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no comfort but in social corrosives; and who, from mere want of something to do, can at any time suspect their neighbours, and then turn their suspicion into a ground of proceeding against them. Thus they are never without an occasion : no sooner have their minds generated the suspicion than proofs begin to follow in ; a thousand little incidents, which before were scarce thought of, or perhaps remembered only to be admired, begin to wear a new aspect ; they now wonder that they have never seen them in their true light before: and fancy themselves bound by the ties of good neighbourhood to put down the sins which they have had the sagacity to detect; thus taking credit to themselves for benefiting society while merely indulging a passion for mischief.
LECTURE XV I.
TRAGEDY OF OTHELLO CONTINUED.
It was a favourite remark of Lord Bacon's, that "to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him, and wind him, and govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous.” If such be the character of one who goes about to work, and wind, and govern others, he would naturally seek his victims among those of an opposite character; for to attempt those minded like himself, would argue a want of that very tact and sagacity whereby he is to succeed. So that, in such an undertaking, we should look to see the man of cunning against the man of honour; the man of ignoble arts against the man of noble mind; the man of a double and cloven heart against the man whose heart is entire and ingenuous: which, it seems to me, very truly expresses the nature of the contrast between Iago and Othello.
That such is Othello's character, is not only to be presumed from Iago's undertaking to overreach and entrap him, but is to be gathered and inferred from what Iago says about him:
“ Three great ones of the city, In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capped to him :
Against whom would a shrewd, scoffing, malignant rogue like Iago be most likely to utter such sneers as these, of " loving his own pride and purposes," and of using "a bombast circumstance horribly stuffed with epithets of war ?" None, it seems to me, but a man of the highest honour and integrity would appear, in the view of Iagoism, such a pompous strutting ineffectuality as Iago here represents the Moor to be.
For a truly upright, honourable man naturally disdains to be the advocate or apologist of himself: it is enough that he stands justified to his own sense of right; and he will not stoop to justify himself to those who are entitled, after all, but to hold an opinion. If others dislike his course, his proper answer is, that he did not take it to please them, and was not bound to seek their approbation. Besides, such a man will as little allow others to trespass upon his authority as he will allow himself to transcend it. He acts from his own mind, not from theirs, and expects them to confide in him so far as to presume the thing is right because he has done it. To explain his conduct, save where he is responsible, looks like trying to convince them he is right, like soliciting their endorsement of his course, as though the consciousness of rectitude were not enough to support him. Moreover, true honour always desires to be
its own reward, and it ceases to be its own reward when it seeks a reward in the approval of others; that is, it is then no longer honour, but mere ambition. The subject, therefore, of such a sentiment naturally surrenders himself to his own convictions, fearlessly leaving it to the results to vindicate his course.
To subtle, crafty, intriguing men the answers of such a man, when urged with their questions, seem haughty and grandiloquent. Speaking from honour not from strategy, his reply seems bombastic and absurd to mere strategists, partly because it is above their comprehension, and partly because it implies a reproach on their own low-thoughtedness.
But heroism, how ridiculous soever it may seem to the eye of cunning, is very apt to succeed; for, if it does not convince the reason of men, it takes their feelings, and men may be led much farther by the heart than by the head.—Though the knave naturally conceives the hero a dunce, he is forced, nevertheless, to acknowledge the hero's success. Iago's sneers, therefore, at Othello are very properly followed by a confession of his importance to the state. Insensible to the Moor's nobility of character, he is aware of his utility as an instrument, and concedes the high value of his services while expressing contempt for his qualities. Knowing “the state cannot with safety cast him," for that “another of his fathom have they not to lead their business,” Iago therefore feels obliged to “show out a flag and sign of love," notwithstanding his alleged hate ; and here again we have the natural bearing of the politic rogue towards a man of real honour. The rogue fears to be known as the enemy of such a man, and, from
envy of his success, affects to scorn his qualities; for the only direct triumph left to a bad man over his envied superiors, is to scoff at the very gifts for which he envies them.
So that, as often happens in real life, Iago's lying, intended to dupe and deceive Roderigo, is so managed as to effect his immediate purpose, and at the same time be more or less suggestive and significant of the truth. The intimations thus derived from Iago lead us to regard the Moor, before we meet him, as one who deliberates with calmness, and therefore decides with firmness. His refusing to explain his conduct where he is not responsible is a pledge that he will not shrink from any responsibility where he truly owes it; and that, as he acts from honour and duty, so he will cheerfully abide the consequences. In his reply when Iago counsels him to elude Brabantio's pursuit,
“ Not I: I must be found; My parts, my title, and my perfect soul, Shall manifest me rightly;"
all our anticipations are realized. Full of frankness, equanimity, and firmness, he is contented to work and wait, leaving the reasons of his conduct to appear in the issues thereof; whereas a man like Iago, on the contrary, delights in stating his reasons; will even go out of his way to state them, because it gives scope for activity and display of intellect, and so gratifies his pride of reason.
From his characteristic intrepidity and calmness the Moor, as we learn in the sequel, has come to be regarded by those who best know him as one whom " passion can