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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Edwin Forrest as Othello
By Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) (1834–1867)
 
DURIN a recent visit to New York the undersined went to see Edwin Forrest. As I am into the moral show biziness myself I ginrally go to Barnum’s moral museum, where only moral peeple air admitted, partickly on Wednesday arternoons. But this time I thot I’d go and see Ed. Ed has bin actin out on the stage for many years. There is varis ’pinions about his actin, Englishmen ginrally bleevin that he’s far superior to Mister Macready; but on one pint all agree, & that is that Ed draws like a six-ox team. Ed was actin at Niblo’s Garding, which looks considerable more like a parster than a garding, but let that pars. I sot down in the pit, took out my spectacles and commenced peroosin the evenin’s bill. The awjince was all-fired large & the boxes was full of the elitty of New York. Several opery glasses was leveled at me by Gotham’s fairest darters, but I didn’t let on as tho I noticed it, tho mebby I did take out my sixteen-dollar silver watch & brandish it round more than was necessary. But the best of us has our weaknesses & if a man has gewelry let him show it. As I was peroosin the bill a grave young man who sot near me axed me if I’d ever seen Forrest dance the Essence of Old Virginny. “He’s immense in that,” sed the young man. “He also does a fair champion jig,” the young man continnered, “but his Big Thing is the Essence of Old Virginny.” Sez I, “Fair youth, do you know what I’d do with you if you was my sun?”  1
  “No,” sez he.  2
  “Wall,” sez I, “I’d appint your funeral to-morrow arternoon, & the korps should be ready. You’re too smart to live on this yerth.”  3
  He didn’t try any more of his capers on me. But another pussylanermuss individooul in a red vest and patent leather boots told me his name was Bill Astor & axed me to lend him 50 cents till early in the mornin. I told him I’d probly send it round to him before he retired to his virtoous couch, but if I didn’t he might look for it next fall as soon as I’d cut my corn. The orchestry was now fiddling with all their might & as the peeple didn’t understan anything about it they applaudid versifrusly. Presently old Ed cum out. The play was Otheller or More of Veniss. Otheller was writ by Wm. Shakspeer. The seene is laid in Veniss. Otheller was a likely man & was a ginral in the Veniss army. He eloped with Desdemony, a darter of the Hon. Mr. Brabantio, who represented one of the back districks in the Veneshun legislater. Old Brabantio was as mad as thunder at this & tore round considerable, but finally cooled down, tellin Otheller, howsoever, that Desdemony had come it over her par, & that he had better look out or she’d come it over him likewise. Mr. and Mrs. Otheller git along very comfortable-like for a spell. She is sweet-tempered and lovin—a nice, sensible female, never goin in for he-female conventions, green cotton umbrellers, and pickled beats. Otheller is a good provider and thinks all the world of his wife. She has a lazy time of it, the hird girl doin all the cookin and washin. Desdemony in fact don’t have to git the water to wash her own hands with. But a low cuss named Iago, who I bleeve wants to git Otheller out of his snug government birth, now goes to work & upsets the Otheller family in most outrajus stile. Iago falls in with a brainless youth named Roderigo & wins all his money at poker. (Iago allers played foul.) He thus got money enuff to carry out his onprincipled skeem. Mike Cassio, a Irishman, is selected as a tool by Iago. Mike was a clever feller & a orficer in Otheller’s army. He liked his tods too well, howsoever, & they floored him as they have many other promisin young men. Iago injuces Mike to drink with him, Iago slily throwin his whiskey over his shoulder. Mike gits as drunk as a biled owl & allows that he can lick a yard full of the Veneshun fancy before breakfast, without sweatin a hair. He meets Roderigo & proceeds for to smash him. A feller named Mentano undertakes to slap Cassio, when that infatooated person runs his sword into him. That miserble man, Iago, pretends to be very sorry to see Mike conduck hisself in this way & undertakes to smooth the thing over to Otheller, who rushes in with a drawn sword & wants to know what’s up. Iago cunningly tells his story & Otheller tells Mike that he thinks a good deal of him but that he cant train no more in his regiment. Desdemony sympathises with poor Mike & interceds for him with Otheller. Iago makes him bleeve she does this because she thinks more of Mike than she does of hisself. Otheller swallers Iagos lyin tail & goes to makin a noosence of hisself ginrally. He worries poor Desdemony terrible by his vile insinuations & finally smothers her to deth with a piller. Mrs. Iago comes in just as Otheller has finished the fowl deed & givs him fits right & left, showin him that he has been orfully gulled by her miserble cuss of a husband. Iago cums in & his wife commences rakin him down also, when he stabs her. Otheller jaws him a spell & then cuts a small hole in his stummick with his sword. Iago pints to Desdemony’s deth bed & goes orf with a sardonic smile onto his countenance. Otheller tells the peple that he has dun the state some service & they know it; axes them to do as fair a thing as they can for him under the circumstances, & kills hisself with a fish-knife, which is the most sensible thing he can do. This is a breef skedule of the synopsis of the play.  4
  Edwin Forrest is a grate acter. I thot I saw Otheller before me all the time he was actin &, when the curtin fell, I found my spectacles was still mistened with salt-water, which had run from my eyes while poor Desdemony was dyin. Betsy Jane—Betsy Jane! let us pray that our domestic bliss may never be busted up by a Iago!  5
  Edwin Forrest makes money actin out on the stage. He gits five hundred dollars a nite & his board & washin. I wish I had such a Forrest in my Garding!  6
 
 
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