fastidiousness so peculiar that by itself it proves much of what I have said of Shakespeare:

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Oth. ... Ay, 'twas he that told me first;
An honest man he is, and hates the slime
That sticks on filthy deeds.”

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For a breathing-space now before he is convinced of his fatal error, Othello speaks as the soldier, but in spite of the fact that he has fulfilled his revenge, and should be at his sincerest, we have no word of profound self-revealing. But as soon as he realizes his mistake, his regret becomes as passionate as a woman's and magical in expression:

Cold, cold, my girl!
Even like thy chastity.”

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Another proof that Shakespeare discards the captain, Othello, in order to give utterance to his own jealousy and love, is to be found in the similarity between this speech of Othello and the corresponding speech of Posthumus in “ Cymbeline.” As soon as Posthumus is convinced of his mistake, he calls Iachimo “ Italian fiend” and himself “most credulous fool,” “ egregious murderer,” and so forth. He asks for “ some upright justicer” to punish him as he deserves with “cord or knife or poison,” nay, he will have “ tortures ingenious.” He then praises Imogen as “ the temple of virtue," and again

shouts curses at himself and finally calls upon his love:

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“ O Imogen!
My queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen,
Imogen, Imogen!”

Othello behaves in precisely the same manner; he


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calls Iago that “ demi-devil,” and himself “ an honourable murderer ”; and Iago calls him a credulous fool.” Othello, too, cries for punishment; instead of " tortures ingenious," he will have “ devils” to “whip” him, and “roast him in sulphur.” He

Не praises Desdemona as chaste, “ill-starred wench,"

my girl," and so forth; then curses himself lustily and ends his lament with the words:

“O Desdemon! dead, Desdemon! dead! O!”

The same changes in mood, the same words even —the likeness is so close that it can only be explained as I have explained it; from beginning to end of “ Cymbeline " Posthumus is Shakespeare, and as soon as jealousy, pity, remorse, or any tender emotion seizes Othello he becomes Shakespeare too, and speaks with Shakespeare's voice.

From here on, it is all good work if not great work to Othello's last speech, which merits particular consideration. He begins as the captain, but soon passes into the poet; and then towards the end talks again in quick measure as the man of action. I quote the whole speech, putting into italics the phrases in which the poet betrays himself:


Oth. Soft you; a word or two, before you go. I have done the State some service, and they know it; No more of that.—I pray you in your letters, When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice; then must you speak Of one that loved not wisely, but too well; 1 This speech is curiously like the long speech of Richard II. which I have already noticed; at the beginning Shakespeare speaks as a king for a few lines, then naturally as a poet, and at the end pulls himself up and tries to resume the character.

Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum. Set you down this;
And say, besides, that in Aleppo once,
When a malignant and a turban’d Turk
Beat a Venetian, and traduced the State,
I took by the throat the circumcized dog
And smote him—thus.”

All the memorable words here are the words of the gentle poet revealing his own nature ingenuously. The relief given by tears is exquisitely expressed, but the relief itself is a feminine experience; men usually find that tears humiliate them, and take refuge from their scalding shame in anger. The deathless phrases of the poet's grief must be contrasted with the braggart mouthings of the captain at the end in order to realize how impossible it was Yor Shakespeare to depict a man of deeds.

In the first two acts Shakespeare has tried to present Othello with some sincerity and truth to the dramatic fiction. But as soon as jealousy touches Othello, he becomes the transparent vessel of Shakespeare's own emotion, and is filled with it as with his heart's blood. All the magical phrases in the play are phrases of jealousy, passion, and pity. The character of the captain in Othello is never deeply realized. It is a brave sketch, but, after all, only the merest sketch when compared with Hamlet or Macbeth. We know what they thought of life and death, and of all things in the world and over it; but what do we know of Othello's thoughts upon the deepest matters that concern man? Did he believe even in his stories to Desdemoną?-in the men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders? in his magid handkerchief?' in what Iago calls his “ fantastical lies”? This, I submit, is another important indication that Shakespeare drew Othello, the captain, from the outside; the jealous, tender heart of him is Shakespeare's, but take that away and we scarcely know more of him than the colour of his skin. What interests us in Othello is not his strength, but his weakness, Shakespeare's weakness—his passion and pity, his torture, rage, jealousy and remorse, the successive stages of his soul's Calvary!



Troilus and Cressida

He probed from hell to hell Of human passions, but of love deflowered His wisdom was not.

-Meredith's Sonnet on Shakespeare.


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ITH “Hamlet” and his dreams of an im

possible revenge Shakespeare got rid of some of the perilous stuff which his friend's traitorism had bred in him. In “ Othello” he


deathless expression to the madness of his jealous rage and so cleared his soul, to some extent, of that poisonous infection. But passion in Shakespeare survived hatred of the betrayer and jealousy of him; he had quickly finished with Herbert; but Mary Fitton lived still for him and tempted him perpetually—the lust of the flesh, the desire of the eye, insatiable, cruel as the grave. He will now portray his mistress for us dramatically-unveil her very soul, show the gipsy-wanton as she is. He who has always painted in high lights is now going to paint French fashion, in blackest shadows, for with the years his passion and his bitterness have grown in intensity. Mary Fitton is now 6 false Cressid.” Pandarus says of her in the first scene of the first act:

“ An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen's -well, go to—there were no more comparison between the women.”

Mary Fitton's hair, we know, was raven-black, but

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