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Iago. My noble lord,
What dost thou say, Iago?
Iago. Did Michael Cassio, when you woo'd my
Know of your
Oth. He did, from first to last: Why dost thou ask? Iago. But for a satisfaction of my thought;
No further harm.
Why of thy thought, Iago?
Iago. I did not think he had been acquainted
Oth. O, yes; and went between us very oft.
Oth. Indeed! ay, indeed :-Discern'st thou aught
Is he not honest?
Honest, my lord?
Iago. My lord, for aught I know.
Oth. What dost thou think?
Think, my lord?
Think, my lord!
By heaven, he echoes me,
As if there were some monster in his thought
Too hideous to be shown.-Thou dost mean some
'It cannot fail but by
The violation of my faith,-and then
Let nature crush the sides o'the earth together
And mar the seeds within!'
There is the same thought in Muretus, a Latin poet of the sixteenth century:
'Tune meo elabi possis de pectore, Lacci
Aut ego, dum vivam, non meminisse tui?
And in Buchanan:
'Cesset amor, pariter cessabunt fœdera rerum;
I heard thee say but now,-Thou lik'dst not that,
Iago. My lord, you know I love you.
Oth. I think, thou dost: And, for I know thou art full of love and honesty, And weigh'st thy words before thou giv'st them breath,
Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more: For such things, in a false disloyal knave,
Are tricks of custom; but, in a man that's just, They are close denotements14, working from the heart, That passion cannot rule.
For Michael Cassio,
I dare be sworn, I think that he is honest.
Iago. Men should be what they seem; Or, those that be not, 'would, they might seem none 15! Oth. Certain, men should be what they seem. Iago. Why then, I think Cassio's an honest man. Oth. Nay, yet there's more in this :
I pray thee, speak to me as to thy thinkings,
14 Thus the earliest quarto. The first folio reads-' close dilations.' Which Johnson says was intended for cold delations,' i. e. occult and secret accusations, working involuntary from the heart. The second folic reads-' cold dilations,' which Warburton explains cold keeping back a secret,' which men of phlegmatic constitutions, whose arts are not swayed or governed by their passions, we find can do: while more sanguine tempers reveal themselves at once, and without reserve.' Upton says dilations comes from the Latin dilationes, delayings, pauses.
15 I believe the meaning is, would they might no longer seem or bear the shape of men.'-Johnson.
As thou dost ruminate; and give thy worst of thoughts The worst of words.
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 16. Utter my thoughts? Why, say, they are vile and false,
As where's that palace, whereinto foul things
Keep leets 18, and law-days, and in session sit
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.
I do beseech you,— Though I, perchance, am vicious in my guess, As, I confess, it is my nature's plague
spy into abuses: and, oft, my jealousy Shapes faults that are not,-I entreat you then,
16I am not bound to do that which even slaves are not bound to do.' So in Cymbeline:
Every good servant does not all commands,
No bond but to do just ones.'
No perfection is so absolute
That some impurity doth not pollute.'
Rape of Lucrece.
18 Who has so virtuous a breast that some impure conceptions and uncharitable surmises 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 the poet's thirtieth sonnet we find the same imagery:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thoughts
I summon up remembrance of things past.'
A leet is also called a law day. This court, in whose manor soever kept, was accounted the king's court, and commonly held every half year,' it was a meeting of the hundred' to certify the king of the good manners and government of the inhabitants,' &c.
From one that so imperfectly conjects 19,
You'd take no notice? nor build yourself a trouble
Out of his scattering and unsure observance:
It were not for your quiet, nor your good,
What dost thou mean?
Iago. Good name, in man,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse, steals trash 20; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thou
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that, which not enriches him,
Oth. By heaven, I'll know thy thought. Iago. You cannot, if my heart were in Nor shall not, whilst 'tis in my custody. Oth. Ha!
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth make 22
19 i. e. conjectures. Thus the quarto 1622. The folio reads:-
Shapes faults that are not, that your wisdom
Would take no notice.'
20 The sacred writings were perhaps in the poet's thoughts: A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour than silver and gold.' Proverbs, xxii. 1.
'Nunc ager Umbreni sub nomine nuper Ofelli
Horat. Sat. lib. ii. 2.
So in Camden's Remaines, 1605, p. 107:
'Nunc mea, mox hujus, set postea nescio cujus.'
22 The old copy reads mock. The emendation is Hanmer's. Steevens attempted to justify the old reading; but his arguments are not convincing; and the slight alteration of the text
The meat it feeds on: That cuckold lives in bliss, Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; But, Ó, what damned minutes tells he o'er,
Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet strongly loves! Oth. O misery!
Iago. Poor, and content, is rich, and rich enough; But riches, fineless 23, is as poor as winter,
To him that ever fears he shall be poor :
Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend
Why! why is this? Think'st thou, I'd make a life of jealousy, To follow still the changes of the moon With fresh suspicions? No: to be once in doubt, Is-once to be resolv'd: Exchange me for a goat,
renders it so much more clear, elegant, and poetical, and has been so well defended by Malone and others, that I have not hesitated to adopt it. The following passages have been adduced in confirmation of Hanmer's reading. At the end of the third Act Desdemona remarks on Othello's jealousy :
'Alas the day! I never gave him cause.'
To which Emilia replies:
'But jealous fools will not be answer'd so,
But jealous, for they are jealous: 'tis a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself.'
And in Daniel's Rosamond, 1592; a poem which Shakspeare has more than once imitated in Romeo and Juliet:
Feeding upon suspect that doth renew thee,
Happy were lovers, if they never knew thee.'
The same idea occurs in Massinger's Picture, where Matthias, speaking of the groundless jealousy he entertained of Sophia's possible inconstancy, says:
but why should I nourish
A fury here, and with imagin'd food,
A building of suspicion she was ever,
Or can be false.'
23 i. e. endless, unbounded. Warburton observes that this is finely expressed-winter producing no fruits.