Imágenes de páginas

Lod. Where is that viper? bring the villain forth.
Oth. I look down towards his feet: but that's a fable.
If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee..


[Wounds Iago.

Lod. Wrench his sword from him.

I bleed, sir, but not kill'd.

Oth. I am not sorry neither: I'ld have thee live;
For, in my sense, 'tis happiness to die.

Lod. O thou Othello, that wert once so good,


Fall'n in the practice of a damned slave,
What shall be said to thee?


Why, any thing:

An honourable murderer, if you will;
For nought did I in hate, but all in honour.
Lod. This wretch hath part confess'd his villany:
Did you and he consent in Cassio's death?
Oth. Ay.

Cas. Dear general, I never gave you cause.
Oth. I do believe it, and I ask your pardon.

285. that] omitted Q 1.


293. did

283. that] Ff, this Q 1. 286. Wrench] Wring QI. 289. wert] Qq, was Ff. 290. damned] Qq, cursed Ff. Iin] Qq; I did in F 1, 2, 3. 297. never gave] Ff; did never give Qq, Jennens. 298. your] Ff; you Qq, Globe, Rolfe.

[blocks in formation]

The reference to "viper" in the previous line is to another fable, whence vipers were made the types of ingratitude; not the least of Iago's many unpardonable sins. Othello means that since Iago has not cloven feet, the belief is untrue. "Some are so carnallie minded that a spirit is no sooner spoken of, but immediately they thinke of a blacke man with cloven feet, a paire of hornes, a taile, clawes, and eies as broad as a bason," Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (rept. p. 426), 1584.

289. so good] an important testimony to Othello's earlier repute.

Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil

Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body? 300 Iago. Demand me nothing; what you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word.

Lod. What, not to pray?


Torments will ope your lips.

Oth. Well, thou dost best.

Lod. Sir, you shall understand what hath befall'n,

Which, as I think, you know not. Here is a letter

Found in the pocket of the slain Roderigo,


The death of Cassio to be undertook

And here another: the one of them imports


By Roderigo.

Oth. O villain!


Most heathenish and most gross!

Lod. Now here's another discontented paper, v
Found in his pocket too; and this, it seems,

Roderigo meant to have sent this damned villain;

But that, belike, Iago in the interim

Came in and satisfied him.


299. omitted Q 1. 309, 310. undertook By] undertooke-by Qq. 315. interim] nicke Q 1.

299. demi-devil] worse than a devil. Iago is human in form, but he is a bastard, with a devil for one parent. A genuine devil is a higher order of being. So of Caliban, at the end of The Tempest: "this demi-devil-For he's a bastard one" (Dowden).

312 et seq.] Macmillan quotes Brandes (agreeing with him) that "these remarks of Lodovico are nerveless and feeble and detract from the

effect of the scene. This passage is not Shakespeare's and ought to be expunged." Macmillan's objection is that they give information already possessed by the reader and the spec

tator, and are therefore "suspected." But Othello has asked for information; Iago will not give it; why should he not be satisfied? How otherwise is Cassio to be fully restored to his rightful place in Othello's estimation before all is over? Were these remarks to close the drama, they would appear trivial, but as a circumstantial preliminary, to give one breath for the final deed, they are wholly appropriate.

315. belike] probably.

315. in the interim] Ben Jonson used this phrase a little earlier, Cynthia's Revels, III. i., 1600: "In the interim, you may."



O the pernicious caitiff!

How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief

That was my wife's?

I found it in my chamber:

And he himself confess'd but even now

That there he dropp'd it for a special purpose 320

Which wrought to his desire.

O fool! fool! fool!

Cas. There is besides in Roderigo's letter,
How he upbraids Iago, that he made him
Brave me upon the watch; whereon it came
That I was cast: and even but now he spake
After long seeming dead, Iago hurt him,
Iago set him on.


Lod. You must forsake this room, and go with us:
Your power and your command is taken off,
And Cassio rules in Cyprus. For this slave,

If there be any cunning cruelty

That can torment him much and hold him long,
It shall be his. You shall close prisoner rest,
Till that nature of your fault be known
To the Venetian state. Come, bring away.

Oth. Soft you; a word or two before you go.



I have done the state some service, and they know 't.
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,

wives Ff.


316. O the] Qq, Oh thou Ff. 317. that] a Qq. 318. wife's] wifes Qq, 319. but] it Q1; it but Ff, Q 2, 3. 335. bring] Ff, Steevens (1793), Dyce, Cambridge; bring him Qq, Globe, Craig. 336. before you go] omitted Q I. 340. me as I am] of them as they are Q I, Jennens. 325. cast] dismissed. See I. i. 150, and 1. i. 31.

Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought,
Perplex'd in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,


341. then must you] then you must Q 2, 3. 345. Indian] Qq, F 2, 3, 4; Iudean F 1, Johnson, Steevens; Judian Theobald, Globe, Cambridge, etc.


344. Perplex'd] This word had a stronger meaning than it now has. In Skeat's Dictionary I find it embarrassed." Cotgrave explains it "at his wit's end." It meant as much as our word "distracted" or "in despair." Compare Cymbeline, IV. iii. 9; and the following lines from Chloris, by Wm. Smith (Grosart reprint, p. 11), 1596:

"I seeing my love in perplexed

A sturdy bat from of an oke I rest,
And with the ravishour continue

Till," etc.,

where the maiden is at her last extrem-
ity; and compare Peele, Edward I.
(ed. 1874, p. 406), 1593: "Ah didst
thou know how Mary is perplex'd,
Soon woulds thou come to Wales and
rid me of this pain; But, O, I die..
[Dies" (in torture).

[ocr errors]

345. Indian . pearl If we are to judge by the space used in notes of commentators, this passage stands fourth in the list of difficult passages in Othello. The first Folio reading "Judean" increases the difficulty. The Folio reading is not to be rejected without serious thought. What appears to me most in its favour is that which Halliwell urged, and which Furness believed to be the true explanation. The epithet "base" appears to support "Iudean," which, if correct, notwithstanding that the idea has been ridiculed [by Coleridge], probably refers to Judas Iscariot. And Furness adds, "Is there not, may I be permitted to add, sugges

tion even in the identity of the two first syllables, Judas and Judean?" This explanation requires the word "base" to be used in that worst sense, in which I cannot conceive it possible that Othello would use it, even indirectly, of himself. That is an objection. I find no difficulty in the "verse" accent, since if it be laid on Judéan, as we should do, the first foot of the line is Like the base, and scans harmoniously enough. Or it may be pronounced as "Herculean, 99 66 Epicurean," etc. But the fact of the word "Judean" being in the Folio text is the strongest argument in its support, and were it not for the superior value attached thereto, no hesitation would be felt in discarding it. My hesitation was finally removed by a passage in Ben Jonson's Discoveries, which refers to such a fable as the simile requires. True, it does not con. tain the word Indian, but it was so universally the custom to connect pearls with Indians, that the one term would inevitably suggest the other. Numerous examples of "Indian" plus "pearl" are assembled in Furness's note, and as many more might be adduced. The passage only shows that there was such a fable, and expels the word "Judean." It is in Ben Jonson's Explorata, or Discoveries (first published in 1641), Periodi, etc. (415a): "Whatsoever loseth the grace and clearness, converts into a riddle: the obscurity is marked, but not the value. That perisheth, and is passed by, like the pearl in the fable." Passages adduced from Habington and

Albeit unused to the melting mood,

Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees

Their medicinal gum. Set you down this;

And say besides, that in Aleppo once,


348. Drop] Drops Q 1, F 1. 349. medicinal medicinall Qq, medicinable Ff. Howard, Carew and Glapthorne, seem and whether they were good to keepe to me not only to refer to Othello's away sicknesse, death, or other miswords, but also to announce the fact fortune of this life, or no," Giles that they had nothing to add, no fresh Fletcher, Russe Common Wealth, 1588 data to give, to the "fable." After (Hakluyt, i. p. 553, reprint 1809), all "Judean" may be merely a misprint 1599. for Indian, obviously a likely one. "India" is actually misprinted Judah in the Quarto of Peele's Battle of Alcazar, iii. 1. Nothing less than an apologue, a legend, or an established historical anecdote would satisfy the reading here. Of passages than Othello, showing the ignorance of the base Indian in preferring useful to ornamental articles, two may be selected as the best of those in Furness. Collier quoted Drayton, Legend of Matilda, 1594 (Spenser Soc. ed. Poems, 1888, p. 453): "The wretched Indian spurnes the golden ore." The other was given by "H. K.” in Notes and Queries from Nashe's Pierce Pennilesse, 1593: "like the Indians that have store of gold and precious stones and yet are ignorant of their value." Macmillan's two apposite quotations (of late date) were previously cited by Boswell. For the barter of pearls by Indians, see Pliny, xxxiv. ch. 17. The fable must deal with a blunder or an accident to be fully acceptable. This is a strong argument against the above interpretation of the "Judean" reading, since Othello is the Indian, and the treachery belongs to Iago. An example may be quoted, though unfortunately of a Tartarian, not of an Indian: "In the storie of Pachymerius the Greeke . . . I remember he telleth to the same purpose of one Nogas a Tartarian captaine . who refused a present of Pearle and other iewels sent unto him from Michael Palæologus: asking withall for what use they served,

348, 349.] The metaphor here seems to be from Holland's Plinie, with some modifications (xii. ch. 14, 15). In ch. 15, speaking of "Myrrhe and the trees that yield it," we are told they are found "in many quarters of Arabia earlier... they sweate out of themselves a certaine liquor called stacte, which is very good Myrrhe." But the words of Othello come nearest to the account of the liquor called Opobalsamum “that goeth beyond all others" from Jewry. "This feat [of incision] being wrought, there issueth out of the wound a certaine juice or liquor, which they call opobalsamum... it commeth forth by small drops: and as it thus weepeth, the teares ought to be received in wooll." A little lower we are told that “it entreth into many medicinable confections." In the same chapter is an account of the "gums" called Storax, Galbanum, and Sagapenum. The first of these is that called "Maujoin" in Cotgrave; "the Arabian gum called Benine.'

349. medicinal] Elsewhere in Shakespeare, except in Winter's Tale, II. iii. 37, the word is "medicinable," as the Folio reads in the present instance. The form "medicinable" is frequent in Holland's Plinie. Cotgrave gives both forms, both in French and English, and distinguishes between the separate words as active and passive; i.e. “healing, curing,” and “healable, curable.” No such distinction occurs in Shakespeare.

350. Aleppo] The Venetians had a monopoly, practically, of trade in

« AnteriorContinuar »