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lago. Kind gentlemen, let's go see poor Cassio
Come, mistress, you must tell us another tale.-
And tell my lord and lady what has happened.-
SCENE II. A Bedchamber: DESDEMONA in bed asleep. A light burning.
Oth. It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,
[Takes off his sword.
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me ;-but once put out thine,1
1 To foredo is to undo, to ruin, to destroy.
2 Othello, full of horror at the cruel action which he is about to perpetrate, seems at this instant to be seeking his justification, from representing to himself the cause, i. e. the greatness of the provocation he had received.
3 The old copy gives this line thus:
“Put out the light, and then put out the light.”
The present regulation of the passage, by which so much beauty and spirit is added to it, was proposed by Mr. Upton, but it is to be found in Ayres's Life of Pope; it may, therefore, have originated with Warburton, who thus explains it:-"The meaning is, I will put out the light, and then proceed to the execution of my purpose. But the expression of putting out the light bringing to mind the effects of the extinction of the light of life, he breaks short, and questions himself about the effects of this metaphorical extinction, introduced by a repetition of his first words, as much as to say,-But hold, let me first weigh the reflection which this expression naturally excites."
4 Thus the quarto. The folio reads, put out thy light. Steevens adopted the present reading for the sake of the measure, and to avoid the useless repetition of the word light.
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat,
I cannot give it vital growth again ;
It needs must wither.-I'll smell it on the tree.
O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Des. Will you come to bed, my lord?
Oth. If you bethink yourself of any crime,
Des. Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?
I would not kill thy unprepared spirit;
No,-Heaven forfend!-I would not kill thy soul.
Have mercy on me!
Des. If you say so,
Ay, I do.
Des. And yet I fear you; for you are fatal then, When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear, I know
Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel I fear.
Oth. Think on thy sins.
They are loves I bear to you.
Oth. Ay, and for that thou diest.
Des. That death's unnatural, that kills for lov
Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame.
They do not point on me.
Peace, and be still! Des. I will so. What's the matter?
Oth. That handkerchief, which I so loved, and gave
Take heed of perjury; thou'rt on thy death-bed.
'Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
For to deny each article with oath,
Cannot remove, nor choke the strong conception,
Des. Then, Lord have mercy on me!
Des. And have you mercy too! I never did
Oth. By Heaven, I saw my handkerchief in his hand.
A murder, which I thought a sacrifice: 1
I saw the handkerchief.
1 "This line is difficult. Thou hast hardened my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I thought to have sacrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.' I am glad that I have ended this dreadful scene; it is not to be endured.'-Johnson.
Des. He found it, then;
I never gave it him.-Send for him hither,
No, his mouth is stopped;
Honest lago hath ta'en order for't.
Des. My fear interprets, then,-What, is he dead? Oth. Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge Had stomach for them all.
Des. Alas! he is betrayed, and I undone.
Oth. Out, strumpet! weep'st thou for him to my
Des. O, banish me, my lord, but kill me not.
Des. Kill me to-morrow; let me live to-night.
Oth. Nay, if you strive,
But half an hour.
[He smothers her.
But while I say one prayer.
Emil. [Within.] My lord, my lord! what, ho! my
lord! my lord!
Oth. What noise is this?—Not dead? not yet quite dead?
I, that am cruel, am yet merciful;
I would not have thee linger in thy pain.
1 The quarto 1622 reads:-
"That he hath -uds death."
2 The first quarto omits this speech.
3 After this speech of Othello, the elder quarto adds an invocation from Desdemona, consisting only of the sacred name thrice repeated.
4 It is supposed that some theatrical direction has been omitted, and
Emil. [Within.] What, ho! my lord, my lord!
Who's there? Emil. [Within.] O good my lord, I would speak a
word with you.
Oth. Yes;-'tis Emilia ;-by and by.-She's dead. 'Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio's death. The noise was high.-Ha! no more moving?
Still as the grave. Shall she come in? Were't good?
My wife! my wife! what wife?--I have no wife.
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon; and that the affrighted globe.
Emil. [Within.] I do beseech you I may speak with
O good my lord!
Oth. I had forgot thee. O, come in, Emilia.Soft,-by and by.-Let me the curtains draw.Where art thou? What's the matter with thee now? [Unlocks the door.
Emil. O good my lord, yonder's foul murder done. Oth. What? now?
But now, my lord!
Oth. It is the very error of the moon :
She comes more near the earth than she was wont;
Emil. Cassio, my lord, has killed a young Venetian, Called-Roderigo.
And Cassio killed ?
No, Cassio is not killed.
that, when Othello says, " So, so," he renews his attempt to smother her.Steevens thinks it is here intended that he should stab her.