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For Michael Cassio, I dare be sworn *, I think that he is honest.
Orh. I think so too.
Men should be what they seem; Or, those that be not, 'would they might seem
* Quarto, presume.
The old copies give,—dilations, except that the earlier quarto has-denotements; which was the author's first expression, afterwards changed by him, not to dilations, but to delations; to occult and secret accusations, working involuntarily from the heart, which, though resolved to conceal the fault, cannot rule its passion of resentment. JOHNSON.
They are close denotements, &c." i. e. indications, or recoveries, not openly revealed, but involuntarily working from the heart, which cannot rule and suppress its feelings.
The folio reads—They are close dilations ; but nothing is got by the change, for dilations was undoubtedly used in the sense of dilatements
, or large and full expositions. See Minsheu's Dict. 1617: “ To dilate or make large.”
Dilatement is used in the sense of dilation by Lodge, our poet's contemporary :
“ After all this foul weather follows a calm dilatement of others too forward harmfulness." Rosalynde, or Euphues Golden Legacie, 4to. 1592.
Dr. Johnson very elegantly reads—They are close delations.
But the objection to this conjectural reading is, that there is strong ground for believing that the word was not used in Shakspeare's age. It is not found in any Dictionary of the time, that I have seen, nor has any passage been quoted in support of it. On the contrary, we find in Minsheu the verb, “ To delate,” not signifying, to accuse, but thus interpreted : “to speak at large of any thing, vid. to dilate : ' so that if even delations were the word of the old copy, it would mean no more than dilations. To the reading of the quarto no reasonable objection can be made.
MALONE. Mr. Todd, in his additions to Johnson's Dictionary, has produced an authority for the use of the word delations, in the sense of accusations, from Wotton's Remains, p. 307, edit. 1685, p. 460, edit. 1651. BosweLL.
8 Or, those that be not, 'would they might seem none !) I believe the meaning is, ' 'would they might no longer seem, or bear the shape of men. Johnson.
May not the meaning be, ''Would they might not seem honest! Malone,
Orh. Certain, men should be what they seem. Lago. Why, then, I think Cassio's 9 an honest
Orh. Nay, yet there's more in this : I pray thee, speak to me as to thy thinkings, As thou dost ruminate ; and give thy worst of
thoughts The worst of words. LAGO.
Good my lord, pardon me; Though I am bound to every act of duty, I am not bound to that all slaves are free to '. Utter my thoughts ? Why, say, they are vile and
false, As where's that palace, whereinto foul things Sometimes intrude not?? who has a breast so pure, But some uncleanly apprehensions Keep leets, and law-days, and in session sit With meditations lawful ?
THAT Cassio -] For the sake of measure, I have ventured to insert the pronoun--that. STEEVENS. Mr. Steevens arranges these lines thus : “ Oth. Certain, men should be what they seem.
Why, then, “ I think that Cassio's an honest man." Boswell.
to that all slaves are FREE TO.] I am not bound to do that, which even slaves are not bound to do. MALONE. So, in Cymbeline:
where's that palace, whereinto foul things
no perfection is so absolute,
· who has a breast so pure,
With meditations lawful ?] Leets, and law-days, are synonymous terms:
“ Leet (says Jacob, in his Law Dictionary,) is otherwise called a law-day." They are there explained to be courts, or meetings of the hundred," to certify the king of the good manners, and government, of the inhabitants,” and to en
Oth. Thou dost conspire against thy friend, Iago, If thou but think'st him wrong'd, and mak'st his ear A stranger to thy thoughts. Lago.
I do beseech you, Though I, perchance, am vicious in my guess 4,
quire of all offences that are not capital. The poet's meaning will now be plain : “Who has a breast so little apt to form ill opinions of others, but that foul suspicion will sometimes mix with his fairest and most candid thoughts, and erect a court in his mind, to enquire of the offences apprehended.' Steevens.
Who has so virtuous a breast that some uncharitable surmises and impure conceptions will not sometimes enter into it; hold a session there as in a regular court, and “ bench by the side” of authorised and lawful thoughts ?-In our poet's 30th Sonnet we find the same imagery :
“ When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
“ I summon up remembrance of things past." “A leet, (says Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 1616,) is a court or law-day, holden commonly every half year.” To keep a leet was the verbum juris ; the title of one of the chapters in Kitchin's book on Courts, being, “ The manner of keeping a court-leet.” Malone. 4 I do beseech you,
Though I, perchance, am vicious in my guess,] Not to mention that, in this reading, the sentence is abrupt and broken, it is likewise highly absurd. I beseech you give yourself no uneasiness from my unsure observance, though I am vicious in my guess. For his being an ill guesser was a reason why Othello should not be uneasy: in propriety, therefore, it should either have been, though I am not vicious,' or because I am vicious." It appears then we should read :
“ I do beseech you,
“ Think, I, perchance, am vicious in my guess Which makes the sense pertinent and perfect. WARBURTON.
That abruptness in the speech which Dr. Warburton complains of, and would alter, may be easily accounted for. Iago seems desirous by this ambiguous hint, Though 1—to inflame the jealousy of Othello, which he knew would be more effectually done in this manner, than by any expression that bore a determinate meaning. The jealous Othello would fill up the pause in the speech, which lago turns off at last to another purpose, and find a more certain cause of discontent, and a greater degree of torture arising from the doubtful consideration how it might have concluded, than he could have experienced had the whole of what he enquired after been reported to him with every circumstance of aggravation.
As, I confess, it is my nature's plague
We may suppose him imagining to himself, that lago mentally continued the thought thus, "Though I—know more than I choose to speak of.
“ Vicious in my guess ” does not mean that he is an ill guesser, but that he is apt to put the worst construction on every thing he attempts to account for.
Out of respect for the subsequent opinions of Mr. Henley and Mr. Malone, I have altered my former regulation of this passage; though I am not quite convinced that any change was needful.
STEEVENS. I believe nothing is here wanting, but to regulate the punctu
Iago. I do beseech you-
As, I confess, it is my nature's plague
Shapes faults that are not &e. HENLEY. The reader should be informed, that the mark of abruption which I have placed after the word you, was placed by Mr. Steevens after the word perchance: and his note, to which I do not subscribe, is founded on that regulation. I think the poet intended that Iago should break off at the end of the first hemistich, as well as in the middle of the fifth line. What he would have added, it is not necessary very nicely to examine.
The adversative particle, though, in the second line, does not indeed appear very proper ; but in an abrupt and studiously clouded sentence like the present, where more is meant to be conveyed than meets the ear, strict propriety may well be dispensed with. The word perchance, if strongly marked in speaking, would sufficiently show that the speaker did not suppose himself vicious in his guess.
By the latter words, lago, I apprehend, means only, though I perhaps am mistaken, led into an errour by my natural disposition, which is apt to shape faults that have no existence.'
MALONE. I entreat you then, &c.] Thus the quarto 1622. The folio reads :
and of, my jealousy
“ Would take no notice.” MALONE. To conject, i. e. to conjecture, is a word used by other writers. So, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540:
From one that so imperfectly conjects,
What dost thou mean? Iago. Good name, in man, and woman, dear my
lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls * : Who steals my purse, steals trash ; 'tis something,
nothing'; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thou
“ Now reason I, or conject with myself.” Again : “ I cannot forget thy saying, or thy conjecting words."
STEEVENS. s GOOD NAME, in man, and woman, dear
lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls :
Who steals MY PURSE, steals trash, &c.] The sacred writings were here perhaps in our poet's thoughts : "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour than silver and gold." Proverbs, xxii. 1. MALONE. 6 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands ;]
Nunc ager Umbreni sub nomine, nuper Ofelli
Nunc mihi, nunc alii. Horat. Sat. lib. ii. 2.
“ Now Umbren's grounde, of late Ofells,
“ (A thing not very stable)
“ The worlde as variable.”
Nunc mea, mox hujus, sed postea nescio cujus. MALONE.