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O THE L L O.
-A Great arithmetician,] So, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio says:
one that fights by the book of arithmetick."
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;] In the former editions this hath been printed, a fair wife; but surely it must from the beginning have been a mistake, because it appears from a following part of the play, that Cassio was an unmarried man: on the other hand, his beauty is often hinted at, which it is natural enough for rough soldiers to treat with scorn and ridicule. I read therefore:
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair phyz. HAMMER.
The great difficulty is to understand in what sense any man can be said to be almost damn’d in a fair wife; or fair phyz, as Sir T. Hanmer proposes to read. I cannot find any ground for supposing that either the one or the other have been reputed to be damnable sins in any religion. The poet has used the same mode of expression in The Merchant of Venice, Act 1. sc. 1:
“O my Antonio, I do know of those “ Who therefore only are reputed wise, “ For saying nothing; who, I'm very sure, “ If they should speak, would almost damn those ears, “Which, hearing them, would call their brothers
fools." And there the allusion is evident to the gospel-judgement against those, who call their brothers fools. I am therefore inclined to believe, that the true reading here is,
“ A fellow almost damn'd in a fair life;" and that Shakspeare alludes to the judgement denounced in the gospel against those of whom all men
The character of Cassio is certainly such, as would be very likely to draw upon him all the peril of this denunciation, literally understood. Well-bred, easy, sociable, good-natured; with abilities enough to make him agreeable and useful, but not sufficient to excite the envy of his equals, or to alarm the jealousy of his superiors. It may be observed too, that Shakspeare has thought it proper to make Iago, in several other passages, bear his testimony to the amiable qualities of his rival. In Act 5. scene 1. he speaks thus of him;
if Cassio do remain,
“ That makes me ugly." I will only add, that, however hard or far-fetch'd this allusion (whether Shakspeare's, or only mine) may seem to be, archbishop Sheldon had exactly the same
conceit, when he made that singular compliment, as the writer calls it, (Biog. Britan. Art. Temple] to a nephew of sir William Temple, that “ he had the “curse of the gospel, because all men spoke well of “ him."
Tyrwhitt. -the toged consuls,-] That is, the senators who assisted the duke in council, habited in their gowns. Latin, toga.
* - be-lee'd and calm’d-] One vessel is said to be in the lee of another when it is so placed that the wind is intercepted from it. Jago's meaning therefore is, that Cassio had got the wind of him, and be-calm’d him from going on.
5 By debitor and creditor, this counter-caster;] It was anciently the practice to reckon up sums with counters. To this Shakspeare alludes again in Cymbeline, Act 5.“~it sums up thousands in a trice: you have no true debitor and creditor, but it; of what's past, is, and to come, the discharge. Your neck, sir, is pen, book, and counters,” &c. Again, in scolastus, a comedy, 1529: “ I wyl cast my counters, or with counters make all my reckenynges.
6 Not by the old gradation,) Old gradation, is gradation established by ancient practice.
? What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe,] Full fortune is, I believe, a complete piece of good fortune, as in another scene of this play a full soldier is put for a complete soldier. To owe is in ancient language, to own, to possess.
this is Venice;
are in a populous city, not in a lone house, where a robbery might easily be committed." Grange is strictly and properly the farm of a monastery, where the religious reposited their corn. Grangia, Lat. from Granum. But in Lincolnshire, and in other northern counties, they call every lone house, or farm which stands solitary, a grange.
WARTON, 9 - the beast with two backs.] This is an ancient proverbial expression in the French language, whence Shakspeare probably borrowed it; for in the Dictionaire des Proverbes Françoises, par G. D. B. Brusselles, 1710, 12mo. I find the following article: “Faire la béte a deux dos," pour dire, faire l'amour.
PERCY. — my despised time,] Despised time, is time of no value ; time in which
“There's nothing serious in mortality,
JOHNSON. 12 - the magnifico-) “The chief men of Venice
are by a peculiar name called Magnifici, i. e. magnificoes." Minshew's Dictionary. See too Volpone.
TOLLET. a voice potential As double as the duke's:] Rymer seems to have had his eye on this passage, amongst others, where he talks so much of the impropriety and barbarity in the style of this play. But it is an elegant Grecism. double, signifies as large, as extensive; for thus the Greeks use dita@s. Diosc. l. 2. c. 213. And in the same manner and construction, the Latins sometimes used dupler. And the old French writers say La plus double. Dr. Bentley has been as severe on Milton for as elegant a Grecism:
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove, lib. 9. ver. 396. It is an imitation of the Πάρθενον εκ θαλάμε of Theocritus, for an unmarried virgin. WARBURTON.
This note has been much censured by Mr. Upton, who denies that the quotation is in Dioscorides, and disputes, not without reason, the interpretation of Theocritus.
All this learning, if it had even been what it endeavours to be thought, is, in this place, superfluous. There is no ground of supposing that our author copied or knew the Greek phrase; nor does it follow, that, because a word has two senses in one language, the word which in another answers to one sense should answer to both. Munus, in Latin, signifies both a hand and a troop of soldiers, but we cannot say, that the captain marched at the head of his hand; or, that he laid his troop upon his sword. It is not always in books that