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keenness of perception, which is always sagacious of evil, and snuffs up the tainted scent of its quarry with rancorvus delight.

The general ground work of the character, however, is not absolute malignity, but a want of moral principle, or an indif. ference to the real consequences of the actions, which the med. dling perversity of his disposition, and love of immediate er. citement, lead him to commit. He is an amateur of tragedy in real life, and instead of exercising his ingenuity on invaginary characters, or long.forgotten incidents, he takes the Bulder and more desperate course of getting up his plot at home, casts the principal parts among his nearest friends and connexions, and rehearses it in downright earnest, with steady nerves and una. bated resolution. The character is a complete abstraction of the intellectual from the moral bring ; or, in other words, an. sists in an absorption of every common feeling in the virulence of his understanding, the deliberate wilfulness of his purposes, and his restless, untameable love of mischievous contrivance.

In the general dialogue and reflections, which are an accompaniment to the progress of the catastrophe, there is a constant overflowing of gall and bitterness. The acuteness of his malico fa stens upon everything alike, and purus the m-t distant analogy of evil with provoking sagacity. His mirth is not batu. ral and cheerful, but forced and extravagant, partaking of the intense activity of mind and cynical contempt of others in which it originates. lago is not like Candide, a believer in optimisin, but seems to have a thorough hatred or distrust of everything of the kind, and to dwell with gloating satisfaction on whatever can interrupt the enjoyment of others, and gratify his my only irritability.

One of his most characteristic speeches is that immediately after the marriage of Othello.

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Yet throw such changes of vexation on 't,
As it may lose some color.”

The pertinacious logical following up of his favorite principle in this passage is admirable.

In the next passage, his imagination runs riot in the mischief he is plotting, and breaks out into the wildness and impetuosity of real enthusiasm.

“ RODERIGO. Here is her father's house : I'll call aloud.

lago. Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell,
As when, by night and negligence, the fire
Is spied in populous cities.”

One of his most favorite topics, on which he is rich indeed, and in descanting on which his spleen serves him for a Muse, is the disproportionate match between Desdemona and the Moor. This is a clue to the character of the lady which he is by no means ready to part with. It is brought forward in the first scene, and he recurs to it, when in answer to his insinuations against Desdemona, Roderigo says,

"I cannot believe that in her-she's full of most bless'd conditions.

Lago. Bless'd fig's end! The wine she drinks is made of grapes : if she had been bless'd, she would never have married the Moor.”

And again with still more spirit and fatal effect afterwards, when he turns this very suggestion arising in Othello's own breast to her prejudice.

« OTHELLO. And yet how nature erring from itself

Lago. Ay, there's the point;-as, to be bold with you,
Not to affect many proposed matches
Of her own clime, complexion, and degree,” &c.

This is probing to the quick. lago here turns the character of poor Desdemona, as it were, inside out. It is certain that

thing but the genius of Shakspeare could have preserved the stire interest and delicacy of the part, and have even drawn an additional elegance and dignity from the peculiar circum

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stances in which she is placed. The character indeed has always had the greatest charın for minds of the finest sensibility. For our own part, we are a little of lago's council in this mat. ter; and all circumstances considered, and platonics out of the question, if we were to cast the complexion of Desdemona physiognomically, we should say she had a very fair skin, and very light auburn hair, inclining to yellow. We at the same time give her credit for purity and delicacy of sentiment ; but it so happens that purity and grossness sometimes

* Nearly are allied, And thın parutions do their bounds divide." Yet the reverse does not hold ; so uncertain and undefinable a thing is moral character! It is no wonder that lago had some contempt for it, “who knew all qualities of human dealings with a learned spirit.” There is considerable gaiety and case in his dialogue with Emilia and Desdemona on their landing. It is then holiday time with him; but yet the general satire is biung, and his idea of human character is finely expressed in what he says to Desdemona. when she asks him bow he would praise her

** Oh, gentle latv, do not pet me to it,
For I am thing is me critical"

The habitual licentiousness of lago's conversation is not to be traced to the pleasure he takes in gross or lascivious images, but to his desire of finding out the worst side of everything, and of prising himself an over match for apparances. He has a ne of "the milk of human kindnre " in his counposition. Plis ima. gination rejects everything that has put a strong infusing of the must unpalalable ingredients; his moral constitution dizeets only press. Virtue or gwloers or whatever has the least "relish of salvation in 1!," is, to his depraved appetite, sckly and in. suput: and he even resents the good opinia entertained of his own integrity, as if it were an attrat casi ou the masculine sense and spint of his character. Thus, at the incuing between Othello and Desdemuna, he exclaims--" Oh, you are well tuned now: but I'll set duwn the pgs that make this music, as honest

as I am"-his character of bonhommie not sitting at all easily upon him. In the scenes with Othello, where he has to put his passion for theoretical evil into practice, with great risk to him. self, and with dreadful consequences to others, he is proportionably guarded, insidious, dark, and deliberate. Nothing ever came up to the profound dissimulation and dexterous artifice of the well-known dialogue in the third act, where he first enters upon the execution of his design.

“Lago. My noble lord.
OTHELLO. What dost thou say, Iago ?

Lago. Did Michael Cassio,
When you woo'd my lady, know of your love ?

OTHELLO. He did, from first to last.
Why dost thou ask :

Lago. But for a satisfaction of my thought,
No further harm.

OTHELLO. Why of thy thought, Iago ?
lago. I did not think he had been acquainted with her.
OTHELLO. O yes, and went between us very oft-
TAGO. Indeed?

OTHELLO. Indeed ! ay, indeed. Discern’st thou aught in that ?
Is he not honest ?

Iago. Honest, my lord ?
OTHELLO. Ay, honest ?
lago. My lord, for aught I know.
OTHELLO. What dost thou think?
Iago. Think, my lord ?

OTHELLO. Think, my lord? By heaven thou echo'st me,
As if there was some monster in thy thought
Too hideous to be shown.”-

The stops and breaks, the deep internal workings of treachery under the mask of love and honesty, the anxious watchfulness, the cool earnestness, and if we may so say, the passion of hy pocrisy marked in every line, receive their last finishing in that inimitably characteristic burst of pretended indignation at Othello's doubts of his sincerity.

“O grace! O Heaven forgive me !
Are you a man? Have you a soul or sense ?
God be wi' you ; take mine office. O wretchea fool,

That liv'st to make thine honesty a vice!
O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world,
To be direre and honest, is not safe.
I thank you for this pretit; and from hence

I'll love no friend, sance love breeds such offence." Jf lago is detestable enough when he has business on his hands and all his engines at work, he is still worse when he has pothing to do, and we only see into the hollowness of his heart. His indifference when Othello falls into a swoon, is perfectly diabolical, but quite in character.

" Lago. How is it, General? Have you not hurt your head !
OTUELLO. Dost thou mock me!
lago. I mock you not, by Heaven, * &c.

The part indeed would hardly be tolerated, even as a foil to the virtue and generosity of the other characters in the play, but for its inde fatigable industry and inexhaustible resources, which divert the attention of the spectawr (as well as his own) from the end he has in view to the means by which it must be accomplished. Edmund the Bastard in Lear is something of the same character, placed in less dificult circumstances. Zanga is a vulgar caricature of it.

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