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The Soldiers' musick, and the rites of war
[Exeunt, marching : after which, a peal of Ordnance
are shot off
Desdemona, Daughter to Brabantio, and Wife to Othello.
Oficers, Gentlemen, Mesengers, Musicians,
SCENE, for the First Act, in Venice;
during the rest of the Play, in Cyprus.
O T HELL 0, (1)
The Moor of VENICE.
Enter Rodorigo and lago.
RODORI Ġ O..
That thou; Iago, who haft had my purse,
As if the strings were thine, shouldit know
Iago. But you'll not hear mie. If ever I did dream of such a matter, abhor me. Rod. Thou told'st me, thou didit hold him in thy hate. A a 2
(1) Othello.] The Groundwork of this play is built on a Novel of Cinthio Giraldi, (Dec. 3. Nov. 7.) who seems to have design d his Tale a Document to young Ladies against disproportion'd Marriages : di rion se accompagnare con huomo, cui la Natura & il cielo, & il modo della Vita difgiunge da noi : That they should not link themselves to such, against whom Nature, Providence, and a different way of Living have interpos'd a Bar. Our Poet inculcates no such Moral : but rather, that a Woman may fall in Love with the Virtues and shining Qualities of a Man; and therein overlook the Difference of Complexion and Colour. Mr. Rymer has run riot against the Conduct, Manners, Sentiments, and Diction, of this Play : but in such a Strain, that one is mov'd rather to laugh at the
Tago. Despise me,
Freedom and Coarseness of his Raillery, than provok'd to be downright angry at his Censures. To take a short Sample of his Criticism ;“ Shakespeare in this Play calls 'em the fuper-fubtle Venetians : yet exa“ mine thoroughly the Tragedy, there is nothing in the noble Desdemo.
na, that is not below any Country Chamber-maid with us. And the “ Account, he gives of their Noblemen and Senate, can only be calcu“ lated for the Latitude of Gotham. The Character of the Venetiar “ State is to employ Strangers in their Wars: but fhall a Poet thence
fancy, that they will set a Negro to be their General? or trust a Meer
to defend them against the Turk ?- With us a Black-a-moor might rife " to be a Trumpeter ; but Shakespeare would not have him less than a “ Lieutenant-General. With us a Moor might marry some little Drab, “ or Smallcoal-Wench ; Shakespeare would provide him the Daughter " and Heir of fome great Lord, or Privy-Counfellour : and all the Town “ should reckon it a very suitable Match. Yet the English are not bred
up with that Hatred and Averfion to the Moors, as are the Venetians « who suffer by a perpetual Hoftility from them. Littora littoribus con « traria.
Nothing is more odious in Nature than an improbable Lie: “ and certainly never was any Play fraught like this of Othello with Im“ probabilities.” Evc.
Thus this Critick goes on ; but such Reflexions require no serious An fwer. This Tragedy will continue to have lasting Charms enough to make us blind to such Absurdities, as the Poet thought were not worth his Care.
(2) Oft capt to him:] Thus the oldest Quarto, and some modern Editions; but I have chose to restore the Reading of the first and second Folio Impressions, Off-capt; i. e. ftood Cap in Hand, foliciting him. So, in Anthony; I have ever held my Cap off to thy Fortunes. And in Timon ;
And let his very Breath, whom thoul's obferve,