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It is his dependence upon this constant, | But when the meeting comes at Cyprus, loving, noble nature,—it is upon Othello's after their separation and their danger, the freedom from all low suspicion, that Iago depth of his affection bursts forth in irrerelies for his power to
pressible words :“ Make the Moor thank me, love me, and
“If it were now to die, reward me,
’T were now to be most happy; for, I fear For making him egregiously an ass,
My soul hath her content so absolute, And practising upon his peace and quiet
That not another comfort like to this Even to madness.”
Succeeds in unknown fate." But let Othello speak for himself. Not vain,
Such are the materials upon which Iago has but proud ;-relying upon himself, his birth, to work in Othello. But, had Desdemona his actions, he is calm at the prospect of any
been otherwise than she was, his success injury that Brabantio can do him. He is
would not have been so assured. Let us bold when he has to confront those who come
dwell for a moment upon the elementary as his enemies :
character of this pure and gentle being.
Desdemona's father first describes her :“I must be found;
“A maiden never bold; My parts, my title, and my perfect soul, Shall manifest me rightly."
Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion
Blush'd at herself.” When the old senator exclaims, “ down with him-thief !” how beautiful is his self-com
Yet upon her very first appearance she does
not shrink from avowing the strength of her mand !
affections : “Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will
That I love the Moor to live with him, rust them.”
My downright violence and storm of fortunes It was his forbearance and self-restraint, May trumpet to the world.” bottomed upon the most enthusiastic energy, that made him a hero. When he is wrought But she immediately adds the reason for
this :into frenzy, Iago himself is surprised at the storm which he has produced ; and he looks
My heart's subdued
Even to the rery quality of my lord.” upon the tempest of passion as a child does upon some machine which he has mis- The impressibility of Desdemona is her dischievously set in motion for damage and tinguishing characteristic. With this key, destruction, but which under guidance is a the tale of Othello's wooing is a most conbeautiful instrument of usefulness. “ Can sistent one. The timid girl is brought into he be angry?” Ludovico, in the same way, immediate contact with the earnest warrior. does justice to his babitual equanimity: She hears of wonders most remote from her “Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate
experience ;-caves and deserts, rocks and Call all-in-all sufficicnt? Is this the nature
hills, in themselves marvels to an inhabitant Whom passion could not shake ?"
of the city of the sea,
“Of most disastrous chances; The senate scene is the triumph of Othello's
Of moving accidents by flood and field.” perfect simplicity and fearless enthusiasm :
How exquisite is the domestic picture which “I think this tale would win my daughter too."
follows:And then his affection for Desdemona. Before
“ But still the house affairs would draw her the assembled senators he puts on no show thence; of violence—no reality, and, unquestionably, Which ever as she could with haste despatch, no affectation, of warmth and tenderness :
She'd come again, and with a greedy ear “She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd.
Devour up my discourse.” And I loved her that she did pity them." But this impressibility, this exceeding sym
pathy arising out of the tenderness of her | possessed by Shakspere, that lago does not, nature, is under the control of the most even for a moment, entertain the thought of perfect purity. Iago does full justice to this tampering with the virtue of Desdemona, purity, whilst he sees that her kindness of either through Cassio, or Roderigo, or any heart may be abused :
other instrument. Coleridge has boldly and « For 't is most easy
truly said that “Othello does not kill DesThe inclining Desdemona to subdue
demona in jealousy, but in a conviction In any honest suit; she's framed as fruitful forced upon him by the almost superhuman As the free elements."
art of Iago--such a conviction as any man Her confidence in the power which she would and must have entertained who had possesses over Othello is the result of the believed Iago's honesty as Othello did. We, perfect sympathy which she has bestowed the audience, know that Iago is a villain and received. And her zeal in friendship, from the beginning ; but, in considering the without a thought that she might be mis
essence of the Shaksperean Othello, we must taken, has its root in the same confiding perseveringly place ourselves in his situation, nature :
and under his circumstances."
But Othello was not only betrayed by his “I give thee warrant of thy place: assure thee,
reliance on If I do vow a friendship I'll perform it
Iago's honesty,” but also by To the last article.”
his confidence in Iago's wisdom :
“ This fellow 's of exceeding honesty, The equivocation about the handkerchief is
And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit, the result of the same impressibility. She is Of human dealings." terrified out of her habitual candour. The
Again, song of Willow,' and the subsequent dialogue with Emilia, are evidences of the same sub
“O thou art wise ; 't is certain." jection of the mind to external impressions.
When Othello thus bows his own lofty But her unassailable purity is above all.
nature before the grovelling but most acute "I do not think there is any such woman,"
worldly intellect of lago, his habitual view is one of those minute touches which we in of "all qualities " had been clouded by the vain seek for in any other writer but Shak- breath of the slanderer. His confidence in spere.
purity and innocence had been destroyed. Understanding, then, the native characters The sensual judgment of “human dealings of Othello and Desdemona, we shall appre
had taken the place of the spiritual. The ciate the marvellous skill with which Shak-enthusiastic love and veneration of his wife sperc has conducted the machinations of had been painted to him as the result of Iago. If the novel of Cinthio had fallen gross passion :into common hands to be dramatized, and “Not to affect many proposed matches," &c. the dramatist had chosen to depart from His belief in the general prevalence of virthe motive of revenge against Desdemona
tuous motives and actions had been degraded which there actuates the villain, the plot to a reliance on the libertine's creed that all would probably have taken this course :
are impure : -The Desdemona would have been some
“there's millions now alive," &c. what less pure than our Desdemona; the Cassio would have been somewhat more
When the innocent and the high-minded
submit themselves to the tutelage of the presumptuous than our Cassio, and have not felt for Desdemona the religious ve
man of the world, as he is called, the process neration which he feels; the Othello would
of mental change is precisely that produced have been "easily jealous," and would have
in the mind of Othello. The poetry of life is
On them never more done something “in hate,” but not “ all
gone. in honour," as our Othello. It is a part of
“ The freshness of the heart can fall like dew." the admirable knowledge of human nature | They abandon themselves to the betrayer,
and they prostrate themselves before the was his confidence in the truth and purity of
energy of his “gain'd knowledge.” They the being with whom his life was bound up, feel that in their own original powers of and his general reliance upon the better part judgment they have no support against the of human nature, in his judgment of his dogmatism, and it may be the ridicule, of friend. When the confidence was destroyed experience. This is the course with the by the craft of his deadly enemy, his sustainyoung when they fall into the power of ing power was also destroyed ;-the balance the tempter. But was not Othello in all of his sensitive temperament was lost;-his essentials young? Was he not of an en enthusiasm became wild passion ;-his new thusiastic temperament, confiding, loving,— belief in the dominion of grossness over the most sensitive to opinion,-jealous of his apparently pure and good shaped itself into honour,-truly wise, had he trusted to his outrage; his honour lent itself to schemes of own pure impulses ?—But he was most cruelty and revenge. But, even amidst the weak, in adopting an evil opinion against whirlwind of this passion, we every now and his own faith, and conviction, and proof, in then hear something which sounds as the his reliance upon the honesty and judgment softest echo of love and gentleness. Perhaps of a man whom he really doubted and had in the whole compass of the Shaksperean never proved. Yet this is the course by pathos there is nothing deeper than “ But which the highest and noblest intellects are yet the pity of it, Iago! Oh, Iago, the pity of too often subjected to the dominion of the it, Iago!” It is the contemplated murder of subtle understanding and the unbridled will. Desdemona which thus tears his heart. But It is an unequal contest between the prin- his “ disordered power, engendered within ciples that are struggling for mastery in itself to its own destruction,” hurries on the the individual man, when the attributes of catastrophe. We would ask, with Coleridge, the serpent and the dove are separated, and “As the curtain drops, which do we pity the become conflicting. The wisdom which be- most ?" longed to Othello's enthusiastic temperament
The first edition of 'King Lear' was pub- | neere St. Austins Gate, 1608.' Two other lished in 1608; its title was as follows: editions were published by Butter in the Mr. William Shake-speare his True Chronicle same year. It is remarkable that a play of History of the Life and Death of King Lear, which three editions were demanded in one and his three Daughters. With the un year should not have been reprinted till it fortunate Life of Edgar, Sonne and Heire was collected in the folio of 1623. Other of to the Earle of Glocester, and his sullen the plays, which were originally published in and assumed Humour of Tom of Bedlam. a separate form during the poet's life-time, As it was plaid before the King's Majesty were frequently reprinted before the folio at White-Hall, uppon S. Stephens Night; collection. Whether ‘Lear' was piratical, or in Christmas Hollidaies. By his Majesties wbether a limited publication was allowed, it Servants playing usually at the Globe on the is clear, we think, that by some interference Banck-side. Printed for Nathaniel Butter, the continued publication was stopped. and are to be sold at his Shop in Paul's In the folio text of Lear,' as compared Church-yard at the Signe of the Pied Bull with the text of the quarto, there are verbal
corrections, and additions and omissions; but | After the accession of James, when he was in the quarto text of that play the metrical proclaimed King of Great Britain, it was arrangement is one mass of confusion. This usual to merge the name of England in that circumstance appears to us conclusive that of Britain. Bacon thus explains the comthese quarto copies could not have been pletion of the old prophecy, “When hempe printed from the author's manuscript; and is sponne, England's donne.” The ancient yet they might have been printed from a metrical saying, “ Fy, fo, fum, I smell the genuine playhouse copy. The text of the blood of an English man,” becomes in ‘Lear,' folio, in one material respect, differs con “I smell the blood of a British man;" and siderably from that of the quartos. Large in the quarto editions (Act IV., Scene 6) we passages which are found in the quartos are have omitted in the folio: there are, indeed, some
“And give the letters, which thou find'st about lines found in the folio which are not in the
me, quartos, amounting to about fifty. These
To Edmund, earl of Gloster; seek him out re scattered passages, not very remarkable
Upon the British party.” when detached, but for the most part essential to the progress of the action or to the develop- The allusions derived from Harsnet's book ment of character. On the other hand, the fix the date of the tragedy as near as we can lines found in the quartos which are not in desire it to be fixed. All that we can hope the folio amount to as many as two hundred for in these matters is an approximation to a and twenty-five; and they comprise one en date. It is sufficient for us to be confirmed, tire scene, and one or two of the most striking through such a fact, in the belief, derived from connected passages in the drama. It would | internal evidence, that ‘Lear' was produced be easy to account for these omissions by at that period when the genius of Shakspere the assumption that in the folio edition the was “at its very point of culmination." original play was cut down by the editors ; The story of ‘Lear' belongs to the popular for Lear,' without the omissions, is one literature of Europe. It is a pretty episode amongst the longest of Shakspere's plays. in the fabulous chronicles of Britain ; and, But this theory would require us to assume, whether invented by the monkish historians, also, that the additions to the folio were or transplanted into our annals from some made by the editors. These comprise several foreign source, is not very material. In the such minute touches as none but the hand of 'Gesta Romanorum,' the same story is told of the master could have superadded.
Theodosius, “a wise emperor in the city of The period of the first production of 'Lear' | Rome.” Douce has published this story from may be fixed with tolerable certainty. We the manuscript in the Harleian Collection. collect, from the registers of the Stationers' It may be sufficient to give the beginning of Company, that ‘Lear'was played before King this curious narrative, to show how clearly James, at Whitehall, upon St. Stephen's night, all the histories have been derived from a in the year 1606—that is, on the 26th of December. Here is the limit in one direction. In the other direction we have the publi
“ Theodosius regned, a wys emperour in the cation, in 1603, of Harsnet's Declaration
cite of Rome, and myghti he was of power; the of egregious Popish Impostures,' from which
whiche emperour had thre doughters. So hit
liked to this emperour to knowe which of his book Shakspere undoubtedly derived some
doughters lovid him best. And tho he seid to materials which he employed in the assumed
the eldest doughter, how moche lovist thou me? madness of Edgar. It is pretty clear, also,
fforsoth, quod she, more than I do myself, therefrom two passages in the text of the quarto
fore, quod he, thou shalt be hily avaunsed, and editions, that the author or the actors of the maried her to a riche and myghti kyng. Tho tragedy, as it was played before the king's he cam to the secund, and seid to her, doughter, majesty,” were careful to make two minute how moche lovist thou me? As moche forsoth, changes which would be agreeable to James. she seid, as I do myself. So the emperour
common source :
maried her to a duc. And tho he seid to the “ Leir, the son of Baldud, was admitted ruler third doughter, how moche lovist thou me? over the Britains in the year of the world 3105. fforsoth, quod she, as moche as ye beth worthi, At what time Joas reigned as yet in Juda. and no more. Tho seid the emperour, doughter, This Leir was a prince of noble demeanour, sith thou lovist me no more, thou shalt not be governing his land and subjects in great wealth. maried so richely as thi susters beth. And tho He made the town of Cairleir, now called he maried her to an erle."
Leicester, which standeth upon the river of
Dore. It is writ that he had by his wife three The French have a famous romance entitled
daughters, without other issue, whose names 'La tres elegante delicieuse melliflue et tres
were Gonorilla, Regan, and Cordilla, which plaisante hystoire du tres victorieux & ex
daughters he greatly loved, but especially the cellentissime Roy Perceforest Roy de la grant youngest, Cordilla, far above the two elder. i Bretaigne,' of the veritable contents of which
“ When this Leir was come to great years, an account will be found in the “Censura and began to wear unwieldy through age, he Literaria,' vol. viii. These chronicles, ac- thought to understand the affections of his cording to Sir Egerton Brydges, “ begin with daughters towards him, and prefer her whom the foundation of Troy, which they affirm to he best loved to the succession of the kingdom ; have been in the third age of the world, and therefore, he first asked Gonorilla, the eldest, that it was taken while Abdon was judge how well she loved him : the which, calling her over Israel. The travels of Brutus, and his gods to record, protested that she loved him wars in Great Britain and Aquitaine, follow, more than her own life, which by right and which took place while Saul reigned in Judea, reason should be most dear unto her; with and Aristeus in Lacedemon. His grandson, which answer the father, being well pleased,, Rududribas, father of the celebrated Bladud, turned to the second, and demanded of her founded the ancient city of Canterbury, which how well she loved him ? which answered (conoccurred during the time in which Haggai, loved him more than tongue can express, and
firming her sayings with great oaths) that she Amos, and Joel prophesied. These curious
far above all other creatures in the world. circumstances are succeeded by the story of
“ Then called he his youngest daughter, Lear (son to Bladud) and his three daughters, Cordilla, before him, and asked of her what which was in the time of Isaiah and Hosea, account she made of him : unto whom she at which period also the city of Rome was made this answer as followeth :-Knowing the founded." The exact chronology of the great love and fatherly zeal you have always romancers and chroniclers is well worthy borne towards me (for the which, that I may not attention. Geoffrey of Monmouth is quite answer you otherwise than I think, and as my as precise as Pierceforest : “At this time conscience leadeth me), I protest to you that flourished the prophets Isaiah and Hosea, I have always loved you, and shall continually and Rome was built upon the eleventh of the while I live love you, as my natural father ; Calends of May, by the two brothers Romulus and if you would more understand of the love and Remus." With such unquestionable that I bear you, ascertain yourself, that so much authority for the date of the story of Lear,
as you have, so much you are worth, and so well may Malone have been shocked when much I love you, and no more. | Edgar says, “Nero was an angler in the lake
“ The father, being nothing content with this of darkness ;” and we ought to be grave when answer, married the two eldest daughters, the we are also informed, with the most perfect and the other unto the duke of Albania, called
one unto the duke of Cornwall, named Henninus, gravity, “ Nero is introduced in the present Maglanus ; and betwixt them, after his death, play above eight hundred years before he
he willed and ordained his land should be diwas born.” Shakspere found the story in his vided, and the one-half thereof should be imfavourite Holinshed; and he probably did mediately assigned unto them in hand; but for not trouble himself to refer to Geoffrey of the third daughter, Cordilla, he reserved nothing. Monmouth, from whom Holinshed abridged “ Yet it fortuned that one of the princes of
We subjoin the legend as told by Gallia (which now is called France), whose name Holinsbed :
was Aganippus, hearing of the beauty, woman