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DUKE of Venice.
Lodovico, Kinfman to Brabantio and Gratiano. Othello, the Moor, General for the Venetians in Cyprus. Caffio, his. Lieutenant-General.
Iago, Standard-bearer to Othello..
Rodorigo, a foolish Gentleman, in love with Defdemona. Montano, the Moor's Predeceffor in the Government of
Clown, Servant to the Moor.
Defdemona, Daughter to Brabantio, and Wife to Othello. Emilia, Wife to Iago.
Bianca, Curtezan, Miftrefs to Caffio.
Officers, Gentlemen, Meffengers, Muficians, Sailors,
SCENE, for the First Act, in Venice; during the rest of the Play, in Cyprus.
SCENE, a Street in VENICE.
Enter Rodorigo and Iago..
ROD ORIG 0.
EVER tell me, I take it much unkindly,
Iago. But you'll not hear me.
If ever I did dream of fuch a matter, ab, hor me.
Rod. Thou told'ft me, thou didst hold him in thy
Iago. Defpife me,
If I do not. Three Great ones of the city,
Evades them with a bombast circumftance,
"I have already chose my officer. "
"Certes, fays he,
Forfooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Caffio;-("the Florentine's (1)
(1) Forsooth, a great Arithmetician,
One Michael Caffio, a Florentine,
A Fellow almoft damn'd in a fair Wife.] Thus has this Paffage ignorantly been corrupted, (as Mr. Warburton likewise faw with me;) by falfe Pointing, and an Inadvertence to Matter of Fact, thro' the whole Courfe of the Editions. By the Bye, this Play was not publish'd even fingly, that I can find, till fix Years after the Author's Death: and by that Interval became more liable to Errors. I'll fubjoin the Reasons in proof of the Correction. The new Pointing fets Circumstances right, as I shall immediately explain; and it gives a Variety, in lago reporting the Behaviour of Othello, to start into these Breaks; now, to make Othello speak ;- —then, to interrupt what Othello fays with his own private Reflexions; -then, again, to proceed with Othello's Speeches:For this not only marks the Inquietude of Iago's Mind upon the Subject in hand; but likewife fhews the Actor in the Variation of Tone and Gefture, whilft he (in a breath, as 'twere) perfonates alternately Othello and himself. Befides, to come to the Neceffity of the Change made; lago, not Caffio, was the Florentine; lago, not Caffio, was the married Man; lago's Wife attends Desdemona to Cyprus; Caffio has a Miftrefs there, a common Strum. pet; and Iago tells him in the fourth Act,
She gives it out, that you shall marry her:
Which would be very abfurd, if Caffio had been already married at Venice. Befides, our Poet follows the Authority of his Novel in giving the villanous Enfign a fair Wife.
Wherein the toged counflors can propofe (2)
And I, (God bless the mark!) his Moor-fhip's Ancient.
Lago. But there's no remedy, 'tis the curfe of fervice; Preferment goes by letter and affection,
And not by old gradation, where each fecond
To love the Moor.
Rod. I would not follow him then.
Iago. O Sir, content you;
I follow him to ferve my turn upon him.
(2) Wherein the tongued Confuls.] So the generality of the Impreffions read, but the oldeft Quarto has it toged; (which gave the Hint for my Emendation 3) the Senators, that affifted the Duke in Council, in their proper Gowns.-But let me explain, why I have ventured to fubftitute Counsellors in the Room of Confuls: and then, I hope, the Alteration will not appear arbitrary. The Venetian Nobility, 'tis well known, conftitute the great Council of the Senate, and are a Part of the Administration; and fummon'd to affift and counsel the Doge, who is Prince of the Senate; and, in that Regard, has only Precedency before the other Magiftrates. So that, in this Refpect, they may very properly be call'd counsellors. Befides, tho' the Government of Venice was Democratick at firft, under Confuls and Tribunes; that Form of Power has been totally abrogated, fince Doges have been elected: And whatever Confuls of other States may be refident there, yet they have no more a Voice, or Place, in the publick Councils, or in what concerns Peace or War; than foreign Ambassadors can have in our Parliament.