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That can torment him much, and hold him long,
Oth. Soft you ; a word or too, before you go.
Likerbe base Júdean, ibrew a pearl away
Ricber ibon all bis tribe;] Thus the folio. The first quarto, 1622, reads-Indian. Mr. Theobald therefore is not accurate in the following note, in his account of the old copies. MALONE.
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 reasons to oppose this opinion. In the first place, the most ignorant Indian, I believe, is fo far the reverse of the dung hill-cock in the fable, as to know the estimation of a pearl beyond that of a barley-corn. So that, in that respect, the thought itself would not be just. Then, if our author had designed to reflect on the ignorance of the Indian without any farther reproach, he would have called him rude, and not base. Again, I am persuaded, as my friend Mr. Warburton long ago observed, the phrase is not here literal, but mesapborical; and, by his pearl, our author very properly means a fine woman. But Mr. Pope objects farther to reading Judian, because, to make sense of this, we must pre-luppose some particular story of a Jew alluded to ; 'which is much less obvious: but has Shak. speare never done this, but in this single instance! I am satisfied, in his Judian, he is alluding to Herod; who, in a fit of blind jealousy, threw away such a jewel of a wife as Mariamne was to him. What can be more parallel in circumstance, than the conduct of Herud and Othello? Nor was the story fo little obvious, as Mr. Pope seems to imagine: for, in the year, 1613, the lady Elizabeth Carew published
Albeit unused to the melting mood ,
Their a tragedy called MARIAM, sbe fair Queen of Jewry. I shall only add, that our author might write Judian, or Judean, (if that should be alledged as any objection) instead of Judæan, with the same licence and change of accent, as, in his Anebony and Cleopatra, he thortens the second syllable of Euphrates in pronunciation; which was a liberty likewise taken by Spenser, of whom our auth.or was a studious imitator
THEOBALD. The elder quarto reads Judian, and this is certainly right. And by the Judian is meant Herod, whose usage to Maríamne is so apposite to the speaker's case, that a more proper instance could not be thought of. Begides, he was the subject of a tragedy at that time, as appears from the words in Hamlet, where an ill player is described,
“ – to out-herod Herod.” The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine woman, is so common as scarce to need examples. In Troilus and Creffida, a lover says of his mistress,
“ There the lies a PEARL. And again,
" Why she is a pearl, whose price," &c. WARBURTON. I cannot join with the learned critics in conceiving this passage to sefer either to the ignorance of the natives of India, in respect of pearls, or the well-known story of Herod and Mariamne. The poet might just as fairly be supposed to have alluded to that of Jeptha and his daughter.
Othello, in detestation of what he had done, seems to compare him. self to another person who had thrown away a ibing of value, with some circumstances of the meanest villainy, which the epithet baje feems to imply in its general sense, though it is sometimes used only for low or mean. The Indian could not properly be termed base in the former and most common sense, whole fault was ignorance, which brings its own excuse with it, and the crime of Herod surely deserves a more aggravated distinction. For though in every crime, great as well as small, there is a degree of baseness, yet the furiis agitatus amor, such as contributed to that of Herod, seems to ask a stronger word to characterize it; as there was spirit at least in what he did, though the spirit of a fiend, and the epithet base would better suit with perty larceny than royal guilt. Besides, the fimile appears to me too appofite almost to be used on the occasion, and is little more than bringing the fact into comparison with itself. Each through jealousy had
- wbofe fubdu'd eyes Albeit unused to the melting mood,] So, in our poet's 30th Sonnets
“ Then can I drown an sye unus'd to How." MALONE. VOL. IX.
Their med'cinable gum ? : Set you down this:
destroyed an innocent wife; circumstances to parallel, as hardly to admit of that variety which we generally find in one allusion, which is meant to illustrate another, and at the same time to appear as more than a superfiuous ornament. Of a like kind of imperfe&ion, there is an instance in Virgil, B. XI. where after Camilla and her atten. dants have been described as absolute Amazons,
“6 At medias inter cædes exultat Amazon
" At circum lectæ comites,” &c. we find them, nine lines after, compared to the Amazons themselves, to Hypolyta or Penthefilea, surrounded by their companions :
« Quales Threiciæ, cum flumina Thermodontis
" Pentheflea refert." What is this but bringing a fa&t into comparison with itself? Neither do I believe the poet intended to make the present fimile coincide with all the circumstances of Othello's situation, but merely with the fingle act of having bafely (as he himself terms it) destroyed that on which he ought to have set a greater value. As the pearl may bear a lucral as well as a metapborical sense, I would rather choose to take it in the literal one, and receive Mr. Pope's rejected explanation, pre-fuppofing Some story of a Jew alluded ro, which might be well understood at that time, though now perhaps forgotten, or at least imperfectly remembered. I have read in some book, as ancient as the time of Shakspeare, the following tale; though, at present, I am unable either to recollect the title of the piece, or the author's name.
A Jew, who had been prisoner 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) disposed of them to his fatisfaction. On this pearl, which was the largest ever shewn at market, he had fixed an immoderate price, nor could be persuaded to make the least abatement. Many of the magnificos, as well as traders, offered him confiderable fums for it, but he was refolute in his first demand. At last, after repeated and unsuccessful applications to individuals, he aflembled the merchants
2 Their med'cinable gum :) Thus the folio. The original quarto, 7622, reads-medicinal. I have preferred the reading of the folio, because the word occurs again in Much ado about notbing : any impediment will be medicinable to me." i. e. falucary, MALONE.
Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk 3
of the city, by proclamation, to meet him on the Rialto, where he once more exposed it to sale 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 suddenly in the sea before them all. Though this anecdote may appear inconlistent with the avarice of a Jew, yet it fufficiently agrees with the spirit so remarkable at all times in the scattered remains of that vindićtive nation.
Shakspeare's feeming averfion to the Jews in general, and his constant defire to expose their avorice and baseness as often as he had an opportunity, may serve to strengthen' my supposition; and as that nation, in his time, and since, has not been famous for crimes daring and conspicuous, but has rather contented itself to thrive by the meaner and more successful arts of baseness, there seems to be a particular propriety in the epithet. When Falltaff is justifying himself in Henry IV. he adds, “ If what I have said be not true, I am a Jew, an Ebrew “ Jew," i. e. one of the most suspected 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 reason to suppose the poet was alluding to a story like that already quoted.
Ricber iban all bis tribe, seems to point out the Jew again in a mercantile light; and may mean, that ibe pearl was ricber ibar. all tbe gems to be found among a fee of men generally trading in ebem. Nei. ther do I recollect that Othello mentions many things, but what he might fairly have been allowed to have had knowledge of in the course of his peregrinations. Of this kind are the fimilies of the Euxine fea flowing into the Propontick, and the Arabian trees dropping their gums. The rest of his ipeeches are more free from mythological and historical allucions, than almost any to be found in Shakspeare, for he is never quite clear from them; though in the design 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 use to him in his military capacity. It hould be oblerved, that most of the flourishes merely ornamental were added af. ter the first edition; and this is not the only proof to be met with, that the poet in his alterations sometimes forgot his original plan.
Tbe metapborical term of a pearl for a fine woman, may, for aught I know, be very common; but in the instances Dr. Warburton has
3 Wbere o malignant and a turband Turk-]I am told that it is immediate death for a Christian to strike a Turk in Aleppo. Othello is boasting of his own audacity. ANONYMUS,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
brought to prove it so, there are found circumdances that immediate ly few a woman to have been meant, So, in Troilus and Crefsida :
“ HER BID IS INDIA, there she lies a pearl.
“ Why She is a pearl whose price hath launchid,-," &c. In Othello's speech we find no such leading expression; and are there. fore at liberty, I think, to take the passage in its literal meaning.
Either we are partial to discoveries which we make for ourselves, or the spirit of controversy is contagious; for it usually happens that each poffeffer of an ancient copy of our author is led to assert the supe. riority of all such readings as have not been exhibited in the notes, or received into the text of the last edition. On this account, our present republication (and more especially in the celebrated plays) affords a greater number of these diversities 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 feat of ibats and wbicbes; and thenceforward it may be prophecied, that all will unite in a wish that the selection had been made by an editor, rather than submitted to their own labour and sagacity.
To this note should be fubjoined (as an apology for many others which may not be thought to bring convi&tion with them) that the true sense of a passage has frequently remained undetermined, till re, peated experiments have been tried on it; when one commentator, making a proper use of the errors of another, has at last explained it to universal satisfaction. When mistakes have such effects, who would regret having been mistaken, or be sorry to prove the means of directing others, by that affinity which a wrong reading or interpretation sometimes has to the right, though he has not been so lucky as to produce at once authorities which could not be questioned, or decifions to which nothing could be added? STEEVENS.
I abide by the old text, “ the base Judian." Shakspeare seems to allude to Herod in the play of Marianne :
“ I had but one inestimable jewel
« And datht it all to pieces.”- FARMER,
The last paragraph but one in Mr. S:eevens's note was added by him in his edition printed in 1778, and relates to that edition,
I once thought that the accent here given to Júdean was a strong objection to this reading: and that the word must have been fudian, or Judaan, (as a derivative from Judæa) which would not suit the metre. But the objection was founded on a mistake ; for derivative