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show the duration of the action from the arrival in Cyprus to the murder, these hints have simply no existence for him and are perfectly useless. The theory, therefore, does not explain the existence of 'Short Time.' (b) It is not the case that 'Short Time' is wanted only to produce an impression of vehemence and haste, and Long Time' for probability. The 'Short Time' is equally wanted for probability: for it is grossly improbable that Iago's intrigue should not break down if Othello spends a week or weeks between the successful temptation and his execution of justice. (c) And this brings me to the most important point, which appears to have escaped notice. The place where 'Long Time' is wanted is not within Iago's intrigue. Long Time is required simply and solely because the intrigue and its circumstances presuppose a marriage consummated, and an adultery possible, for (let us say) some weeks. But, granted that lapse between the marriage and the temptation, there is no reason whatever why more than a few days or even one day should elapse between this temptation and the murder. The whole trouble arises because the temptation begins on the morning after the consummated marriage. Let some three weeks elapse between the first night at Cyprus and the temptation; let the brawl which ends in the disgrace of Cassio occur not on that night but three weeks later; or again let it occur that night, but let three weeks elapse before the intercession of Desdemona and the temptation of Iago begin. All will then be clear. Cassio has time to make acquaintance with Bianca, and to neglect her: the Senate has time to hear of the perdition of the Turkish fleet and to recall Othello: the accusations of Iago cease to be ridiculous; and the headlong speed of the action after the temptation has begun is quite in place. Now, too, there is no reason why we should not be affected by the hints of time ('to-day,' 'to-night,' 'even now '), which we do perceive (though we do not calculate them out). And, lastly, this supposition corresponds with our natural impression, which is that the temptation and what follows it take place some little while after the marriage, but occupy, themselves, a very short time.
Now, of course, the supposition just described is no fact. As the play stands, it is quite certain that there is no space of three weeks, or anything like it, either between the arrival in Cyprus and the brawl, or between the brawl and the temptation. And
I draw attention to the supposition chiefly to show that quite a small change would remove the difficulties, and to insist that there is nothing wrong at all in regard to the time from the temptation onward. How to account for the existing contradictions I do not at all profess to know, and I will merely mention two possibilities.
Possibly, as Mr. Daniel observes, the play has been tampered with. We have no text earlier than 1622, six years after Shakespeare's death. It may be suggested, then, that in the play, as Shakespeare wrote it, there was a gap of some weeks between the arrival in Cyprus and Cassio's brawl, or (less probably) between the brawl and the temptation. Perhaps there was a scene indicating the lapse of time. Perhaps it was dull, or the play was a little too long, or devotees of the unity of time made sport of a second breach of that unity coming just after the breach caused by the voyage. Perhaps accordingly the owners of the play altered, or hired a dramatist to alter, the arrangement at this point, and this was unwittingly done in such a way as to produce the contradictions we are engaged on. There is nothing intrinsically unlikely in this idea; and certainly, I think, the amount of such corruption of Shakespeare's texts by the players is usually rather underrated than otherwise. But I cannot say I see any signs of foreign alteration in the text, though it is somewhat odd that Roderigo, who makes no complaint on the day of the arrival in Cyprus when he is being persuaded to draw Cassio into a quarrel that night, should, directly after the quarrel (11. iii. 370), complain that he is making no advance in his pursuit of Desdemona, and should speak as though he had been in Cyprus long enough to have spent nearly all the money he brought from Venice.
Or, possibly, Shakespeare's original plan was to allow some time to elapse after the arrival at Cyprus, but when he reached the point he found it troublesome to indicate this lapse in an interesting way, and convenient to produce Cassio's fall by means of the rejoicings on the night of the arrival, and then almost necessary to let the request for intercession, and the temptation, follow on the next day. And perhaps he said to himself, No one in the theatre will notice that all this makes an impossible position and I can make all safe by using language that implies that Othello has after all been married for some time. If so, probably he was right. I do not think anyone does notice the
impossibilities either in the theatre or in a casual reading of the play.
Either of these suppositions is possible: neither is, to me, probable. The first seems the less unlikely. If the second is true, Shakespeare did in Othello what he seems to do in no other play. I can believe that he may have done so; but I find it very hard to believe that he produced this impossible situation without knowing it. It is one thing to read a drama or see it, quite another to construct and compose it, and he appears to have imagined the action in Othello with even more than his usual intensity.
THE ADDITIONS' TO OTHELLO IN THE FIRST FOLIO. THE PONTIC SEA.
Quarto (Q1), 1622;
The first printed Othello is the first the second is the first Folio (F1), 1623. two distinct versions of the play. QI contains many oaths and expletives where less objectionable' expressions occur in Fr. Partly for this reason it is believed to represent the earlier text, perhaps the text as it stood before the Act of 1605 against profanity on the stage. Its readings are frequently superior to those of F1, but it wants many lines that appear in F1, which probably represents the acting version in 1623. I give a list of the longer passages absent from QI:
(g) IV. ii. 73-76, 'Committed!'... 'committed!'
(h) IV. ii. 151-164.
(m) v. ii. 185-193.
'Here' . . 'make me.'
Were these passages after-thoughts, composed after the version represented by QI was written? Or were they in the version represented by QI, and only omitted in printing, whether accidentally or because they were also omitted in the theatre? Or were some of them after-thoughts, and others in the original version ?
I will take them in order. (a) can hardly be an after-thought. Up to that point Roderigo had hardly said anything, for Iago had always interposed; and it is very unlikely that Roderigo would now deliver but four lines, and speak at once of 'she' instead of 'your daughter.' Probably this 'omission' represents a 'cut' in stage performance. (b) This may also be the case here. In our texts the omission of the passage would make nonsense, but in QI the 'cut' (if a cut) has been mended, awkwardly enough, by the substitution of 'Such' for 'For' in line 78. In any case, the lines cannot be an addition. (c) cannot be an after-thought, for the sentence is unfinished without it; and that it was not meant to be interrupted is clear, because in Q1 line 31 begins And,' not 'Nay'; the Duke might say 'Nay' if he were cutting the previous speaker short, but not 'And.' (d) is surely no addition. If the lines are cut out, not only is the metre spoilt, but the obvious reason for Iago's words, I see, Sir, you are eaten up with passion,' disappears, and so does the reference of his word 'satisfied' in 393 to Othello's 'satisfied' in 390. (e) is the famous passage about the Pontic Sea, and I reserve it for the present. () As Pope observes, 'no hint of this trash in the first edition,' the 'trash' including the words 'Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing passion without some instruction. It is not words that shake me thus'! There is nothing to prove these lines to be original or an after-thought. The omission of (g) is clearly a printer's error, due to the fact that lines 72 and 76 both end with the word 'committed.' No conclusion can be formed as to (h), nor perhaps (), which includes the whole of Desdemona's song; but if (j) is removed the reference in 'such a deed' in 64 is destroyed. (k) is Emilia's long speech about husbands. It cannot well be an after-thought, for 105-6 evidently refer to 103-4 (even the word 'uses' in 105 refers to 'use' in 103). () is no after-thought, for 'if he says so' in 155 must point back to 'my husband say that she was false!' in 152. (m) might be
an after-thought, but, if so, in the first version the ending 'to speak' occurred twice within three lines, and the reason for Iago's sudden alarm in 193 is much less obvious. If (n) is an addition the original collocation was:
but O vain boast!
Who can control his fate? 'Tis not so now.
Pale as thy smock!
which does not sound probable.
Thus, as it seems to me, in the great majority of cases there is more or less reason to think that the passages wanting in QI were nevertheless parts of the original play, and I cannot in any one case see any positive ground for supposing a subsequent addition. I think that most of the gaps in QI were accidents of printing (like many other smaller gaps in Q1), but that probably one or two were 'cuts'-e.g. Emilia's long speech (k) The omission of (i) might be due to the state of the MS.: the words of the song may have been left out of the dialogue, as appearing on a separate page with the musical notes, or may have been inserted in such an illegible way as to baffle the printer.
I come now to (e), the famous passage about the Pontic Sea. Pope supposed that it formed part of the original version, but approved of its omission, as he considered it 'an unnatural excursion in this place.' Mr. Swinburne thinks it an after-thought, but defends it. In other lips indeed than Othello's, at the crowning minute of culminant agony, the rush of imaginative reminiscence which brings back upon his eyes and ears the lightning foam and tideless thunder of the Pontic Sea might seem a thing less natural than sublime. But Othello has the passion of a poet closed in as it were and shut up behind the passion of a hero' (Study of Shakespeare, p. 184). I quote these words all the more gladly because they will remind the reader of my lectures of my debt to Mr. Swinburne here; and I will only add that the reminiscence here is of precisely the same character as the reminiscences of the Arabian trees and the base Indian in Othello's final speech. But I find it almost impossible to believe that Shakespeare ever wrote the passage without the words about the Pontic Sea. It seems to me almost an imperative demand of imagination that Iago's set speech, if I may use the phrase, should be