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my mistress by. But a note of gentle criticism is early heard, and Shakespeare's subsequent careernay,

the very phrases of his own Dedication-went far to justify those who, with the Cambridge Judicio in the Third Parnassus play, wished to see ‘his sweeter verse,' with its heart-throbbing life,' applied to 'a graver subject'

Without love's foolish lazy languishment ; or who, like the aging Gabriel Harvey, turned with some relief from the Venus and Adonis, in which 'the younger sort take much delight,' to 'his Lucrece and his Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,' which have it in them to please the wiser sort.' Harvey had once, it is true, done his best to persuade Spenser to renounce the Faerie Queene ; his recognition of Hamlet shows that the 'pedantry' for which we brand his name did not rest entirely upon prosaic temper and bad taste.

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Vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo

Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.'






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 burden : only, if your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a god-father, and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, and your honour to your heart's content ; which I wish may always answer your own wish and the world's hopeful expectation.

Your honour's in all duty,


Even as the sun with purple-colour'd face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase ;
Hunting he loved, but love he laugh'd to scorn;

3. Adonis, the son of Myrrha, phone, queen of the underworld, and favourite of Aphrodite, was who refused to give him up to consigned to the care of Perse- Aphrodite. Zeus, on appeal VOL. X


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


Thrice-fairer than myself,' thus she began,

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.



Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein his proud head to the saddle-bow;
If thou wilt deign this favour, 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.


being made to him, decided that Adonis should spend four months of each year with Persephone, four with Aphrodite, and retain four for his own pleasure. He was wounded by a boar, and Aphrodite, unable to staunch the wound and save his life,

won from Zeus the promise that Adonis should spend six months of each year with her.

9. Stain, source of disgrace, 2.e. Adonis outshone them all.

26. precedent, indication.
ib. pith, virile energy.

Over one arm the lusty courser's rein,
Under her other was the tender boy,
Who blush'd 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 push'd him, as she would be

And govern’d him in strength, though not in lust.


So soon was she along as he was down,
Each leaning on their elbows and their hips :
Now doth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown,
And 'gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips;

And kissing speaks, with lustful language broken,
'If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open.'


He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks ;
Then with her windy sighs and golden hairs
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks:

He saith she is immodest, blames her miss;
What follows more she murders with a kiss.

Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast,
Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh and bone,
Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste,
Till either gorge be stuff'd or prey be gone;

Even so she kissed his brow, his cheek, his chin,
And where she ends she doth anew begin.
53. miss, misbehaviour, offence. 56. Tires, tears in pieces.


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