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be inferred that the demand for re-impressions of Adonis would be frequent ; and this was, indeed, t year following the publication of the editio princeps, conclude that the second impression was printe appears again entered in the Stationers' books o 1594, by Harrison,
Harrison, sen. ; unless this entry! to the edition of 1596, which was printed in sı Field, for John Harrison. * Of the subsea published, in 1600, by John Harrison, in i 1602, and, in 1607, the Venus and Ador burgh, 66 which must be considered,” r. indubitable proof, that at a very early admired the genius of Shakspeare.” has the same motto as in the origir Phoenix in the midst of flames, Printed by John Wreittoun, are beneath the Salt Trone. 1607."
It is highly probable, that h copy, and the year 1617, the d vening impression may hay should be noticed, is enters rett, Feb. 16. 1616; and t' 1619, preparatory perhar
ud and In 1630, another re-prir 1640, and in the variou
ivity 66 in the The same favoura! progress of the Ver
and done which our author 1
ing dew, in quarto, in 159
L'r'ur of the sun !
We must not omit also the first clause of the sixteenth stanza, which affords an admirable example of spirited and harmonious rhythm. Tarquin in addressing Lucrece :
6 He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy;
Made glorious by his manly chivalry,
One of the peculiar excellences of the Rape of Lucrece, is its frequent expression of correct sentiment in pointed language and emphatic verse. Tarquin, soliloquising on the crime which he is about to commit, thus gives vent to the agonies of momentary contrition :
“ Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine !
O shame to knighthood and to shining arms !
What win I, if I gain the thing I seek ?
The same terseness of diction and concinnity of versification appear in the subsequent lines :
“ Then for thy husband's and thy children's sake,
Tender my suit: bequeath not to their lot
It may, likewise, be added, that simplicity and strength in the modulation, together with a forcible plainness of phraseology, characterise a few stanzas, of which one shall be given as an instance:
) reuk me how to make mine own excuse !
To accessary yieldings — but, still pure,
To these short examples, which are selected for the purpose of showing, not only the occasional felicity of the poet in the mechanism of his verse, but the uncommon and unapprehended worth of what this mechanism is the vehicle, we shall subjoin three passages of greater length, illustrative of what this early production of our author's Muse can exhibit in the three great departments of the descriptive, the pathetic, and the morally sublime.
Lucrece, in the paroxysms of her grief, is represented as telling her mournful story
But like a constant and confirmed devil,
The well-skill'd workman this mild image drew
This is a picture, of which the colouring, but too often overcharged in every other part of the poem, may be pronounced chaste and
A simple and unaffected flow of thought, expressed in diction of equal purity and plainness, are essential requisites towards the
production of the pathetic, either in poetry or prose; and, unfortunately, in the Rape of Lucrece, these excellences, especially in their combined state, are of very rare occurrence. We are not, however, totally destitute of passages which, by their tenderness and simplicity, appeal to the heart. Thus the complete wretchedness of Lucretia is powerfully and simply painted in the following lines :
“ The little birds that tune their morning's joy,
Make her moans mad with their sweet melody.
True sorrow then is feelingly suffic'd,
She, accordingly, invokes the melancholy nightingale, and invites her, from similarity of fate, to be her companion in distress :
“ And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
As shaming any eye should thee behold,
To creatures stern sad tunes, to change their kinds:
Shakspeare has here,” says Mr. Malone, in a note on the first of these stanzas, “as in all his writings, shown an intimate acquaintance
with the human heart. Every one that has felt the pressure of grief will readily acknowledge that mirth doth search the bottom of annoy.'
The last specimen which we shall select from this poem, would alone preserve
it from oblivion, were it necessary to protect from such a fate any work which bears the mighty name of Shakspeare. Indeed, whether we consider this extract in relation to its diction, its metre, its sentiment, or the sublimity of its close, it is alike calculated to excite our admiration:
“ Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
But ill-annexed opportunity
O, Gpportunity! thy guilt is great:
And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
We have already seen, that, in the passages quoted from contemporary writers in favour of Venus and Adonis, the Rape of Lucrece has, with the exception of two instances, been honoured with equal notice and equal approbation. Here, therefore, it will only be necessary to add those notices in which the latter production is the exclusive object of praise.
Of these, the earliest † is to be found in the first edition
* Supplement, vol. i. p. 537. note.
+ Perhaps the opening stanza of the following scarce poem, entitled “ Epicedium. A funerall Song, upon the vertuous life and godly death of the right worshipfull the Lady Helen Branch;
Virtus sola manet, cætera cuncta ruunt. London, printed by Thomas Creed, 1594;" may allude to our author's Rape of Lucrece: