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After your own sense; yea, though our proper son
Humbly I thank your grace.
Duke & Sen. We are very sorry for it. Duke. What, in your own part, can you say to this?
To OTHELLO. Bra. Nothing, but this is so.
Oth. Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors, My very noble and approved good masters, That I have ta’en away this old man's daughter, It is most true; true, I have married her; The very head and front of my offending 14 Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech, And little bless'd with the set 15 phrase of peace; For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith, Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us'd Their dearest action 16 in the tented field; And little of this great world can I speak, More than pertains to feats of broil and battle; And therefore little shall I grace my cause, In speaking of myself: Yet, by your gracious pa
tience, 13 • Though our own son were the man exposed to your charge or accus
14 The main, the whole unextenuated. •Frons causæ not satis honesta est' is a phrase used by Quintilian. A similar expres. sion is found in Tamburlaine, 1590 :
The man that in the forehead of bis fortunes
Beares figures of renown and miracle.' • Again in Troilus and Cressida :
* So rich advantage of a promis'd glory
As smiles upon the forehead of this action.' 15 The folio reads, “ soft phrase of peace.'
16 «Their dearest action; that is, as we should say in modern language, their best exertion. For the force of the word dearest the reader may refer to vol, i. p. 382, note 5.
I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver
A maiden neyer bold; Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion Blush'd at herself18; And she,-in spite of nature, Of years, of country, credit, every thing,To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on? It is a judgment maim’d, and most imperfect, That will confess-perfection so could err Against all rules of nature; and must be driven To find out practices of cunning hell, Why this should be. I therefore vouch again, That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood, Or with some dram conjur'd to this effect, He wrought upon her. Duke.
To vouch this, is no proof; Without more certain and more overt test 19, Than these thin habits, and poor likelihoods Of modern seeming 20, do prefer against him.
1 Sen. But, Othello, speak:Did you by indirect and forced courses Subdue and poison this young maid's affections ?
17 The word with, supplied in the second folio, is wanting in the older copies. Malone contends that it is merely an elliptical form of expression, and that the early copies are right.
18 Shakspeare, like other writers of his age, frequently uses the personal instead of the neutral pronoun.
19 Open proofs, external evidence.'
20 i. e, weak show of slight appearance. Modern is frequently used for trifling, slight, or trivial, by Shakspeare. The first quarto reads:
• These are thin habits, and poore likelyhoods
Or came it by request, and such fair question
I do beseech you,
Fetch Desdemona hither. Oth. Ancient, conduct them; you best know the
place. [Exeunt IAGO and Attendants. And, till she come, as truly 23 as to heaven I do confess the vices of my blood, So justly to your grave ears I'll present How I did thrive in this fair lady's love, And she in mine.
Duke. Say it, Othello.'
Oth. Her father lov'd me; oft invited me; Still question'd me the story of my life, From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes, That I have pass'd. I ran it through, even from my boyish days, To the very moment that he bade me tell it. Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances, Of moving accidents, by flood, and field: Of hair-breadth scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach; Of being taken by the insolent foe, And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence, And portance 24 in my travel's history:
2. The sign of the fictitious creature so called. See Troilus and Cressida, Act v. Sc. 5, p. 453.
22 This line is wanting in the first quarto.
23 The first quarto reads, as faithful : the next line is omitted in that copy. 24 The first quarto reads :
“And with it all my travel's history.' By my portance in my travel's history,' perhaps, is meant, my
Wherein of antres 25 vast, and deserts wild 26, Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch
heaven, It was my hint to speak, such was the process; And of the cannibals that each other eat, The anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders 27. These things
to hear, carriage or behaviour in my travels, as described in my narration of them. Portance is a word used in Coriolanus :
- took from you
Which gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion,' &c.
* But for in court gay portaunce he perceiv’d.' 25 i.e. caverns; from antrum, Lat. Warburton observes that Rymer ridicules this whole circumstance; and Shaftesbury obliquely sneers at it. Whoever (says Johnson) ridicules this account of the progress of love, shows bis ignorance not only of history, but of nature and manners. It is no wonder that, in any age, or in any nation, a lady, recluse, timorous, and delicate, should desire to hear of events and scenes which she could never see, and should admire the man who had endured dangers, and performed actions, which, however great, were magnified by her timidity.
26 The quarto and first folio read “desarts idle ;' the second folio reads “desarts wilde;' and this reading was adopted by Pope ; at which Dr. Johnson expresses his surprise.
Mr. Malone taxes the editor of the second folio with ignorance of Shakspeare's meaning; and idle is triumphantly reinstated in the text. It does not seem to have occurred to the commentators that wild might add a feature of some import, even to a desert; whereas idle, i. e. sterile, leaves it just as it found it, and is (without a pun) the idlest epithet which could be applied. Mr. Pope, too, had an ear for rhythm; and as his reading has some touch of Shakspeare, which the other has not, and is besides better poetry, I should hope that it would one day resume its proper place in the text.'-- Gifford. Notes on Sejanus. Ben Jonson's Works, vol. iii. p. 14.-I have followed the suggestion of Mr. Gifford, and restored the reading of the second folio; convinced by his reasoning, and believing that idle might easily be substituted for wilde, in the earlier copies, by a mere typographical error.
27 Nothing excited more universal attention than the accounts VOL. X.
Would Desdemona seriously incline :
strange; 'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful: She wish’d, she had not heard it; yet she wish'd That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd
me; brought by Sir Walter Raleigh, on his return from his celebrated voyage to Guiana in 1595, of the cannibals, amazons, and especially of the nation
' whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders.' See his Narrative in Hackluyt's Voyages, vol. iii. ed. 1600, fol. p. 652, et seq. and p. 677, &c. , A short extract of the more wonderful passages was also published in Latin and in several other languages, in 1599, adorned with copper-plates, representing these cannibals, amazons, and headless people, &c. A copy of one of the plates is given in the variorum editions of Shakspeare. These extraordinary reports were universally credited; and Othello therefore assumes no other character but what was very common among the celebrated commanders of the poet's time.
28 Intention and attention were once synonymous. •Intentive, which listeneth well and is earnestly bent to a thing,' says Bullokar, in his Expositor, 1616.
29 To aver upon faith or honour was considered swearing, equally with a solemn appeal to God. See Whitaker's Vindication of Mary Queen of Scots, vol. ii. p. 487.