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Duke of Venice.
Officers, Gentlemen, Messengers, Musicians, Sailors, Ata
SCENE, for the first Aa, in Venice; during the ret
of the play, at a sea-port in Cyprus,
A CT 1. SCENE I.
Venice. A Street,
Enter Roderigo, and IAGO, Rod. Tush, never tell me?, I take it much unkindly, That thou, Iago,—who haft had my purse, As if the strings were thine,- should't know of this.
lago. 'Sblood, but you will not hear me: if ever I did dream of such a matter, abhor me.
Rod. Thou told'it me, thou did'st hold him in thy hate,
1 The story is taken from Cyntbio's Novels. Pope.
I have not hitherto met with any tranllation of this novel (the sea yenth in the third decad) of so early a date as the age of Shakspeare; but undoubtedly many of those little pamphlets have perished between his time and ours.
This play was first entered at Stationers' Hall, oa. 6, 1621, by Thomas Walkely: STEEVENS.
I have seen a French translation of Cyntbio, by Gabriel Chappuys, Par. 1584. This is not a faithful one; and I suspect, through this medium the work came into Englith. FARMER.
This tragedy I have ascribed (but on no very sure ground) to the year 1611. See An Attempe to ascertain tbe order of Sbakspeare's plays, Vol.I. MALONE.
2 Tush, never tell me,] Thus the quarto, 1622. In the folio the word tuso is omitted. MALONE.
3 Oit capp'd to bim;-) Thus the quarto. The folio reads, ofçapp'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 likely 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.
But he, as loving his own pride and purposes,
That 4 –certes,] i, e, certainly, in truth. Obsolete, So Spenfer, in the Faery Queen, b. 4. c. 9:
« Certes her losse ought me to forrow most." STEEVENS. 5 Forsootb, a great arithmetician,] So, in Romeo and Juliet, Mer. cutio says: “ - one that fights by the book of aritbmetick." STEEY.
Iago, however, means to represent Cailio, not as a person whose arithmetick was one, two, and the third in your borom," 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-cajter. MALONE.
A fellow almoft damn'd in a fair wife;] Sir Thomas Hanmer supposed that the text must be corrupt, because appears from a following part of the play that Casio was an unmarried man. Mr. Steevens has clearly explained the words in the subsequent note : I have therefore no doubt that the text is right; and have not thought it neceffary to insert Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, in which he proposed to read - a fellow almoft damnd in a fair life." Shakspeare, he conceived, might allude to the judgment denounced in the gospel against those of wbus all men speak well. MALONE.
Mr. Tyrwhitt's conjecture is ingenious, but cannot be right; for the malicious lago would never have given Caflio the highest commendation that words can convey, at the very time that he withes to depreciate him to Roderigo: though afterwards, in speaking to himfell, [A& V. sc. i.] he gives him his just character. MASON.
That Caffio was married, is not suficiently implied in the words, & fellow almost dama'd in a fair wife, since they may mean, according to lago's licentious manner of exprefling himself, no more than a man very near being married. This seems to have been the case in refpe& of Caffio.-A& IV. Scene i, lago, speaking to him of Bianca, lays, -Wby, obe cry goes, that you shall marry her. Caffio acknowledges that such a report has been raised, and adds, This is tbe monkey's own giving out: me is persuaded I will marry ber, out of her own love and self-fiattery, not out of my promise. laga then, having heard this report before, very naturally circulates it in his present conversation with Roderigo. If Shakspeare, however, designed Bianca for a curtizan of Cyprus (where Casio had not yet been, and had therefore never seen her,)
That never fet a squadron in the field,
Jago cannot be supposed to allude to the report concerning his marriage with her, and consequently this part of my argument mult fall to the ground.
Had Shakspeare, consistently with Iago's character, meant to make Bim say that Caffio was a&tually damn'd in being married !o a bandjome woman, he would have made him say it outrigbi, and not have interposed the palliative almoft. Whereas what he lays at present amounts to no more than that (however near his marriage) he is not yet compierely damn’d, because he is not absolutely married. The succeeding parts of Iago's conversation sufficiently evince, that the poet thought no inode of conception or expression too brutal for the character. STEEV.
There is no ground whatsoever for suppofing that Shakspeare defigned Bianca for a courtezan of Cyprus. Caffio, who was a Florentine, and Othello's lieutenant, failed from Venice in a ship belonging to Verona, at the same time with the Moor; and what difficulty is there in fuppofing that Bianca, who, Cassio himself informs us, “ haunted him every where,” took her passage in the same vessel with him; or followed him afterwards ? Othello, we may suppose, with some of the Venetian troops, sailed in another vellel; and Desdemona and lago embarked in a third.
Iago, after he has been at Cyprus but one day, speaks of Bianca, (A& IV. 1c. i.) as one whom he had long known: he must therefore (if the poet be there correct) have known her at Venice:
« Now will I question Caffio of Bianca,
“ To beguile many, and be beguil'd by one." ' MALONE. Ingenious as Mr. Tyrrwhitt's conjecture may appear, it but ill accords with the context. lago is enumerating the disqualifications of Callio for his new appointment; but surely his being well spoken of by all men could not be one of them. It is evident from what follows that a report had prevailed at Venice of Cailio's being soon to be married “ to the most fair Bianca." Now as she was in Shakspeare's language « a customer," it was with a view to such a connexion that I ago called the new lieutenant a fellow almost damn'd. It may be gathered from various circumstances that an intercourse between Caffio and Bianca had existed before they left Venice; for Bianca is not only well known to lago at Cyprus, but the upbraids Caffio, (Act Ill. sc. iv.) with having been absent a week from her, when he had not been two days on the island. Hence, and from what Caffio himself relates, (AA IV. sc. i.) I was the orber day talking on the SEA-BANK WITH CERTAIN VENETIANS, and 'THITHER comes obe bauble; by this band fbe falls sbus about my neck;"_t may be presumed the had secretly VOL. IX.
More than a spinster; unless the bookish theorick,
Ву followed him to Cyprus : a conclufion not only necessary to explain the passage in question, but to preserve the consistency of the fable at large.--The sea-bank on which Caffio was conversing with certain Venetians, was at Venice; for he had never till the day before been at Cyprus : he specifies those with whom he conversed as Venetians, because he was himself a Florentine; and he mentions the behaviour of Bianca in their presence, as tending to corroborate the report she had spread that he was soon to marry her. HENLEY.
I think, as I have already mentioned, that Bianca was a Venetian courtezan : but the sea-bank of which Cassio speaks, may have been the shore of Cyprus. In several other instances beside this, our poet appears not to have recollected that the persons of his play had only been one day at Cyprus. I am aware, however, that this circumstance may be urged with equal force against the crncluding part of my own preceding note; and the term sea-bank certainly adds support to what Mr. Henley has suggested, being the very term used by Lewkenor, in his account of the Lito maggior of Venice. See p. 453, n. 2. MALONE.
7 – be bookish theorick,] Tbeorick for tbeory. STEEVENS.
This was the common language of Shakspeare's time. See Vol. III. p. 445, n. 8. MALONE. s-sbe toged consuls-] The rulers of tbe late, or civil gover.
The word is used by Marlowe, in the same sense, in Tombure laine, a tragedy, 1590 :
“ Both we will raigne as consuls of the earth." MALONE. By roged perhaps is meant peaceable, in opposition to the warlike qualifications of which he had been speaking. He might have formed the word in allusion to the Latin adage,--Cedant arma toga. STIEV.
9- mui be be-lced and calm d-] Be lee'd and-be-calm'd are terms of navigation.
I have been informed that one vessel is said to be in the lee of another, when it is so placed that the wind is intercepted from it. Jago's meaning therefore is, that Casio had got to the wind of him, and becalmed him from going on.
To be-calm (as I learn from Falconer's Marine Dictionary) is likewise to obstruct the current of the wind in its patrage to a thip, by any contiguous object. STEFVENS. The quarto, 1622, reads
must be led and calm'de, I suspect therefore that Shakspeare wrote must be lec'd and calmd.