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cessful applications to individuals, he affembled the merchants of the city, by proclamation, to meet him on the Rialto, where he once more exposed it to sale on the former terms, but to no purpose. After having expatiated, for the laft tiine, on the fingular beauty and value of it, he threw it suddenly into the sea before them all. Though this anecdote may appear inconsistent with the avarice of a Jew, yet it sufficiently agrees with the spirit fo remarkable at all times in the scatter'd remains of that vindi&tive nation.
Shakespeare's seeming averfion to the Jews in general, and his constant desire to expose their avarice and baseness as often as he had an opportunity, may serve to strengthen this suppofition; and as that nation, in his time, and since, has not been famous for crimes daring and conspicuous, but has rather contented itself to thrive by the meaner and more successful arts of baseness, there seems to be a particular propriety in the epithet. When Falstaff is justifying himself in Henry IV, he adds, “ If what I have said be not true, I am a Jew, an Ebrew “ Jew," i.e. one of the most suspected characters of the time. The liver of a Jew is an ingredient in the cauldron of Macbeth; and the vigilance for gain, which is described in Shylock, may afford us reason to suppose the poet was alluding to a story like that already quoted.
Ricker than all bis tribe, seems to point out the Jew again in a mercantile light; and may mean, that the pearl was rieber than all the gems to be found among a set of men generally trading in them. Neither do I recollect that Othello mentions many things, but what he might fairly have been allowed to have had knowledge of in the course of his peregrinations. Of this kind are the fimiles of the Euxine sea flowing into the Propontick, and the Arabian trees dropping their gums. The rest of his speeches are more free from mythological and hiftorical allufions, than almost any to be found in Shakespeare, for he is never quite clear from them; though in the design of this character he seems to have meant it for one who had pent a greater part of his life in the field, than in the cultivation of any other knowledge than what would be of use to him in his military capacity. It should be observed, that most of the Hourishes merely ornamental, were added after the first edition, and this is not the only proof to be met with, that the poet in his alterations sometimes forgot his original plan.
The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine womaz, may, for aught I know, be very common; but in the instances Dr. Warburton has brought to prove it to, there are found circumfances that immediately sew a woman to have been meant. So in Troilus and Crellida.
“ HER BED IS INDIA, there she lies a pearl.
8 Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk
(Stabs bimself Lod. Oh bloody period ! Gra. All that is spoke, is marr’d. Oth. I kiss'd thee, 'ere I killd thee. No way but this,
[Falling upon Desdem. Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.
[Dies. Caš. This did I fear, but thought he had no wea
pon, For he was great of heart.
Lod. 9 Oh Spartan dog !
In Othello's speech we find no such leading expression ; and are therefore at liberty, I think, to take the passage in its literal meaning
To this note should be subjoined (as an apology for many others which may not be thought to bring conviction with them) that the true sense of a passage has frequently remained undetermined, till repeated experimeuts have been tried on it, when one commentator, making a proper use of the errors of another, has at last explained it to universal satisfaction. When mistakes have such effects, who would regret having been mistaken, or be sorry to be the means of directing others, by that affinity which a wrong reading or interpretation sometimes has to the right, though he has not been so lucky to produce at once authorities which could not be questioned, or decisions to which nothing could be added ? Steevens.
& I am told that it is immediate death for a Chriftian to strike a Turk in Aleppo. Othello is boasting of his own audacity.
ANON. 9 Ob Spartan dog!'] The dogs of Spartan race were reckon'd among those of the most fierce and savage kind. Hanmer.
-To you, lord governor, Remains the cenfure of this hellis villain ;] Ryrrer, who had neither vigour of imagination to make a poet, nor strength
Remains the censure of this hellish villain;
Ætatis cujufque notandi funt tibi mores, &c.
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, magDanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his resolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the ccol malignity of Iago, filent in his relent
ment, 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, her artless perseverance in her suit, and her sowness to suspect that she can be suspected, are such proofs of Shakespeare'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 empioys 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, left 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 juftness, but their strength. . Caffio is brave, benevolent, and honeft, ruined only by his want of itubbornness 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 trong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a false friend; and the virtue of Æmilia is sach as we often find, worn loosely, but not caft off, easy to commit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villainies.
The scenes from the beginning to the end are busy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progresion 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 occafionally related, there had been little wanting to a drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.