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In the Registers of the Stationers, under the date, October 6th, 1621, is the following memorandum :“Tho. Walkely] Entered for his, to wit, under the bandes of Sir George Buck and of the
Wardens : The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice."
This entry was made by Walkley, preparatory to the publication of his quarto edition of the play which appeared some time in the next year, and was entitled :—"The Tragædy of Othello, The Moore of Venice. As it hath beene diverse times acted at the Globe, and at the BlackFriers, by his Maiesties Servants. Written by William Shakespeare. London, Printed by N. O. for Thomas Walkley, and are to be sold at his shop at the Eagle and Child, in Brittans Bursse, 1622.” The next quarto copy appeared in 1630, seven years after the publication of the first folio: the title-page varies from that of the quarto of 1622 only in the imprint. which reads :—" by A. M. for Richard Hawkins,” &c.
Upon the supposition that a passage in Act III. Sc. 4,
the hearts of old gave hands ; But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts," —
was a satirical allusion to the creation of the new order of Baronets by James I. in 1611, Malone at first assigned the composition of “ Othello” to that year; he subsequently attributed it to 1604, because, as he remarks,“ we know it to have been acted in that year ;' but he has given no evidence in support of his assertion. Modern research, however, has supplied this evidence. In the “ Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court,” edited by Mr. P. Cunningham for the Shakespeare Society, there is an entry, beginning November 1st, 1604, and terminating October 31st, 1605, from which it appears that the King's Players performed the play of The Moor of Venis at the Banqueting-house at Whitehall on the 1st of November (Hallamas Day), 1604. Mr. Collier, indeed, cites an extract from “ The Egerton Papers," to show that “Othello” was acted for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth, at the 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 are 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, wa
know from an interesting diary first pointed out by Sir Frederic Madden (see Note (4), p. 689,
. Vol. I.), 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.
Sailor, Messengers, Herald, Officers, Gentlemen, Musicians, and Attendants.
SCENE,—The first Act in VENICE ; during the rest of the play, at a Sea-port in Cyprus.
Entor RODERIGO and IAGO.
Rod. Tush !* never tell me; I take it much
unkindly That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of
Rod. Thou told'st me, thou didst hold him in
Iago. Despise me, it I do not.
ones of the city,
(*) The quartos, Oft capt.
(*) First folio omits, Tush. (t) First folio omits, 'S blood.
a And, in conclusion,-) This hemistich is not found in the folio 1623.
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
For nought but provender; and, when he's old, A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife ; 6
cashier'd : That never set a squadron in the field,
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are, Nor the division of a battlec knows
Who, trimm'd in fornis and visages of duty, More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric, Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves ; Wherein the tongued consuls can propose And, throwing but shows of service on their lords, As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practice, Do well thrive by them, and, when they have Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election :
lin'd their coats,
[soul ; And I,—of whom his eyes had seen the proof Do themselves homage: these fellows have some At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir, Christian* and beathen,-must be be-lee'd ® and It is as sure as you are Roderigo, calm'd
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago: By debitor-and-creditor :f this counter-caster, In following him, I follow but myself ; He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty And I, (Godt bless the mark !) his Moorship’s But seeming so, for my peculiar end : ancient!
For when my outward action doth demonstrate Rod. By heaven, I rather would have been his The native act and figure of my heart hangman.
In compliment extern, 't is not long after Iago. Why, there's no remedy ; 't is the curse But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve of service,
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am. Preferment goes by letter and affection,
Rod. What a full' fortune does the thicklips And not by old gradation, where each second
owe, Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge If he can carry 't thus ! yourself,
Call up her father, Whether I in any just term am affin'd 8
Rouse him :-make after him, poison his delight, To love the Moor.
Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen, Rod.
I would not follow him, then. And, though he in a fertile climate dwell, Iago. O, sir, content you;
Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy, I follow him to serve my turn upon
Yet throw such chances in of vexation on 't, We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
As it may lose some colour. Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Rod. Here is her father's house ; I'll call aloud. Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
Iago. Do; with like timorous accent, and That, doting on his own obsequious' bondage,
(*) First folio, Christen'd.
(+) First folio omits, God. * – 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-andcreditor," and "counter-caster," in a derogatory sense to denote the mercantile origin and training which he chooses to attribute to his rival.
b 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 dis. regarded ; the impression now is that lago 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 poei 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-woman. 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."
C-of a battle-] Of an army. So in “ Henry V." (Chorus) Act IV.
" Each batlle sees the other's umber'd face:" And in “ Richard III." Act V. Sc. 3,
we will follow
In the main baltle." d - the tongued consuls-) So the folio and the quarto 1630; the quarto of 1622 has, " toged." The former, as Boswell obserres, agrees better with the words “mere prattle," &c.; but “toged may have sprung from the common adage, Cedant arma toga, and is equally appropriate.
e – 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.
f - debitor-and-creditor:) The title of certain old treatises upon commercial book-keeping. So in “Cymbeline," Act v. Sc. 4,-" You have no true debitor-and creditor but it."
8- in any just term am affin'd-] By any moral obligation am bound, &c.
h - knave,-) “Knave" carries no opprobrious meaning here; it is simply servitor.
obsequious bondage,-) That is, obedient, submissive thraldom.
k 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.
1 What a full fortune---] The folio has “fall" for "full," a reading Mr. Knight prefers, although in “Cymbeline," Act v. Sc. 4, we tind,
“Our pleasure his full fortune doth contine;" in “Antony and Cleopatra," Act IV. Sc. 15,-"full. fortun'd Cæsar; " and in D'Avenant's “Law against Lovers," Act III. Sc. I, -"She has a full fortune."
- chances of vezation--] Crosses, or casualties; the quartos read, "changes."
Arise! I say.
As when (by night and negligence) the fire
[thieves ! Iago. Awake! what, ho! Brabantio ! thieves ! Look to your house, your daughter, and your
bags ! Thieves ! thieves !
BRABANTIO appears above, at a window. BRA. What is the reason of this terrible
summons ? What is the matter there?
Rod. Signior, is all your family within ?
Why, wherefore ask you this ?
put on your gown ; Your heart is burst, you have lost half your
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise !
BRA. What, have you lost your wits ?
The worser welcome
madness, (Being full of supper and distempering draughts,) Upon malicious bravery,* dost thou come To start my quiet.
Rod. Sir, sir, sir,-
But thou must needs be sure,
Patience, good sir.
Even now, now, very now,
an old black ram
(*) First folio omits, Zounds.
(*) First folio, knaverie.
(t) First folio, spirits.
(1) First folio, their. That is, when the fire caused by night and negligence. But query as Warburton suggested, did the poet write,' Is spred," &c.?