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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 fo weak a burthen: only, if your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I havichonoured you with some graver labour. But if the fuft heir invention prove deformed, I shall be had co noble a godfather, and never after ear so barrena and, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I ‘leave it to your honourable survey, and your honour? to yorir heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation.

Your Honour's in all duty, WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

Lear so barren a land, ] To ear, is to plow. See Vol. VII. p. 435, 9. 7. MALONE.

2-and your honour-) This was formerly the usual mode of address to noblemen. So, in a lester written by Sir Francis Bacon to Robert, lord 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 posterity. His grandfather Thomas, the first earl, was lord chancellor in the time of King Henry Vill. and one of his executors. His father Henıy, who died in 1583, was a Roman Catholick, and a ftrenuous 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 }, 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 observations

He aceompanied lord Eflex as a volunteer in the expedition to Cadizla 2,5967: and, in the following year, he was appointed captain of the Bärland, one of Queen Elizabeth's best tips, (for in those wnies.ineturft nobility, though not bred to the sea, oc:casionallyfeived.jur. the navy,) and ačted as vice-admiral of the

first the fleet that failed against the Azores. In 'that taxpedigion, happening, with only three of the Queen's thips and a tew merchant-men, to fall in with thirty five Tail of Spanish garkons, laden with the treasures of South America, he of them, dispersed several others that were afterwards taken, and drove the rest into a bay of the island of Tercera, which was then una flailable.-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 Eflex and Southampton, with a few others, remained on More, 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 requeft, is the following entry: “ Hen. Comes Sowthampton, impubes 12°. an"."St. John's Coll. Dec. 11. 1585.

+ HONOUR IN HIS PERFECTION, or a Treatise in commendation of the vertues and renowned vertuous undertakings of the illustrious and hervick princes, Henrie eatle of Oxenforde, Henrie earle of Southamp100, and Robert carle of Efiex. By G, M.[Gervais Markham.) 410. 1624.


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