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And desperately are dead.
Ay, so I think.
Enter an Officer. Off. Edmund is dead, my lord. Alb.
That's but a trifle here. You lords, and noble friends, know our intent. What comfort to this great decay may come, Shall be applied : for us, we will resign, During the life of this old majesty, To him our absolute power.—You, to your rights,
[To EDGAR and KENT. With boot, and such addition, as your honours Have more than merited.-All friends shall taste The wages of their virtue, and all foes The cup of their deservings.-0! see, see!
Lear. And my poor fool is hang’d'! No, no, no life: Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never ! Pray you, undo this button : thank you, sir.Do you see this? Look on her,— look,—her lips,Look there, look there!
[He dies. Edg.
He faints !-My lord, my lord !
3 He knows not what he says ;] Thus the folio : the quartos sces.
* And my poor fool is hang'd !] It has been disputed whether, in these words, Lear refers to Cordelia or to his fool, of whom, in the two last acts, we have heard nothing. Sir Joshua Reynolds was of opinion that Shakespeare thus meant to inform the audience of the fate of the Fool; but it may be urged that, as Cordelia had been hanged, the poet would probably have chosen some other death for the Fool, in order to render the matter quite clear, supposing Lear to have allowed his thoughts to wander from his daughter, lying dead before him. On the other hand, if Shakespeare did not mean to revert to the Fool, he has certainly omitted to account for a prominent and important character.
6 Do you see this ? &c.) This line and the following hemistich are not in the quartos. After “thank you, sir," they have only the interjection ()! five times repeated.
Kent. Break, heart; I pr’ythee, break?!
Look up, my lord. Kent. Vex not his ghost: 0! let him pass: he hates
He is gone, indeed.
Alb. Bear them from hence. Our present business Is general woe.—Friends of my soul, you twain
[To KENT and EDGAR. Rule in this realm®, and the gor'd state sustain.
K’ent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go: My master calls me; I must not say, no'.
Alb. The weight of this sad timelo we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most: we, that are young, Shall never see so much, nor live so long.
[Exeunt, with a dead March.
7 Break, heart ; &c.] This line is in the quartos erroneously given to Lear, whose death is not there marked in the stage directions.
& Rule in this realM,] “Rule in this kingdom” in the quartos ; and for “ gor'd state” one of them (that without the address) has “good state."
9 My master calls ME, I must not say, no :) So the folio : the quartos “My master calls, and I must not say no." The second folio here adds Dics, as a stage-direction in the margin, but there is nothing in the older editions to war. rant its introduction.
10 The weight of this sad time-] In the folio this speech is mistakenly assigned to Edgar. All the quartos concur in giving it to Albany,
“ The Tragedy of Othello, The Moore of Venice. As it hath beene diuerse times acted at the Globe, and at the Black-Friers, by bis Maiesties Seruants. 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.” 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."
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, Ixili xvii xd.” The part of the memorandum which relates to “ Othello " is interlined, as if added afterwards; but 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. Our 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 only 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 properly denominated the Lord Chamberlain's Servants. Richard Burbage was the original actor of the part of Othello, as we learn from an elegy upon his death, among the late Mr. Heber's manuscripts. To the same fact we may quote the concluding stanza of a ballad, on the incidents of “Othello," written after the death of Burbage, which has also come down to us in manuscript :