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The execution 71 of his wit, hands, heart,
I greet thy love, Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance bounteous, And will upon the instant put thee to't: Within these three days let me hear thee say, That Cassio's not alive.
Iago. My friend is dead; 'tis done, at your request: But let her live.
Oth. Damn her, lewd minx; 0, damn her! Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw, To furnish me with some swift means of death For the fair devil. Now art thou
lieutenant. Iago. I am your own for ever. [Ereunt.
Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, and Clown.
where. Des. Why, man?
Clo. He is a soldier; and for me to say a soldier lies, is stabbing.
Des. Go to; Where lodges he?
71 The first quarto reads excellency. By execution Shakspeare meant employment or exercise. So in Love's Labour's Lost:
Full of comparisons and wounding fouts
Which you on all estates will execute.' And in Troilus and Cressida:
• In fellest manner execute your arms.' 72 Shakspeare always uses remorse for pity or commiseration. · Let him command whatever bloody business, and in me it shall be an act not of cruelty but of pity or commiseration to obey him.' The quarto reads, 'What bloody business ever.'
Clo. To tell you where he lodges, is to tell you where I lie 1.
Des. Can any thing be made of this ?
Clo. I know not where he lodges; and for me to devise a lodging, and say–he lies here, or he lies there, were to lie in my own throat.
Des. Can you inquire him out, and be edified by report?
Clo. I will catechize the world for him; that is, make questions, and by them' answer
Des. Seek him, bid him come hither: tell him, I have moved my lord in his behalf, and hope, all will be well.
Clo. To do this, is within the compass of man's wit; and therefore I will attempt the doing it.
[Exit. Des. Where should I lose that handkerchief,
Des. Believe me, I had rather have lost my purse Full of cruzadoes 3. And, but my
1 This and the following speech are wanting in the first quarto.
2 i. e. and by them, when answered, form my own answer to you. The quaintness of the answer is in character.
3 Cruzadoes were not current, as it should seem, at Venice, though they certainly were in England, in the time of Shakspeare; who has here again departed from the strict propriety of national costume. It appears from Rider's Dictionary that there were three sorts of cruzadoes: one with a long cross, one with a short cross, and the great cruzado of Portugal. They were of gold, and weighed from two pennyweights six grains, to two pennyweights sixteen grains, and differed in value from six shillings and eightpence to nine shillings. The sovereigos who struck these coins were Emanuel and his son John of Portugal. Mr. Douce has given the figure of them in his Illustrations of Shakspeare.
Is he not jealous ? Des. Who, he ? I think, the sun, where he was
Drew all such humours from him.
Look, where he comes.
Enter OTHELLO. Oth. Well, my good lady.-[Aside.] 0, hard
ness to dissemble!How do you, Desdemona ? Des.
Well, my good lord. Oth. Give me your hand : This hand is moist, my
lady. Des. It yet has felt no age, nor known no sorrow.
Oth. This argues fruitfulness, and liberal heart;—
Des. You may, indeed, say so;
Oth. A liberal hand: The hearts of old, gave hands; But our new heraldry is—hands, not hearts *.
4 Warburton thought that this was a satirical allusion to the new order of baronets, created by James I. in 1611. Sir William Blackstone supports him in this supposition, and has pointed out a similar allusion in The Merry Wives of Windsor. See vol. i. p. 208, note 2. But if the play was written in 1602, as Malone presumes, this is a sufficient refutation. Warburton has a further conceit, that by the word hearts the poet meant to allude to the gallantry of the reign of Elizabeth, in which men distinguished themselves by their steel; and that by hands those courtiers were pointed at, who served her inglorious successor by their gold. This is too fanciful to require an answer.
Des. I cannot speak of this. Come now your
promise. Oth. What promise, chuck ? Des. I have sent to bid Cassio come speak with
Here, my lord.
I have it not about me.
That is a fault: That handkerchief Did an Egyptian to my mother give; Steevens observes, that the absurdity of making Othello so familiar with British heraldry, the utter want of consistency as well as policy in any sneer of Shakspeare at the badge of honours instituted by a prince whom he was solicitous to flatter, and at whose court this very piece was acted in 1613, are strong arguments against the propriety of Warburton's explanation.'
In various parts of our poet's works he has alluded to the custom of plighting troth by the union of hands. So in The Tempest:
• Mir. My husband then ?
Fer. Ay, with a heart as willing
Mir. And mine, with my heart in it.' • The hearts of old (says Othello), dictated the union of hands, which formerly were joined with the hearts of the parties in them; but in our modern marriages hands alone are united, without hearts.'
There is a passage in the Essays of Sir William Cornwallis the younger, 1601, which may have suggested to Shakspeare the mention of this new heraldry:~We of these later times, full of a nice curiositie, mislike all the performances of our forefathers; we say they were honest plaine men, but they want the capering wits of this ripe age. They had wont to give their hands and hearts together, but we think it a finer grace to looke asquint, our hand looking one way and our heart another.'
5 The folio reads 'sorry.' Rider explains sullen by acerbus, Latin.
She was a charmer®, and could almost read
Is it possible?
Indeed! is't true?
6 A charmer, for an enchanter, is of common occurrence in the Psalms. So in Perkins's Discourse on Witchcraft, 1610:By witches we understand not only those which kill and torment, but all charmers, jugglers, all wizards, commonly called wise men and wise women,'
&c. 7 The balsamic liquor running from mummies was formerly celebrated for its anti-epileptick virtues. We are now wise enough to know that the qualities ascribed to it are all imaginary; yet this fanciful medicine held a place in the druggists' shops till lately. It was much coveted by painters, as a transparent brown colour that threw a warmth into the shadows of a picture.
8 The quarto reads 'with the skilful conserves,' &c. So in The Microcosmos of John Davies of Hereford, 4to. 1605:
Mummy made of the mere hart of love.'