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And fay, befides,-that in Aleppo once,
therefore at liberty, I think, to take the paffage in its literal meaning.
Either we are partial to discoveries which we make for our felves, or the fpirit of controverfy is contagious; for it ufually happens that each poffeffor of an ancient copy of our author is led to affert the fuperiority of all fuch readings as have not been exhibited in the notes, or received into the text of the last edition. On this account, our pretent republication (and more efpecially in the celebrated plays) afford sa greater number of these diverfities than were ever before obtruded on the public. Atime however may arrive, when a complete body of variations being printed, our readers may luxuriate n an ample feast of thats and whiches; and thenceforward it may be prophefied, that all will unite in a wish that the felection had been made by an editor, rather than fubmitted to their own labour and fagacity.
To this note fhould be fubjoined [as an apology for many others which may not be thought to bring conviction with them] that the true fenfe of a paffage has frequently remained undeter mined, till repeated experiments have been tried on it; when one commentator, making a proper ufe of the errors of another, has at laft explained it to univerfal fatisfaction. When mistakes have fuch effects, who would regret having been misaken, or be forry to prove the means of directing others, by that affinity which a wrong reading or interpretation fometimes has to the right, though he has not been fo lucky as to produce at once authorities which could not be questioned, or decifions to which nothing could be added? STEEVENS.
I abide by the old text, "the base Judian." Shakspeare seems to allude to Herod in the play of Mariamne:
"I had but one inestimable jewel
"Yet I in fuddaine choler caft it downe,
Mr. Theobald is often unfaithful in his account of the ancient copies. He fays, he has restored Judean from the elder quar to; but both the quartos read-Indian, as does the fecond folio. Judean is found only in the folio, 1623. In the MS. of that age n is fcarcely diftinguishable from a, and they who are converfant with the prefs well known, that if by negligence a dot is omitted over i, a compofitor always confiders it as an e. Hence probably the mistake in the first folio. It is furely no trivial objection to the reading Judean, that there is no fuch word. The country is Judæa, or Judea, and the derivative must be Judéan. For thefe reafons, I believe Indian to have been our au
Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk
For he was great of heart.
Lod. O Spartan dog,
Lod. O bloody period! Gra. All, that is fpoke, is marr'd. Oth. I kifs'd thee, 'ere I kill'd thee;-No way but this. [Falling upon Defdem. Killing myself, to die upon a kifs'. [Dies. Caf. This did I fear, but thought he had no
More fell than anguish, hunger, or the fea!
thor's word. His tribe perhaps does not refer either to Judian or Indian, but to the pearl: A pearl richer than the whole class of pearls. His for its is common in our author.
Whether we understand pearl in its primitive or figurative fenfe, I strongly incline to read Indian, becaufe, I think, the pearl would naturally bring the people of the Eaft to Shakfpeare's mind; the connexion in his time being confidered fo ftrong, that a contemporary author has diftinguifhed the inhabitants of India by an epithet founded on the circumstance of their abounding in pearls:
where the bright fun with his neighbour beams "Doth early light the pearled Indians."
Cornelia, a tragedy by T. Kyd, 1594.
8 Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk] I am told that it is immediate death for a Chriftian to ftrike a Turk in Aleppo, Q. thello is boasting of his own audacity. ANON.
9 Killing myself to die upon a kifs.] So, in the Second Part of Marlow's Tamburlaine 1590:
"Yet let me kifs my lord before I dye,
10 Spartan dog!] The dogs of Spartan race were reckoned among thofe of the most fierce and favage kind. HANMER.
Let it be hid. Gratiano, keep the house,
To you, lord governor,
Remains the cenfure of this hellish villain;] Rymer, who had neither vigour of imagination to make a poet, nor strength of judgment to make a critic,as appears from his Edgar, and his Remarks on Shakspeare, had yet just enough to play the buffoon and caviller. His criticifm on the Poets of the laft age, with only a mixture of trite remarks, tranfcribed from the French commen. tators on Ariftotle, are one continued heap of ignorance and infolence. Almost the only remark on Shakspeare, which, I think, deferves an answer, is upon Iago's character, which he thus cenfurcs. To entertain the audience (lays he) with fomething new and furprifing, against common fene and nature, he would pass upon us a clofe, diffembling, falfe, ungrateful rafcal, instead of an openhearted, frans, plain-dealing foldier, a character conftantly worn by them for fome thousands of years in the world. This hath the appearance of fenfe, being founded on that rule of Nature and Ariftotle, that each character should have manners convenient to the age, fex, and condition.
Etatis cujufque notandi funt tibi mores, &c.
fays Horace. But how has our critic applied it? According to this rule it is confeffed, that a foldier fhould be brave, generous, and a man of honour. This is to be his dramatic character. But either one or more of any order may be brought in. If only one, then the character of the order takes its denomination from the manners of that one. Had therefore the only foldier in this play been lago, the rule had been tranfgreffed, and Rymer's cenfure well founded. For then this eternal villain must have given the character of the foldiery; which had been unjust and unnatural. But if a number of the fame order be represented, then the character of the order is taken from the manners of the majority; and this according to nature and common sense. Now in this play there are many of the order of the foldiery; and all,' excepting lago, reprefented as open, generous, and brave. From thefe the foldier's character is to be taken; and not from Iago, who is brought as an exception to it: unless it be unnatural to fuppofe there could be an exception; or that a villain ever infinuated hinfelf into that corps. And thus Shakspeare stands clear of this impertinent criticifm. WARBURTON.
Remains the cenfure of this hellifh villain;
3 --the cenfure] i. e. the fentence. See vol. i. p. 145.
4 This heavy act with heavy heart relate.] The beauties of this play imprefs themselves fo ftrongly upon the attention of the reader, that they can draw no aid from critical illustration. The fiery opennefs of Othello, magnanimous, artlefs, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his refolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the cool malignity of Iago, filent in his refentment, fubtle in his defigns, and ftu dious at once in his intereft and his vengeance; the foft fimplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and confcious of innocence, her artless perfeverance in her fuit, and her flownefs to fufpcc that she can be fufpected, are fuch proofs of Shakspeare's skill in human nature, as, I fuppofe, it is vain to feek in any modern writer. The gradual progrefs which lago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the circumstances which he employs to inflame, him, are fo artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps not be faid of him as he fays of himfelf, that he is a man not cafily jealous, yet we cannot but pity him, when at last we find him perplexed in the ex
There is always danger, left wickednefs, conjoined with abilities, fhould steal upon esteem, though it miffes of approbation; but the character of Iago is fo conducted, that he is from the first fcene to the laft hated and defpifed.
Even the inferior characters of this play would be very confpicuous in any other piece, not only for their juftnefs, but their ftrength. Caffio is brave, benevolent, and honeft, ruined only by his want of stubbornness to refift an infidious invitation. Roderigo's fufpicious credulity, and impatient fubmiffion to the cheats which he fees practifed upon him, and which by perfuafion he fuffers to be repeated, exhibit a strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful defires to a falfe friend; and the vi tue of Emilia is fuch as we often find, worn loosely, but not caft off, easy to commit fmall 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 progres fion of the story; and the narrative in the end, though it tells 3 C