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ON THE Fable And Composition of
Ο Τ Η Ε
L L 0.
POPE. I have not hitherto met with any translation of this novel (the seventh in the third decad) of so early a date as the age of Shakspere ; but undoubtedly many of those little pamphlets have perished between his time and ours.
This play was first entered at Stationers' Hall, O&. 6, 1621, by Thomas Walkely.
STEEVENS. I have seen a French translation of Cynthia, by Gabriel Chappuys, Par. 1584. This is not a faithful one ; and I suspect, through this medium the work came into English.
FARMER 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, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his resolution, and oba durate in his revenge ; the cool malignity of lago, silent in his resentment, subtle in his designs, and studious at once of his intereft and his vengeance ; the soft simplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and conscious of innocence, her artless perseverance in her suit, and her slowness to suspect that she can be suspected, are such proofs of Shakspere's skill in human nature, as, I suppose, it is vain to seek in any
modern writer. The gradual progress which Iago makes is the Moor's conviction, and the circumstances which he employs 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 tbe extreme.
There is always danger, lest 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 justness, but their strength. Cassio is brave, benevolent, and honest, ruined only by his want of stubbornness 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 strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a false friend; and the virtue of Æmilia is such as we often find worn loosely, but not cast off, easy to commit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villanies.
The scenes from the beginning to the end are busy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progression 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 occasionally related, there had been little wanting to a drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.
Duke of Venice.
DESDEMONA, Daughter to Brabantio, and Wife to Othella.
Play, in Cyprus.
Ο Τ Η Ε L Ι Ο.
ACT 1. SCENE.
Venice. A Street, Enter RODERIGO, and IAGO,
Roderigo. Never tell me, I take it much unkindly, That thou, lago,—who hast had my purse, As if the strings were thine,-shouldst know of this,
lago. But you'll not hear me : If ever I did dream of such a matter, abhor me. Rod. Thou toldst me, thou didst hold him in thy
hate. lago. Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones
of the city,