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Emil. Alas, good gentleman! alas, good Cassio !
shake not. Iago. O, did he so? I charge you, go with me. Emil. Fye, fye upon thee, strumpet!
Bian. I am no strumpet; but of life as honest, As you
that thus abuse me. Emil.
As I? foh! fye upon thee! Iago. Kind gentlemen, let's go see poor Cassio
dress'd :Come, mistress, you must tell us another tale.Emilia, run you to the citadel,
16 In the second scene of the preceding act Iago informs Roderigo that Cassio was to sup with Bianca; that he would go to him there, and bring him away between twelve and one. Indeed Cassio had himself told Iago that he would sup with Bianca, and Iago had promised to meet him at her house. We must suppose, therefore, that this consummate villain thought it more secure to waylay him, as we find he does, without actually joining him at suppertime. Otherwise Bianca would surely have answered:
Why, you well know
He supp'd,' &c. Steevens suggests that as the former line is imperfect, some such words may have been accidentally omitted. His other supposition,' perhaps the poet was unwilling that Bianca should say, in the presence of Iago's wife, that he too had been of the supper party,' is much less probable.
And tell my lord and lady what has happ'd. Will you go on, I pray ; ---This is the night, [Aside. That either makes me, or fordoes 17 me quite.
SCENE II. A Bedchamber: DESDEMONA in
Bed asleep. A Light burning.
[Takes off his sword. Yet she must die, else she'll betray more mén. Put out the light, and then-Put out the light? !
17 To fordo is to undo, to ruin, to destroy. So in Hamlet:-
Did with desperate hand
Fordo its own life.' 1 Othello, full of horror at the cruel action which he is about to perpetrate, seems at this instant to be seeking his justification, from representing to himself the cause, i. e. the greatness of the provocation he had received. 2 The old copy gives this line thus :
• Put out the light, and then put out the light.' The present regulation of the passage, by which so much beauty and spirit is added to it, was proposed by Mr. Upton, but it is to be found in Ayres's Life of Pope ; it may therefore have originated with Warburton, who thus explains it :- The meaning is, I will put out the light, and then proceed to the execution of my purpose. But the expression of putting out the light, bringing to mind the effects of the extinction of the light of life, he breaks short, and questions himself about the effects of this metaphorical extinction, introduced by a repetition of his first words, as much as to say,–But hold, let me first weigh the reflection which this expression naturally excites.' Dr. Farmer treats this as a refinement of Warburton's, observing that to put out the light was a phrase for to kill. Malone stoutly combats on the same side, but his arguments have not convinced me, and I have therefore followed Warburton's arrangement.
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
thy rose, I cannot give it vital growth again, It needs must wither:-I'll smell it on the tree.
Des. Who's there? Othello ?
would have done so if he could have used his own discretion. • I have felt hound (says he) to print the text according to Mr. Malone's opinion; but if Warburton's explanation be an error, it is demptus per vim, I for one am very sorry to part with it. Broken sentences, as Mr. Malone has more than once observed, are very much in our poet's manner, and are surely natural in the perturbed state of Othello's mind. I am unwilling to persuade myself that a regulation of the text which contains so much beauty could be merely the refinement of a critic, and that our great author, in one of his most highly.wrought scenes, instead of it, intended nothing but a cold conceit.
3 Thus the quarto. The folio reads -put out thy light. Steevens adopted the present reading for the sake of the measure, and to avoid the useless repetition of the word light.
4 Thus the folio. The first quarto-returne: the second quarto-relumine.
5 This image seems to be derived from Scripture:—Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.' VOL, X.
Ay, I do.
Ay, my lord. Oth. If you bethink yourself of any crime, Unreconcil'd as yet to heaven and grace, Solicit for it straight.
Des. Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?
Oth. Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by:
Des. Talk you of killing?
Amen, with all my heart!
you are fatal then, When your eyes roll so: Why I should fear, I
know not, Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel, I fear.
Oth. Think on thy sins.
They are loves I bear to you. Oth. Ay, and for that thou diest.
Des. That death's unnatural, that kills for loving.-Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip? Some bloody passion shakes your very frame:
6 Davenant has borrowed this thought in his Law of Lombardy:
I am not fraught with the devil's spleen; I would
not hurt thy soul. Othello seems to have been a favourite of his author; for he bas hestowed on him that piety he has refused to Hamlet. See p. 268, ante.-Steevens.
? This thought is likewise found in The Legend of Orpheus and Euridice, by H. L. 1597 :
• Unnatural that kill where you should kiss.' And in King Richard III. :
It is a quarrel most unnatural,
These are portents; but yet, I hope, I hope,
Peace, and be still !
Thou gav'st to Cassio.
No, by my life and soul;
Sweet soul, take heed, Take heed of perjury; thou’rt on thy death-bed.
Des. Ay, but not yet to die.
Des. Then, Lord have mercy on me!
I say, amen.
you mercy too! I never did Offend
you in my life; never lov’d Cassio, But with such general warranty of heaven As I might love: I never gave him token. Oth. By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in his
hand. O perjur'd woman! thou dost stone my heart, And mak’st me call, what I intend to do,(A murder which I thought,)-a sacrifice 8 : I saw the handkerchief.
* This line is difficult. Thou hast hardened my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I thought to have sucrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.'-Johnson. There is a second attempt at explanation by Johnson, adopting the reading of one of the quartos
thou dost stone thy heart,' still less successful than the above. The obvious sense of the passage is—'Thou dost harden my heart, and mak'st me now call what I intend to do, and