Page images

Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio;
Wear your eye-thus, not jealous, nor secure:
I would not have your free and noble nature,
Out of self-bounty, be abus'd; look to't:
I know our country disposition well;
In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands; their best con-

Is-not to leave undone, but keep unknown.
Oth. Dost thou say so?

Iago. She did deceive her father, marrying you;
And, when she seem'd to shake, and fear your
She lov'd them most.

And so she did.




Why, go to, then; She that, so young, could give out such a seeming, To seel her father's eyes up, close as oak, He thought, 'twas witchcraft:-But I am much to blame;

3 Out of self-bounty,] Self-bounty for inherent generosity.

4 And, when she seem'd-] This and the following argument of Iago ought to be deeply impressed on every reader. Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniences they may for a time promise or produce, are in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness. Those, who profit by the cheat, distrust the deceiver, and the act by which kindness is sought, puts an end to confidence.

The same objection may be made with a lower degree of strength against the imprudent generosity of disproportionate mar riages. When the first eat passion is over, is easily succeeded by suspicion, that the same violence of inclination, which caused one irregularity, may stimulate to another; and those who have shewn, that their passions are too powerful for their prudence, will, with very slight appearances against them, be censured, as not very likely to restrain them. by their virtue. JOHNSON.

5 To seel her father's eyes up, close as oak,] The oak is the most close-grained wood of general use in England. Close as oak, means, close as the grain of oak. To seel is an expression from falconry.



I humbly do beseech you of
For too much loving you.

[ocr errors]

your pardon,


Iago. I see, this hath a little dash'd your spirits. Oth. Not a jot, not a jot.

I am bound to thee for ever.

[ocr errors]


I hope, you will consider, what is spoke

Comes from my love;-But, I do see you are


Trust me, I fear it has.

I am to pray you, not to strain my speech nor to larger reach,


To grosser issues,
Than to suspicion.
Oth. I will not.


Should you do so, my lord,

My speech should fall into such vile success As my thoughts aim not at. Cassio's my worthy friend:

My lord, I see you are mov'd.

Oth. No, not much mov’d:— I do not think but Desdemona's honest.

lago. Long live she so! and long live you to

think so!

Oth. And yet, how nature erring from itself,Iago. Ay, there's the point:-As,-to be bold with you, Not to affect many proposed matches, Of her own clime, complexion, and degree; Whereto, we see, in all things nature tends: Foh! one may smell, in such, a will most rank,7 Foul disproportion, thoughts unnatural. But pardon me; I do not, in position, Distinctly speak of her: though I may fear, Her will, recoiling to her better judgment,

To grosser issues,] Issues, for conclusions.


a will most rank,] Will, is for wilfulness. It is so used by Ascham. A rank will, is self-will overgrown and exuberant.

May fall to match you with her country forms,
And (hapily) repent.


Farewell, farewell:
If more thou dost perceive, let me know more;
Set on thy wife to observe: Leave me, Iago,
Iago. My lord, I take my leave.

[Going. Oth. Why did I marry?This honest creature, doubtless,

Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds. Iago. My lord, I would, I might entreat your honour

To scan this thing no further; leave it to time:
And though it be fit that Cassio have his place,
(For, sure, he fills it up with great ability,)
Yet, if you please to hold him off a while,
You shall by that perceive him and his means:*
Note, if your lady strain his entertainment"
With any strong or vehement opportunity;
Much will be seen in that. In the mean time,
Let me be thought too busy in my fears,
(As worthy cause I have, to fear—I am,)
And hold her free, I do beseech your honour.
Oth. Fear not my government.1
Iago. I once more take my leave.
Oth. This fellow's of exceeding honesty,
And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,2
Of human dealings: If I do prove her haggard,

[ocr errors]



* You shall by that perceive him and his means:] You shall discover whether he thinks his best means, his most powerful interest, is by the solicitation of your lady.

9 strain his entertainment-] Press hard his re-admission to his pay and office. Entertainment was the military term for admission of soldiers.

Fear not my government.] Do not distrust my ability to contain my passion.


with a learned spirit,] The construction is, He knows with a learned spirit all qualities of human dealings.

3 ― If I do prove her haggard,] A haggard hawk, is a wild hawk, a hawk unreclaimed, or irreclaimable.

Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings,+
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind,
To prey at fortune.' Haply, for I am black;
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have: Or, for I am declin'd
Into the vale of years; yet that's not much;-
She's gone; I am abus'd; and my relief
Must be to loath her. O curse of marriage,
That we can call these delicate creatures ours,
And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad,
And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love,
For others' uses. Yet, 'tis the plague of great ones;
Prerogativ'd are they less than the base;
'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death;
Even then this forked plague' is fated to us,
When we do quicken. Desdemona comes:


If she be false, O, then heaven mocks itself!-
I'll not believe it.

How now, my dear Othello?
Your dinner, and the generous islanders
By you invited, do attend your presence.
Öth. I am to blame.

Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings,] Jesses are short straps of leather tied about the foot of a hawk, by which she is held on the fist.

5 I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind,

To prey at fortune.] The falconers always let fly the hawk against the wind; if she flies with the wind behind her, she seldom returns. If therefore a hawk was for any reason to be dismissed, she was let down the wind, and from that time shifted for herself, and preyed at fortune.

6 chamberers-] i. e. men of intrigue.

[ocr errors]

7- forked plague-] In allusion to a barbed or forked arrow, which, once infixed, cannot be extracted. But perhaps the forked plague is the cuckoid's horns.

Des. Why is your speech so faint? are you not well?

Oth. I have a pain upon my forehead here.
Des. Faith, that's with watching; 'twill away

Let me but bind it hard, within this hour
It will be well.


Your napkin is too little;

[He puts the Handkerchief from him, and it drops.

Let it alone. Come, I'll go in with you.
Des. I am very sorry that you are not well.
Exeunt ОTH. and DES.
Emil. I am glad I have found this napkin;
This was her first remembrance from the Moor:
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Woo'd me to steal it: but she so loves the token,
(For he conjur'd her, she would ever keep it,)
That she reserves it evermore about her,

To kiss, and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out,'
And give it Iago:

What he'll do with it, heaven knows, not I;
I nothing, but to please his fantasy.

Enter IAGO.

lago. How now! what do you here alone? Emil. Do not you chide; I have a thing for you. lago. A thing for me?-it is a common thing. Emil. Ha!

Iago. To have a foolish wife.

$ I'll have the work ta'en out,] That is, copied. Her first thoughts are, to have a copy made of it for her husband, and restore the original to Desdemona. But the sudden coming in of Iago, in a suriy humour, makes her alter her resolution, to please him.

« PreviousContinue »