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OTH. I do believe it, and I ask your pardon.
Will you, I pray you, demand that demi-devil,
Why he hath thus ensnar'd my soul and body? LAGO. Demand me nothing: What you know, you know:
Torments will ope your lips.
From this time forth I never will speak word.
Which, as I think, you know not: Here is a letter,
ОTH. O villain!
CAS, Most heathenish, and most gross! LOD. Now here's another discontented paper, Found in his pocket too; and this, it seems, Roderigo meant to have sent this damned villain; But that, belike, lago in the interim1 Came in and satisfied him.
O the pernicious caitiff!How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief That was my wife's?
I found it in my chamber :
This phrase, a very familiar one, is also employed in p. 407, 1. 10:
"Alas, the day, I never gave him cause." MALONE. 9 Oth. O villain !
Cas. Most heathenish, and most gross!] Read, for the sake of both sense and metre:
"Oth, O villainy!
Most heathenish, and most gross."
in the interim-] The first copy has-in the nick. It was, I suppose, thought upon revisal, that nick was too familiar,
And he himself confess'd, but even now2,
ОТН. O fool! fool! fool! CAS. There is, besides, in Roderigo's letter,How he upbraids Iago, that he made him Brave me upon the watch; whereon it came That I was cast: And even but now he spake, After long seeming dead,-Iago hurt him, Iago set him on.
LOD. You must forsake this room, and go with
Your power and your command is taken off,
That can torment him much, and hold him long,
OTн. Soft you; a word or two, before you go. I have done the state some service, and they know
No more of that:-I pray you, in your letters,
confess'd, but even now,] The quarto 1622 reads-confess'd it even now. The folio-confess'd it, but even now. word it was manifestly caught by the compositor's eye glancing on the subsequent line. MALONE.
3 Speak of me as I am;] The first quarto reads,-Speak of them as they are. The present reading, which is the reading of the folio, has more force. JOHNSON,
Richer than all his tribe"; of one, whose subdu'd
5 of one, whose hand,
Like the base Judean, threw a pearl away,
Richer than all his tribe ;] I have restored Judian, from the elder quarto, as the genuine and more eligible reading. Mr. Pope thinks this was occasioned probably by the word tribe just after: I have many reasons to oppose this opinion. In the first place, the most ignorant Indian, I believe, is so far the reverse of the dunghill-cock in the fable, as to know the estimation of a pearl beyond that of a barley-corn. So that, in that respect, the thought itself would not be just. Then, if our author had designed to reflect on the ignorance of the Indian without any farther reproach, he would have called him rude, and not base. Again, I am persuaded, as my friend Mr. Warburton long ago observed, the phrase is not here literal, but metaphorical; and by his pearl, our author very properly means a fine woman. But Mr. Pope objects farther to the reading Judian, because, to make sense of this, we must pre-suppose some particular story of a Jew alluded to: which is much less obvious: but has Shakspeare never done this, but in this single instance ? I am satisfied, in his Judian, he is alluding to Herod; who, in a fit of blind jealousy, threw away such a jewel of a wife as Mariamne was to him. What can be more parallel in circumstance, than the conduct of Herod and Othello? Nor was the story so little obvious as Mr. Pope seems to imagine: for in the year 1613, the Lady Elizabeth Carew published a tragedy called Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry. I shall only add, that our author might write Judian or Judean, (if that should be alledged as any objection,) instead of Judæan, with the same licence and change of accent, as, in his Antony and Cleopatra, he shortens the second syllable of Euphrates in pronunciation: which was a liberty likewise taken by Spenser, of whom our author was a studious imitator. THEOBALD.
"Like the base Judean." Thus the folio. The first quarto, 1622, reads-Indian. Mr. Theobald therefore is not accurate in the preceding note, in his account of the old copies. MALONE. The elder quarto reads Judian, and this is certainly right. And by the Judian is meant Herod, whose usage to Mariamne is so apposite to the speaker's case, that a more proper instance could not be thought of. Besides, he was the subject of a tragedy at that time, as appears from the words in Hamlet, where an ill player is described
to out-herod Herod."
The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine woman, is so common
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
as scarce to need examples. In Troilus and Cressida, a lover of his mistress
"There she lies a pearl-."
And again :
Why she is a pearl, whose price," &c. WARBUrton. I cannot join with the learned criticks in conceiving this passage to refer either to the ignorance of the natives of India, in respect of pearls, or the well-known story of Herod and Mariamne. The poet might just as fairly be supposed to have alluded to that of Jephthah and his daughter.
Othello, in detestation of what he had done, seems to compare himself to another person who had thrown away a thing of value, with some circumstances of the meanest villainy, which the epithet base seems to imply in its general sense, though it is sometimes used only for low or mean. The Indian could not properly be termed base in the former and most common sense, whose fault was ignorance, which brings its own excuse with it; and the crime of Herod surely deserves a more aggravated distinction. For though in every crime, great as well as small, there is a degree of baseness, yet the furiis agitatus amor, such as contributed to that of Herod, seems to ask a stronger word to characterize it; as there was spirit at least in what he did, though the spirit of a fiend, and the epithet base would better suit with petty larceny than royal guilt. Besides, the simile appears to me too apposite almost to be used on the occasion, and is little more than bringing the fact into comparison with itself. Each through jealousy had destroyed an innocent wife, circumstances so parallel, as hardly to admit of that variety which we generally find in one allusion, which is meant to illustrate another, and at the same time to appear as more than a superfluous ornament. Of a like kind of imperfection, there is an instance in Virgil, book xi. where, after Camilla and her attendants have been described as absolute Amazons,— At medias inter cædes exultat Amazon,
Unum exerta latus pugnæ pharetata Camilla.—
we find them, nine lines after, compared to the Amazons themselves, to Hippolita or Penthiselea, surrounded by their com panions:
Quales Threiciæ, cum flumina Thermodontis
Seu circum Hippolyten, seu cum se martia curru
What is this but bringing a fact into comparison with itself? Neither do I believe the poet intended to make the present simile
Their medicínal gum*7: Set you down this :
*First folio, medicinable.
coincide with all the circumstances of Othello's situation, but merely with the single act of having basely (as he himself terms it) destroyed that on which he ought to have set a greater value. As the pearl may bear a literal as well as a metaphorical sense, I would rather choose to take it in the literal one, and receive Mr. Pope's rejected explanation, pre-supposing some story of a Jew alluded to, which might be well understood at that time, though now perhaps forgotten, or at least imperfectly remembered. I have read in some book, as ancient as the time of Shakspeare, the following tale; though, at present, I am unable either to recollect the title of the piece, or the author's name:
"A Jew, who had been prisoner for many years in distant parts, brought with him at his return to Venice a great number of pearls, which he offered on the 'change among the merchants, and (one alone excepted) disposed of them to his satisfaction. On this pearl, which was the largest ever shown at market, he had fixed an immoderate price, nor could be persuaded to make the least abatement. Many of the magnificoes, as well as traders, offered him considerable sums for it, but he was resolute in his first demand. At last, after repeated and unsuccessful applications to individuals, he assembled the merchants of the city, by proclamation, to meet him on the Rialto, where he once more exposed it to sale on the former terms, but to no purpose. After having expatiated, for the last time, on the singular beauty and value of it, he threw it suddenly into the sea before them all."
Though this anecdote may appear inconsistent with the avarice of a Jew, yet it sufficiently agrees with the spirit so remarkable at all times in the scattered remains of that vindictive nation.
Shakspeare's seeming aversion to the Jews in general, and his constant desire to expose their avarice and baseness as often as he had an opportunity, may serve to strengthen my supposition; and as that nation, in his time, and since, has not been famous for crimes daring and conspicuous, but has rather contented itself to thrive by the meaner and more successful arts of baseness, there seems to be a particular propriety in the epithet. When Falstaff is justifying himself in King Henry IV. he adds, "If what I have said be not true, I am a Jew, an Ebrew Jew," i. e. one of the most suspected characters of the time. The liver of a Jew is an ingredient in the cauldron of Macbeth; and the vigilance for gain, which is described in Shylock, may afford us reason to suppose the poet was alluding to a story like that already quoted.
Richer than all his tribe, seems to point out the Jew again in