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Lod. Where is that viper? bring the villain forth.
Lod. Wrench his sword from him.
I bleed, sir, but not kill'd.
Oth. I am not sorry neither: I'ld have thee live;
Lod. O thou Othello, that wert once so good,
Fall'n in the practice of a damned slave,
Why, any thing:
An honourable murderer, if you will;
Cas. Dear general, I never gave you cause.
285. that] omitted Q 1.
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.
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
Oth. O villain!
Most heathenish and most gross!
Lod. Now here's another discontented paper, v
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!
Lod. You must forsake this room, and go with us:
If there be any cunning cruelty
That can torment him much and hold him long,
Oth. Soft you; a word or two before you go.
I have done the state some service, and they know 't.
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
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,
where the maiden is at her last extrem-
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