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I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this dreadful scene. It is not to be endured. Johnson. 227. hath ta'en order for’t.] i. e. has taken mee

So, in Holinshed's Reign of King John : “ he took such order for him, that he was despoiled of all his goods and benefices," p. 174. STEEVENS.

Again, in Dido Queen of Carthage, by Marlowe and Nashe, 1594 : “ I will take order for that presently."

MALONE. 229. Had all his hairs been lives, -] This thought appears to have been very common, as it occurs fre. quently in dramatick performances prior to Shake spere's Othello..

STEEVENS. 238. Being done,

There is no pause. ] The first quarto omits this speech.

STEEVENS. 241. It is too late.] After this speech of Othello, the elder quarto adds an invocation from Desdemona, consisting only of the sacred name, thrice repeated. As this must be supposed to have been uttered while she is yet struggling with death, I think an editor may be excused from inserting such a circumstance of supererogatory horror, especially as it is found in but one of the ancient copies.

This alteration was probably made in consequence of the statute of the 3d of James I. c. 21, which lays a penalty for the profane use of the name of God, &c. in stage plays, interludes, May-games, &c.



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The statute was necessary; for not only the ancient moralities, but the plays (those of Chapman in par. ticular) abound with the most wanton and shocking repetitions of a name which never ought to be men. tioned in such an irreverent manner on the stage.

STEEVENS, 256. My wife! my wife! what wife ?-1 have no wife :] “ Filium unicum adolescentulum habeo : ah! quid dixi habere me? imo habui, Chreme.” Ter. Heautont.

STEEVENS. 279. O falsely, falsely murderd!] It cannot be supposed that a person who had been effectually strangled or smothercd, could speak again; for if the power of breathing returned after the instrument of suffocation was removed, no act of violence had in reality taken place by which the conclusion of life could be brought

But such is the peculiar fate of Desdemona, that she is supposed to be smothered, revives to acquaint us that she smothered herself, and then dies without any ostensible cause of death. I am of opinion that some theatrical direction has been omitted ; and that when Othello says:

Not dead ! not yet quite dead!
1, that am cruel, am yet merciful;
I would not have thee linger in thy pain :

So, so.
He then stabs her, repeating the two last words as
he repeats the blow. Thus Virgil :
sic, sic, juvat ire sub umbras.”



After the repetition of wounds, Desdemona might speak again, with propriety, and yet very soon expire; as says Cassio of Roderigo :

even but now he spake, After long seeming dead. The first resolution of Othello was to poison her ; but from this measure he is dissuaded by the policy of Iago. He is next determined to use the poinard ; but, his tenderness awaking, he cannot bear to deforin those beauties which he had so often approached with other sensations, and for different purposes. There. fore, says he :

-I'll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,

And smooth as monumental alabaster: And this resolution we are to imagine he would have kept, but that he was averse to employing those means again, which had already appeared to be uncer. tain in their effect.

If this apparent want of a play-house direction had occasioned any absurdity in the original representation of the play, probably it is glanced at by Ben Jonson in the Alchemist, act v. “ Did'st hear a cry, said'st thou? Yes, sir, like unto a inan that had been sbiangled an hour, and could not speak." STEVENS.

298. She turn’d to folly, ang she was a whore.] Goldsmith hath used the word precisely in the same sense ;

When lovely woman stoops to folly',

And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can sooth her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt awagi II ENLEY,

300. --false as water.) As water that will support no weight, nor keep any impression. JOHNSON.

315. that told me first ;] The folio reads, "that told me on her first."

STEEVENS. 319. iteration-] The folio readsmiterance.

STEEVENS. 321. Æmil. ] The first quarto omits this and the following speech.

STEEVENS. -villany has made mocks with love !] Villany has taken advantage to play upon the weakness of a violent passion.

JOHNSON 334. Thou hast not half that power to do me harm,

As I have to be hurt.-] She means to say, I have in this cause power to endure more than thou hast power to infli&t.

JOHNSON. 356. -charm your tongue.] By this expression, Charm your tongue, the poet meant no more than to make Iago say, Apply some power, strong as a charm would be, to your tongue ; for nothing less can stop its volubility. So, Henry VI. Part III.

“ Peace, wilful boy, or I will charm your tongue.And, Ben Jonson, in Cynthia's Revels :

-charm your skipping tongue.” Pliny informs us, that favete linguis was the constant exclamation before any religious charm was applied. From this circumstance the phrase to charm a tongue miglit have originated.

STIEVENS. 357. --my mistress, &c.] This line and the following six speeches in this edition, are wanting in the first quarto.


387. A thousand times committed ;-] This is a second passage which seems to suppose a longer space comprised in the action of this play than the scenes include.

JOHNSON. That she with Cassio had the act of shame

A thousand times committed.And again :

'Tis not a year or two shews us a man. .] I am not convinced from these passages only, that a longer space is comprised in the action of this play than the scenes include.

What Othello mentions in the first instance, might have passed still more often, before they were inarried, when Cassio went between them; for she, who could find means to elude the vigilance of her father in respect of Othello, might have done so in respect of Cassio, when there was time enough for the occurrence supposed to have happened. A jealous person will aggravate all he thinks, or speaks of; and might use a thousand for a much less number, only to give weight to his censure: nor would it have answered any purpose to have made Othello a little nearer or further off from truth in his calculation. We might apply the poet's own words in Cymbeline :

-spare your arithmetick; “ Once, and a million.” The latter is a proverbial expression, and might have been introduced with propriety, had they been married only a day or two. Æmilia’s reply perhaps was dictated by her own private experience; and seems to


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