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These are portents; but yet, I hope, I hope,
Peace, and be still!
Des. I will so: What's the matter?
Oth. That handkerchief, which I so lov'd, and
Take heed of perjury; thou'rt on thy death-bed.
Des. Ay, but not yet to die.
Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
For to deny each article with oath,
Cannot remove, nor choke the strong conception, That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
Des. Then, Lord have mercy on me!
O perjur'd woman! thou dost stone my heart,
8 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 sacrificed 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
He found it then;
I never gave it him :-Send for him hither,
Honest Iago hath ta'en order for❜t.
Des. My fear interprets then,-What, is he dead? Oth. Had all his hairs been lives 10, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.
Des. Alas! he is betray'd, and I undone.
Oth. Out, strumpet! Weep'st thou for him to my face?
Des. O, banish me, my lord, but kill me not,
Des. Kill me to-morrow, let me live to-night.
which I before thought murder,- -a sacrifice only.' The difficulty consists in the inverted phrase—' a murder which I thought'— being parenthetical. The passage has been hitherto absurdly pointed. Johnson exclaims-' I am glad that I have ended this dreadful scene. It is not to be endured.'
9 The quarto 1622 reads:
'That he hathuds death.'
10 This thought appears to have been common:-
As there are stones, or hairs upon my head,
The Devil's Charter, 1607.
Again in Beaumont and Fletcher's King and No King, produced in 1611 :
but if all
My hairs were lives, I would be engaged
In such a cause.'
Emil. [Within.] My lord, my lord! what ho! my lord! my lord!
Oth. What noise is this?-Not dead! not yet quite dead?
I, that am cruel, am yet merciful;
I would not have thee linger in thy pain.-
Emil. [Within.] What ho! my lord, my lord!
Oth. Yes;-'tis Emilia :- by and by.-She's dead.
'Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio's death:
11 The first quarto omits this speech.
12 After this speech of Othello, the elder quarto adds an invocation from Desdemona, consisting only of the sacred name thrice repeated. The statue of the 3d of James I. c. 21, against the profane use of the name of God, &c. was highly necessary, for many of the old plays abound in the most wanton and shocking profanations of a name which never ought to be mentioned in such an irreverend manner on the stage.
13 It is supposed that some theatrical direction has been omitted, and that, when Othello says, So, so,' he then stabs her. After the repetition of wounds, Desdemona might speak again with propriety, and yet very soon expire.
Filium unicum adolescentulum
Habeo ah! quid dixi habere me? imò habui, Chreme.'
O insupportable! O heavy hour 15!
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon; and that the affrighted globe
Emil. [Within.] I do beseech you I may speak with you,
O, good my lord!
Oth. I had forgot thee: O, come in, Emilia:Soft, by and by :-Let me the curtains draw.— Where art thou? What's the matter with thee now? [Unlocks the door.
Emil. O, good my lord, yonder's foul murder done. Oth. What? now?
But now, my lord!
Oth. It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more near the earth than she was wont; And makes men mad 16.
Emil. Cassio, my lord, has kill'd a young Ve
Oth. Not Cassio kill'd? Then murder's out of tune,
And sweet revenge grows harsh.
Des. O, falsely, falsely murder'd!
Oth. That! what?
Alas! what cry is that?
Emil. Out, and alas! that was my lady's voice :
15 Steevens seems to think the use of the epithet heavy hour here unusual. Surely there is nothing more common. Heavy, sad, and grievous are synonymous with all our old writers.
On my fayth I thynke the moone be at the full,
For frantyke fansyes be then most plenteful.'
The Play of the Wether, by John Heywood.
Help! help, ho! help!-O lady, speak again!
Des. Nobody; I myself; farewell: Commend me to my kind lord; O, farewell. [Dies. Oth. Why, how should she be murder'd?
Emil. Alas, who knows? Oth. You heard her say herself, it was not I. Emil. She said so; I must needs report the truth. Oth. She's, like a liar, gone to burning hell; "Twas I that kill'd her.
O, the more angel she,
And you the blacker devil!
Oth. She turn'd to folly 17, and she was a whore. Emil. Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil. Oth. She was false as water 18.
Thou art rash as fire, to say That she was false; O, she was heavenly true!
Oth. Cassio did tup her; ask thy husband else. O, I were damn'd beneath all depth in hell, But that I did proceed upon just grounds To this extremity; Thy husband knew it all. Emil. My husband?
Oth. Thy husband.
Emil. That she was false to wedlock?
Nay, had she been true,
Ay, with Cassio.
If heaven would make me such another world
17 Folly signifies here, as in the sacred writings, wantonness, unchastity. See Deuteronomy, xxii. 21. So in the Rape of Lucrece :
'Her sad behaviour feeds his vulture folly.'
18 i. e. as unstable, as deceitful. In Genesis, xlix. Jacob applies a similar term to Reuben:-'Thou wast light as water.'