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E P I S T L E.




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 honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly prajfed, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I haiic honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first invention prove deformed, I shall be forry, it had to noble a godfather, and never after ear so barrena kand, 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 with, and the world's hopeful expectation.

Your Honour's in all duty, WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

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-ear so barren a land,] To ear, is to plow. See Vol. VII. p. 435, n. 7. MALONE.

2-and your honour-) This was formerly the usual mode of address to noblemen. So, in a letter written by Sir Francis Bacon to Robert, lerd Cecil, July 3, 1603: “ Lastly, for this divulged and almost prostituted title of knighthood, I could without charge, by your bonour's mean, be content to have it,-.” Birch's Collection, p. 24. MALONE.


B 2



F the nobleman to whom Shakspeare has addressed the only

two pieces that he appears ever to bave published, few particulars are known. However, the circumstances, of his having been the most intimate friend of Robert earl of Essex, and, according to tradition, the liberal benefactor of our poet, have endeared his memory to pofterity. His grandfather Thomas, the first earl, was lord chancellor in the time of King Henry VIII, and one of his executors. His father Henry, who died in 1983, was a Roman Catholick, and a strenuous partizan of Mary queen of Scots. Ourgreat poet's patron was born in 1573. In December, 1585 he became a member of Saint John's college in Cambridge 3, and was admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts in 1989, after a residence of four years in the university," where (lays a contemporary writer 4,) he spent his time in the studie of good letters, andafier confirmed that studie with trayaile and foraigne observation

He aceompanied lord e sex as a volunteer in the expedition to Cadizis 1,596; and, in the following year, he was appointed captain of the farland, one of Queen Elizabeth's best tips, (for in ihose twines.inçourft nobility, though not bred to the sea, occionally feired. pr. the navy,) and acted as vice-admiral of the forit squadronin.che fleet that failed against the Azores. In that tapedition: happening, with only three of the Queen's thips and a few merchant-men, to fall in with thirty five tail of Spanish gations, laden with the treasures of South America, he fürik one of them, dispersed several others that were afterwards taken, and drove the rest into a bay of the island of Tercera, which was then unassailable. - After the English had taken and spoiled the town of Villa Franca, the enemy finding that most of them were gone aboard their thips, and that only the earls of Effex and Southampton, with a few others, remained on hore, came down upon them with all their force, but were received with such fpirit, that many of the

3 In the book of matriculation, which my friend Dr. Farmer very obligingly examined at my request, is the following entry:

« Hen. Comes Sowthampton, impubes 12°. ano.”St. John's roll. Dec. I. 1585.

4 HONOUR IN HIS PERFECTION, or a Treatise in commendation of the vertues and renowned vertuous ur.Jercakings of the illustrious and heroick princes, Henric carle of Oxenforde, Henrie earle of Southampfon, and Robert earle of Eliex. By G.M.[Gervais Markham.) 410. 1624.


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