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TO THE

RIGHT HONORABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLY,

EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TITCHFIELD.

Right HONORABLE,

I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burthen: only if your honor seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours till I have honored you with some graver labor. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after earl so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I leave it to your honorable survey, and your honor 2 to your heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation.

Your Honor's in all duty,

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

1 Ear, plough.

2 Honor. As a duke is now styled "your grace," so “ your honor formerly the usual mode of address to noblemen in general.

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VENUS AND ADONIS.

Even as the sun with purple-colored face
Had ta'en bis last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheeked Adonis' hied him to the chase ;
Hunting he loved, but love he laughed to scorn ;

Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-faced suitor, 'gins to woo him.

66 Thrice fairer than myself,” thus she began,
66 The field's chief flower, sweet above compare,
Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man,
More white and red than doves or roses are;

Nature that made thee, with herself at strife,
Saith that the world hath ending with thy life.

1 The poem of “ Hero and Leander," although Marlowe's portion of it was not published till 1598, was probably well known in the poetical circles. The following lines are in the first sestyad :

“ The men of wealthy Sestos every year,

For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,
Rose-cheeked Adonis, kept a solemn feast.”

“ Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein his proud head to the saddle-bow;
If thou wilt deign this favor, for thy meed
A thousand honey-secrets shalt thou know :

Here come and sit, where never serpent hisses,
And being set I'll smother thee with kisses ;

“And yet not cloy thy lips with loathed satiety,
But rather famish them amid their plenty,
Making them red and pale with fresh variety,
Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty :

A summer's day will seem an hour but short,
Being wasted in such time-beguiling sport."

With this she seizeth on his sweating palm,
The precedent of pith and livelihood,
And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good :

Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force,
Courageously to pluck him from his horse.

Over one arm the lusty courser's rein,
Under her other was the tender boy,
Who blushed and pouted in a dull disdain,
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy ;

She red and hot as coals of glowing fire,
He red for shame, but frosty in desire.

The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens; (0, how quick is love !)
The steed is stalled up, and even now
To tie the rider she begins to prove :

Backward she pushed him, as she would be thrust,
And governed him in strength, though not in lust.

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