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If you think fit, or that it may be done,
Give me advantage of some brief discourse
With Desdemona alone.


'Pray you, come in;

I will bestow you where you shall have time
To speak your bosòm freely.


I am much bound to you3. [Exeunt.

SCENE II. A Room in the Castle.

Enter OTHELLO, IAGO, and Gentlemen. Oth. These letters give, Iago, to the pilot; And, by him, do my duties to the state1: That done, I will be walking on the works, Repair there to me.


Well, my good lord, I'll do't. Oth. This fortification, gentlemen,-shall we see't? Gent. We'll wait upon your lordship. [Exeunt.

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 know, it grieves my husband,

As if the case 2 were his.

Des. O, that's an honest fellow.-Do not doubt,

But I will have my lord and

As friendly as you were.

you again

8 This speech is omitted in the first quarto.

Thus the quarto 1622. Folio-' to the senate.'

2 Folio reads As if the cause were his.'


Bounteous madam,

Whatever shall become of Michael Cassio,


He's never any thing but your true servant.
Des. O, sir 3, I thank you: You do love my
You have known him long; and be you well assur'd,
He shall in strangeness stand no further off
Than in a politick distance.


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,
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

To the last article: my lord shall never rest;
I'll watch him tame5, 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;
For thy solicitor shall rather die,

Than give thy cause away.

3 Thus the quarto 1622. The folio reads—' I know't, I thank you.'

4. He may either of himself think it politick to keep me out of office so long, or he may be satisfied with such slight reasons, or so many accidents may make him think my readmission at that time improper, that I may be quite forgotten.'-Johnson.

5 Hawks and other birds are tamed by keeping them from sleep. To this Shakspeare alludes. So in Cartwright's Lady Errant:

We'll keep you

As they do hawks, watching until you leave

Your wildness.'

And in Davenant's Just Italian :

'They've watch'd my hardy violence so tame.'

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Enter OTHELLO, and IAGO, at a distance.

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And hear me speak.

Cas. Madam, not now; I am very ill at ease,

Unfit for mine own purposes.


Do your discretion.


Well, well,


Ha! I like not that. 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 guiltylike,

Seeing you coming.


I do believe 'twas he.

Des. How now, my


I have been talking with a suitor here,

A man that languishes in your displeasure.

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,
That errs in ignorance, and not in cunning,
I have no judgment in an honest face:

I pr'ythee call him back.


Went he hence now ?

6 i. e. take his present atonement,' or submission. The words were formerly synonymous.

7 Cunning here signifies knowledge, the ancient sense of the word.

Des. Ay, sooth; so humbled,

That he hath left part of his grief with me;
I suffer with him. Good love, call him back.
Oth.Not now,sweet Desdemona; some other time.
Des. But shall't be shortly?


The sooner, sweet, for you.

Des. Shall't be to-night at supper?

Des. To-morrow dinner then?


No, not to-night.

I shall not dine at home;

I meet the captains at the citadel.

Des. Why then, to-morrow night; or Tuesday


Or Tuesday noon, or night; or Wednesday morn ;-
I pray thee, name the time; but let it not
Exceed three days: in faith, he's penitent;
And yet his trespass, in our common reason
(Save that, they say, the wars must make examples
Out of their best3), 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,
Or stand so mammering9 on. What! Michael

That came a wooing with you 10, 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,—
Oth. 'Pr'ythee, no more: let him come when he

I will deny thee nothing.

8 The severity of military discipline must not spare the best men of the army, when their punishment may afford a wholesome example.

9 So hesitating, in such doubtful suspense. So in Lyly Euphues, 1580::- Neither stand in á mamering whether it be best to depart or not. The quarto 1622 reads-muttering.

10 See Act i. Sc. 2, note 15.


Why, this is not a boon;
"Tis as I should entreat you wear your gloves,
Or feed on nourishing dishes, or keep you warm;
Or sue to you to do 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 poize 11 and difficulty,

And fearful to be granted.


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 will come to thee straight.

Des. Emilia, come:-Be it as your fancies teach


Whate'er you be, I am obedient.

[Exit with EMILIA. Oth. Excellent wretch12! Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again 13.

11 i. e. of weight.

12 The meaning of the word wretch is not generally understood. It is now in some parts of England a term of the fondest and softest tenderness. It expresses the utmost degree of amiableness, joined with an idea which perhaps all tenderness includes, of feebleness, softness, and want of protection. Othello, considering Desdemona as excelling in beauty and virtue, soft and timorous by her sex, and by her situation absolutely in his power, calls her Excellent wretch! It may be expressed,' Dear, harmless, helpless excellence.'-Johnson. Sir W. Davenant, in his Cruel Brother, uses the word twice with the same meaning:'Excellent wretch! with a timorous modesty she stifleth up her utterance.'

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13 I think with Malone that Othello is meant to say, Ere I cease to love thee, the world itself shall be reduced to its primitive chaos. So in Venus and Adonis :

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For he being dead, with him is beauty slain,

And beauty dead, black Chaos comes again.'

Shakspeare's meaning is more fully expressed in The Winter's Tale:

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