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Of these two emendations, I believe, Theobald's will have the greater number of suffrages; it has at least mine. The objection against the propriety of the declaration in Iago, is a cavil; he does not say that he has no principle of remorse, but that it shall not operate against Othello's commands.
To obey shall be in me, for I will obey you, is a mode of expression not worth the pains here taken to introduce it; and the word remorde has not in the quotation the meaning of withhold, or make reluctant, but of reprove, or censure ; nor do I know that it is used by any of the contemporaries of Shaksperc.
I will offer an interpretation, which, if it be received, will make alteration unnecessary, but it is very harsh and violent. Iago devotes himself to wronged Othello, and says, Let him command whatever bloody business, and in me it shall be an act, not of cruelty, but of tenderness, to obey hiin; not of malice to others, but of tenderness for him. If this sense be thought too violent, I see nothing better than to fol. low Pope's reading, as it is improved by Theobald.
JOHNSON. Mr. Upton, in his Critic. Observ. p. 200, proposes to read :
And to obey shall be in me no remorse. This reading the author of The Revisal approves; and Mr. Edwards seems to acquiesce in that of Theobald.
The different emendations of different commentators are laid before the publick for its determination on their merits; and I believe the present one, who Iiij
is to throw in his conjecture with the rest, may say at last with Deiphobus,
-explebo numerum, reddarque tenebris. lago offers in the most solemn manner, to risque himself for the service of Othello. Let him command, says he, whatever bloody business, and the remorse that follows the perpetration of such a deed shall tirely my own. It shall be remorse in me, in me alone. I not only undertake to execute the bloody part of the business, but likewise to take upon myself the horrors of remorse, inseparable from the action. Iago makes use of this specious argument, the better to prevail on Othello to entrust the murder to his hands.
After all, I believe Dr. Johnson's interpretation to be the best ; and can only claim the merit of supporting his sense of the word remorse, i. e. pity by the following instances :
In King Edward IIT. 1599, that prince speaking to the citizens of Calais:
“ But for yourselves, look you for no remorse." Again, in Sir John Oldcastle, 1600 :
“ Here stand I craving no remorse at all.” I could add many more instances, but shall content myself to observe, that the sentiment of lago bears no small resemblance to that of Arviragus in Cymbeline :
(I'd let a parish of such Clotens' blood,
“ And praise myself for charity." STEEVENS, If I am not deceived, this passage has been entirely mistaken. I read :
" Let him command.
“What bloody business everAnd for if is sufficiently common: and Othello's impatience breaks off the sentence; I think, with addi. tional beauty.
FARMER. Before I saw Dr. Johnson's edition of Shakspere, my opinion of this passage was formed, and written, and thus I understood it :
" Let him command any bloody business, and to obey shall be in me an act of pity and compassion for wrong'd Othello.” Remorse frequently signifies pity, mercy, compassion, or a tenderness of heart, unattended with the stings of a guilty conscience.
TOLLET. The sentiment of Iago seems to be this :-whatever bloody deed he may command me to perpetrate, my zeal to serve him shall cause that which, in another, would be remorse, in me to be obedience.
The poet finely discriminates between the extremes of wickedness in the sexes, when he makes Lady Macbeth invoke preternatural aid to produce an effect similar to that which Iago accomplishes by the exertion only of his own resolution, act i. line 361,
Come, you spirits !
And to obey shall be in me remorse.] This mode of speaking is not confined to Shakspere. Thus in Purchas's Pilgrim, vol. iv. 1196: " It could not be in them to make resistance !"
HenceRSON. 584. What bloody work soever.) So the quartos. The folio:
What bloody business ever. STEEVENS. 603. To tell you, &c.] This and the following speech are wanting in the first quarto. STEEVENS.
611. Clown. I will catechize the world for him ; that is, make questions, and by them answer. ] This Clown is a fool to some purpose. He was to go seek for one; he says, he will ask for him, and by his own questions make answer. Without doubt we should read, and bid them answer ; i. e. the world ; those whom we question.
WARBURTON. By them answer. ] There is no necessity for changing the text. It is the clown's play to wrench what is said, from its proper meaning. Sir T. More hath briefly worked his character : “ he plaieth the iester, nowe with skoffinge, and nowe with his overthwarte woords, to prouoke all to laughter." His design here was to propose such questions as might elicit the information sought for from him, and therefore, by his questions he might be enabled to answer. HENLEY.
622. -cruzadoes :-) A coin so called from the cross stamped upon it.
JOHNSON. 638. Hot, hot, and moist :) Ben Jonson seems to have attempted a ridicule on this passage, in Every Man
out of his Humour, act v. sc. ii. where Sogliardo says to Saviolina: “How does my sweet Lady ? hot and moist? beautiful and lusty?"
STEEVENS. Ben Jonson was ready enough on all occasions to de. preciate and ridicule our author, but in the present instance, I believe, he must be acquitted; for Every Man out of his Humour was printed in 1600, and written probably in the preceding year; at which time, we are almost certain that Othello had not been exhibited.
MALONE. 646. The hearts of old gave hands ;
But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts.] It is evident that the first line should be read thus : The hands of old gave
hearts: Otherwise it would be no reply to the preceding words,
For 'twas that hand that gave away my heart: Not so, says her husband: The hands of old indeed gave hearts; but the custom now is to give hands without hearts. The expression of new heraldry was a satirical allusion to the times. Soon after James the First came to the crown, he created the new dignity of baronets, for money. Amongst their other prerogatives of honour, they had an addition to their paternal arms, of a hand gules in an escutcheon argent. And we are not to doubt but that this was the new heraldry alluded to by our author: by which he insinuates, that some then created had hands indeed, but not hearts: that is, money to pay for the creation, but no virtue to purchase the honour. James's pretence for raising money by this creation,