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How should we know thy foul had been fecur'd
It is not but the tempeft that doth fhew
To have been undone, had they not been undone !
He that endures for what his confcience knows
The more he endures, the more his glory grows,
Upon the death of the most noble lord,
HENRY, EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, Written by Sir JOHN BEAUMONT, Bart. 1624: Printed by his Son in 1629.
HEN now the life of great SOUTHAMPTON ends,
Stand like fo many weeping marble stones,
The world muft pardon, if my fong be weak;
My verses are not for the prefent age;
For what man lives, or breathes on England's stage,
Of what a jewel angry fates bereave
This mournful kingdom; and, when heavy woes
When he was young, no ornament of youth
And by his favour plac'd this star on high,
Fix'd in the Garter, England's azure sky;
He pride (which dimms fuch change) as much did hate,
When he was call'd to fit, by Jove's command,
No power, no ftrong perfuafion, could him draw
So truly fweet, or husband half so kind?
Thus he enjoy'd the beft contents of life,
Obedient children, and a loving wife.
Thefe were his parts in peace; but O, how far
For this is nothing, all thefe rhimes I fcorn;
In true defcription of immortal things;
VEN as the fun with purple-colour'd face
Our authour himself has told us that this poem was his first compofition. It was entered in the Stationers' books by Richard Field, on Harrifon, fen. on the the 18th of April, 1593; and again by 23d of June, 1594; in which year 1 fuppofe it to have been published, The earliest though I have not met with an edition of fo old a date. copy that I have feen, was printed by R. F. for John Harrifon, in fmall octavo, 1596, with which I have been furnished by the kindness of the rev. Mr. Warton. This poem is frequently alluded to by our authour's contemporaries. "As the foul of Euphorbus (fays Meres in his Wit's Treasury, 1598,) was thought to live in Pythagoras, fo the fweet, witty foul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakspeare. Witnefs his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece," &c.-In the early part of Shakspeare's life, his poems feem to have gained him more reputation than his plays;-at leaft they are oftener mentioned, or alluded to. Thus the authour of an old comedy called The Return from Parnaffus, written about the year 1602, in his review of the poets of the time, fays not a word of his dramatick compofitions, but allots him his portion of fame folely on account of the poems that he had produced. When the name of William Shakspeare is read, one of the characters pronounces this elogium:
"Who loves Adonis' love, or Lucrece' rape?
"His sweeter verfe contains heart-robbing life;
"Without love's foolish lazy languithment."
This fubject was probably fuggefted to Shakspeare either by Spenfer's defcription of the hangings in the Lady of Delight's Caftle, FAERY QUEEN. B. III. c. i. ft. 34, et feq. 4to, 1590, or by a short piece entitled The Sheepbeard's Song of Venus and Adonis, fubfcribed with the letters H. C. (probably Henry Conftable,) which, I believe, was written before Shakspeare's poem; though I have never feen any earlier copy of it than that which we find in England's Helicon, 1600. He had alfo without doubt read the account of Venus and Adonis in the tenth book of Ovid's Metamorphofes, tranflated by Golding, 1567, though he has chofen to deviate from the clatiical ftory, which Ovid and Spenfer had fet before him, following probably the model prefented to him by the english poem just mentioned. See the notes at the end. MALONE.
Thrice fairer than myfelf, (thus he began,)
Nature that made thee, with herself at ftrife+,
Vouchfafe, thou wonder, to alight thy fteed,
Here come and fit, where never ferpent hiffes,
And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd fatiety,
2 Rofe-cheek'd Adonis-] So, in Timon of Athens:
Our authour perhaps remembered Marlowe's Hero and Leander:
"For his fake whom their goddess held fo deare,
3 More white and red than doves or rojes are:] Thus the octavo, 1596. We might better read (as Dr. Farmer obferves to me):
-than doves and roles are.
I think it probable, however, that for this flight inaccuracy the authour, and not the printer, is anfwerable. MALONE.
4 Nature that made thee, with berjelf at ftrife,] With this conteft between art and nature, &c. I believe every reader will be furfeited before he has gone through the following poems. The lines under the print of Noah Bridges, engraved by Faithorne, have the fame thought: "Faithorne, with nature at a noble ftrife," &c.
It occurs likewife in Timon of Athens. STEEVENS.
We have in a fubfequent paffage a contest between art and nature, but here furely there is none. I must also observe that there is fcarcely a book of Shakspeare's age, whether in profe or verfe, in which this furfeiting comparifon (as it has been called,) may not be found. MALONE. 5 Saith that the world hath ending with try life.] So, in Romeo and Juliet: "And when he dies, with beauty dies her ftore." STEEVENS. And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd fatiety,
But rather famifh them amid their plenty,]So, in Antony and Cleopatra: