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was printed by N. O., for Thomas Walkly, to whom it was entered on the Stationers' books, October 6, 1621. The most material variations of this copy from the first folio are pointed out in the notes. The minute differences are so numerous, that to have specified them would only have fatigued the reader. Walkly's Preface will follow these Preliminary Remarks.
Malone first placed the date of the composition of this play in 1611, upon the ground of the allusion, supposed by Warburton, to the creation of the new order of baronets, by King James I. in that year. On the same ground, Mr. Chalmers attributed it to 1614; and Dr. Drake assigned the middle period of 1612. But, this allusion being controverted, Malone subsequently affixed to it the date of 1604, because, as he asserts, “we know it was acted in that year.” He has not stated the evidence for this decisive fact; and Mr. Boswell was unable to discover it among his papers, but gives full credit to it, on the ground that “ Mr. Malone never expressed himself at random.” The allusion to Pliny, translated by Philemon Holland, in 1601, in the simile of the Pontic sea; and the supposed imitation of a passage in Cornwallis's Essays, of the same date, seem to have influenced Mr. Malone in settling the date of this play. What is more certain, is, that it was played before king James at court, in 1613; which circumstance is gathered from the MSS. of Vertue, the engraver.
“ If (says Schlegel) Romeo and Juliet shines with the colors of the dawn of morning, but a dawn whose purple clouds already announce the thunder of a sultry day, Othello is, on the other hand, a strongly-shaded picture; we might call it a tragical Rembrandt.”
Should these parallels between pictorial representation and dramatic poetry be admitted,—for I have my doubts of their propriety,—this is a far more judicious ascription than that of Steevens, who, in a concluding note to this play, would compare it to a picture from the school of Raphael. Poetry is certainly the pabulum of art; and this drama, as every
other of our immortal Bard, offers a series of pictures to the imagina tion, of such varied hues, that artists of every school might from hence be furnished with subjects. What Schlegel means to say, appears to be, that it abounds in strongly-contrasted scenes, but that gloom predominates.
In strong contrast of character, in delineation of the workings of passion in the human breast, in manifestations of profound knowledge of the inmost recesses of the heart, this drama exceeds all that has ever issued from mortal pen. It is indeed true, that “no eloquence is capable of painting the overwhelming catastrophe in Othello,—the pressure of feel. ings which measure out in a moment the abysses of eternity.”
WALKLY'S PREFACE TO OTHELLO,
ED. 1622, 4ro.
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.
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 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 un
kindly, That thou, lago, who hast had my purse, As if the strings were thine,-shouldst know of this.
Iago. '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 capped 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 stuffed with epithets of war; And, in conclusion, nonsuits 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 any officer.
hangman. Iago. But there's no remedy ; 'tis the curse of
service: Preferment goes by letter, and affection, Not by the old gradation, where each second Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,
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 consuls."
5 It was anciently the practice to reckon up sums with counters. 6 i. e by recommendation,