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residence of Lord Ellesmere (then Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal), at Harefield, on the 6th of August, 1602; but the suspicion long entertained that the Shakespearian documents in that collection ere modern fabrications having now deepened almost into certainty, the extract in question is of no historical value. The earliest authentic record of the performance of “Othello," then, is that in the Accounts of the Revels. Six years later, we know from an interesting diary first pointed out by Sir Frederic Madden (see Note (4), p. 161, Vol. II.), that the play was acted at the Globe on the 30th of April, 1610. And upon the authority of Vertue's MS. we find that it retained its popularity in 1613, early in which year it was acted at the Court.
The story upon which this tragedy is founded is a novel in Cinthio's Hecatommithi, Parte Prima, Deca Terza, Novella 7, bearing the following explanatory title:-“Un capitano Moro piglia per mogliera una cittadina Venetiana: un suo alfieri l'accusa di adulterio al marito; cerca che l'alfieri uccida colui ch'egli credea l'adultero: il capitano uccide la moglie, è accusato dall' alfieri, non confessa il Moro, ma essendovi chiari inditii è bandito; e lo scelerato alfieri, credendo nuocere ad altri, procaccia a se la morte miseramente.” There is a French translation of Cinthio's novels by Gabriel Chappuys, Paris, 1584; but no English one of a date as early as the age of Shakespeare has come down to us.
“The time of this play may be ascertained from the following circumstances. Selymus the Second formed his design against Cyprus in 1569, and took it in 1571. This was the only attempt the Turks ever made upon that island after it came into the hands of the Venetians, (which was in the year 1473,) wherefore the time must fall in with some part of that interval. We learn from the play that there was a junction of the Turkish fleet at Rhodes, in order for the invasion of Cyprus, that it first came sailing towards Cyprus, then went to Rhodes, there met another squadron, and then resumed its way to Cyprus. These are real historical facts, which happened when Mustapha Selymus's general attacked Cyprus in May, 1570, which therefore is the true period of this performance. See Knolles's History of the Turks, p. 838, 846, 867."-REED.
GRATIANO, Brother to Brabantio.
Cassio, his Lieutenant.
RODERIGO, a Venetian Gentleman.
MONTANO, Othello's Predecessor in the Government of Cyprus.
Clown, Servant to Othello.
DESDEMONA, Daughter to Brabantio, and Wife to Othello.
Sailor, Messengers, Herald, Officers, Gentlemen, Musicians, and Attendants.
SCENE,— The first Act in VENICE; during the rest of the play, at a Sea-port
SCENE 1.–Venice. A Strcet.
Enter RODERIGO and Iago.
Iago. 'S blood, but you 'll not hear me ;-
Rod. Thou told’st me, thou didst hold him in thy hate.
IAGO. Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
(*) First folio omits, Tush.
(t) First folio omits, 'S blood.
(1) The quartos, Oft capt. * And, in conclusion,-) This hemistich is not found in the folio 1623.
- a Florentine,-) Are we quite assured Iago means by this expression merely that Cassio was a native of Florence? The system of book-keeping called Italian Book-keeping came, as is well-known, originally from Florence; and he may not improbably use "Florentine," as he employs " arithmetician," " debitor-and-creditor," and “counter-caster," in a derogatory sense to denote the mercantile origin and training which he chooses to attribute to his rival.
¿ A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife,–] This line has perplexed the commentators not a little. Tyrwhitt's conjecture that " wife” was a misprint of life, and that the allusion is to the judgment denounced in the Gospel against those of whom all men speak well, was in high favour at one time, but has long been disregarded; the impression now is that Iago refers to a report, which he subsequently speaks of, that Cassio was on the point of marrying the courtezan Bianca. To this it is objected, and the objection seems unanswerable, that there is no reason for supposing Cassio had ever seen Bianca until they met in Cyprus. We doubt, indeed, the possibility of eliciting a satisfactory meaning from the line as it stands, and, in despair of doing so, have sometimes thought the poet must have written,-
“A fellow almost damn'd in a fair-wife :" That is to say, a fellow by habit of reckoning debased almost into a market-uomon. In of old was commonly used for into; we even still employ it so, as in the expression to fall in love. Compare, too, “Troilus and Cressida.” Act III. Sc. 3,
“Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock,-a stride and a stand; ruminates, like an hostess that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning."
That never set a squadron in the field,
Rod. By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.
Iago. Why, there's no remedy; 't is the curse of service,
I would not follow him, then.
(*) First folio, Christen'd.
(+) First folio omits, God. * - of a battle of an army. So in “Henry V.” (Chorus) Act IV.
“ Each battle sees the other's umber'd face :" And in “ Richard III." Act V. Sc. 3,
"-we will follow
In the main battle." the tongued consul:-) So the folio and the quarto 1630; the quarto of 1622 has, " toged." The former, as Boswell observes, agrees better with the words “mere prattle,' &c.; but “ toged" may have sprung from the common adage, Cedant arma toga, and is equally appropriate.
c- must be be-lee'd-) The quarto 1622 has, “must be led,” &c.; this and the imperfect measure of the line in other copies might lead us to suspect the author wrote, " must be lee'd and calm’d," &c.
debitor-and-creditor:] The title of certain old treatises upon commercial bookkeeping. So in “Cymbeline,” Act V. Sc. 4,—“You have no true debitor-and-creditor but it.'
in any just term am affin'd-] By any moral obligation am bound, &c. f - knave, -] “ Knave" carries no opprobrious meaning here; it is simply servitor - obsequious bondage,-] That is, obedient, submissive thraldom.
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,–] Who, dress’d in shapes and masks of duty, &c.' Mr. Collier proposes to read,
in forms and usages of duty," which the expression “trimm'd" negatives at once.
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Rod. What a fulla fortune does the thicklips owe,
Call up her father,
Ron. Here is her father's house; I'll call alond.
Jago. Do; with like timorous accent, and dire yell
Rod. What, ho! Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!
Iago. Awake! what, ho! Brabantio! thieves! thieves ! Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags ! Thieves ! thieves !
BRABANTIO appears above, at a window.
ROD. Signior, is all your family within ?
Why, wherefore ask you this? Iago. Zounds,* sir, you ’re robb’d; for shame, put on your gown; Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
(*) First folio omits, Zounds. • What a full fortuno-] The folio has “fall” for “full," a reading Mr. Knight prefers, although in “Cymbeline,” Act V. Sc. 4, we find,
“Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine;" in “Antony and Cleopatra,”. Act IV. Sc. 15,-"full-fortun'd Cæsar;" and in D'Avenant's "Law against Lovers,” Act III. Sc. 1,-"She has a full fortune." - chances of vexation-] Crosses, or casualties; the quartos read, “ changes."
As when (by night and negligence) the fire
Is spied, &c.] That is, when the fire caused by night and negligence. But query, as Warhurton suggested, did the poet write,_"Is spred," &c.?