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The death of Caffio to be undertook
Oth. O villain!
Caf. Moft heathenifh, and moft grofs!
Lod. Now here's another difcontented paper, Found in his pocket too; and this, it feems, Roderigo meant to have fent this damned villain; But that, belike, Iago in the interim Came in and fatisfied him.
Oth. O the pernicious caitiff!
How came you, Caffio, by that handkerchief
Caf. I found it in my chamber:
Oth. O fool! fool! fool!
Caf. There is, befides, in Roderigo's letter,-
Lod. You muft forfake this room, and
Your power and your command is taken off,
That can torment him much, and hold him long,
5 in the interim] The first copy has, in the nick. It was, I suppose, thought upon revifal, that wick was too familiar.
I have done the state some service, and they know it;
Of one, that lov'd not wifely, but too well;
Richer than all his tribe; of one, whofe fubdu’d
6 Speak of me as I am;-] The first quarto reads, Speak of them as they are. The prefent reading, which is the reading of the folio, has more force. JOHNSON.
7- of one, whofe band,
Like the bafe Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe;-] I have restored Judian, from the elder quarto, as the genuine more eligible reading. Mr. Pope thinks this was occafioned probably by the word tribe just after I have many reafons to oppofe this opinion. In the first place, the most ignorant Indian, I believe, is fo far the reverse of the dung-hill-cock in the fable, as to know the estimation of a pearl beyond that of a barley corn. So that, in that refpect, the thought itself would not be juft. Then, if our author had defigned to reflect on the ignorance of the Indian without any farther reproach, he would have called him rude, and not base. Again, I am perfuaded, as my friend Mr. Warburton long ago obferved, the phrafe is not here literal, but metaphorical: and, by his pearl, our author very properly means a fine woman. Mr. Pope objects farther to the reading Judian, becaufe, to make fenfe of this, we must pre-fuppofe fome particular ftory of a Jew alluded to; which is much lefs obvious: but has Shakspeare never done this, but in this fingle instance? I am fatisfied, in his Judian, he is alluding to Herod; who, in a fit of blind jealousy, threw away fuch a jewel of a wife as Mariamne was to him. What can be more parallel in circumftance, than the conduct of Herod and Othello? Nor was the story fo little obvious as Mr. Pope feems to imagine : for, in the year 1613, the lady Elizabeth Carew published a tragedy called MARIAM, the Fair Queen of JEWRY. I hall only add, that our author might write Judian,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
or Judean, (if that fhould be alledged as any objection) instead of Judean, with the fame licence and change of accent, as, in his Anthony and Cleopatra, he fhortens the fecond fyllable of Euphra tes in pronunciation: which was a liberty likewife taken by Spenfer, of whom our author was a ftudious imitator.
Like the bafe Indian, threw a pearl away] The elder quarto reads Judian, and this is certainly right. And by the Judian is meant Herod, whofe ufage to Mariamne is fo appofite to the fpeaker's cafe, that a more proper instance could not be thought of. Besides, he was the fubject 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 as fcarce to need examples. In Troilus and Creffida, a lover fays of his mistress, "There he lies a PEARL."
Why fhe is a pearl, whofe price," &c.
Like the bafe Judean, threw a pearl aray
Richer than all his tribe,] I cannot join with the learned critics in conceiving this paffage to refer either to the ignorance of the natives of India, in refpect of pearls, or the well-known ftory of Herod and Mariamne. The poet might just as fairly be fup. pofed to have alluded to that of Jeptha and his daughter.
Othello, in deteftation of what he had done, feems to compare himself to another perfon who had thrown away a thing of value, with fome circumstances of the meanest villany, which the epithet bafe feems to imply in its general fenfe, though it is fometimes ufed only for low or mean. The Indian could not properly be termed bafe in the former and most common fenfe, whofe fault was ignorance, which brings its own excufe with it; and the crime of Herod furely deferves a more aggravated diftinction. For though in every crime, great as well as fmall, there is a degree of bafenefs, yet the furiis agitatus amor, fuch as contributed to that of Herod, feems to ask a stronger word to characterize it; as there was fpirit at least in what he did, though the spirit of a fiend, and the epithet befe would better fuit with petty larceny than royal guilt. Befides, the fimile appears to me too appofite almoft to be used on the occafion, and is little more than bringing the fact into comparison with itfelf. Each through jealoufy bad destroyed an innocent wife, circumftances fo parallel, as
Drop tears as faft as the Arabian trees
hardly to admit of that variety which we generally find in one allufion, which is meant to illuftrate another, and at the fame time to appear as more than a fuperfluous ornament. Of a like kind of imperfection, there is an inftauce in Virgil, b. XI, where after Camilla and her attendants have been defcribed as abfolute Amazons ;
"At medias inter cædes exultat Amazon
"Unum exerta latus pugnæ pharetrata Camilla.
we find them, nine lines after, compared to the Amazons them. felves, to Hippolyta or Penthefilca, furrounded by their com panions :
Quales Threiciæ, cum flumina Thermodontis
"Seu circum Hypoliten, feu cum fe martia curru
What is this but bringing a fact into comparifon with itfelf? Neither do I believe the poet intended to make the prefent fimile coincide with all the circumftances of Othello's fituation, but merely with the fingle act of having bafely (as he himself terms it) destroyed that on which he ought to have fet a greater value. As the pearl may bear a literal as well as a metaphorical fenfe, I would rather choose to take it in the literal one, and receive Mr. Pope's rejected explanation, pre-fuppofing fome flory of a Few alluded to, which might be well understood at that time, though now perhaps forgotten, or at least imperfectly remembered. I have read in fome book, as ancient as the time of Shakspeare, the following tale; though, at prefent, 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 diftant 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) difpofed of them to his fatisfaction. On this pearl, which was the largest ever fhewn at market, he had fixed an immoderate price, nor could be perfuaded to make the least abatement, Many of the magnificos, as well as tra ders, offered him confiderable fums for it, but he was refolute in his first demand. At laft, after repeated and unfuccessful applications to individuals, he affembled the merchants of the city, by proclamation, to meet him on the Rialto, where he once more expofed it to fale on the former terms, but to no purpose. After having expatiated, for the last time, on the fingular beauty and value of it, he threw it fuddenly into the fea before them all.
Their med'cinable gum: Set you down this :
Though this anecdote may appear inconfiftent with the avarice. of a Jew, yet it fufficiently agrees with the fpirit fo remarkable at all times in the scatter'd remains of that vindictive nation.
Shakspeare's feeming averfion to the Jews in general, and his conftant defire to expose their avarice and bafenefs as often as he had an opportunity, may ferve to strengthen my fuppofition; and as that nation, in his time, and fince, has not been famous for crimes daring and confpicuous, but has rather contented itself to thrive by the meaner and more fuccefsful arts of baseness, there feems to be a particular propriety in the epithet. When Falstaff is justifying himself in Henry IV. he adds, "If what I have "faid be not true, I am a Jew, an Ebrew Jew," i. e. one of the moft fufpected characters of the time. The liver of a Jew is an ingredient in the cauldron of Macbeth; and the vigilance for gain, which is defcribed in Shylock, may afford us reafon to fuppofe the poet was alluding to a story like that already quoted.
Richer than all his tribe, feems to point out the Jew again in a mercantile light; and may mean, that the pearl was richer than all the gems to be found among a fet of men generally trading in them. Neither do I recollect that Othello mentions many things, but what he might fairly have been allowed to have had knowlege of in the course of his peregrinations. Of this kind are the fi miles of the Euxine fea flowing into the Propontick, and the Arabian trees dropping their gums. The rest of his speeches are more free from mythological and historical allufions, than almost any to be found in Shakspeare, for he is never quite clear from them; though in the defign of this character he seems to have meant it for one who had spent a greater part of his life in the field, than in the cultivation of any other knowledge than what would be of ufe to him in his military capacity. It should be ob ferved, that most of the flouriflies merely ornamental were added after the first edition; and this is not the only proof to be met with, that the poet in his alterations fometimes forgot his origi nal plan.
The metaphorical term of a pearl for a fine woman, may, for aught I know, be very common; but in the inftances Dr. Warburton has brought to prove it fo, there are found circumstances that immediately fhew a woman to have been meant. So, in Troilus and Crefida:
"HER BED IS INDIA, there SHB lies a pearl.
"Why SHE is a pearl whofe price hath launch'd, &c."
In Othello's fpeech we find no fuch leading expreffion; and are therefore