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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Othello, the Moor of Venice
 
Act III. Scene III.
 
Before the Castle.
 
Enter DESDEMONA, CASSIO, and EMILIA.
  Des.  Be thou assur’d, good Cassio, I will do
All my abilities in thy behalf.
  Emil.  Good madam, do: I warrant it grieves my husband,        5
As if the case were his.
  Des.  O! that’s an honest fellow. Do not doubt, Cassio,
But I will have my lord and you again
As friendly as you were.
  Cas.        Bounteous madam,        10
Whatever shall become of Michael Cassio,
He’s never anything but your true servant.
  Des.  I know ’t; I thank you. You do love my lord;
You have known him long; and be you well assur’d
He shall in strangeness stand no further off        15
Than in a politic distance.
  Cas.        Ay, but, lady,
That policy may either last so long,
Or feed upon such nice and waterish diet,
Or breed itself so out of circumstance,        20
That, I being absent and my place supplied,
My general will forget my love and service.
  Des.  Do not doubt that; before Emilia here
I give thee warrant of thy place. Assure thee,
If I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it        25
To the last article; my lord shall never rest;
I’ll watch him tame, and talk him out of patience;
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I’ll intermingle every thing he does
With Cassio’s suit. Therefore be merry, Cassio;        30
For thy solicitor shall rather die
Than give thy cause away.
 
Enter OTHELLO, and IAGO at a distance.
  Emil.  Madam, here comes my lord.
  Cas.  Madam, I’ll take my leave.        35
  Des.  Why, stay, and hear me speak.
  Cas.  Madam, not now; I am very ill at ease,
Unfit for mine own purposes.
  Des.  Well, do your discretion.  [Exit CASSIO.
  Iago.  Ha! I like not that.        40
  Oth.        What dost thou say?
  Iago.  Nothing, my lord: or if—I know not what.
  Oth.  Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?
  Iago.  Cassio, my lord? No, sure, I cannot think it
That he would steal away so guilty-like,        45
Seeing you coming.
  Oth.        I do believe ’twas he.
  Des.  How now, my lord!
I have been talking with a suitor here,
A man that languishes in your displeasure.        50
  Oth.  Who is ’t you mean?
  Des.  Why, your lieutenant, Cassio. Good my lord,
If I have any grace or power to move you,
His present reconciliation take;
For if he be not one that truly loves you,        55
That errs in ignorance and not in cunning,
I have no judgment in an honest face.
I prithee call him back.
  Oth.        Went he hence now?
  Des.  Ay, sooth; so humbled,        60
That he hath left part of his grief with me,
To suffer with him. Good love, call him back.
  Oth.  Not now, sweet Desdemona; some other time.
  Des.  But shall ’t be shortly?
  Oth.        The sooner, sweet, for you.        65
  Des.  Shall ’t be to-night at supper?
  Oth.        No, not to-night.
  Des.  To-morrow dinner then?
  Oth.        I shall not dine at home;
I meet the captains at the citadel.        70
  Des.  Why then, to-morrow night; or Tuesday morn;
On Tuesday noon, or night; on Wednesday morn:
I prithee name the time, but let it not
Exceed three days: in faith, he’s penitent;
And yet his trespass, in our common reason,—        75
Save that they say, the wars must make examples
Out of their best,—is not almost a fault
To incur a private check. When shall he come?
Tell me, Othello: I wonder in my soul,
What you could ask me that I should deny,        80
Or stand so mammering on. What! Michael Cassio,
That came a wooing with you, and so many a time,
When I have spoke of you dispraisingly,
Hath ta’en your part; to have so much to do
To bring him in! Trust me, I could do much.—        85
  Oth.  Prithee, no more; let him come when he will;
I will deny thee nothing.
  Des.        Why, this is not a boon;
’Tis as I should entreat you wear your gloves,
Or feed on nourishing dishes, or keep you warm,        90
Or sue to you to do a peculiar profit
To your own person; nay, when I have a suit
Wherein I mean to touch your love indeed,
It shall be full of poise and difficult weight,
And fearful to be granted.        95
  Oth.        I will deny thee nothing:
Whereon, I do beseech thee, grant me this,
To leave me but a little to myself.
  Des.  Shall I deny you? no: farewell, my lord.
  Oth.  Farewell, my Desdemona: I’ll come to thee straight.        100
  Des.  Emilia, come. Be as your fancies teach you;
Whate’er you be, I am obedient.  [Exit, with EMILIA.
  Oth.  Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.        105
  Iago.  My noble lord,—
  Oth.        What dost thou say, Iago?
  Iago.  Did Michael Cassio, when you woo’d my lady,
Know of your love?
  Oth.  He did, from first to last: why dost thou ask?        110
  Iago.  But for a satisfaction of my thought;
No further harm.
  Oth.        Why of thy thought, Iago?
  Iago.  I did not think he had been acquainted with her.
  Oth.  O! yes; and went between us very oft.        115
  Iago.  Indeed!
  Oth.  Indeed! ay, indeed; discern’st thou aught in that?
Is he not honest?
  Iago.        Honest, my lord?
  Oth.                Honest! ay, honest.        120
  Iago.  My lord, for aught I know.
  Oth.  What dost thou think?
  Iago.        Think, my lord!
  Oth.                Think, my lord!
By heaven, he echoes me,        125
As if there were some monster in his thought
Too hideous to be shown. Thou dost mean something:
I heard thee say but now, thou lik’dst not that,
When Cassio left my wife; what didst not like?
And when I told thee he was of my counsel        130
In my whole course of wooing, thou criedst, ‘Indeed!’
And didst contract and purse thy brow together,
As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain
Some horrible conceit. If thou dost love me,
Show me thy thought.        135
  Iago.  My lord, you know I love you.
  Oth.        I think thou dost;
And, for I know thou art full of love and honesty,
And weigh’st thy words before thou giv’st them breath,
Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more;        140
For such things in a false disloyal knave
Are tricks of custom, but in a man that’s just
They are close delations, working from the heart
That passion cannot rule.
  Iago.        For Michael Cassio,        145
I dare be sworn I think that he is honest.
  Oth.  I think so too.
  Iago.        Men should be what they seem;
Or those that be not, would they might seem none!
  Oth.  Certain, men should be what they seem.        150
  Iago.  Why then, I think Cassio ’s an honest man.
  Oth.  Nay, yet there’s more in this.
I pray thee, speak to me as to thy thinkings,
As thou dost ruminate, and give thy worst of thoughts
The worst of words.        155
  Iago.        Good my lord, pardon me;
Though I am bound to every act of duty,
I am not bound to that all slaves are free to.
Utter my thoughts? Why, say they are vile and false;
As where’s that palace whereinto foul things        160
Sometimes intrude not? who has a breast so pure
But some uncleanly apprehensions
Keep leets and law days, and in session sit
With meditations lawful?
  Oth.  Thou dost conspire against thy friend, Iago,        165
If thou but think’st him wrong’d, and mak’st his ear
A stranger to thy thoughts.
  Iago.        I do beseech you,
Though I perchance am vicious in my guess,—
As, I confess, it is my nature’s plague        170
To spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy
Shapes faults that are not,—that your wisdom yet,
From one that so imperfectly conceits,
Would take no notice, nor build yourself a trouble
Out of his scattering and unsure observance.        175
It were not for your quiet nor your good,
Nor for my manhood, honesty, or wisdom,
To let you know my thoughts.
  Oth.        What dost thou mean?
  Iago.  Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,        180
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,        185
And makes me poor indeed.
  Oth.  By heaven, I’ll know thy thoughts.
  Iago.  You cannot, if my heart were in your hand;
Nor shall not, whilst ’tis in my custody.
  Oth.  Ha!        190
  Iago.        O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O! what damned minutes tells he o’er        195
Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet soundly loves!
  Oth.  O misery!
  Iago.  Poor and content is rich, and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.        200
Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend
From jealousy!
  Oth.        Why, why is this?
Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon        205
With fresh suspicions? No; to be once in doubt
Is once to be resolved. Exchange me for a goat
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsufflicate and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference. ’Tis not to make me jealous        210
To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,
Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well;
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous:
Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw
The smallest fear, or doubt of her revolt;        215
For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago;
I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And, on the proof, there is no more but this,
Away at once with love or jealousy!
  Iago.  I am glad of it; for now I shall have reason        220
To show the love and duty that I bear you
With franker spirit; therefore, as I am bound,
Receive it from me; I speak not yet of proof.
Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio;
Wear your eye thus, not jealous nor secure:        225
I would not have your free and noble nature
Out of self-bounty be abus’d; look to ’t:
I know our country disposition well;
In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience        230
Is not to leave ’t undone, but keep ’t unknown.
  Oth.  Dost thou say so?
  Iago.  She did deceive her father, marrying you;
And when she seem’d to shake and fear your looks,
She lov’d them most.        235
  Oth.        And so she did.
  Iago.                Why, go to, then;
She that so young could give out such a seeming,
To seel her father’s eyes up close as oak,
He thought ’twas witchcraft; but I am much to blame;        240
I humbly do beseech you of your pardon
For too much loving you.
  Oth.        I am bound to thee for ever.
  Iago.  I see, this hath a little dash’d your spirits.
  Oth.  Not a jot, not a jot.        245
  Iago.        I’ faith, I fear it has.
I hope you will consider what is spoke
Comes from my love. But, I do see you’re mov’d;
I am to pray you not to strain my speech
To grosser issues nor to larger reach        250
Than to suspicion.
  Oth.  I will not.
  Iago.        Should you do so, my lord,
My speech should fall into such vile success
As my thoughts aim not at. Cassio’s my worthy friend—        255
My lord, I see you’re mov’d.
  Oth.        No, not much mov’d:
I do not think but Desdemona’s honest.
  Iago.  Long live she so! and long live you to think so!
  Oth.  And, yet, how nature erring from itself,—        260
  Iago.  Ay, there’s the point: as, to be bold with you,
Not to affect many proposed matches
Of her own clime, complexion, and degree,
Whereto, we see, in all things nature tends;
Foh! one may smell in such, a will most rank,        265
Foul disproportion, thoughts unnatural.
But pardon me; I do not in position
Distinctly speak of her, though I may fear
Her will, recoiling to her better judgment,
May fail to match you with her country forms        270
And happily repent.
  Oth.        Farewell, farewell:
If more thou dost perceive, let me know more;
Set on thy wife to observe. Leave me, Iago.
  Iago.  My lord, I take my leave.  [Going.        275
  Oth.  Why did I marry? This honest creature, doubtless,
Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds.
  Iago.  [Returning.]  My lord, I would I might entreat your honour
To scan this thing no further; leave it to time.
Although ’tis fit that Cassio have his place,        280
For, sure he fills it up with great ability,
Yet, if you please to hold him off a while,
You shall by that perceive him and his means:
Note if your lady strain his entertainment
With any strong or vehement importunity;        285
Much will be seen in that. In the mean time,
Let me be thought too busy in my fears,
As worthy cause I have to fear I am,
And hold her free, I do beseech your honour.
  Oth.  Fear not my government.        290
  Iago.  I once more take my leave.  [Exit.
  Oth.  This fellow’s of exceeding honesty,
And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,
Of human dealings; if I do prove her haggard,
Though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings,        295
I’d whistle her off and let her down the wind,
To prey at fortune. Haply, for I am black,
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have, or, for I am declin’d
Into the vale of years—yet that’s not much—        300
She’s gone, I am abus’d; and my relief
Must be to loathe her. O curse of marriage!
That we can call these delicate creatures ours,
And not their appetities. I had rather be a toad,
And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,        305
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For others’ uses. Yet, ’tis the plague of great ones;
Prerogativ’d are they less than the base;
’Tis destiny unshunnable, like death:
Even then this forked plague is fated to us        310
When we do quicken.
        Look! where she comes.
If she be false, O! then heaven mocks itself.
I’ll not believe it.
 
Re-enter DESDEMONA and EMILIA.
        315
  Des.        How now, my dear Othello!
Your dinner and the generous islanders
By you invited, do attend your presence.
  Oth.  I am to blame.
  Des.        Why do you speak so faintly?        320
Are you not well?
  Oth.  I have a pain upon my forehead here.
  Des.  Faith, that’s with watching; ’twill away again:
Let me but bind it hard, within this hour
It will be well.        325
  Oth.        Your napkin is too little:  [She drops her handkerchief.
Let it alone. Come, I’ll go in with you.
  Des.  I am very sorry that you are not well.  [Exeunt OTHELLO and DESDEMONA.
  Emil.  I am glad I have found this napkin;
This was her first remembrance from the Moor;        330
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Woo’d me to steal it, but she so loves the token,
For he conjur’d her she should ever keep it,
That she reserves it evermore about her
To kiss and talk to. I’ll have the work ta’en out,        335
And give ’t Iago:
What he will do with it heaven knows, not I;
I nothing but to please his fantasy.
 
Enter IAGO.
  Iago.  How now! what do you here alone?        340
  Emil.  Do not you chide; I have a thing for you.
  Iago.  A thing for me? It is a common thing—
  Emil.  Ha!
  Iago.  To have a foolish wife.
  Emil.  O! is that all? What will you give me now        345
For that same handkerchief?
  Iago.        What handkerchief?
  Emil.  What handkerchief!
Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona:
That which so often you did bid me steal.        350
  Iago.  Hast stol’n it from her?
  Emil.  No, faith; she let it drop by negligence,
And, to the advantage, I, being there, took ’t up.
Look, here it is.
  Iago.        A good wench; give it me.        355
  Emil.  What will you do with ’t, that you have been so earnest
To have me filch it?
  Iago.  Why, what’s that to you?  [Snatches it.
  Emil.  If it be not for some purpose of import
Give ’t me again; poor lady! she’ll run mad        360
When she shall lack it.
  Iago.  Be not acknown on ’t; I have use for it.
Go, leave me.  [Exit EMILIA,
I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin,
And let him find it; trifles light as air        365
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ; this may do something.
The Moor already changes with my poison:
Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,        370
But with a little act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulphur. I did say so:
Look! where he comes!
 
Enter OTHELLO.
        Not poppy, nor mandragora,        375
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ow’dst yesterday.
  Oth.        Ha! ha! false to me?
  Iago.  Why, how now, general! no more of that.        380
  Oth.  Avaunt! be gone! thou hast set me on the rack;
I swear ’tis better to be much abus’d
Than but to know ’t a little.
  Iago.        How now, my lord!
  Oth.  What sense had I of her stol’n hours of lust?        385
I saw ’t not, thought it not, it harm’d not me;
I slept the next night well, was free and merry;
I found not Cassio’s kisses on her lips;
He that is robb’d, not wanting what is stol’n,
Let him not know ’t and he’s not robb’d at all.        390
  Iago.  I am sorry to hear this.
  Oth.  I had been happy, if the general camp,
Pioners and all, had tasted her sweet body,
So I had nothing known. O! now, for ever
Farewell the tranquil mind; farewell content!        395
Farewell the plumed troop and the big wars
That make ambition virtue! O, farewell!
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,        400
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And, O you mortal engines, whose rude throats
The immortal Jove’s dread clamours counterfeit,
Farewell! Othello’s occupation’s gone!
  Iago.  Is it possible, my lord?        405
  Oth.  Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore,
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof;
Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
Than answer my wak’d wrath.        410
  Iago.        Is ’t come to this?
  Oth.  Make me to see ’t; or, at the least, so prove it,
That the probation bear no hinge nor loop
To hang a doubt on; or woe upon thy life!
  Iago.  My noble lord,—        415
  Oth.  If thou dost slander her and torture me,
Never pray more; abandon all remorse;
On horror’s head horrors accumulate;
Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amaz’d;
For nothing canst thou to damnation add        420
Greater than that.
  Iago.        O grace! O heaven forgive me!
Are you a man! have you a soul or sense?
God be wi’ you; take mine office. O wretched fool!
That liv’st to make thine honesty a vice.        425
O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world!
To be direct and honest is not safe.
I thank you for this profit, and, from hence
I’ll love no friend, sith love breeds such offence.
  Oth.  Nay, stay; thou shouldst be honest.        430
  Iago.  I should be wise; for honesty’s a fool,
And loses that it works for.
  Oth.        By the world,
I think my wife be honest and think she is not;
I think that thou art just and think thou art not.        435
I’ll have some proof. Her name, that was as fresh
As Dian’s visage, is now begrim’d and black
As mine own face. If there be cords or knives,
Poison or fire or suffocating streams,
I’ll not endure it. Would I were satisfied!        440
  Iago.  I see, sir, you are eaten up with passion.
I do repent me that I put it to you.
You would be satisfied?
  Oth.        Would! nay, I will.
  Iago.  And may; but how? how satisfied, my lord?        445
Would you, the supervisor, grossly gape on;
Behold her tupp’d?
  Oth.        Death and damnation! O!
  Iago.  It were a tedious difficulty, I think,
To bring them to that prospect; damn them then,        450
If ever mortal eyes do see them bolster
More than their own! What then? how then?
What shall I say? Where’s satisfaction?
It is impossible you should see this,
Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys,        455
As salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross
As ignorance made drunk; but yet, I say,
If imputation, and strong circumstances,
Which lead directly to the door of truth,
Will give you satisfaction, you may have it.        460
  Oth.  Give me a living reason she’s disloyal.
  Iago.  I do not like the office;
But, sith I am enter’d in this cause so far,
Prick’d to ’t by foolish honesty and love,
I will go on. I lay with Cassio lately;        465
And, being troubled with a raging tooth,
I could not sleep.
There are a kind of men so loose of soul
That in their sleeps will mutter their affairs;
One of this kind is Cassio.        470
In sleep I heard him say, ‘Sweet Desdemona,
Let us be wary, let us hide our loves!’
And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,
Cry, ‘O, sweet creature!’ and then kiss me hard,
As if he pluck’d up kisses by the roots,        475
That grew upon my lips; then laid his leg
Over my thigh, and sigh’d, and kiss’d; and then
Cried, ‘Cursed fate, that gave thee to the Moor!’
  Oth.  O monstrous! monstrous!
  Iago.        Nay, this was but his dream.        480
  Oth.  But this denoted a foregone conclusion:
’Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.
  Iago.  And this may help to thicken other proofs
That do demonstrate thinly.
  Oth.        I’ll tear her all to pieces.        485
  Iago.  Nay, but be wise; yet we see nothing done;
She may be honest yet. Tell me but this:
Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief
Spotted with strawberries in your wife’s hand?
  Oth.  I gave her such a one; ’twas my first gift.        490
  Iago.  I know not that; but such a handkerchief—
I am sure it was your wife’s—did I to-day
See Cassio wipe his beard with.
  Oth.        If it be that,—
  Iago.  If it be that, or any that was hers,        495
It speaks against her with the other proofs.
  Oth.  O! that the slave had forty thousand lives;
One is too poor, too weak for my revenge.
Now do I see ’tis true. Look here, Iago;
All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven:        500
’Tis gone.
Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!
Yield up, O love! thy crown and hearted throne
To tyrannous hate. Swell, bosom, with thy fraught,
For ’tis of aspics’ tongues!        505
  Iago.        Yet be content.
  Oth.  O! blood, blood, blood!
  Iago.  Patience, I say; your mind, perhaps, may change.
  Oth.  Never, Iago. Like to the Pontick sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course        510
Ne’er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne’er look back, ne’er ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge        515
Swallow them up.  [Kneels.
Now, by yond marble heaven,
In the due reverence of a sacred vow
I here engage my words.
  Iago.        Do not rise yet.  [Kneels.        520
Witness, you ever-burning lights above!
You elements that clip us round about!
Witness, that here Iago doth give up
The execution of his wit, hands, heart,
To wrong’d Othello’s service! Let him command,        525
And to obey shall be in me remorse,
What bloody business ever.
  Oth.        I greet thy love,
Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance bounteous,
And will upon the instant put thee to ’t:        530
Within these three days let me hear thee say
That Cassio’s not alive.
  Iago.  My friend is dead; ’tis done at your request:
But let her live.
  Oth.        Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her!        535
Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw
To furnish me with some swift means of death
For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.
  Iago.  I am your own for ever.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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