When she lands in Cyprus it is

stay. Long before she saw Othello, “ The riches of the ship is come on shore.”

Desdemona must have pictured to her

self this remarkable man, about whose High as Othello stands in his regard, yet almost fabulous history the world's talk she is above even him in excellence. had been so loud, and whose valorous She is “our great captain's captain.

deeds were in every mouth. How dull Though dead to belief in all human ex

must Brabantio have been, when he so cellence, even Iago is not blind either to

oft invited the great hero of the day to her virtues or her beauty. Although to his house! If he found pleasure in Roderigo he calls her " a super-subtle

questioning" the story of Othello's Venetian,” yet to Cassio he says, “ She life, why did he not cast a thought upon is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed the still greater charm that story might a disposition, she holds it a vice in her have for his daughter's ear? Dull and goodness not to do more than is request. blind indeed must the old man have ed.” But if she is such as this to the been, not to see that the blunt soldier general eye, what is she to Othello's ? tells it " o'er and o'er” because of the To him she is “the cunning'st pattern sweet listener at his side ; not to see of excelling nature."

“ The world hath how quickly, when called away by house not a sweeter creature.' And then her affairs, she steals back, sinking quietly sweet womanly graces! “So delicate into her seat so as not to interrupt the with her needle : an admirable musician : tale. The tremor in Desdemona's manO she will sing the savageness out of a

ner, which her father mistook for fear, bear ; of so high and plenteous wit and had quite another origin. She felt frightinvention ! And then of so gentle a ened, not at Othello, but at herself—at condition !” She is pictured to us, in the novel, bewildering, absorbing feeling short, as possessed of every quality that, hour by hour, was overmastering which could lay hold of a hero's heart, her. and bring joy into his home.

The rapt attention-the eager, tender “ If Heaven could make me such another world eyes—often suffused with tears—when

Of one entire and perfect chrysolite, Othello spoke of “ being taken by the I'd not have sold her for it!”

insolent foe, and sold to slavery''-the What imagination would not kindle at parted lips and shortened breath-if the images thus set before it! Who these were noted by Brabantio, it would would be content to see in this exquisite seem that he thought of them as of no woman, as so many do, only a pretty more moment than if his daughter had piece of yielding amiability!

been listening to some skilled improvisaAs with Imogen, so with Desdemona, tore. That her being could be moved, Shakespeare has, in the passages cited, her heart touched, by this stranger to and in many others throughout the play, her race and countrytaken infinite pains to show how these his favorite heroines excelled in every

" The extravagant and wheeling stranger

Of here and everywhere,' accomplishment-how the grace, the purity, the dignity of their niinds gave as Roderigo calls him, whose complexion added charm to the fascination of their was like the shadowed livery of the beauty and their manners. And this burnished sun”—had never crossed his woman, this “divine Desdemona," mind. He would as soon have thought whose mind has been fed, as in those of her being attracted by her torchstirring times of war it was sure to be, bearer, or her gondolier, as by one with “ tales of high emprise and chival- whom he classes with “bond slaves and ry,” and whose heart is ready for the in- pagans.' spiring touch which was to kindle it-is This wide difference of feeling could placed by her father under the influence not have existed between father and which was above all others likely to cap- child had there been any living symtivate her fancy—that of the great gene- pathy between them. He would have ral, of Moorish but royal blood, whose foreseen the danger of exposing a girl name was in every mouth, on whose dawning into womanhood, and of sensivalor and generalship the State had bilities so deep, to such an unusual leant, and was leaning still, as its chief fascination, and she would have turned


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to him when she found herself in danger difference it could not be-must have of being overmastered by a feeling, the shown the lovers the impossibility of indulgence in which might wreck his gaining his consent to their union. peace or her own. But the father, who Therefore did the “maiden is only the “ lord of duty,” has estab- bold”' take courage to leave her father's lished no claim upon her heart ; and home, and give herself in marriage to that heart, hitherto untouched, is stolen the Moor. She had also the true, quiet from her during these long interviews, courage, when sent for to the Senateinsensibly but for ever.

house, to appeal directly to the duke, We are not to think that all this hap- begging him to hear her story, and to pens suddenly. The father is not sur- let her find a “ charter in his voice to prised into losing his child. If he has assist her simpleness.” When

When her been deceived, it is by himself, and not “unfolding” is ended, there is but one by her.

Othello speaks of having feeling in the council—to “ let her will some nine moons wasted” away from have free way." The duke, in bidding the tented field. Many of these may good-night to every one,” adds to have been passed in Venice. Much Brabantiotime, therefore, may have fitted happily li virtue no delighted beauty lack,

And, noble signior,

If away in these interrupted recitals, be

Your son-in-law is far more fair than black." fore Othello found good means to draw" from Desdemona

The first senator says, Adieu, brave A prayer of earnest heart Moor; use Desdemona well.” Then That he would all his pilgrimage dilate,

does Brabantio let out the cold maligWhereof by parcels she had something heard, nity of his natural disposition, the unforBut not intentively."

giving cruelty which he keeps to the last, When the story has been told from so that it may sting and wound more first to last, she gives him " for his surelypains a world of sighs.”

“Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see ;

She has deceived her father, and may thee.' "' 'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful ; She wished she had not heard it.

Othello responds, “My life upon her wished That Heaven had made her such a man,”


How vein, how futile are his words ! so noble, so self-devoting, so grandly. Desdemona never forgot them. enduring-so altogether spotless and how was it with Othello? Although at heroic. Here comes out the warrior the time cast aside, defied, yet they spirit which I have ascribed to her, the struck home as they were intended ; and power of kindling, of understanding and with such a listener as lago, intent, as rising up to, heroic deeds. We feel, we know beforehand, on revenge, and even apart from Othello's words and her caring not by what means he brings it own subsequent avowal, that "her about, Brabantio puts the weapon into heart's subdued even to the very qual- his hands, which, adroitly wielded by ity" of her lord. Thenceforth she is this subtle fiend, leads on to the fearful his own, in war or peace, in life and climax—“ the tragic loading' of Desdeath, for evermore. The accident of demona's bed! These fatal words open the difference in Othello's complexion, up to him the whole devilish scheme on which operates against him in other which the play turns, and he closes the eyes, endears him to hers. It touches

scene saying her generosity. “I saw Othello's visage in his mind,' and “to his honors

“ I have it ; 'tis engender'd. Hell and night

Must bring this monstrous birth to the and his valiant parts” she consecrates world's light !" her soul and fortunes from that moment. Thus, under his very eyes, was Bra- Well might Othello say, “My life

' bantio's daughter wooed and won ; for upon her faith !" How valiantly has he does not venture to gainsay this, she-his few hours' wife-stood by him after Othello has delivered his round before these haughty senators and her unvarnished tale" to the Venetian much-dreaded father ! how surprised Council.

But his very blindness-in- him with delight, begging, this delicately.nurtured lady, to be allowed to for him, to see if he can throw light share with him the hardships and perils upon the unaccountable change that has of the impending campaign-to live with come over her husband. Had he dared him in the “tented field”! Had she to approach her with the faintest suggesbeen one who loved her ease and pleas- tion that Othello was untrue, she would ure, such an one as Iago chooses to de- have treated him as Nina Sforza, another scribe Venetian women in general to noble Venetian lady, treated a similar have been, was she likely to make such traducer in Zouch Troughton's fine a request? Who cannot see that this modern tragedy which bears her name : woman was of the true heroic mould

“My Doria false ! fearless as she was gentle ? At the time Oh, I could strike thee, liar !" her request appears to have gone to

Except to illustrate the truth that no Othello's heart, to have moved him to endless gratitude, as well it might. Shakespeare makes Othello speak of

man knows himself, I marvel why When they met at Cyprus, the first

himself as not easily jealous.” It words on his lips are, Oh, my fair

seems to me that the spark scarcely warrior !" The phrase, doubtless, afterwards became a favorite one with them ; A few words dropped by the tempter

tuuches the tinder before it is aflame. and it is touching to find Desdemona take hold of him even when his happiusing it, after Othello's to her incom

ness is at the fullest ; when he has just prehensible frenzy concerning the handkerchief, when she rebukes herself for parted from Desdemona in a transport

of content, which finds vent in the her momentary harsh thought of him

words “Beshrew me much, Emilia, I was, unhandsome warrior as 1 am,

"Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul,

But I do love thee! And when I love thee Arraigning his unkindness with my soul ; But now I find I had suborn'd the witness,

not, And he's indicted falsely."

Chaos is come again !"

Chaos has come ! An artfully muttered "My life upon her faith !"


Indeed !”—a question about Cassio's whatever these words were for Othello, previous acquaintance with his wife, they were ever dear to her, believing, as

and his suspicion is at once aroused. she does almost to the last, that her

Othello insists upon knowing Iago's noble Moor's love and trust were as

" thinkings,” on wringing from him the absolute as her own. In this her very meanings of his stops,” gives admisinnocence, in her loyalty to her hus- sion to the idea that he may be wrong. band, and to his friend Michael Cassio, ed ; and when Iago, by way of seeming lago finds the easy means to accomplish warning, bids him beware of "jealhis fiendish purpose. It is the highest tribute to Desdemona clamation, “ Oh misery !" that the word

ousy," you see, from his agonized exthat she alone is unbeguiled by Iago's has sunk' into the very depths of his subtlety. Othello, Roderigo, Cassio, being. All the love, all the devoted Emilia, he plays upon them all, uses

self-sacrifice of Desdemona, all sense of them, gets within his fatal grasp, makes what is due to her and to himself, are of them his tools or his dupes, leads forgotten. He suffers Iago to remind them on blindly to their own undoing. him of her father's parting words, and so Not so Desdemona.

to pour his envenumed slime upon this 'Oh, she was innocent !

fair creature, to whom he owes so much, And to be innocent is nature's wisdom !

that her name and fame can never again Oh, surer than suspicion's hundred eyes

in life show fair in his eyes. Is that fine sense, which to the pure in lieart, By mere oppugnancy of their own goodness,

* She's gone ; I am abused, and my relief Reveals the approach of evil !".

Must be to loathe her." Iago, conscious of this, makes no at- And thus, because of the foul words, tempt to deceive her. His victim she the vile suggestion of this base Machiamay be, but he feels she will never be vellian trickster, the life of these two his dupe. After the first meeting in noble beings is turned from paradise to Cyprus, he appears never to have come hell, and there is no more peace nor joy into contact with her, until she sends for either of them.

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Othello is right, when he says of Iago he would have been among her suitors. that he

But no. All his advantages of person, “ Knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,

of mind and manners, had given him no Of human dealings.”

hold even upon her fancy. His best re

commendation to her had been, that he But that he should think him“ honest, was very eloquent in Othello's praise. this is the marvel. Nor less marvel is

“What! Michael Cassio, it, that knowing him to be but a “ rough That came a-wooing with you, and so many a soldier," and, as Iago says of himself, time, by nature apt to spy into abuses,” and when I have spoke of you dispraisingly,

Hath ta'en your part !" to “shape things that are not," he can allow him, even distantly, to approach As if she had ever spoken of him disthe sanctuary of his wife's virtue. Men, praisingly, except, perhaps, for the as we know, may possess all manly gifts, pleasure of having her ears filled with and be as decorous and moral in their his praises by one who “had known conduct as need be, yet, through some him long”! Yet not a thought of this defect of nature or of training, or of crosses Othello's mind ; and he leaps at both, may be quite incapable of con- once to the conclusion that both the ceiving the noblest qualities of woman

tried friend and the wife who had forhood. To understand these, there must sworn for his sake “ country, credit, be some sympathy, some affinity. everything, ' were false to him. And Therefore Iago might be in a sense

this he does upon the mere suggestion “ honest,” yet totally unfit to speak or of a villain whom he absurdly believes be listened to on such a subject. Had to be " of exceeding honesty." Truly

Othello been really the “ noble Moor," had Iago gauged him when he said as “true of mind" as Desdemona “The Moor is of a free and open nature, thought him, he would, at the lightest That thinks men honest that but seem to be aspersion of his wife, have recoiled from Iago as from a serpent. He would have

And will as tenderly be led by the nose

As asses are !" crushed the insolent traducer and his vile suggestions beneath his heel in bit. But Iago could neither see nor feel that terest contempt.

his nature, free and open as it might be, Not easily jealous !” Of all men,

lacked that true nobility which, being Othello had cause not to be jealous. itself incapable of baseness, is resolutely Capable as he had proved himself of ad- closed to innuendoes against those it miring Desdemona's trustful, reverential loves. Alas the while ! But for this love, of appreciating her graceful, play- fatal defect, how could Othello have ful fondness-new as it was to him, and fallen so easy a prey to his malignant touching, as it did, chords which had tempter, how could he have come so never vibrated during a life spent readily to believe that he had been dishitherto among men in the rough scenes

carded there, where, as he says, he had of war, his senses fascinated by her 'garner'd up his heart'' beauty, as his mind was by the purity "Where either I must live or have no life ; and sympathy of hers-how could he The fountain from the which my current runs, fall away from his allegiance so soon ?

Or else dries up”? Was such a woman as Desdemona likely We feel with him when he exclaims, to become untrue because he had not a “Oh, the pity of it, the pity of it !” but fair skin or silky manners? “She had we feel, too, that had he but possessed eyes, and chose me !" Or why should some of Desdemona's loyalty, some he think he had been displaced in her grains of common-sense, all lago's snares affections by Cassio ? Cassio was obvi- might have been set for him in vain. ously an older friend of Desdemona For, after all, Iago, as I have said, than himself, a welcome visitor at Bra- seems to me but a poor trickster at the bantio's house ; for in their wooing he best. He acts from the basest motives,

'went between them very oft." He and works by artifices the shallowest as makes no secret of his admiration of well as the most vile, artifices liable to Desdemona ; and we may be sure that, be upset at any moment by the merest had she shown him the slightest favor, casualty. He hates Othello mortally for

having, as he thinks, unfairly kept him this type ; and I think the judgment
out of his lieutenancy. If Othello erred misplaced which can find it in his ex-
in this, his injustice is paid for by a fear- pressed determination to answer no ques-
ful penalty. Iago's jealousy of Othello tions, even upon the rack. He had al-
with his wife is but one of those con- ready said too much in his garrulous
scious sacrifices to what he himself calls boast of having tricked his victims by
the “divinity of hell," which he resorts dropping Desdemona's handkerchief in
to as juggles with his own conscience. Cassio's chamber. A cleverer villain
He hates Cassio for the same cause, and would have held his peace. Woeful in-
for supplanting him in his office. He deed it is, that a creature so despicable
hates his wife, as such creatures hate the should have power to hurt Othello's
wives that haveoutlived their liking.” mind past curing, to drag it down into
He is brutish in mind as, when he dare the very mire, that he should have made
be, he is in manners, and he is as sordid him think base thoughts, and stain his
as he is vindictive-using Roderigo, that soul so deeply that no years of peniten-
“poor trash of Venice, as a sponge to tial grief could wash it clean again.
squeeze ducats from. Above all he History has not on record such another
hates Desdemona, because she is imper- inhuman villain. In my young dreams
vious to his arts. Cunning as he is, yet I never could quite decide into which
he is in hourly terror that the net he has of the circles of the Inferno he should
woven to ensnare others may enmesh be cast ; even the worst seemed too
himself. One word of frank explana- good for him.
tion between Othello and Desdemona, a Is not my view of both Othello and
whisper from Emilia that the handker- Iago borne out by the brief, sad story,
chief was given by herself to her hus- that rushes on so swiftly to its ghastly
band, a hint from Roderigo to Desde- climax ? We see little of the blissful
mona of the lies with which Iago has life which Othello and Desdemona lived
fooled him, and all his fine-spun web after their happy union as married lovers
would have fallen to pieces. He knows at Cyprus. After all his terrors for her
this well, and sees no way


but safety, that he should find Desdemona in the murder of his dupes. Koderigo safely landed there before him, is a reand Cassio must be “ removed,” and lief and a joy past all expressing. With the Moor goaded on to murder his wife. a foreboding of evil he fears thatTo murder her, and how ? Othello

Not another comfort like to this would have made her death swift and

Succeeds in unknown fate.' easy by poison. But this is not torture enough to satisfy Iago. "Strangle her in Indeed troubles begin early to press her bed-even the bed she hath contam- upon them. Cassio, their friend, eninated !" When we think of all that has deared to them by the closest ties, so gone before—when with this suggestion unaccountably forgets himself that his still recent on his lips, we see him after- general has at once to strip him of his ward by the side of Desdemona, sum- lieutenancy. This must be a great sormoned by her in her trouble, as her row to them both. Still, the rent is not “”

good friend," we feel inclined to echo irreparable ; and we learn that Othello his own words, There is no such man; would have been glad of a fair excuse it is impossible.”

to reinstate his friend. When DesdeIago has wit enough to see some of mona first speaks for Cassio, we see that the good qualities of his victims, and, she knew Othello's mind. He pretends judging of other men by himself-for he -but only pretends to be absorbed in knows no other standard-he acts with other matters, for the pleasure of hearing full reliance on the vices and the weak- her plead as a petitioner. He puts her nesses of mankind. But he has not wit off only to hear her urge her suit again. enough to see that he is playing a game

“Good, my lord, in which he must lose in the end, for all If I have any grace or power to move you, the odds are against the chance of his His present reconciliation take ; victims being swept away so completely,

For, if he be not one that truly loves you.

That errs in ignorance and not in cunning, that his villany can never come to light.

I have no judgment in an honest face. I see no grandeur in a “ demi-devil' of

Good love, call him back.

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