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The death of Cassio to be undertook
Oth. O villain !
Most heathenish, and most gross!
O, the pernicious caitiff!-
I found it in my chamber :
O fool! fool! fool!
Lod. You must forsake this room, and go with us ;
Oth. Soft you ; a word or two, before you go. I have done the state some service, and they know it; No more of that.-I pray you, in your letters, When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am ; ? nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
1 The first quarto reads, “in the nick.”
Of one, that loved not wisely, but too well;
Richer than all his tribe; of one, whose subdued eyes,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Lod. O bloody period!
All, that's spoke, is marred.
Oth. I kissed thee, ere I killed thee.-No way but
[Falling upon DESDEMONA.
Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.
Cas. This did I fear, but thought he had no
For he was great of heart.
O Spartan dog,3
1 The quarto 1622 reads Indian. The folio has Judean. Warburton, Theobald, and Dr. Farmer, think that the allusion is to Herod, who in a fit of blind jealousy threw away such a jewel in his wife Mariamne. Steevens admits the reading Judean, but thinks the allusion is not to the story of Herod, but to that of a Jew, who, not being able to find a purchaser for a very large pearl at an immoderate price, publicly threw it into the sea at Venice.
2 It is said that it was immediate death for a Christian to strike a Turk in Aleppo.
3 The dogs of Spartan race were reckoned among those of the most fierce and savage kind.
4 i. e. judgment, the centence.
The time, the place, the torture,-0, enforce it!
The beauties of this play impress themselves so strongly upon the attention of the reader, that they can draw no aid from critical illustration. The fiery openness of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his resolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the cool malignity of Iago, silent in his resentinent, subtle in his designs, and studious at once of his interest and his vengeance; the soft simplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and conscious of innocence, ner artless perseverance in her suit, and her slowness to suspect that she can be suspected,—are such proofs of Shakspeare's skill in human nature, as, I suppose, it is vain to seek in any modern writer. The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully natural, that though it will, perhaps, not be said of him as he says 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, lest wickedness, conjoined with abilities, should steal upon esteem, though it misses of approbation; but the character of Iago is so conducted, that he is, from the first scene to the last, hated and despised.
Even the inferior characters of this play would be very conspicuous in any other piece, not only for their justness, but their strength. Cassio is brave, benevolent, and honest, ruined only by his want of stubbornness to resist an insidious invitation. Roderigo's suspicious credulity, and impatient submission to the cheats which he sees practised upon him, and which, by persuasion, he suffers to be repeated, exhibit a strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a false friend; and the virtue of Emilia is such as we often find, worn loosely, but not cast off, easy to commit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villanies.
The scenes from the beginning to the end are busy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progression of the story; and the narrative in the end, though it tells but what is known already, yet is necessary to produce the death of Othello.
Had the scene opened in Cyprus, and the preceding incidents been occasionally related, there had been little wanting to a drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.