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They are all but stomachs, and we all but food; They eat us hungerly, and when they are full, They belch us. Look you! Cassio, and my hus
Enter Lago and Cassio. Lago. There is no other way ; 'tis she must do't; And, lo, the happiness! go, and importune her. Des. How now, yood Cassio ? what's the news
with you ? Cas. Madam, my former suit: I do beseech you, That, by your virtuous means, I may again Exist, and be a member of his love, Whom I, with all the duty of my heart,
tinual progress, nor can I see any vacuity in which a year or two, or even a month or two, could be put. On the night of Othello's arrival, a feast was proclaimed ; at that feast Cassio was degraded, and immediately applies to Desdemona to get him restored. lago, indeed, advises Othello to hold him off a while, but there is no reason to think, that he has been held off long. A little longer interval would increase the probability of the story, though it might violate the rules of the drama. See Act V. Sc. II.
Johnson. This line has no reference to the duration of the action of this play, or to the length of time that Desdemona had been married. What Emilia says, is a sort of proverbial remark, of general application, where a definite time is put for an indefinite. Besides, there is no necessity for fixing the commencement of Emilia's year or two, to the time of the marriage or the opening of the piece. She would with more propriety refer to the beginning of the acquaintance and intimacy between the married couple, which might extend beyond that period. Steevens. 2 — the duty of my heart,] The elder quarto reads :
“- the duty of my heart The author used the more proper word, and then changed it, I suppose, for fashionable diction : [“ the office of my heart," the reading of the folio ;] but, as fashion is a very weak protectress, the old word is now ready to resume its place. Johnson.
A careful comparison of the quartos and folio incline me to believe that many of the variations which are found in the later copy, did not come from the pen of Shakspeare. See vol. vii.
Entirely honour; I would not be delay'd :
p. 477, n. 3. That duty was the word intended here, is highly probable from other passages in his works. So, in his 26th Sonnet :
“ Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
“ Thy merit has my duty strongly knit." Again, in his Dedication of Lucrece, to Lord Southampton : “ Were my worth greater, my duty would shew greater ; mean time, as it is, it is bound to your lordship." Malone. Office may be the true reading. So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
"- his goodly eyes—now turn
“ The office and devotion of their view,” &c. Steevens. 3 But to know so must be my benefit ;]
Si nequeo placidas affari Cæsaris aures,
Saltem aliquis veniat, qui mihi dicat, abi. Johnson. 4 And shut myself up in some other course,
To fortune's alms.] Shoot is the reading of one of the early quartos. . The folio, and all the modern editions, have
“ And shut myself up—-" Johnson. I cannot help thinking this reading to be the true one. The idea seems taken from the confinement of a monastick life. The words, forc'd content, help to confirm the supposition. The meaning will therefore be, "I will put on a constrained appearance of being contented, and shut myself up in a different course of life, no longer to depend on my own efforts, but to wait for relief from the accidental hand of charity.” Shakspeare uses the same expression in Macbeth : "
and shut up " In measureless content." Again, in All's Well That Ends Well:
“ Whose basest stars do shut us up in wishes." STEEVENS. The quarto 1622 reads-And shoot myself, &c. I think, with Mr. Steevens, that it was a corruption, and that the reading of the folio is the true one.
Hanmer reads :
Alas! thrice-gentle Cassio, My advocation is not now in tune ; My lord is not my lord ; nor should I know him, Were he in favour", as in humour, alter'd.. So help me, every spirit sanctified, As I have spoken for you all my best ; And stood within the blank of his displeasure , For my free speech! You must a while be patient : What I can do, I will ; and more I will, Than for myself I dare ; let that suffice you.
every sp you all my
displeasure tient :
“And shoot myself upon some other course,
“ To fortune's alms.” To fortune's alms means, waiting patiently for whatever bounty fortune or chance may bestow upon me. We have the same uncommon phrase in King Lear :
Let your study
“ At fortune's alms." Malone. I cannot agree with Steevens in approving of the present reading, nor of course, in his explanation of this passage, but think the quarto right, which reads shoot instead of shut.–To say that a man will shut himself up in a course of life, is language such as Shakspeare would never make use of, even in his most whimsical or licentious moments.
One of the meanings of the verb to shoot, is to push suddenly, or to push forward ; and in that sense it is used in this place. Cassio means to say, that if he finds he has no chance of regaining the favour of the general, he will push forward into some other line of life, and seek his fortune; but I think it probable we ought to read :
“ And shoot myself upon some other course, " instead of up in some other course. M. Mason.
Mr. M. Mason's explanation is a very forced one. It appears from the information of lago, that Cassio had not long been a soldier. Before Othello promoted him, for his good offices in respect to Desdemona, he was “a great arithmetician, a countercaster;" and now, being discarded from the military line, he purposes to confine or shut himself up, as he formerly had, within the limits of a new profession. Henley.
s — in favour,] In look, in countenance. Johnson. See p. 285. STEEVENS.
6 – within the blank of his displeasure,] Within the shot of his anger. Johnson.
See vol. vii. p. 410, n. 9. STEEVENS.
Lago. Is my lord angry ?
He went hence but now, And, certainly, in strange unquietness.
Lago. Can he be angry? I have seen the cannon, When it hath blown his ranks into the air?; , And, like the devil, from his very arm Puff”d his own brother;—And can he be angry? Something of moment, then: I will go meet him; There's matter in't indeed, if he be angry. Des. I pr’ythee, do so.-Something, sure, of state,
[Exit Iaco. Either from Venice; or some unhatch'd practice , Made démonstrable here in Cyprus to him,Hath puddled his clear spirit : and, in such cases, Men's natures wrangle with inferior things, Though great ones are their object. 'Tis even so; For let our finger ache, and it indues Our other healthful members ev'n to that sense Of paino: Nay, we must think, men are not gods ;
7- I have seen the cannon,
When it hath blown, &c.] In Jago's speech something is suppressed. He means to say, I have seen his ranks blown into the air, and his own brother puff d from his side, -and meanwhile have seen him cool and unruffled. And can he now be angry?
MALONE. 8 — some unhatch'd practice,] Some treason that has not taken effect. Johnson. 9 For let our finger ache, and it indues
Our other healthful members ev'n to that sense
Of pain :) I believe it should be rather, Subdues our other healthful members to a sense of pain. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson's conjecture may be supported by a passage in one of Desdemona's speeches to the Senate :
“ My heart's subdued
“ Even to the very quality of my lord.” Again, in p. 4:00:
“ - and subdue my father
“ Entirely to her love." Steevens. The meaning is, this sensation so gets possession of, and is so infused into the other members, as to make them all participate of the same pain :
Nor of them look for such observances
Des. Alas, the day! I never gave him cause. · Emil. But jealous souls will not be answer'd so; They are not ever jealous for the cause, But jealous for they are jealous : 'tis a monster, Begot upon itself, born on itself. Des. Heaven keep that monster from Othello's
mind! Emil. Lady, amen. Des. I will go seek him.-Cassio, walk here
- totumque infusa per artus, Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet. . Dr. Johnson would probably not have proposed any alteration here, if he had recollected the following passage in Hamlet, which exhibits a similar phraseology, as far as relates to the only difficulty of the sentence before us-to the sense of its own pain :
“— the dram of base
" To his own scandal.” MALONE. See vol. vii. p. 229, for the very difficult and contested passage which Mr. Malone has produced in support of his interpretation of the present text. Boswell.
1- the BRIDAL.] i. e. the nuptial feast; a Saxon word. Thus, in the ancient romance of Ywain and Gawain :
“ The bridal sat, for soth to tell
“ Till king Arthur come,” &c. Again, in Gamelyn, or the Coke's Tale :
“ At every bridale he would sing and hop.” Steevens. ? – (unhandsome WARRIOR as I am,)] Unhandsome warrior, is evidently unfair assailant. Johnson.
See note on the same expression, Act II. Sc. I. STEEVENS..