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Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you Against the general enemy Ottoman.]

The circumstances originating the siege of Nicosia, "the chief and richest citie of all the Island," and the ultimate conquest of Cyprus by the Turks (for there was no 66 segregation of the Turkish fleet" as the play supposes) are thus related by Knolles in his Historie of the Turkes:

"Selymus (the second) now at peace with all the world (a thing of the Turkes not much desired) began to thinke of workes of charitie: and proposing to build a magnificent temple at Hadrianople for his owne sepulture, with a monasterie, a colledge, and an almeshouse (as had his father, and other his ancestors before him at Prusa and Constantinople, led thereunto with a vaine and superstitious devotion) was troubled with nothing more, than how to endue the same with lands and revenues sufficient for the maintenance of so great a charge: For that the Mahometan kings, are by their superstition prohibited to convert any lands or possessions to such holy uses, other than such as they have with their own sword woon from the enemies of their religion, which they may (as they are persuaded) as a most acceptable sacrifice, offer to their great prophet: which devillish persuasion, serveth as a spurre to pricke forward every of those ambitious princes to adde something to their empire. This his devout purpose once knowne, wanted not the furtherance of many ripe heads, devising some one thing, some another, as they thought best fitted his humour. But amongst many things to him presented, none pleased him so well, as the plot laid for the taking of the rich island of Cyprus from the Venetians: a conquest of itselfe sufficient, both for the eternizing of his name, and performance of his owne charitable works intended; with a large overplus, for the supplying of whatsoever wanted in his fathers like devout works at Constantinople. But that which moved him most of all, was the glorie of such a conquest, which as his flaterers bare him in hand, might make him equall with any his predecessors; who in the beginning of their raign, had usually done or attempted some notable thing against the Christians. Selymus presently commanded preparation to be made both by sea and land, for the performance of his resolution. Which was not so covertly carried in the Turkes court, but that it was discovered by M. Antonius Barbaras the Venetian embassadour; and not without cause suspected by the Venetian merchants, whom the barbarous Turks began now to cut short in their trafficke, looking big upon them, as men suddenly changed, and evill entreating them with hard speeches, the undoubted signes of greater troubles to ensue. These things and such like as were then done at Constantinople, being by letters sent in post from the embassadour, made knowne at Venice, brought a generall heavinesse upon the citie; for why that understanding and provident state, warned by their former harmes, of all others most dread the Turks forces.

"In the meane time the Senatours sitting oftentimes in counsell, were divided in opinions concerning the chief matter they consulted upon some there were, that thought it not good to wage warre against such an invincible enemy, nor to trust upon a vaine and idle hope, neither to commit all unto the hazard of such fortune as was unto them in that warre by the enemie propounded: they alleadged that it were better to depart with Cyprus, so that they might quietly enjoy the rest, rather than to enter into armes. Others were of a contrary opinion, as that the island was by force of armes to be defended: saying that nothing could be more dishonourable, than without fight to depart with so notable a part of their Seigniorie; neither anything more commendable, than to prove all things for defence of their honour: neither would the proud Turks with whom no assured league could bee made (as they said) hold themselves content with this yeelding up of the island, by intreating of them and giving them way, become more insolent: and when they had taken Cyprus from them, would also seeke after Creete and Corcyra, & so yeelding them one thing after

another, spoile themselves of all together. The matter thus debated to an fro, it was in the end resolved upon, to take up armes in defence of their honour, and by plaine force to withstand the Turke.

"The greater the danger was now feared from the angrie Turke, the more carefull were the Venetians of their state. Wherefore they forthwith sent messengers with letters unto the Governours of Cyprus, charging them with all carefulness and diligence to make themsolves readie to withstand the Turke, and to raise what power they were able in the island, not omitting any thing that might concern the good of the state: and at the same time made choice of their most valiant and expert captains both by sea and land, unto whom they committed the defence of their dispersed Seigniorie, with the leading of their forces.

"Selymus thoroughly furnished with all things necessary for the invasion of Cyprus, in the beginning of Februarie sent a great power both of horse and foot into Epyrus to forage the Venetian territorie. About the middle of Aprill following he sent Piall Bassa with four score gallies, and thirtie galliots to keep the Venetians from sending aid into Cyprus. He tooke his course to Zenos, an island of the Venetians, to have taken it from them. Piall here landing his forces, sought both by faire means & foule to have persuaded the inhabitants to have yeelded up their towne; but when he could get nothing of them but foule words againe, he began by force to assault the same. Two daies the towne was valiantly both assaulted and defended, but at length the Turks perceiving how little they prevailed, and that the defendants were resolutely set downe for the defence of themselves and their countrie; shamefully gave over the assault, and abandoning the island directed their course towards Cyprus. For Mustapha, author of that expedition, had before appointed Piall Bassa at a time prefixed, to meet him at the Rhodes, and that he that came first should tarrie for the other, that so they might together saile into Cyprus.

"All being now in readinesse, and a most royal gallie of wonderful greatness & beautie by the appointment of Selymus prepared for the great Bassa the Generall: he together with Haly Bassa and the rest of the fleet, departed from Constantinople, the six and twentieth of May, and at the Rhodes met with Piall as he had before appointed. The whole fleet at that time consisted of two hundred galleys, amongst whom were diverse galliots, and small men of warre with diverse other vessels prepared for the transportation of horses: with this fleet Mustapha kept on his course for Cyprus. They of the island in the meane time carefully attending the enemies comming from their watch towers first discovered their fleet at the west end of the island not far from Paphos from whence the Turks turning upon the right hand, and passing the promontorie Curio, now called Del Le Gate, landed diverse of their men, who burnt and spoiled certaine villages, and with such spoile and prisoners as they had taken returned againe unto the fleet: which holding on their former course came at length to a place called Salina (of the abundance of salt there made) where they knew was best landing and there in an open road came to an anchor, where the Bassaes without any resistance upon a plaine shoare landed their armie."


The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders.]

In this passage the poet had probably in his mind the marvellous account which Raleigh has given in his Discoverie of Guiana, 1596, of the Amazons, the cannibals, and the "Nation of people, whose heads appear not above their shoulders: or was thinking of Pliny's description of the "Anthropophagi":

"Above those are other Scythians called Anthropophagi, where is a country named Abarimon, within a certain vale of the mountain Imans, wherein are found savage and wild men, living and conversing usually among

the brute beasts, who have their feet growing backward, and turned behind the calves of their legs, howbeit they run most swiftly. The former Anthropophagi or eaters of mans flesh whom we have placed above the north pole, tenne daies journey by land above the river Borysthenes, used to drinke out of the sculs of mens heads, and to weare the scalpes, haire and all, in steed of mandellions or stomachers before their breasts... Beyond the Sciopodes

westward, some there be without heads standing upon their neckes who carrie eies in their shoulders."-PLINIE'S Natural Historie. Book vii. ch. 2.

(5) SCENE III.—The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida.] It is a question not easily settled whether by "locusts"

Shakespeare referred to the insect, which is said to be sidered a great delicacy at Tonquin, or to the fruit of locust-tree: "That viscous substance which the pod ef locust contains, is perhaps, of all others, the most u From its likeness to honey, in consistency and favour, locust is called the honey-tree also."-HENLEY.

Coloquintida, says Parkinson in his Theatre of Flam "runneth with his branches upon the ground as a m or cowcumber doth. The fruit is small and round as a bi green at the first on the outside, and afterwards gro to be of a browne yellow, which shell is as hard as a p pion or gourde; and is usually pared away while 3 greene, the substance under it being white, very spongie or loose, and of an extreame bitter taste, LI indurable, and provoking loathing or casting in many t taste it."-PARKINSON'S Theatre of Plants, Tribe II


(1) SCENE III.-Why, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he gives your Hollander a vomit, ere the next pottle can be filled.] The Englishman's potentiality in potting, was a common topic of satire with our old writers. In Beaumont and Fletcher's play of "The Captain," Act III. Sc. 2, Lodovico asks

"Are the Englishmen

Such stubborn drinkers?"

And Piso answers,—

"Not a leak at sea

Can suck more liquor: you shall have their children
Christen'd in mull'd sack, and, at five years old,
Able to knock a Dane down. Take an Englishman,
And cry St. George! and give him but a rasber,
And you shall have him upon even terms
Defy a hogshead."

Peachem in his Complete Gentleman, 1622, p. 193, has a section entitled "Drinking the Plague of our English Gentry," in which he remarks :-"Within these fiftie or three-score yeares it was a rare thing with us to see a drunken man, our nation carrying the name of the most sober and temperate of any other in the world. But since we had to doe in the quarrell of the Netherlands, about the time of Sir John Norris his first being there, the custom of drinking and pledging healthes was brought over into England; wherein let the Dutch be their own judges, if we equall them not; yea I think rather excell them."

To the same effect, Heywood, in the "Philocothonista, or the Drunkard opened, dissected, and anatomized," 4to. London, 1635, tells us that-"There is now profest an eighth liberal art of science called Ars Bibendi, i.e. the Art of Drinking. The students or professors thereof call a greene garland or painted hoope hang'd out a College: a signe where there is lodging, man's meate, and horse meate, an Inne of Courte, an Hall or an Hostle: where nothing is sold but ale and tobacco, a Grammar Schoole; a red or blew lattice (the usual designation of an ale-house) that they terme a Free Schoole for all comers. The bookes which they study and whose leaves they do often turne over are for the most part three of the old translation and three of the new. Those of the old translation:-1. The tankard: 2. the blacke Jacke: 3. the quart pot rib'd, or

thorendell. Those of the new be these: 1. the jew 2. the beaker: 3. the double or single can or black pl See also Nash's Pierce Pennilesse (1592), on 14 Âm Bibendi; Barnaby Rich's Irish Hubbub, 1618; and Bang ton's Nuga Antiquiæ, I. p. 348.


Then take thine auld cloak about thee.] The ballad whence the stanzas sung by Iago are takes printed as follows in Capell's School of Shakespeare; t will be found also in Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry. "TAKE THY OLD CLOAK ABOUT THEE.

"This winters weather waxeth cold

And frost doth freese on everie hill,
And Boreas blowes his blasts soe bold,
That all our cattell are like to spill;
Bell, my wife, who loves no strife,
She sayd unto me quietlie,
Rise up, and save cow Crumbockes life,
Man, put thine old cloak about thee.


"O Bell, why dost thou flyte and scorne? Thou kenst my cloak is very thin;

It is soe bare and overworne,

A cricke he theron cannot renn: Then Ile noe longer borrowe nor lend, For once Ile new appareld bee, To-morrow Ile to towne and spend, For Ile have a new cloake about mee.


"Cow Crumbocke is a very good cowe,

Shee has been alwayes true to the payle, Still has helpt us to butter and cheese I trow, And other things she will not fayle:

I wold be loth to see her pine,
Good husband, councell take of mee,
It is not for us to goe so fine,
Then take thine old cloake about thee.


"My cloake it was a very good cloake,

Itt hath been alwayes true to the weare, But now it is not worth a groat;

I have had it four-and-forty yeare.

Spill. To spoil; to come to harm.

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But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.]


Mr. Halliwell in his Life of Shakespeare, p. 190, ed. 8vo., cites the subjoined lines from a MS. entitled "The Newe Metamorphosis, or a Feaste of Fancie, or Poeticall Legendes, written by J. M. Gent, 1600," as proof that "Othello" must have been produced before that year:

"The highwayman that robs one of his purse

Is not soe bad; nay, these are ten tymes worse!
For these doe rob men of their pretious name,
And in exchange give obliquie and shame."

But the reflection is sufficiently trite, and in both instances, as in many others where it occurs, was probably founded on the following passages :—

"Is not that Treasure which before all other, is most regarded of honest persons, the good Fame of Man and Woman, lost through whoredom?"—Homily XI. pt. 2.

"Now here consider that St. Paul numbreth a Scolder, Brawler, or a Picker of Quarrels, among Thieves and Idolators, and many Times there cometh less Hurt of a Thiefe than of a railing tongue. For the one taketh away a Mans good name, the other taketh but his Riches, which is of much less Value and Estimation, than is his good name." -Homily XII. pt. 1.

(2) SCENE III.-Not poppy, nor mandragora.] "The herb Mandragoras some writers call Circeium: two or three roots it hath of a fleshie substance running downe into the earth almost a cubit, and a fruit or apple of the bignesse of filberds or hazel-nuts, within which there be seeds like unto the pippins of peares. . . . In some countries they venture to eat the apples or fruit thereof: but those that know not how to dresse and order them aright loose the use of their tongue thereby, and prove dumbe

*Sigh-clout. A cloth to strain milk through.

for the time. And verily if they be so bold as to take a great quantity thereof in drink, they are sure to die for it. Yet it may be used safely ynough for to procure sleepe if there be good regard had in the dose, that it be answerable in proportion to the strength and complexion of the patient. Also it is an ordinary thing to drink it against the poyson of serpents: likewise before the cutting, cauterizing, pricking, or launcing of any member to take away the sence or feeling of such extreme cures. And sufficient it is in some bodies to cast them into a sleepe with the smell of Mandrage."- PLINIE'S Natural Historie, Bk. XXV. ch. 13.

(3) SCENE III.-The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife.] "In mentioning the fife joined with the drum, Shakspeare, as usual, paints from the life; those instruments accompanying each other being used in his age by the English soldiery. The fife, however, as a martial instrument, was afterwards entirely discontinued among our troops for many years, but at length revived in the war before the last. It is commonly supposed that our soldiers borrowed it from the Highlanders in the last rebellion: but I do not know that the fife is peculiar to the Scotch, or even used at all by them. It was first used within the memory of man among our troops by the British guards, by order of the Duke of Cumberland, when they were encamped at Maestricht, in the year 1747, and thence soon adopted into other English regiments of infantry. They took it from the Allies with whom they served. This instrument, accompanying the drum, is of considerable antiquity in the European armies, particularly the German. In a curious picture in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, painted 1525, representing the siege of Pavia by the French King, where the emperor was taken prisoner, we see fifes and drums. In an old English treatise written by William Garrard before 1587, and published by one captain Hitchcock in 1591, intituled The Art of Warre, there are several wood cuts of military evolutions, in which these instruments are both introduced. In Rymer's Fœdera, in a diary of King Henry's siege of Bulloigne,

*To threape. To dispute.

1544, mention is made of the drommes and viffleurs marching at the head of the King's army.-Tom. xv. p. 53.

The drum and fife were also much used at ancient festivals, shows, and processions. Gerard Leigh, in his Accidence of Armorie, printed in 1576, describing a Christmas magnificently celebrated at the Inner Temple, says, 'We entered the prince his hall, where anon we heard the noyse of drum and fife.'--P. 119.

"At a stately masque on Shrove-Sunday, 1510, in which King Henry VIII. was an actor, Holinshed mentions the entry of a drum and fife apparelled in white damaske and grene bonnettes.'-Chron. III. 805, col. 2. There are many more instances in Holinshed and Stow's Survey of London."—WARTON.


I had rather have lost my purse
Full of crusadoes.]

"The cruzado was not current, as it should seem, at Venice, though it certainly was in England in the time of Shakspeare, who has here indulged his usual practice of departing from national costume. It was of gold, and weighed two penny-weights six grains, or nine shillings English."-DOUCE, Illustrations of Shakspeare.

(5) SCENE IV.—

the hearts of old gave hands;

But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts.]]

The antithesis of hearts and hands appears to have been a favourite with Shakespeare and the writers of his age: so in "The Tempest " Act III. Scene I. :


My husband, then?

FER. Ay, with a heart as willing
As bondage e'er of freedom: here's my hand.
MIR. And mine, with my heart in 't."

So also in Warner's Albion's England:-
"My hand shall never give

My heart, my heart shall give my hand."

And Mr. Singer has quoted a passage from the essays of Sir William Cornwallis the younger, 1601, where we have the words in similar opposition:-"We of these later times, full of a nice curiositie, mislike all the performances of our forefathers; we say they were honest plaine men, but they want the capering wits of this ripe age. They had wont to give their hands and hearts together, but we think it a finer grace to looke asquint, our hand looking one way and our heart another." Warburton conjectured, and Malone at one time was of the same opinion, that the expression, "our new heraldry" was a satirical reflection upon King James' creation of baronets. But to this it has been objected that the new order was not created until 1611, while the play was written before November 1604; and it is in the highest degree improbable that an allusion so offensive to the king was inserted afterwards,

(6) SCENE IV-Away! The incident of the handkerchief, which Shakespeare has invested with such terrible sublimity, is derived from the novel in the Hecatom mithi, on which this play was founded:

"I have already said that Desdemona went frequently to the ensign's house, and passed great part of the day with his wife. The villain had observed that she often brought with her a handkerchief that the Moor had given her, and which, as it was very delicately worked in the Moorish taste, was very highly valued by them both; he determined to steal it, and by its means complete her ruin. He had a little girl of three years old that was much caressed by Desdemona; and one day, when that unhappy woman was on a visit to this villain, he took up the child in his arms and presented it to Desdemona, who reveived it and pressed it to her bosom. In the same instant this deceiver stole from her sash the handkerchief, with such dexterity, that she did not perceive him; and went away with it in very high spirits. Desdemona went

home, and, taken up with other thoughts, never recol lected her handkerchief till some days after; when, not being able to find it, she began to fear that the Moor should ask her for it, as he often did. The infamous ensign, watching his opportunity, went to the lieutenant, and, to aid his wicked purpose, left the handkerchief on his bolster. The lieutenant did not find it till the next morning, when, getting up, he set his foot upon it as it had fallen to the floor. Not being able to imagine how it came there, and knowing it to be Desdemona's, he determined to carry it back to her; and, waiting till the Moor was gone out, he went to the back-door and knocked. Fortune, who seemed to have conspired along with the ensign the death of this poor woman, brought the Moor home in the same instant. Hearing some one knock, he went to the window, and, much disturbed, asked who is there? The lieutenant hearing his voice, and fearing that when he came down he should do him some mischief, ran away without answering. The Moor came down, and finding no one either at the door or in the street, returned full of suspicion to his wife, and asked if she knew who it was that had knocked. She answered with great truth that she knew not. But I think,' said he, 'it was the lieutenant;'-'It might be he,' said she, or any one else.' The Moor checked himself at the time, though te was violently enraged, and determined to take no step without first consulting the ensign. To him he imme diately went, and related what had just happened, begging him to learn from the lieutenant what he could on the subject. The ensign rejoiced much in this accident, and promised to do so. He contrived to enter into discourse with him one day in a place where the Moor might see them. He talked with him on a very different subject, laughed much, and expressed by his motions and attitudes very great surprise. The Moor as soon as he saw them separate went to the ensign, and desired to know what had passed between them. The ensign, after many solicita tions, at last told him that he had concealed nothing from him. He says he has enjoyed your wife every time that you have stayed long enough from home to give him an opportunity; and that in their last interview she had made him a present of that handkerchief which you gave her when you married her.* The Moor thanked him, and thought that if his wife had no longer the handkerchief in her possession it would be a proof that the ensign had told him the truth. For which reason one day after dinner, among other subjects, he asked her for this handkerchief. The poor woman, who had long apprehended this, blushed excessively at the question, and, to hide her change of colour, which the Moor had very accurately observed, ran to her wardrobe and pretended to look for it. After having searched for some time, 'I cannot conceive,' said she, 'what is become of it! have not you taken it?' 'Had I taken it,' replied he, I should not have asked you for it. But you may look for it another time more at your ease.' Leaving her then, be began to reflect what would be the best way of putting to death his wife and the lieutenant, and how he might avoid being prosecuted for the murder. Thinking night and day on this subject, he could not prevent Desdemona from perceiving that his behaviour was very different from what it had been formerly. She often asked him what it was that agitated him so violently. You, who were once the merriest man alive, are now the most melancholy. The Moor answered and alleged a variety of reasons, bat she was not satisfied with any of them; and knowing that she had done nothing to justify so much agitation, she began to fear that he grew tired of her. She once in conversation with the ensign's wife expressed herself thus: 'I know not what to say of the Moor; he used to treat me most affectionately; and I begin to fear that my example will teach young women never to marry against their parents' consent, and the Italians in particular, not

In the tolerably correct but far from elegant transistion of W. Parr, which we adept, the words "when you married ber' ¿quandɔ la sposaste are inadvertently omitted.

to connect themselves with men from whom they are separated by nature, climate, education, and complexion. But as I know him to be the confidential of your husband, whom he consults on all occasions, I intreat you, if you have heard anything that might explain this mystery and be of use to me, not to deny me your assistance.' These words were accompanied with a flood of tears.

"The ensign's wife, who knew all (as her husband had in vain endeavoured to prevail upon her to become an accomplice in the murder of Desdemona), but durst tell her nothing for fear of her husband, only said, "Take care not to give the Moor any cause for suspicion, and do all in your power to convince him of your affection and fidelity.' 'Why so I do,' said she, 'but to no purpose.' The Moor, in the meantime, did all in his power to prove what he desired not to find true, and begged the ensign to make him see the handkerchief in possession of the lieutenant. Although this was a difficult undertaking, yet the villain promised to do all in his power to give him a satisfactory proof of this. The lieutenant had a woman in the house, who was a notable embroiderer in muslin, and

who, struck with the beauty of Desdemona's handkerchief, determined to copy it before it should be returned to her. She set about making one like it, and while she was at work, the ensign discovered that she sat at a window where any one who passed in the street might see her. This he took care to point out to the Moor, who was then fully persuaded that his chaste and innocent wife was an adultress. He agreed with the ensign to kill both her and the lieutenant; and, consulting together about the means, the Moor entreated him to undertake the assassination of the officer, promising never to forget so great an obligation. He refused, however, to attempt what was so very difficult and dangerous, as the lieutenant was equally brave and vigilant; but with much entreaty and considerable presents, he was prevailed on to say that he would hazard the experiment. One dark night, after taking this resolution, he observed the lieutenant coming out of the house of a female libertine where he usually passed his evenings, and assaulted him sword in hand. He struck at his legs with a view of bringing him to the ground, and with the first blow cut him quite through the right thigh."

(1) SCENE I.—


Is't possible -Confess I--Handkerchief!—O, devil!— [Falls in a trance.] "The starts and broken reflections in this speech have something very terrible, and show the mind of the speaker to be in inexpressible agonies."-WARBURTON.

"When many confused and very interesting ideas pour in upon the mind all at once, and with such rapidity that it has not time to shape or digest them, if it does not relieve itself by tears (which we know it often does, whether for joy or grief) it produces stupefaction and fainting.

"Othello, in broken sentences, and single words, all of which have a reference to the cause of his jealousy, shows, that all the proofs are present at once to his mind, which so overpowers it, that he falls into a trance, the natural consequence."-SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.


My mother had a maid call'd Barbara:

She was in love; and he she lov'd prov'd mad,
And did forsake her: she had a song of Willow,
An old thing 'twas, but it express'd her fortune,
And she died singing it.]

The old ballad so pathetically introduced has been reprinted by Capell and Dr. Percy from a black-letter copy in the Pepys' collection at Cambridge. The original, which we append, is the lament not of a forsaken female, but of a "lass-lorn bachelor," and Shakespeare, in adapting it for a woman, has slightly altered, and added to, the words:


"A poore soule sat sighing under a sicamore tree;

O willow, willow, willow!

With his hand on his bosom, his head on his knee:
O willow, willow, willow!

O willow, willow, willow!

Sing. O the greene willow shall be my garland.
"He sigh'd in his singing, and after each grone,
Come willow, &c.

I am dead to all pleasure, my true love is gone;
O willow, &c.

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"The willow wreath weare I, since my love doth fleete; O willow, willow, willow!

A Garland for lovers forsaken most meete.

O willow, willow, willow!

O willow, willow, willow!

Sing, O the greene willow shall be my gárland."

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