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Lago. You, Roderigo ! come, sir, I am for you.
will rust them.Good signior, you shall more command with years,
Than with your weapons. ; BRA. O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd
my daughter ? Damn'd as thou art, thou hast enchanted her : For I'll refer me to all things of sense, If she in chains of magick were not bound *, Whether a maid-so tender, fair, and happy; So opposite to marriage, that she shunn'd The wealthy curled darlings of our nation', Would ever have, to incur a general mock, Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom Of such a thing as thou: to fear, not to delight?.
* Quarto omits this line.
i The wealthy CURLED darlings of our nation,] Curled is elegantly and ostentatiously dressed. He had not the hair particularly in his thoughts. Johnson.
On another occasion Shakspeare employs the same expression, and evidently alludes to the hair :
“If she first meet the curled Antony,” &c. Sir W. D'Avenant uses the same expression in his Just Italian, 1630 :
“ The curld and silken nobles of the town." Again :
“ Such as the curled youth of Italy." I believe Shakspeare has the same meaning in the present instance. Thus, Turnus, in the 12th Æneid, speaking of Æneas :
fædare in pulvere crines Vibratos calido ferro-- Steevens. That Dr. Johnson was mistaken in his interpretation of this line, is ascertained by our poet's Rape of Lucrece, where the hair is not merely alluded to, but expressly mentioned, and the epithet curled is added as characteristick of a person of the highest rank :
“Let him have time to tear his curled hair." Tarquin, a king's son, is the person spoken of. Edgar, when he was “ proud in heart and mind,” curled his hair. Malone, • ? Of such a thing as thou: to fear, not to delight.) To fear,
Judge me the world, if 'tis not gross in sense, That thou hast practis'd on her with foul charms; Abus'd her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals, That waken motion*:— I'll have it disputed on;
in the present instance, may mean--to terrify. So, in King Henry VI. Part III. :
“ For Warwick was a bug that fear'd us all." The line spoken by Brabantio is redundant in its measure. It might originally have ran-
“ Of such as thou; to fear, not to delight." Mr. Rowe, however, seems to have selected the words I would omit, as proper to be put into the mouth of Horatio, who applies them to Lothario :
“ To be the prey of such a thing as thou art." STEEVENS. "- to fear, not to delight.” To one more likely to terrify than delight her. So, in the next scene (Brabantio is again the speaker):
“ To fall in love with what she feard to look on.” Mr. Steevens supposes fear to be a verb here, used in the sense of to terrify; a signification which it formerly had. But fear, I apprehend, is a substantive, and poetically used for the object of fear. MALONE.
3 [Judge me the world, &c.] The lines following in crotchets are not in the first edition, [1622.] Pope. 4 Abus'd her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals,
That WAKEN MOTION:] [Old copy-weaken.] Hanmer reads with probability;
“ That waken motion — ." Motion in a subsequent scene of this play is used in the very sense in which Sir Thomas Hanmer would employ it :-“ But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts.” Steevens.
To weaken motion is, to impair the faculties. It was till very Jately, and may with some be still an opinion, that philtres or love potions have the power of perverting, and of course weakening or impairing both the sight and judgment, and of procuring fondness or dotage toward any unworthy object who administers them. And by motion, Shakspeare means the senses which are depraved and weakened by these fascinating mixtures, Ritson. The folio, where alone this passage is found, reads:
“ That weaken motion-- " I have adopted Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation, because I have a good reason to believe that the words weaken and waken were in Shakspeare's time pronounced alike, and hence the mis
'Tis probable, and palpable to thinking.
take might easily have happened. Motion is elsewhere used by our poet precisely in the sense required here. So, in Cymbeline :
— for there's no motion
“ It is the woman's part.”
sense sure you have, “ Else could you not have motion." Again, in Measure for Measure:
- one who never feels “ The wanton stings and motions of the sense." So also, in A Mad World my Masters, by Middleton, 1608 :
“And in myself sooth up adulterous motions,
“ And such an appetite as I know damns me.” . We have in the play before us-waken'd wrath, and I think in some other play of Shakspeare—waken'd love. So, in our poet's 117th Sonnet:
“But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate." Ben Jonson in his preface to Volpone has a similar phraseology: “- it being the office of the comick poet to stirre up gentle affections."
Mr. Theobald reads—That weaken notion, i. e. says he, her right conception and idea of things, understanding, judgment.
This reading, it must be acknowledged, derives some support from a passage in King Lear, Act II. Sc. IV :-“either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargy'd.” But the objection to it is, that no opiates or intoxicating potions or powders of any sort can distort or pervert the intellects, but by destroying them for a time; nor was it ever at any time believed by the most credulous, that love-powders, as they were called, could weaken the understanding, though it was formerly believed that they could fascinate the affections: or, in other words, waken motion. Brabantio afterwards asserts :
“ That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood
“He wrought upon her.” (Our poet, it should be remembered, in almost all his plays, uses blood for passion. See vol. vii. p. 41, 301, and many other places.) And one of the Senators asks Othello, not, whether he had weaken'd Desdemona's understanding, but whether he did
“- by indirect and forced courses
“ Subdue and poison this young maid's affections." The notion of the efficacy of love-powders was formerly so prevalent, that in the parliament summoned by King Richard the
For an abuser of the world', a practiser
Hold your hands,
To prison : till fit time Of law, and course of direct session, Call thee to answer.
Third, on his usurping the throne, it was publickly urged as a charge against lady Grey, that she had bewitched King Edward the Fourth, “by strange potions and amorous charms." See Fabian, p. 495 ; Speed, p. 913, edit. 1632; and Habington's History of King Edward the Fourth, p. 35. Malone.
In the passages adduced by Mr. Steevens and Mr. Malone, to prove that motion signifies lustful desires, it may be remarked that the word derives this peculiar meaning, either from some epithet, or restrictive mode of expression, with which it stands connected. But, had it been used absolutely, in that sense, with what consistency could Brabantio attribute the emotions of lust in his daughter, to the irritation of those very philtres, which he, in the self-same breath, represents as abating it ?
The drugs or minerals, with which Othello is charged as having abused the delicate youth of Desdemona, were supposed to have accomplished his purpose, by
“ Charming her blood with pleasing heaviness," thereby weakening motion, that is, subduing her maiden pudency, and lulling her wonted coyness into a state of acquiescence.
That this is the sense of the passage, is further evident from what follows; for so bashful was she of disposition,
- that her motion
I vouch again,
“ He wrought upon her.” Henley. s For an abuser, &c.] The first quarto reads-Such an abuser, &c. Steevens.
What if I do obey ?
'Tis true, most worthy signior,
How! the duke in council ! In this time of the night!-Bring him away: Mine's not an idle cause : the duke himself, Or any of my brothers of the state, Cannot but feel this wrong, as 'twere their own : For if such actions may have passage free, Bond-slaves, and pagans?, shall our statesmen be.
6 TO BRING -] The quartos read—To bear. Steevens.
7 Bond-slaves, and PAGANS,] Mr. Theobald alters pagans to pageants, for this reason, “ That pagans are as strict and moral all the world over, as the most regular Christians, in the preservation of private property." But what then? The speaker had not this high opinion of pagan morality, as is plain from hence, that this important discovery, so much to the honour of paganism, was first made by our editor. WARBURTON.
The meaning of these expressions of Brabantio seems to have been mistaken. I believe the morality of either Christians or pagans was not in our author's thoughts. He alludes to the common condition of all blacks, who come from their own country both slaves and pagans ; and uses the word in contempt of Othello and his complexion.—If this Moor is now suffered to escape with impunity, it will be such an encouragement to his black countrymen, that we may expect to see all the first offices of our state filled up by the pagans and bond-slaves of Africa. STEEVENS.
In our author's time pagan was a very common expression of contempt. So, in King Henry IV. Part II. Act II. Sc. II. :
“What pagan may that be?” MALONE.