Internet Shakespeare Editions

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  • Title: Othello (Modern)
  • Editor: Jessica Slights
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-466-0

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Jessica Slights
    Peer Reviewed

    Othello (Modern)

    Enter Duke [and] Senators [at a table, with lights] and officers.
    There is no composition in this news
    That gives them credit.
    1 Senator
    Indeed, they are disproportioned;
    My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.
    And mine a hundred forty.
    3302. Senator
    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
    A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.
    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.
    (Within) What ho, what ho, what ho!
    340Enter Sailor.
    A messenger from the galleys.
    Now, what's the business?
    The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes,
    So was I bid report here to the state
    345By Signor Angelo.
    How say you by this change?
    1 Senator
    This cannot be,
    By no assay of reason. 'Tis a pageant
    To keep us in false gaze. When we consider
    350Th'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,
    For that it stands not in such warlike brace,
    355But altogether lacks th'abilities
    That Rhodes is dressed in. If we make thought of this,
    We must not think the Turk is so unskillful
    To leave that latest which concerns him first,
    Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain
    360To wake and wage a danger profitless.
    Nay, in all confidence he's not for Rhodes.
    Here is more news.
    Enter a Messenger.
    The Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
    365Steering with due course toward the isle of Rhodes,
    Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
    1 Senator
    Ay, so I thought. How many, as you guess?
    Of thirty sail; and now they do restem
    Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
    370Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signor Montano,
    Your trusty and most valiant servitor,
    With his free duty, recommends you thus
    And prays you to believe him.
    'Tis certain then for Cyprus.
    375Marcus Luccicos--is not he in town?
    1 Senator
    He's now in Florence.
    Write from us to him; post-post-haste, dispatch.
    1 Senator
    Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor.
    380Enter Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, and officers.
    Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
    Against the general enemy Ottoman.
    [To Brabantio] I did not see you. Welcome, gentle signor.
    385We lacked your counsel and your help tonight.
    So did I yours. Good your grace, pardon me.
    Neither my place nor aught I heard of business
    Hath raised me from my bed; nor doth the general care
    Take hold on me, for my particular grief
    390Is of so floodgate and o'erbearing nature
    That it engluts and swallows other sorrows
    And it is still itself.
    Why? What's the matter?
    My daughter! Oh, my daughter!
    3951 Senator
    Ay, to me.
    She is abused, stolen from me, and corrupted
    By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
    For nature so preposterously to err--
    400Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense--
    Sans witchcraft could not.
    Whoe'er he be that in this foul proceeding
    Hath thus beguiled your daughter of herself,
    And you of her, the bloody book of law
    405You shall yourself read in the bitter letter
    After your own sense, yea, though our proper son
    Stood in your action.
    Humbly I thank your grace.
    Here is the man--this Moor, whom now it seems
    410Your special mandate for the state affairs
    Hath hither brought.
    We are very sorry for't.
    [to Othello] What, in your own part, can you say to this?
    Nothing but "This is so."
    Most potent, grave, and reverend signors,
    My very noble and approved 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
    420Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
    And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace--
    For since these arms of mine had seven year's pith,
    Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
    Their dearest action in the tented field--
    425And little of this great world can I speak
    More than pertains to feats of broils and battle,
    And therefore little shall I grace my cause
    In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
    I will a round, unvarnished tale deliver
    430Of my whole course of love--what drugs, what charms,
    What conjuration, and what mighty magic--
    For such proceeding I am charged withal--
    I won his daughter.
    A maiden never bold,
    Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion
    Blushed at herself, and she--in spite of nature,
    Of years, of country, credit, everything--
    To fall in love with what she feared to look on?
    440It is a judgment maimed and most imperfect
    That will confess perfection so could err
    Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
    To find out practises of cunning hell
    Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
    445That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood,
    Or with some dram conjured to this effect,
    He wrought upon her.
    To vouch this is no proof
    Without more wider and more overt test
    450Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
    Of modern seeming do prefer against him.
    1 Senator
    But, Othello, speak:
    Did you by indirect and forcèd courses
    Subdue and poison this young maid's affections?
    455Or came it by request and such fair question
    As soul to soul affordeth?
    I do beseech you,
    Send for the lady to the Sagittary
    And let her speak of me before her father;
    460If you do find me foul in her report,
    The trust, the office I do hold of you
    Not only take away, but let your sentence
    Even fall upon my life.
    Fetch Desdemona hither.
    [Exeunt two or three officers.]
    Ancient, conduct them; you best know the place.
    [Exit Iago.]
    And till she come, as truly as to heaven
    I do confess the vices of my blood,
    So justly to your grave ears I'll present
    470How I did thrive in this fair lady's love,
    And she in mine.
    Say it, Othello.
    Her father loved me, oft invited me,
    Still questioned me the story of my life
    475From year to year--the battle, sieges, fortune
    That I have passed.
    I ran it through, even from my boyish days
    To th'very moment that he bade me tell it,
    Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
    480Of moving accidents by flood and field,
    Of hairbreadth scapes i'th'imminent deadly breach;
    Of being taken by the insolent foe
    And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
    And portance in my traveler's history,
    485Wherein of antars vast and deserts idle,
    Rough quarries, rocks, hills whose heads touch heaven,
    It was my hint to speak--such was my process--
    And of the cannibals that each other eat,
    The anthropophagi, and men whose heads
    490Do grow beneath their shoulders. These things to hear
    Would Desdemona seriously incline,
    But still the house affairs would draw her thence,
    Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
    She'd come again and with a greedy ear
    495Devour up my discourse; which I, observing,
    Took once a pliant hour and found good means
    To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
    That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
    Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
    500But not intentively. I did consent,
    And often did beguile her of her tears
    When I did speak of some distressful stroke
    That my youth suffered. My story being done,
    She gave me for my pains a world of kisses;
    505She swore in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;
    'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.
    She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished
    That heaven had made her such a man. She thanked me,
    And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
    510I should but teach him how to tell my story
    And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake.
    She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
    And I loved her that she did pity them.
    This only is the witchcraft I have used.
    515Here comes the lady; let her witness it.
    Enter Desdemona, Iago, [and] attendants.
    I think this tale would win my daughter too.
    Good Brabantio, take up this mangled matter at the best.
    Men do their broken weapons rather use
    520Than their bare hands.
    I pray you hear her speak.
    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.
    525Do you perceive in all this noble company
    Where most you owe obedience?
    My noble father,
    I do perceive here a divided duty.
    To you I am bound for life and education;
    530My life and education both do learn me
    How to respect you. You are the lord of duty;
    I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my husband,
    And so much duty as my mother showed
    To you, preferring you before her father,
    535So much I challenge that I may profess
    Due to the Moor my lord.
    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.
    540Come hither, Moor.
    [To Othello] I here do give thee that with all my heart
    Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
    I would keep from thee. [To Desdemona] For your sake, jewel,
    I am glad at soul I have no other child,
    545For thy escape would teach me tyranny
    To hang clogs on them. [To the Duke] I have done, my lord.
    Let me speak like yourself and lay a sentence,
    Which as a grise or step may help these lovers
    549.1Into your favor.
    550When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
    By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
    To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
    Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
    What cannot be preserved when fortune takes,
    555Patience her injury a mockery makes.
    The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief;
    He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
    So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile;
    We lose it not so long as we can smile.
    560He bears the sentence well that nothing bears,
    But the free comfort which from thence he hears;
    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,
    565Being strong on both sides, are equivocal.
    But words are words; I never yet did hear
    That the bruised heart was piercèd through the ears.
    I humbly beseech you proceed to th'affairs of state.
    The Turk with a most mighty preparation 570makes 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 more sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer voice on you. You must therefore be content to slubber 575the gloss of your new fortunes with this more stubborn and boisterous expedition.
    The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
    Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
    My thrice-driven bed of down. I do agnize
    580A natural and prompt alacrity
    I find in hardness, and do undertake
    This present war against the Ottomites.
    Most humbly therefore bending to your state,
    I crave fit disposition for my wife,
    585Due reference of place and exhibition,
    With such accommodation and besort
    As levels with her breeding.
    Why, at her father's.
    I will not have it so.
    Nor I.
    Nor would I there reside
    To put my father in impatient thoughts
    By being in his eye. Most gracious duke,
    To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear,
    595And let me find a charter in your voice
    T'assist my simpleness.
    What would you, Desdemona?
    That I did love the Moor to live with him,
    My downright violence and storm of fortunes
    600May trumpet to the world. My heart's subdued
    Even to the very quality of my lord;
    I saw Othello's visage in his mind,
    And to his honors and his valiant parts
    Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
    605So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
    A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
    The rites for why I love him are bereft me,
    And I a heavy interim shall support
    By his dear absence. Let me go with him.
    Let her have your voice.
    Vouch with me, heaven; I therefore beg it not
    To please the palate of my appetite,
    Nor to comply with heat the young affects
    In my defunct and proper satisfaction,
    615But 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
    When she is with me. No, when light-winged toys
    Of feathered Cupid seel with wanton dullness
    620My speculative and officed instruments
    That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
    Let housewives make a skillet of my helm
    And all indign and base adversities
    Make head against my estimation.
    Be it as you shall privately determine,
    Either for her stay or going. Th'affair cries haste,
    And speed must answer it.
    1 Senator
    You must away tonight.
    Tonight, my lord?
    This night.
    With all my heart.
    At nine i'th'morning here we'll meet again.
    Othello, leave some officer behind
    And he shall our commission bring to you,
    And such things else of quality and respect
    As doth import you.
    So please your grace, my ancient--
    A man he is of honesty and trust--
    To his conveyance I assign my wife,
    With what else needful your good grace shall think
    To be sent after me.
    Let it be so.
    Goodnight to everyone--and, noble signor,
    If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
    Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
    1 Senator
    Adieu, brave Moor, use Desdemona well.
    Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see;
    She has deceived her father, and may thee.
    Exeunt [Duke, Senators, Brabantio, Cassio, Sailor, Messenger, officers, and attendants].
    My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,
    My Desdemona must I leave to thee.
    I prithee let thy wife attend on her,
    650And bring them after in the best advantage.
    Come Desdemona, I have but an hour
    Of love, of worldly matter and direction
    To spend with thee. We must obey the time.
    Exeunt [Othello and Desdemona].
    What sayst thou, noble heart?
    What will I do, think'st thou?
    Why, go to bed and sleep.
    I will incontinently drown myself.
    If thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why, 660thou silly gentleman?
    It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die, when death is our physician.
    Oh, villainous! I have looked upon the world 665for 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.
    What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it.
    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 675nettles 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 beam of our lives 680had 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 685call love to be a sect or scion.
    It cannot be.
    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, 690and 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 thou the wars; defeat thy favor with an usurped beard. I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be long that Desdemona 695should 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. 700The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts shall be to him shortly as acerb as coloquintida. She must change for youth; when she is sated with his body, she will find the errors of her choice. Therefore, put money in thy purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do 705it a more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money thou canst. If sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a super-subtle Venetian be not too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her. Therefore make money. A pox of 710drowning 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.
    Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the issue?
    Thou art sure of me--go, make money--I have told thee often, and I retell 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 720pleasure, 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 tomorrow. Adieu.
    Where shall we meet i'th'morning?
    At my lodging.
    I'll be with thee betimes.
    Go to, farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?
    What say you?
    No more of drowning, do you hear?
    I am changed.
    Go to, farewell. Put money enough in your purse.
    I'll sell all my land.
    Exit [Roderigo].
    Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;
    730For I mine own gained knowledge should profane
    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's done my office. I know not if't be true,
    735But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
    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
    740In double knavery--How? How? Let's see:
    After some time to abuse Othello's ears
    That he is too familiar with his wife.
    He hath a person and a smooth dispose
    To be suspected, framed to make women false.
    745The Moor is of a free and open nature
    That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
    And will as tenderly be led by'th'nose as asses are.
    I have't. It is engendered. Hell and night
    750Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.
    Exit [Iago].