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Tais tragedy, which Malone supposes to have been written so early as 1604, was first entered at Stationers' Hall, Oct. 6, 1621, and printed the year following
The story is taken from the seventh tale, in the third decad, of Cynthio's Norels; a work, of which it is not believed that any English translation existed in Shakspeare's time; and with the contents of which he must have become acquainted by his knowledge either of the Italian or the French language.
“The time of this play,” says Reed," may be ascertained from the following circumstances : Selymus the Second formed his design against Cyprus in 1569, and took it in 1571. This was the only attempt the Turks ever made upon that island after it came into the bands of the Venetians, (which was in the year 1473,) wherefore the time must fall in with some part of that interval. We learn from the play that there was a junction of the Turkish fleet at Rhodes, in order for the invasion of Cyprus, that it first came sailing towards Cyprus, then went to Rhodes, there met another squadron, and then resumed its way to Cyprus. These are real historical facts which happened when Mustapha, Selymus's general, attacked Cyprus in May, 1570, which therefore is the true period of this performance. See Kolles's History of the Turks, p. 838.846. 867.”
Duke of Venice.
DESDEMONA, daughter to Brabantio, and wife to Othello.
Officers, Gentlemen, Messengers, Musicians, Sailors,
Scene, for the first Act, in Venice; during the rest of the
Play, at a Sea-Port in Cyprus.
a Though the rank which Montano held in Cyprus cannot be exactly ascer tained, yet from many circumstances, we are sure he had not the powers with which Othello was subsequently invested.
Perhaps we do not receive any one of the Personæ Dramatis to Shakspeare's plays, as it was originally drawn up by himself. These appendages are wanting to all the quartos, and are very rarely given in the folio. At the end of this play, however, the following enumeration of persons occurs :
“ The names of the actors.-Othello, the Moore.-Brabantio, Father to Desdemona.—Cassio, an Honourable Lieutenant.—Iago, a Villaine-Rodorigo, a gulld Gentleman.Duke of Venice.- Senators.--Montano, Governour of Cyprus.Gentlemen of Cyprus.—Lodovico, and Gratiano, two noble Venetians.—Saylors.Clowne.- Desdemona, Wife to Othello.-- Æmilia, Wife to lagi.---Bianca, a Curtezan."-STEEVENS.
THE MOOR OF VENICE.
Scene I.–Venice. A Street.
Enter Roderigo and IAGO. Rod. Tush, never tell me, I take it much unkindly, That thou, lago,-who hast had my purse, As if the strings were thine,-should'st know of this.
lago. 'Sblood, but you will not hear me :If ever I did dream of such a matter,
Rod. Thou told'st me, thou did'st hold him in thy hate.
Iago. Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the In personal suit to make me bis lieutenant, [city, Off-capp'd to him :-and, by the faith of man, I know my price, I am worth no worse a place : But he, as loving his own pride and purposes, Evades them, with a bombast circumstance, Horribly stuff’d with epithets of war; And, in conclusion, nonsuits My mediators; for certes, says he, I have already chose my officer. And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
* Off-capp'd - ] This is the reading of the folio.
circumstance,)-bere signifies circumlocution.--Reed.
a Florentine,] It appears from many passages of this play, rightly understood, that Cassio was a Florentine, and lage a Venetian. -HANMER.
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;'
Rod. By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.
Iago. But there's no remedy, 'tis the curse of service;
I would not follow him then.
e A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife ;] If the text is correct, we must adopt Steevens's interpretation of this difficult passage, and suppose that Iago means to say, with reference to Cassio's connexion with Bianca, that he is very near being married to a fair, bad woman. Tyrwhitt conjectures that we shoold read life for wife, and adds, “the allusion is evident to the gospel-judgment against those, of whom all men speak well.”
theorick,] i.e. Theory.
toged consuls-] The rulers of the state, or civil governors. By toged perhaps is meant peaceable, in opposition to the warlike qualifications of which he bad been speaking. He might have formed the word in allusion to the Latịn adage, - Cedant arma toga.-MALONE and STEEVENS.
be-lee'd and calm'd-] Terms of navigation.
this counter-caster;] It was anciently the practice to reckon up sums with counters.--STEEVFN$.
bless the mark!] Kelly, in his comments on Scots proverbs, observes, that the Scots, when they compare person to person, use this exclamation.STBEVENS.
by letter,] By recommendation from powerful friends.-Jounsox. m Whether I in any just term am affin'd-] Do I stand within any such terms of propinquity, or relation to the Moor, as that it is my duty to love him?Johnson.
That, doating on his own obsequious bondage,
coats, Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul; And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir, It is as sure as you are Roderigo, Were I the Moor, I would not be lago: In following him, I follow but myself; Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my peculiar end: For when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and figure of my heart In compliment extern,• tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my
sleeve For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.
Rod. What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe,'
Call up her father, ,
lose some colour.
knaves:) Knave is here for servant, but with a sly mixture of contempt. -Jornson.
• In compliment extern,] In that which I do only for an outward show of civility. Johnson.
P What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe,] Full fortune is, I believe, a com plete piece of good fortune. Owe is possess. —-STEEVENS.