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The spirit-stirring drum, th' ear-piercing fife,40
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
Iago. Is't possible! — My lord,
Oth. Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore ;
Be sure of it give me the ocular proof,
[Seizing him by the Throat. Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul, Thou hadst been better have been born a dog, Than answer my wak'd wrath.
Is't come to this? Oth. Make me to see't; or, at the least, so prove it, That the probation bear no hinge, nor loop, To hang a doubt on, or woe upon thy life!
Iago. My noble lord,
Oth. If thou dost slander her, and torture me, Never pray more: abandon all remorse; On horror's head horrors accumulate;
Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amaz'd ;
O grace! O Heaven, defend me ! 42
40 In mentioning the fife joined to the drum, Shakespeare, as usual, paints from life; those instruments, accompanying each other, being used in his age by the English soldiery. The fife, however, as a martial instrument, was afterwards discontinued for many years, but at length revived by the British guards under the duke of Cumberland, when they were encamped before Maestricht in 1747, and thence soon adopted into other English regiments of infantry. They took it from the allies with whom they served.
41 That is, all tenderness of nature, all pity; the sense in which remorse is most frequently used by Shakespeare.
42 Thus both quartos; the folio has forgive instead of defend.
Are you a man? have you a soul, or sense?
God be wi' you; take mine office. - O, wretched fool,
That liv'st to make thine honesty a vice !—
O, monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world!
To be direct and honest, is not safe..
I thank you for this profit; and, from hence,
I'll love no friend, since love breeds such offence. Oth. Nay, stay:-Thou should'st be honest. Iago. I should be wise; for honesty's a fool, And loses that it works for.
By the world,
I think my wife be honest, and think she is not;
- Would I were satisfied!
Iago. I see, sir, you are eaten up with passion:
I do repent me, that I put it to you.
You would be satisfied?
Would! nay, I will.
Iago. And may; but how? how satisfied, my lord?
Would you the supervision grossly gape on?
Oth. Death and damnation! O! Iago. It were a tedious difficulty, I think, To bring them to that prospect. Damn them then, If ever mortal eyes do see them bolster, More than their own! What then? how then? What shall I say? Where's satisfaction? It is impossible you should see this,
Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys,
Oth. Give me a living reason she's disloyal.
But, sith I am enter'd in this cause so far,
There are a kind of men so loose of soul,
In sleep I heard him say, "Sweet Desdemona,
Over my thigh, and sigh'd, and kiss'd; and then
Iago. Nay, this was but his dream. Oth. But this denoted a foregone conclusion: "Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.
Tago. And this may help to thicken other proofs, That do demonstrate thinly.
Oth. I'll tear her all to pieces. Iago. Nay, but be wise: yet we see nothing done; She may be honest yet. Tell me but this: Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief, Spotted with strawberries, in your wife's hand?
Oth. I gave her such a one: 'twas my first gift. Iago. I know not that; but such a handkerchief (I am sure it was your wife's) did I to-day See Cassio wipe his beard with.
If it be that,
Iago. If it be that, or any that was hers, It speaks against her with the other proofs. Oth. O, that the slave had forty thousand lives! One is too poor, too weak for my revenge. Now do I see 'tis true. Look here, Iago; All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven: 'Tis gone.
Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!43 Yield up, O love! thy crown, and hearted throne, To tyrannous hate! swell, bosom, with thy fraught, For 'tis of aspics' tongues!"
Iago. Pray, be content.
O, blood, Iago, blood! Iago. Patience, I say; your mind, perhaps, may change.
Oth. Never, Iago. Like to the Pontick sea,
43 Thus the folio: both quartos have cell, which is strangely preferred by several editors. To speak of a hollow cell as the abode of vengeance seems very tame. Besides, as Othello has just blown all his love to heaven, harmony of thought and language seems to require that he should invoke revenge from hell. Readers of Milton will be apt to remember, "He call'd so loud, that all the hollow deep of hell resounded ;" and, "The universal host sent up a shout that tore hell's concave."
44 That is, swell, because the fraught thou art charged with is of poison.
45 Thus the quarto of 1630: the folio has keeps instead of feels, the word having most likely got repeated in the printer's hands. Pope, without any knowledge of the text of 1630, conjectured that it should be feels. Mr. Collier's second folio has knows, which would answer equally well, provided it had any authority. The
To the Propontick, and the Hellespont ;
In the due reverence of a sacred vow
Do not rise yet.-[Kneeling. Witness, you ever-burning lights above! You elements that clip us round about! Witness, that here Iago doth give up The execution of his wit, hands, heart,
To wrong'd Othello's service! let him command, And to obey shall be in me remorse,
What bloody work soe'er.48
I greet thy love, Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance boun
And will upon the instant put thee to't:
passage beginning with Iugo, and ending with swallow them up, is not in the quarto of 1622. — Pliny's Natural History, 1601, may have furnished the illustration: "And the sea Pontus evermore floweth and runneth out into Propontis; but the sea never retireth backe againe within Pontus."
46 Capable is here used for capacious, comprehensive. So Nashe, in his Pierce Pennilesse, 1592: "Then belike, quoth I, you make this word, Dæmon, a capable name, of gods, of men, of devils."
47 The first quarto reads excellency. By execution Shakespeare meant employment or exercise. So in Troilus and Cressida: "In fellest manner execute your arms." 48 The folio reads, What bloody business ever.” —The Poet commonly uses remorse in the sense of pity. The meaning here is, "Let him command what bloody work he will, in me it shall be an act, not of cruelty, but of pity or commiseration, to obey."