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OTHELLO.

VOL. VI.

B

"The Tragedy of Othello, The Moore of Venice. As it hath beene diuerse times acted at the Globe, and at the Black-Friers, by his Maiesties Seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. London, Printed by N. 0. for Thomas Walkley, and are to be sold at his shop at the Eagle and Child, in Brittans Bursse. 1622." 4to. 48 leaves, irregularly paged.

" The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice,” occupies thirty pages in the folio of 1623; viz. from p. 310 to p. 339 inclusive, in the division of “Tragedies :" it is there, as in the three later folios, divided into Acts and Scenes, and on the last page is a list of the characters, headed, "The Names of the Actors."

INTRODUCTION.

By the subsequent extract from “ The Egerton Papers,” printed by the Camden Society, (p. 343,) it appears 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, in the beginning of August, 1602 :“6 August 1602. Rewards to the Vaulters, players, and dauncers.

Of this xli to Burbidge's players for Othello, lxiiili xviiiixd.” Thus we find decisively, that this tragedy was in being in the summer of 1602; and the probability is, that it was selected for performance because it was a new play, having been brought out at the Globe theatre in the spring of that year'.

The incidents, with some variation, are to be found in Cinthio's Hecatommithi, where the novel is the seventh of the third Decad, and it bears the following explanatory title in the Monte Regale edition of 1565 :-“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 dallo Alfieri, non confessa il Moro, ma essendovi chiari inditii è bandito; et lo scelerato Alfieri, credendo nuocere ad altri, procaccia à se la morte miseramente.” This novel was early translated into French, and in all probability into English, but no such version has descended to us : great dramatist may indeed have read the story in the original language; and it is highly probable that he was sufficiently acquainted with Italian for the purpose. Hence he took the name of Desdemona.

We have seen, by the quotation from “The Egerton Papers," that the company by which “Othello " was performed at Harefield was called “Burbidge's players ;” and there can be no doubt that he was the leading actor of the company, and thereby, in the account, gave his name to the association, though then properly denominated the Lord Chamberlain's Servants. Richard Burbadge was the original actor of the part of Othello, as we learn from an

our

1 An entry in the accounts of the Revels, published by the Shakespeare Society in 1842 (edited by Mr. P. Cunningham), p. 203, proves that “The Moor of Venice " was acted at Court on the 1st Nov. 1605. From another passage in the same volume (Introd. p. xxv.) it appears that “ The Moore of Venice" was also acted before the king and queen on 8th Dec. 1636.

elegy upon his death, among the late Mr. Heber's manuscripts. To the same fact we may quote a ballad, on the incidents of “Othello," written after the death of Burbadge, which has also come down to us in manuscript. By whom it was written, and at what precise date, it would be vain to speculate, but it will be seen that it follows the incidents of the tragedy pretty closely, varying mainly where the character of a narrative poem made it expedient to deviate :

THE TRAGEDIE OF OTHELLO THE MOORE.

“The foule effects of jealousie,

Othelloe's deadlie hate,
Iagoe's cruell treacherie,

And Desdemonae's fate,
In this same ballad you may reade,

If soe you list to bye,
Which tells the blackest, bloodiest deede

Yet ever seen with eye.
“In Venice city, long time since,

A noble Moore did live,
Who to the daughter of a Prince

In secrecie did wive.
She was as faire as he was blacke,

A sunshine and a cloude:
She was as milde as playfull childe,

But he was fierce and proude.
“ And lovde he her, as well he might,

For dearlie she lovde him :
She doated on his brow of night,

And on each swarthie limbe.
Othello was this noble Moore,

A souldier often tride,
Who manie victories did procure

To swell Venetian pride.
“ Faire Desdemona was the name

This lovelie ladie bare :
Her father had great wealth and fame,

And she his onelie heire.
Therefore, when he at length found out

His daughter thus was wed,
To breake their bonds he cast about,

But onelie firmer made.
“ And much rejoyced he to know,

And to that ende did worke,
The State his wife would part him fro,

To fight against the Turke.
But she ne would remaine behinde,

For that she did not wed;
She'd live and die with one so kinde,

And soe she plainlie said.

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