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LAGO. You cannot, if my heart were in your
Отн. На * !
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
* Omitted in quarto.
7 - which doth MOCK
The meat it feeds on ;] i. e. loaths that which nourishes and sustains it. This being a miserable state, lago bids him beware of it. The Oxford editor reads:
which doth make
“ The meat it feeds on.” Implying that its suspicions are unreal and groundless, which is the very contrary to what he would here make his general think, as appears from what follows:
That cuckold lives in bliss,” &c. In a word, the villain is for fixing him jealous : and therefore bids him beware of jealousy, not that it was an unreasonable, but a miserable state ; and this plunges him into it, as we see by his reply, which is only:
“ O misery!” WARBURTON. I have received Hanmer's emendation ; because to mock, does not signify to loath ; and because, when Iago bids Othello beware of jealousy, the green ey'd monster, it is natural to tell why he should beware, and for caution he gives him two reasons, that jealousy often creates its own cause, and that, when the causes are real, jealousy is misery. Johnson.
In this place, and some others, to mock seems the same with to mammock.
FARMER. If Shakspeare had written-a green ey'd monster, we might have supposed him to refer to some creature existing only in his particular imagination; but “the green-ey'd monster” seems to have reference to an object as familiar to his readers as to himself.
It is known that the tiger kind have green eyes, and always play with the victim to their hunger, before they devour it. So, in our author's Tarquin and Lucrece :
“ Like foul night-waking cat, he doth but dally,
“ While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth—," Thus, a jealous husband, who discovers no certain cause why he may be divorced, continues to sport with the woman whom he suspects, and, on more certain evidence, determines to punish. There
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'er,
is no beast that can be literally said to make its own food, and therefore I am unwilling to receive the emendation of Sir Thomas Hanmer, especially as I fatter myself that a glimpse of meaning may be produced from the old reading.
One of the ancient senses of the verb—to mock, is to amuse, to play with. Thus, in A Discourse of Gentlemen Lying in London that were better keep House at Home in their Country, 1593:
“ A fine deuise to keepe poore Kate in health,
“ A pretty toy to mock an ape withal.” i. e, a pretty toy to divert an ape, for an ape to divert himself with. The same phrase occurs in Marston's Satires, the ninth of the third book being intitled “ - Here's a toy to mocke an ape," &c. i. e. afford an ape materials for sport, furnish him with a plaything, though perhaps at his own expence, as the phrase may in this instance be ironically used.
In Antony and Cleopatra, the contested word-mock, occurs again :
tell him “ He mocks the pauses that he makes.” i. e. he plays wantonly with those intervals of time which he should improve to his own preservation.
Should such an explanation be admissible, the advice given by Iago will amount to this :-“ Beware, my lord, of yielding to a passion which as yet has no proofs to justify its excess. Think how the interval between suspicion and certainty must be filled.. Though you doubt her fidelity, you cannot yet refuse her your bed, or drive her from your heart; but, like the capricious savage, must continue to sport with one whom you wait for an opportunity to destroy." A similar idea occurs in All's Well that Ends Well :
so lust doth play “ With what it loaths." Such is the only sense I am able to draw from the original text. What I have said, may be liable to some objections, but I have nothing better to propose. That jealousy is a monster which often creates the suspicions on which it feeds, may be well admitted, according to Sir Thomas Hanmer's proposition ; but is it the monster? (i. e. the well-known and conspicuous animal) or whence has it green eyes? Yellow is the colour which Shakspeare usually appropriates to jealousy. It must be acknowledged, that he afterwards characterizes it as
Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet strongly
What damned minutes tells he o'er," &c. is the best illustration of my attempt to explain the passage.
To produce Sir Thomas Hanmer's meaning, a change in the text is necessary. I am counsel for the old reading. Steevens.
It is so difficult, if not impossible, to extract any sense from this passage as it stands, even by the most forced construction of it, and the slight amendment proposed by Hanmer, renders it so clear, elegant, and poetical, that I am surprized the editors hesitate in adopting it, and still more surprized they should reject it. As for Steevens's objection, that the definite article is used, not the indefinite, he surely need not be told that Shakspeare did not regard such minute inaccuracies, which may be found in every play he wrote.
When Steevens compares the jealous man, who continues to sport with the woman he suspects, and is determined to destroy, to the tiger who plays with the victim of his hunger, he forgets that the meat on which jealousy is supposed to feed, is not the woman who is the object of it, but the several circumstances of suspicion which jealousy itself creates, and which cause and nourish it. So Emilia at the end of the third Act in answer to Desdemona, who, speaking of Othello's jealousy, says :
“Alas the day! I never gave him cause;" replies,
“ But jealous fools will not be answer'd so,
They are not jealous ever for the cause,
“ Begot upon itself, born on itself.”
The same idea occurs in Massinger's Picture, where Matthias, speaking of the groundless jealousy he entertained of Sophia's possible inconstancy, says ::
but why should I nourish,
Holding no real ground on which to raise
“ Or can be false ? Imagin'd food, is food created by imagination, the food that jealousy makes and feeds on. M. Mason.
In order to make way for one alteration, Mr. M. Mason is forced to foist in another; or else poor Shakspeare must be arraigned for a blunder of which he is totally guiltless. This gentleman's objections both to the text in its present state, and to Mr. Steevens's
Oth. O misery!
most happy illustration of it, originate entirely in his own miseonception, and a jumble of figurative with literal expressions. To have been consistent with himself he should have charged Mr. Steevens with maintaining, that it was the property of a jealous husband, first to mock his wife, and afterwards to eat her.
In Act V. the word mocks occurs in a sense somewhat similar to that in the passage before us : “ Emil. O mistress, villainy hath made mocks with love !"
HENLEY. I think myself particularly indebted to Mr. Henley for the support he has given to my sentiments concerning this difficult passage; and shall place more confidence in them since they have been found to deserve his approbation. STEEVENS.
I have not the smallest doubt that Shakspeare wrote make, and have therefore inserted it in my text. The words make and mocke (for such was the old spelling) are often confounded in these plays.
Mr. Steevens in his paraphrase on this passage interprets the word mock by sport; but in what poet or prose-writer, from Chaucer and Mandeville to this day, does the verb to mock, signify to sport with! In the passage from Antony and Cleopatra, I have proved, I think, incontestably, from the metre, and from our poet's usage of this verb in other places, (in which it is followed by a personal pronoun) that Shakspeare must have written
Being so frustrate, tell him, he mocks us by
“ The pauses that he makes.” See Antony and Cleopatra, Act V. Sc. I. Besides ; is it true as a general position that jealousy, (as jealousy) sports or plays with the object of love (allowing this not very delicate interpretation of the words, the meat it feeds on, to be the true one) ? " The position certainly is not true. It is Love, not Jealousy, that sports with the object of its passion ; nor can those circumstances which create suspicion, and which are the meat it feeds on, with any propriety be called the food of love, when the poet has clearly pointed them out as the food or cause of jealousy ; giving it not only being, but nutriment.
“ There is no beast,” it is urged, “ that can literally be said to make its own food.” It is indeed acknowledged, that jealousy is a monster which often creates the suspicions on which it feeds, but is it, we are asked, “the monster? (i. e. a well-known and conspicuous animal ;) and whence has it green eyes? Yellow is the colour which Shakspeare appropriates to jealousy."
But riches, fineless ', is as poor as winter",
it is a
To this I answer, that yellow is not the only colour which Shakspeare appropriates to jealousy, for we have in The Merchant of Venice :
shuddering fear, and green-ey'd jealousy." and I suppose it will not be contended that he was there thinking of any of the tiger kind.
If our poet had written only—“ It is the green-ey'd monster ; beware of it;" the other objection would hold good, and some particular monster, xat' ežoxy, must have been meant; but the words, · It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth,” &c. in my apprehension have precisely the same meaning, as if the poet had written, It is that green-ey'd monster, which," &c. or, green-ey'd monster.”. He is the man in the world whom I would least wish to meet,-is the common phraseology of the present day.
When Othello says to Iago in a former passage, “By heaven, he echoes me, as if there were some monster in his thought,” does any one imagine that any animal whatever was meant ?
The passage in a subsequent scene, to which Mr. Steevens has alluded, strongly supports the emendation which has been made :
-jealousy will not be answer'd so;
Begot upon itself, born on itself.” It is, strictly speaking, as false that any monster can be begot, or born, on itself, as it is, that any monster (whatever may be the colour of its eyes, whether green or yellow,) can make its own food; but, poetically, both are equally true of that monster, jealousy. Mr. Steevens seems to have been aware of this, and therefore has added the word literally : No monster can be literally said to make its own food.”
It should always be remembered, that Shakspeare's allusions scarcely ever answer precisely on both sides ; nor had he ever any care upon this subject. Though he has introduced the word mönster,—when he talked of its making its own food, and being begot by itself, he was still thinking of jealousy only, careless whether there was any animal in the world that would correspond with this description.
That by the words, “ the meat it feeds on," is meant, not Desdemona herself, as has been maintained, but pabulum zelotypiæ, may be likewise inferred from a preceding passage in which a kindred imagery is found :
“ That policy may either last so long,