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misunderstood, and almost always understood by different persons in different ways. The causes are the same in either case. If you take only what the friends of the character say, you may be deceived, and still more so, if that which his enemies say; nay, even the character himself sees himself through the medium of his character, and not exactly as he is. Take all together, not omitting a shrewd hint from the clown or the fool, and perhaps your impression will be right; and you may know whether you have in fact discovered the Poet's own idea, by all the speeches receiving light from it, and attesting its reality by reflecting it.

“ Lastly, in Shakespeare the heterogeneous is united, as it is in nature. You must not suppose a pressure or passion always acting on or in the character ! - passion in Shake speare is that by which the individual is distinguished from others, not that which makes a different kind of him. Shake speare followed the main march of the human affections. He entered into no analysis of the passions or faiths of men, but assured himself that such and such passions and faiths were grounded in our common nature, and not in the mere accidents of ignorance or disease. This is an important consideration, and constitutes our Shakespeare the morning star, the guide and the pioneer, of true philosophy."

THE

POEMS AND SONNETS

0

SHAKESPEARE.

INTRODUCTION

TO

VENUS AND ADONIS.

The first edition of VENUS AND ADONIS was a quarto pam. phlet of twenty-seven leaves, the latter part of the title-page read. ing thus : “ London. Imprinted by Richard Field, and are to be sold at the sign of the white Greyhound in Paul's Church-yard. 1593.” On the 18th of April, 1593, the poem was entered at the Stationers' by Field, as “bis copy, licensed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Wardens." A second edition was made by the same publisher in 1594. There were also editions of it, by Jobu Harrisou iu 1596 and 1600, and by William Leake in 1602. After this time it was often republished, and copies are known, bearing the dates of 1616 and 1620. It was also printed at Edinburgh by John Wreittoun in 1627.

This frequency of publication sufficiently witnesses the great popularity of the poem. It is often alluded to, also, by the Poet's contemporaries, and in such terms as show it to have been a general favourite. Meres, in his Wit's Treasury, 1598, speaks of it thus : " As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythago. ras, so the sweet, witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honeytongued Shakespeare: witness his Venus and Adonis, bis Lucrece, his sugаred Sonnets among his private friends." What use was sometimes made of it, may be inferred from Sharpe's Noble Stranger, 1640, where Pupillus exclaims, -60, for the book of Venus and Adonis, to court my mistress by!

The lenth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, as translated by Arthur Golding, probably furnished Shakespeare the story of Venus and Adonis. Golding's trapslation was first published complete in 1567, and reissued in 1572, 1584, 1587, and 1593; so that it must have had a large circulation when the poem was written. The Poet evidently worked upon the plan of concentrating all the interest on the passion of the goddess, and took only so much of the story as would directly serve this end. His treatment of the subject is eminently original and inventive ; his genius playing

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