Imagens das páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


E L L 0,
Evades them with a bombast circumstance,
Horribly stuff’d with epithets of war;
And, in conclusion,
Non-suits my mediators : for “ certes, says he,
“ I have already chose my officer.”
And what was he?
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Caffio, 3 a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn'd 4 in a fair wife ;

That -a Florentine,) It appears from many passages of this play (rightly underilood) that Caffio was a Florentine, and Iago a Venetian. HANMER.

in a fair wife ;] In the former editions this hath been printed, a fair wife; but surely it must from the beginning have been å mistake, because it appears from a following part of the play, that Cailio was an unmarried man: on the other hand, his beauty is often hinted at, which it is natural enough for rough soldiers to treat with scorn and ridicule. I read therefore, A fellow almost damn’d in a fair phyz. HANMER.

-a Florentine, A fellow almeji damn'd' in a fair wife ;] But it was lago, and not Callio, who was the Florentine, as appears from Ad 3. Scene 1. The pallage therefore should be read thus,

-a Florentine's, A fello-w almoft damn'd in a fair wife ;] These are the words of Othello (which Iago in this relation repeats) and fignify, that a Florentine was an unfit person for command, as being always a slave to a fair wife; which was the case of lago. The Oxford Editor, supposing this was faid by lago of Calic, will have Callio to be the Florentine; which, he says, is plain from many pasages in the play, rightly understood. But because Cassio was no married man (though I wonder it did not appear he was, from fome pasages rightly understood) he alters the line thus,

A fellow almost damn’d in a fair phyz. A White-friers' phrase. WARBURTON.

This is one of the passages which must for the present be resigned to corraption and obscurity. I have nothing that I can, with any approach to confidence, propose. I cannot. think it very plain from AA 3. Scene 1. that Caffio was or was not a Florentine. JOHNSON.

The great difficulty is to understand in what sense any man can be faid to be almofi damaid in a fair wife; or fair phyz,

That never fet a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows


as Sir T. Hanmer proposes to read. I cannot find any ground for supposing that either the one or the other have been reputed to be damnable sins in any religion. The poet has used the fame mode of exprelion in The Merchant of Venice, Act 1. Scene 1.

O my Anthonio, I do know of those
“ Who therefore only are reputed wise,
“ For saying nothing; who, I'm very sure,
“ If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,

Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.” And there the allusion is evident to the gospel-judgment against those, who call their brothers fools. I am therefore inclined to believe, that the true reading here is,

" A fellow almost damn'd in a fair life ;" and that Shakespeare alludes to the judgment denounced in the gospel againit those of whom all men speak well.

The character of Calsio is certainly such, as would be very likely to draw upon him all the peril of this denunciation, literally understood. Well-bred, easy, sociable, good-natured ; with abilities enough to make him agreeable and useful, but not sufficient to excite the envy of his equals, or to alarm the jealousy of his superiors. It may be observed too, that Shake. speare has thought it proper to make Iago, in several other passages, bear his testimony to the amiable qualities of his rival. In Act 5. Scene 1. he speaks thus of him;

-If Cassio do remain,
“ He hath a daily beauty in his life,

“ That makes me ugly.” I will only add, that, however hard or far-fetch'd this allusion (whether Shakespeare's, or only mine) may seem to be, archbishop Sheldon had exa&ly the same conceit, when he made that fingular compliment, 'as the writer calls it, [Biog. Britan. Art. Temple) to a nephew of Sir William Temple, that “ he “ had the curse of the gospel, because all men spoke well of “ him.” Observations and Conje&tures, &c. printed at Oxford, 1766.

The poet does not appear to have meant Iago to be a Florentine, which has hitherto been inferred from the following passage in A&t 3. Scene 1. where Cafio, speaking of Iago, says,

-I never knew A Florentine more kind and honest. It is surely not uncommon for us to say in praise of a foreigner, that we never knew one of our countrymen of a more friendly



More than a spinster; unle's the bookish treoris, 5 Wherein the roged confuls can propose As masteriy as he :-mere prattle, without practice, disposition. This, I be iere, is all that Casīso nart by his obiervation.

From the already-mentioned paffage in Aa 3. Scene 3. it is certain (as Sir T. Haomer has obierved) that lago was a lebetian.

“ I know our country di position well,
“ In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks

They dare not snew their husbands." That Caffio, however, was married, is not suficiently implied in the words, a fellow almoft dama'd in a fair scifi, fince they may mean, according to lago's licentious manner of expreffing himself, no more than a man very near being married. This seems to have been the case in respect of Casio, Ad 4. Scene 1. lago, speaking to him of Bianca, says-Why the cry goes that you shall marry her. Casio acknowledges that such a report has been raised, and adds, This is the monkey's own giving out : she is persuaded I will marry her out of her own love and full-flattery, not out of my promise. Iago then, having heard this report before, very naturally circulates it in his present conversation with Roderigo. Had Shakespeare, confiftently with lago's character, meant to make him to say that Caffio was uétually damn'd in being married to a handsome woman, he would have made him say it outright, and not have interposed the palliative almost. Whereas what he says at present amounts to no more than that (however near his marriage) he is not yet completely damn’d, because he is not absolutely married. The fucceeding parts of Jago's conversation sufficiently evince, that the poet thought no mode of conception or expression too brutal for the character. Steevens.

s Wherein the tongued consuls-) So the generality of the impresions read; but the oldest quarto has it toged; the senators, that aslifted the duke in council, in their proper gowns.

But let me explain, why I have ventured to substitute counsellors in the room of consuls : the Venetian nobility constitute the great council of the fenate, and are a part of the adminiftration ; and summoned to affist and counsel the Doge, who is prince of the senate. So that they may very properly be called Connjellors. Though the government of Venice was democratic at firit, under confuls and tribunes; that form of power has been totally abrogated, fince Doges have been elected.

THEOBALD. Wherein tbe loged confuls----) Confuls, for counsellors.



Is all his soldiership. He had the election ;
And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
At Rhodes, at Cyprus ; and on other grounds
Christian and heathen; 6 must be belee'd and calm'd
By debtor and creditor, this counter-caster :-
He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
And I (God bless the mark !) his Moor-ship’s an-

cient. Rod. By heaven, I rather would have been his

hangman. Iago. But there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of ser



or no way.

Preferment goes 7, by letter, and affection, 8 And not by old gradation, where each second Stood heir to the first. Now, Sir, be judge yourself, 9 If I in any just term am affin'd To love the Moor.

must be LED and calm’d] So the old quarto. The first folio reads belee'd: but that spoils the measure. I read let, hindered. WARBURTON.

Belee'd suits to calm’d, and the measure is not less perfe&t than in many other places. JOHNSON.

Belee'd and calm'd are terms of navigation. A hip is said to be belee'd, when she is so situated, that the wind can only come on her broad-side, and consequently she can make little

STEEVENS. 7 by letter,-) By recommendation from powerful friends.

JOHNSON. $ And not by old gradation,----] What is old gradation ? He immediately explains gradation very properly. But the idea of old does not come into it,

-where each second

Stood heir to the first.I read therefore,

Not (as of old) gradation--i. e. it does not go by gradation, as it did of old. WARBURTON.

Old gradation, is gradation establihed by ancient practice. Where is the difficulty ? JOHNSON.

9 If I in any juft term am afin'd] Afined is the reading of the third quarto and the first folio. The second


and all the modern editions have align'd. The meaning is, Do I fand within any such terms of propinquity or relation to the Mcor, as ibat it is my duty to love him? JOHNSON.



Rod. I would not follow him then.

lago. O Sir, content you;
I follow him to serve my turn upon him.
We cannot all be masters, nòr all inafters
Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
For nought but provender ; and when he's old, ca-

shier'd :
Whip me such 'honest knaves. Others there are,
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves;
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Well thrive by them, and when they have lin’d their

Do themselves homage. These fellows have some



And such a one do I profess myself.
For, Sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
In following him, I follow but myself,
Heaven is my judge! - Not I, for love and duty,
But, seeming so, for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
* In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my Neeve,
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.

Rod. What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe,
If he can carry't thus !

Iago. Call up her father,
Roule him: make after him, poison his delight, ,

1honeft knaves..-) Knave is here for fervant, but with a mixture of sly contempt. JOHNSON.

2 In compliment extern, — ] In that which I do only for an outward thew of civility, JOHNSON.


« AnteriorContinuar »