced by a repetition of his first words; as much as to fay, But hold, let me first weigh the reflections which this cxpreffion fo naturally excites.''
I entirely agree with Dr. Farmer, that this regulation gives a spirit to this pariage that was not intended. The poet, I think, meant merely to say, " I will now put out the lighted taper which I hold, and then put out the light of life;" and this introduces his subsequent reflection and comparison, just as aptly, as supposing the latter words of the line to be used in the same sense as in the beginning of it, which cannot be done without destroying that equivoque and play of words of which Shakspeare was so fond,
I can again thy former light restore,
There are few images which occur more frequently in his works than this. Thus, in K. Henry VI. P. III, the dying Clifford says,
“ Here burns my candle out, ay, here it dies." Again, in Macbeth:
« Out, out, brief candle !" Again, in K. Henry VIII. :
“ This candle burns not clear; 'ris I must snuff ic;
" Then out it goes Again, in his Rope of Lucrece:
“ Fair torch, burn out tby light, and lend it not
“ To darker her, whose light excelleth thine !" Let the words--put out ber ligbi, ftand for a moment in the place of darken ber, and then the sentence will run-Burn out tby ligbr, fair torcb, and lend it not to put uue ber ligbi, wbose light is more excellent sban ibine. In the very fame strain, Tays Othello, “let me forft extinguish the ligbe I now bold, and eben put out ibe light of life. But how different in effect and importance are these two acts! The extinguished taper can be lighted again, but the light of life, when once extinguithed, can never, alas, be relumined.”
The question is not, which regulation renders the pafiage moft ele. gant and spirited, but what was the poet's idea.-] believe, however, that Shakipeare wrote and then put out iky light; and the reading of the original copy in a subsequent line, " - but once put out ibine," feems to me to countenance this emendation. In The Mercbant of Venice the word ligbe is used with equal ambiguity :
“Let me give ligbe, but let me not be ligbr." MALONE. This has been considered as a very difficult line. Fielding makes Berterton and Boorb dispute about it with the auibor bimself in the other world. Ti punctuation recommended by Dr. Warburton, gives a Spirit to it' which I fear was not intended. It seems to have been only a play upon words. To pue ibe light out was a phrale for to kill. La Tbe Maid's Tragedy, Melantius lays,
- 'Tis a justice, and a noble one,
“ To futebe ligbe out of such base offenders.” FARMER. Put out tbe light. This phrafe is twice used in Sidney's Arcadia, for killing a lady, p. 460, and 470, edit. 1633.
Again, in an unpublished play, called The Second Maidens Tragedy, by George Chapman, licensed by Sir George Buc, October 31st, 1611, (now in the library of the Marquis of Lanidown, who honoured me with the use of it):
O foul of cunning,
Thou cunning'it pattern of excelling nature,
Def. Who's there? Othello?
1 Tbcu cunning' pattern of excelling rature,] So, in Palmerin D'oliva, 1688, P. 1.
those that beheld her, esteemed her for the chiefest piece of workmanshipp that ever Nature framed.” REED. ? 8 Tbat can tby ligbe relume.] Thus the folio. The quarto 1622, for relume has-return. The modern editors; following the quarto printa éd in 1630, read_selumine. Our poet has illume, for illuminate, in Hamlet :
is Had made his course, to illume that part of heaven,
" Where now it burns." MALONE. * 9 thy rose,] Thus the folio. The quarto reads, -be rose. Again, the quarto reads,
" I'll Imell it on the tree." The folio,
" I'll smell thee on the tree." STEEVENS. 1 - This sorrow's beavenly;] This tenderness, with which I lament the punishment which justice compels me to inflict, is a holy paffion.
I with these two lines could be honestly ejected. It is the fate of Shakspeare to counteract his own pathos. JOHNSON.
Perhaps the poet would not have retained both these images, had he published the play himself, though in the hurry of composition he threw them both upon paper. The first seems adopted from the fabulous history of the crocodile, the second from a pallage in the scripture.
STEEVENS. « Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth." MASON.
Unreconcil'd as yet to heaven and grace,
Def. Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that ?
Oth. Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by:
Des. Then, heaven
Oth. Amen, with all my heart!
you are fatal then, When your eyes roll so: Why I should fear, I know not, Since guiltiness I know not; but yet, I feel, I fear.
Oth. Think on thy sins.
Def. That death's unnatural, that kills for loving 3.
Orb. Peace, and be still!
Def. No, by my life and soul; 2 I would not kill thy soul.] Sir W. D'Avenant has borrowed this thought in his Albovine, King of Lombardy, 1629 :
“ I am not fraught with devil's spleen; I would
“ Not hurt sby foul." STEEVENS. 3. That dearb's unnatural, that kills for loving.) This thought is likewise found in Tbe Legend of Orpbeus and Eurydice, a poem, by H. L. 16mo. 1597 :
“ Unnatural, which kill where you should kille.” Again, in our poet's K. Ricbard III.
“ It is a quarrel most unnatural,
Send for the man, and ak him.
Orh, Sweet soul, take heed,
Def. Ay, but not yet to die.
Oth. Yes, presently:
Def. Then, Lord have mercy on me!
Des. And have you mercy too!-I never did
Oth. By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in his hand.
Def. He found it then ;
Oth. He hath confess'd.
4 A murder, wbich I ibowgbt a sacrifice :) This line is difficult. Zbou bafi bardened my beart, and makes me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I bougbe so bave sacrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.
It must not be omitted, that one of the elder quartos reads, tbou des ftone thy beart ; which I suspect to be genuine. The meaning then will be, obou forceft me to dismiss thee from the world in the ftate of the murdered without preparation for death, wben I intended that thy punishment should have been a sacrifice atoning for thy crime.
I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this dreadful scene, It is not to be endured. Johnson.
Tby heart, is the reading of the original quarto, 1622. MALONE.
s Thai be barbus'd thee.] The quarto, 1622, exhibits this line thus : That he hath ds death, MALONE,