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not shake;" and every thing about him seems to warrant this opinion. Though the subject of strong passions, he has ennobled them by subordinating them to higher principles ; for, if kept under reason, the stronger they are, the more they exalt reason. Which feature of Othello's character is finely exemplified at his meeting with Brabantio and attendants, when, upon the prospect of a fight between the parties, he quiets them by exclaiming in a sort of playful earnestness,“ keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them;" and replies to Brabantio's, “ Down with him, thief !” “Good Signior, you shall more command with years than with your weapons.” The same thing appears again, when, after Brabantio has discharged a volley of threats and accusations, the Moor coolly and gently answers, “ Where will
that I go to answer this your charge ?" thus showing that he fully appreciates the old man's cause of anger, and craves an early opportunity to satisfy him. Though he has in no sort wronged Brabantio, he knows very well that he seems to have done so ; his feelings therefore immediately take the old man's part, and he respects his age and condition too much to resent his violence; hears his charges with a sort of rev. erent, submissive defiance, and answers them as knowing them false, yet sensible of their reasonableness, and honouring him the more for making them.
In this manner our sturdy warrior uniformly deports himself. A true hero, he is of course softened into a lamb or roughened into a lion, according as he hears the voice of duty or of danger. Firm, collected, selfbalanced, no upstart exigency disconcerts him, no obloquy exasperates him to violence or recrimination. Peril,
perplexity, provocation rather augment than impair his self-possession; and the more deeply he is stirred, the more calmly and steadily does he act. Such is the man of deep strong passions so perfectly at one among themselves that they cannot be surprised into a tumult of conflicting currents ; passions restrained on all sides alike, and therefore only deepened and strengthened by restraint; as fire in a furnace is made the more intense by confinement, and begins to die out as soon as set free and left to its own will. This “calmness of intensity” is most finely displayed in the Moor's address to the Senate, wherein every word, though it falls on the ear and the heart as softly and sweetly as an evening breeze, seems winged with the central fires of his soul, is charged with life from every faculty and feeling of his nature. All is grace and modesty and gentleness, yet what might and majesty is there! the union of perfect repose with the most impassioned energy.
Perhaps the finest point of contrast between Othello and Iago lies in the method of their intellectual operations. A comparison of the Moor's speech with Iago's habitual style of discourse will unfold the whole difference of their characters. Iago's mind is morbidly introversive and self-explicative; is ever busy spinning out its own loathsome contents: he deals not in objects, but in his diseased notions and deductions, or rather, distortions of them; takes no pleasure in viewing or showing things until he has filled them with himself, until he has baptized them in his own spirit, and he seems inwardly chuckling as he holds them up reeking with the slime he has dipped them in. Every thing about Othello's mind, on the contrary, is direct, healthy,
objective; with the openness and docility of childhood he loses himself in external things; his thoughts are occupied with objects, not with themselves; and he reproduces in smooth transparent diction the truth as revealed to him from without: his mind, in short, is like a elear even mirror which, invisible itself, renders back in its exact shape and colour whatever stands before it; so that we get from him not so much his impressions of things as the things themselves that impress him.
I know of nothing in Shakspeare wherein this quality is more beautifully conspicuous than in the Moor’s account,
“How he did thrive in this fair lady's love,
The dark man eloquent literally speaks in pictures and so describes things that we may almost say he transcribes them into his expressions. We see the silent blushing maiden moving about her household tasks, ever and anon averting her eye upon the earnest warrior ; leaving the door open behind her as she goes out of the room, that she may catch the tones of his voice; hastening to resume her place by her father's side, as though drawn to the spot by some strange inspiration of filial attachment; afraid to look the speaker in the face, yet unable to keep out of his presence; with downcast eye, not seeming to notice him, but drinking in with ear and heart every word of his wondrous tale : the Moor, meanwhile, waxing more eloquent when this modest listener was by, partly because he saw she was interested, and partly because he wished to interest her still more.
And yet we believe every thing Othello
says; for the virtual presence of the things he describes enables us, as it were, to test the fidelity of his representation.
In his simplicity, however, the Moor lets out a truth of which he seems not to have been aware. At Brabantio's fireside so intent was he on what took place around him as to be unconscious of what transpired within him. His quick perception of the interest he had awakened in the lady is a confession of the interest he already took in her. For he would hardly have seen so much had he been indifferent or unconcerned, but was too much delighted with what he saw, to think what made him see it. Thus the state of his mind comes out in his anxiety to know the state of hers. He has been unwittingly making love by his manner before he was even conscious of loving; and thought he was but listening for a disclosure of her feelings, while he was really soliciting a response to his own. In a word, it was his passion that interpreted her conduct; “the wish was father to the thought;" though without his knowing or suspecting it to be so. He hits the hearts of the matter when he says;
“ She loved me for the dangers I had passed ;
And I loved her that she did pity them :"
yet even here he shows that he has construed her emotions of pity into tokens of love, while it was his previous love that made him catch and treasure up her expressions of pity.
Herein is evinced the depth and purity of Othello's passion, that his thoughts are so engrossed with the ob
ject as to preclude all thought of himself; and that he even hears not his own silent requests and confessions from solicitude to catch the lady's answer. Accordingly, it is an old remark, and I hope none the worse for being old, that people when truly falling in love are never aware of the fact; so that if one be aware of the fact, it is a shrewd proof that he is not falling in love. For love, like regeneration, (Southey somewhere calls love a sort of regeneration), always begins or ought to begin at depths where consciousness cannot penetrate: it is a matter wherein heart calls and answers to heart without giving the head any notice of its proceedings; so that the true lover knows not when he became one, and learns that he is one only by the fruit of chaste regards, and honourable wishes, and self-denying acts. Nothing, therefore, can be more exquisitely natural than that the Moor should honestly think he was but returning the lady's passion, while it was his own passion that caused him to see or suspect she had any for him to return. And the lady seems to have con. strued his efforts to interest her into a confession of the interest he already took in her ; whereupon, appreciating the delicacy that kept him from speaking, she gave him a hint of encouragement to speak.
With the Moor, however, reverence keeps pace with affection. Modest and fearful, as knowing his disadvantages of person and origin, he dare not presume on the gentle lady's favour, and involuntarily seeks some tacit assurance of a return of his passion as a sort of permission to cherish and confess it. The object that attracts at the same time awes and subdues him. Irresistibly drawn towards the lady, still he dares not ap