Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer
Lines from act III, scene 3 of Othello, handwritten by Ira Aldridge, dated May 10, 1853
Othello remained a signature role for Aldridge. This passage is from act III, scene 3 of Othello, a dramatic scene in which Othello begins to abandon his former ideals, including his devotion to military heroism, after a villainous associate tells him falsely that Othello’s adored wife has been unfaithful. Aldridge hand-wrote this passage and addressed it to his friend Dr. Edmund Schebek, a lawyer and historian he had met in the Czech city of Prague. The actor autographed it “with the sincere and grateful respects of Ira Aldridge.”
The text (lines 399–409) reads:
O! now, forever
Farewell the tranquil mind; farewell content;
Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars
That make ambition virtue: O! farewell!
Farewell the neighing steed, and shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And O! you mortal confines, whose rude throats
The immortal Jove’s dead clamours counterfeit,
Farewell! Othello’s occupation’s gone!