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WALKLY'S PREFACE TO OTHELLO,
ED. 1622, 4TO.
THE STATIONER TO THE READER.
To set forth a booke without an Epistle, were like to the old English proverbe, "A blew coat without a badge ;" and the author being dead, I thought good to take that piece of worke upon me: To commend it, I will not; for that which is good, I hope every man will commend without intreaty: and I am the bolder, because the Author's name is sufficient to vent his worke. Thus leaving every one to the liberty of judgment, I have ventured to print this play, and leave it the generall censure. Yours,
Duke of Venice.
GRATIANO, Brother to Brabantio.
CASSIO, his Lieutenant;
RODERIGO, a Venetian Gentleman.
MONTANO, Othello's Predecessor in the Government of Cyprus. Clown, Servant to Othello.
DESDEMONA, Daughter to Brabantio, and Wife to Othello.
BIANCA, a Courtesan, Mistress to Cassio.
Officers, Gentlemen, Messengers, Musicians, Sailors,
SCENE, for the first Act, in Venice; during the rest of the Play, at a Seaport in Cyprus.
OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE.
SCENE I. Venice. A Street.
Enter RODERIGO and IAGO.
Roderigo. TUSH, never tell me; I take it much unkindly,
That thou, Iago,-who hast had my purse,
As if the strings were thine,—shouldst know of this.
Rod. Thou told'st me, thou didst hold him in thy hate.
Three great ones
Iago. Despise me, if I do not. of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
My mediators; for, certes, says he,
1 To cap is to salute by taking off the cap; it is still an academic phrase. The folio reads, "Off-capped."
2 Circumstance signifies circumlocution.
I have already chose my officer.
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,1
As masterly as he. Mere prattle, without practice,
Iago. But there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service;
Preferment goes by letter, and affection,
1 Iago probably means to represent Cassio as a man who knew no more of a squadron than the number of men it contained. He afterwards calls him" this counter-caster."
2 The folio reads, dambd. This passage has given rise to much discussion. Mr. Tyrwhitt thought that we should read, “almost damned in a fair life;" alluding to the judgment denounced in the Gospel against those "of whom all men speak well." Mr. Singer would be contented to adopt his emendation, but with a different interpretation:-" A fellow almost damned (i. e. lost from luxurious habits) in the serene or equable tenor of his life." The passage, as it stands at present, has been said by Steevens to mean, according to Iago's licentious manner of expressing himself, no more than a man "very near being married." This seems to have been the case in respect to Cassio. Mr. Boswell suspects that there may be some corruption in the text.
3 i. e. theory. See All's Well that Ends Well, Act iv. Sc. 3.
4 The rulers of the state, or civil governors. By toged is meant peaceable, in opposition to warlike qualifications. The folio reads "tongued
5 It was anciently the practice to reckon up sums with counters. 6 i. e. by recommendation.
Whether I in any just term am affined 1
To love the Moor.
I would not follow him, then.
Iago. O sir, content you; I follow him to serve my turn upon him. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters Cannot be truly followed. You shall mark Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave, That, doting on his own obsequious bondage, Wears out his time, much like his master's ass, For nought but provender; and, when he's old, cashiered;
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are,
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul; And such a one do I profess myself.
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Rod. What a full fortune 5 does the thick-lips owe, If he can carry't thus!
Call up her father, Rouse him; make after him, poison his delight,
1 "Do I stand within any such terms of propinquity to the Moor, as that I am bound to love him?" The first quarto has assigned.
2 Knave is here used for servant, but with a mixture of contempt. 3 Outward show of civility.
4 This is the reading of the folio. The first quarto reads “doves.” 5 Full fortune is complete good fortune: to owe is to possess.