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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Othello, the Moor of Venice
 
Act I. Scene III.
 
A Council Chamber.  The DUKE and Senators sitting at a table.  Officers attending.
  Duke.  There is no composition in these news
That gives them credit.
  First Sen.  Indeed, they are disproportion’d;
My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.        5
  Duke.  And mine, a hundred and forty.
  Sec. Sen.        And mine, two hundred:
But though they jump not on a just account,—
As in these cases, where the aim reports,
’Tis oft with difference,—yet do they all confirm        10
A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.
  Duke.  Nay, it is possible enough to judgment:
I do not so secure me in the error,
But the main article I do approve
In fearful sense.        15
  Sailor.  [Within.]  What, ho! what, ho! what, ho!
  Off.  A messenger from the galleys.
 
Enter a Sailor.
  Duke.        Now, what’s the business?
  Sail.  The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes;        20
So was I bid report here to the state
By Signior Angelo.
  Duke.  How say you by this change?
  First Sen.        This cannot be,
By no assay of reason; ’tis a pageant        25
To keep us in false gaze. When we consider
The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk,
And let ourselves again but understand,
That as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes,
So may he with more facile question bear it,        30
For that it stands not in such war-like brace,
But altogether lacks the abilities
That Rhodes is dress’d in: if we make thought of this,
We must not think the Turk is so unskilful
To leave that latest which concerns him first,        35
Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain,
To wake and wage a danger profitless.
  Duke.  Nay, in all confidence, he’s not for Rhodes.
  Off.  Here is more news.
 
Enter a Messenger.
        40
  Mess.  The Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
Steering with due course toward the isle of Rhodes,
Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
  First Sen.  Ay, so I thought. How many, as you guess?
  Mess.  Of thirty sail; and now they do re-stem        45
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
Your trusty and most valiant servitor,
With his free duty recommends you thus,
And prays you to believe him.        50
  Duke.  ’Tis certain then, for Cyprus.
Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?
  First Sen.  He’s now in Florence.
  Duke.  Write from us to him; post-post-haste dispatch.
  First Sen.  Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor.        55
 
Enter BRABANTIO, OTHELLO, IAGO, RODERIGO, and Officers.
  Duke.  Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
Against the general enemy Ottoman.
[To BRABANTIO.]  I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior;
We lack’d your counsel and your help to-night.        60
  Bra.  So did I yours. Good your grace, pardon me;
Neither my place nor aught I heard of business
Hath rais’d me from my bed, nor doth the general care
Take hold of me, for my particular grief
Is of so flood-gate and o’erbearing nature        65
That it engluts and swallows other sorrows
And it is still itself.
  Duke.        Why, what’s the matter?
  Bra.  My daughter! O! my daughter.
  Duke. & Sen.        Dead?        70
  Bra.                Ay, to me;
She is abus’d, stol’n from me, and corrupted
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
For nature so preposterously to err,
Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense,        75
Sans witchcraft could not.
  Duke.  Whoe’er he be that in this foul proceeding
Hath thus beguil’d your daughter of herself
And you of her, the bloody book of law
You shall yourself read in the bitter letter        80
After your own sense; yea, though our proper son
Stood in your action.
  Bra.        Humbly I thank your Grace.
Here is the man, this Moor; whom now, it seems,
Your special mandate for the state affairs,        85
Hath hither brought.
  Duke. & Sen.        We are very sorry for it.
  Duke.  [To OTHELLO.]  What, in your own part, can you say to this?
  Bra.  Nothing, but this is so.
  Oth.  Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,        90
My very noble and approv’d good masters,
That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her:
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,        95
And little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace;
For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us’d
Their dearest action in the tented field;
And little of this great world can I speak,        100
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,        105
What conjuration, and what mighty magic,
For such proceeding I am charg’d withal,
I won his daughter.
  Bra.        A maiden never bold;
Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion        110
Blush’d at herself; and she, in spite of nature,
Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on!
It is a judgment maim’d and most imperfect
That will confess perfection so could err        115
Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
To find out practices of cunning hell,
Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
That with some mixtures powerful o’er the blood,
Or with some dram conjur’d to this effect,        120
He wrought upon her.
  Duke.        To vouch this, is no proof,
Without more certain and more overt test
Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
Of modern seeming do prefer against him.        125
  First Sen.  But, Othello, speak:
Did you by indirect and forced courses
Subdue and poison this young maid’s affections;
Or came it by request and such fair question
As soul to soul affordeth?        130
  Oth.        I do beseech you,
Send for the lady to the Sagittary,
And let her speak of me before her father:
If you do find me foul in her report,
The trust, the office I do hold of you,        135
Not only take away, but let your sentence
Even fall upon my life.
  Duke.        Fetch Desdemona hither.
  Oth.  Ancient, conduct them; you best know the place.  [Exeunt IAGO and Attendants.
And, till she come, as truly as to heaven        140
I do confess the vices of my blood,
So justly to your grave ears I’ll present
How I did thrive in this fair lady’s love,
And she in mine.
  Duke.  Say it, Othello.        145
  Oth.  Her father lov’d me; oft invited me;
Still question’d me the story of my life
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes
That I have pass’d.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days        150
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hair-breadth ’scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe        155
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travel’s history;
Wherein of antres vast and desarts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven,
It was my hint to speak, such was the process;        160
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence;        165
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She’d come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse. Which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart        170
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent;
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke        175
That my youth suffer’d. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange;
’Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish’d she had not heard it, yet she wish’d        180
That heaven had made her such a man; she thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov’d her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She lov’d me for the dangers I had pass’d,        185
And I lov’d her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us’d:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it.
 
Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO, and Attendants.
  Duke.  I think this tale would win my daughter too.        190
Good Brabantio,
Take up this mangled matter at the best;
Men do their broken weapons rather use
Than their bare hands.
  Bra.        I pray you, hear her speak:        195
If she confess that she was half the wooer,
Destruction on my head, if my bad blame
Light on the man! Come hither, gentle mistress:
Do you perceive in all this noble company
Where most you owe obedience?        200
  Des.        My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty:
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty,        205
I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband;
And so much duty as my mother show’d
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.        210
  Bra.        God be with you! I have done.
Please it your Grace, on to the state affairs:
I had rather to adopt a child than get it.
Come hither, Moor:
I here do give thee that with all my heart        215
Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel,
I am glad at soul I have no other child;
For thy escape would teach me tyranny,
To hang clogs on them. I have done, my lord.        220
  Duke.  Let me speak like yourself and lay a sentence,
Which as a grize or step, may help these lovers
Into your favour.
When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.        225
To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
What cannot be preserv’d when Fortune takes,
Patience her injury a mockery makes.
The robb’d that smiles steals something from the thief;        230
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
  Bra.  So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile;
We lose it not so long as we can smile.
He bears the sentence well that nothing bears
But the free comfort which from thence he hears;        235
But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow
That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
These sentences, to sugar, or to gall,
Being strong on both sides, are equivocal:
But words are words; I never yet did hear        240
That the bruis’d heart was pierced through the ear.
I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state.
  Duke.  The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for Cyprus. Othello, the fortitude of the place is best known to you; and though we have there a substitute of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer voice on you: you must therefore be content to slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this more stubborn and boisterous expedition.
  Oth.  The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war        245
My thrice-driven bed of down: I do agnize
A natural and prompt alacrity
I find in hardness, and do undertake
These present wars against the Ottomites.
Most humbly therefore bending to your state,        250
I crave fit disposition for my wife,
Due reference of place and exhibition,
With such accommodation and besort
As levels with her breeding.
  Duke.        If you please,        255
Be ’t at her father’s.
  Bra.        I’ll not have it so.
  Oth.  Nor I.
  Des.  Nor I; I would not there reside,
To put my father in impatient thoughts        260
By being in his eye. Most gracious duke,
To my unfolding lend your gracious ear;
And let me find a charter in your voice
To assist my simpleness.
  Duke.  What would you, Desdemona?        265
  Des.  That I did love the Moor to live with him,
My downright violence and storm of fortunes
May trumpet to the world; my heart’s subdu’d
Even to the very quality of my lord;
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,        270
And to his honours and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me,        275
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him.
  Oth.  Let her have your voices.
Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not
To please the palate of my appetite,        280
Nor to comply with heat,—the young affects
In me defunct,—and proper satisfaction,
But to be free and bounteous to her mind;
And heaven defend your good souls that you think
I will your serious and great business scant        285
For she is with me. No, when light-wing’d toys
Of feather’d Cupid seel with wanton dulness
My speculative and offic’d instruments,
That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,        290
And all indign and base adversities
Make head against my estimation!
  Duke.  Be it as you shall privately determine,
Either for her stay or going. The affair cries haste,
And speed must answer it.        295
  First Sen.  You must away to-night.
  Oth.        With all my heart.
  Duke.  At nine i’ the morning here we’ll meet again.
Othello, leave some officer behind,
And he shall our commission bring to you;        300
With such things else of quality and respect
As doth import you.
  Oth.        So please your Grace, my ancient;
A man he is of honesty and trust:
To his conveyance I assign my wife,        305
With what else needful your good grace shall think
To be sent after me.
  Duke.        Let it be so.
Good night to every one.  [To BRABANTIO.]  And, noble signior,
If virtue no delighted beauty lack,        310
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
  First Sen.  Adieu, brave Moor! use Desdemona well.
  Bra.  Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceiv’d her father, and may thee.  [Exeunt DUKE, Senators, Officers, &c.
  Oth.  My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,        315
My Desdemona must I leave to thee:
I prithee, let thy wife attend on her;
And bring them after in the best advantage.
Come, Desdemona; I have but an hour
Of love, of worldly matters and direction,        320
To spend with thee: we must obey the time.  [Exeunt OTHELLO and DESDEMONA.
  Rod.  Iago!
  Iago.  What sayst thou, noble heart?
  Rod.  What will I do, think’st thou?
  Iago.  Why, go to bed, and sleep.        325
  Rod.  I will incontinently drown myself.
  Iago.  Well, if thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why, thou silly gentleman!
  Rod.  It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.
  Iago.  O! villanous; I have looked upon the world for four times seven years, and since I could distinguish betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say, I would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon.
  Rod.  What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so fond; but it is not in my virtue to amend it.        330
  Iago.  Virtue! a fig! ’tis in ourselves that we are thus, or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous conclusions; but we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion.
  Rod.  It cannot be.
  Iago.  It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will. Come, be a man. Drown thyself! drown cats and blind puppies. I have professed me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness; I could never better stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse; follow these wars; defeat thy favour with a usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor,—put money in thy purse,—nor he his to her. It was a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration; put but money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in their wills;—fill thy purse with money:—the food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must change for youth: when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice. She must have change, she must: therefore put money in thy purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money thou canst. If sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian be not too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy joy than to be drowned and go without her.
  Rod.  Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the issue?
  Iago.  Thou art sure of me: go, make money. I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor: my cause is hearted: thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him; if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many events in the womb of time which will be delivered. Traverse; go: provide thy money. We will have more of this to-morrow. Adieu.        335
  Rod.  Where shall we meet i’ the morning?
  Iago.  At my lodging.
  Rod.  I’ll be with thee betimes.
  Iago.  Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?
  Rod.  What say you?        340
  Iago.  No more of drowning, do you hear?
  Rod.  I am changed. I’ll sell all my land.
  Iago.  Go to; farewell! put money enough in your purse.  [Exit RODERIGO.
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;
For I mine own gain’d knowledge should profane,        345
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if ’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,        350
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio’s a proper man; let me see now:
To get his place; and to plume up my will
In double knavery; how, how? Let’s see:        355
After some time to abuse Othello’s ear
That he is too familiar with his wife:
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected; framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,        360
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have ’t; it is engender’d: hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.  [Exit.        365
 
 
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