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The first edition of this play, of which we have any certain knowledge, appeared as late as 1622, printed by N. 0. for Thomas Walkly. The most material variations of this copy from the first folio I have pointed out at the bottom of the text, where they have not already been mentioned in the notes. The minute verbal differences which are to be found in it, are so numerous, that to have specified them would only have fatigued the reader. It has been supposed that there was another and an earlier edition in the possession of Mr. Pope, but Mr. Malone has assigned the following reasons, in his copy of quarto 1622, for questioning its existence. “In Pope's List he gives the title of this play (of which he had only one copy) exactly as it stands here, except that he has given no date; from which it has been supposed that there is another edition published by Thomas Walkly, without a date, and not long after Shakspeare's death. Perhaps the date was cut off from his copy. In seventy years no undated copy of this play has been discovered, which makes me doubt whether it ever existed. The quarto copies which had belonged to Pope, afterwards fell into the hands of Warburton, who put them into Mallet's sale in 1766; but I know not to whom they were sold. If they could be recovered, this point might be ascertained. That Pope's copy had no date, appears from his inferring from Walkly's preface, that the play was published soon after Shakspeare's death : which he need not have done, if his copy had had the date ; but I have no doubt it was wanting merely by being cut off, which frequently happens in old plays." Walkly's preface is as follows :
“ 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 to the generall censure. Yours, THOMAS WALKLY.” Boswell.
Duke of Venice.
ment of Cyprus ?.
Othello. EMILIA, Wife to Iago. BIANCA, a Courtezan, Mistress to Cassio. Officers, Gentlemen, Messengers, Musicians, Sailors,
Attendants, &c. SCENE, for the first Act, in Venice; during the
rest of the Play, at a Sea-Port in Cyprus. . Though the rank which Montano held in Cyprus cannot be exactly ascertained, 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 giren 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.- lago, a Villaine.-Rodorigo, a gull’d Gentleman.-Duke of Venice. Senators.--Montano, Governor of Cyprus.-Gentlemen of Cyprus. - Lodovico, and Gratiano, two noble Venetians.-Saylors.-Clowne.-Desdemona, Wife to Othello.- Emilia, Wife to lago. - Bianca, a Curtezan." STEEVENS,
ACT I. SCENE I.
Venice. A Street.
Enter RODERIGO and LAGO. Rod. Tush, never tell me?, I take it much un
kindly, That thou, lago,—who hast had my purse, As if the strings were thine,-should'st know of this.
Jago. 'Sblood, but you will not hear me :If ever I did dream of such a matter, abhor me. Rod. Thou told'st me, thou didst hold him in thy
hate. Lago. Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones
of the city, In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, Oft capp'd to him * ;-and, by the faith of man,
2 Tush, never tell me,] Thus the quarto 1622. The folio omits the interjection- Tush. Steevens.
3 'Sblood, but you will not, &c.] Thus the quarto : the folio suppresses this oath. STEEVENS. : *OFT capp'd to him ;] Thus the quarto, The folio reads, Off-capp'd to him. Steevens. In support of the folio, Antony and Cleopatra may be quoted :
“I have ever held my cap off to thy fortunes.” This reading I once thought to be the true one. But a more intimate knowledge of the quarto copies has convinced me that they ought not without very strong reason to be departed from."
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place :
* First folio omits these three words. Quarto, dambd.
To cap is to salute by taking off the cap. It is still an academick phrase. M. Mason.
s - a bombast CIRCUMSTANCE,] Circumstance signifies circumlocution. So, in Greene's Tu Quoque :
“ You put us to a needless labour, sir,
“ When the plain word, I thank you, would have serv'd." Again, in Massinger's Picture: . “And therefore, without circumstance, to the point,
“ Instruct me what I am.” Again, in Knolles's History of The Turks, p. 576 : “ — wherefore I will not use many words to persuade you to continue in your fidelity and loyalty; neither long circumstance to encourage you to play the men.” Reed.
o- certes,] i.e. certainly, in truth. Obsolete. So, Spenser, in The Fairy Queen, book iv. c. ix. :
“ Certes, her lossè ought me to sorrow most." Steeveys. 7 Forsooth, a great ariTHMETICIAN,] So, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio says: “.- one that fights by the book of arithmetick." STEEVENS.
lago, however, means to represent Cassio, not as a person whose arithmetick was “ one, two, and the third in your bosom," but as a man merely conversant with civil matters, and who knew no more of a squadron than the number of men it contained. So afterwards he calls him this counter-caster. MALONE.
8 a FLORENTINE,] It appears from many passages of this play (rightly understood) that Cassio was a Florentine, and lago a Venetian. HANMER.
9 A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife ;] Sir Thomas Hanmer supposed that the test must be corrupt, because it appears from a following part of the play that Cassio was an unmarried man.
That never set a squadron in the field,
Mr. Steevens has clearly explained the words in a subsequent note : I have therefore no doubt that the text is right; and have not thought it necessary to insert Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, in which he proposed to read —"a fellow almost damn'd in a fair life.” Shakspeare, he conceived, might allude to the judgmert denounced in the gospel against those “ of whom all men speak well.”
MALONE. Mr. Tyrwhitt's conjecture is ingenious, but cannot be right; for the malicious lago would never have given Cassio the highest commendation that words can convey, at the very time that he wishes to depreciate him to Roderigo; though afterwards, in speaking to himself, [Act V. Sc. I.] he gives him his just character.
M. Mason. . That Cassio was married is not sufficiently implied in the words, “ a fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife,” since they mean, according to lago's licentious manner of expressing himself, no more than a man " very near being married.” This seems to have been the case in respect of Cassio.-Act IV. Sc. I., Iago speaking to him of Bianca, says,—" Why, the cry goes, that you shall marry her." Cassio acknowledges that such a report had been raised, and adds, “ This is the monkey's own giving out: she is persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and self flattery, not out of my promise.” lago then, having heard this report before, very naturally circulates it in his present conversation with Roderigo. If Shakspeare, however, designed Bianca for a courtezan of Cyprus, (where Cassio had not yet been, and had therefore never seen her,) lago cannot be supposed to allude to the report concerning his marriage with her, and consequently this part of my argument must fall to the ground.
Had Shakspeare, consistently with Iago's character, meant to make him say that Cassio was “ actually damnd in being married to a handsome woman," he would have made him say it outright, and not have interposed the palliative almost. Whereas what he says at present amounts to no more than that (however near his marriage) he is not yet completely damned, because he is not absolutely married. The succeeding parts of lago's conversation sufficiently evince, that the poet thought no mode of conception or expression too brutal for the character. STEEVENS.
There is no ground whatsoever for supposing that Shakspeare designed Bianca for a courtezan of Cyprus. Cassio, who was a Florentine, and Othello's lieutenant, sailed from Venice in a ship belonging to Verona, at the same time with the Moor ; and what difficulty is there in supposing that Bianca, who, Cassio himself informs us, “ haunted him every where," took her passage in the