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some acquaintance with Southampton at this time, and have felt that he was in his Lordship's favor. For to him he determined to dedicate his Venus and Adonis, although he had not asked permission to do so, as the dedication shows; and in those days, in fact at any time, without some knowledge of his man and some opportunity of judging how he would receive the compliment, a player would not have ventured to take such a liberty with the name of a nobleman. In the next year (1593) the closing of the London theatres on account of the plague afforded a favorable occasion for the publication of the poem, and it was printed by Richard Field, a Stratford man. It immediately won its author a high literary reputation. Before a year had passed a new edition was called for; a third was published in 1596, and two others within nine years of its first appearance. Southampton must have been a churl not to be gratified at the homage of such a poet; and being a man whose rank was the mere pedestal, and whose
tle's use of this epithet, upon which she rung a never-ending change of sneers. But "facetious” here has no reference to that light comic vein of speech to which it is now exclusively applied. It was used in Shakespeare's time in a sense combining our terms "felicitous” and “fastidious” in regard to style. Thus Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset, a grave statesman as well as an accomplished man of letters, who in his very youth wrote only serious and sententious works, is said by Naunton to have been “so facete and choice in his phrase and style” when drafting state papers, that his secretaries could rarely please him.
wealth the mere adornment, of his real nobility, he acknowledged Shakespeare's compliment in a manner both munificent and considerate. Tradition tells us the former; a second dedication, the latter. In the dedication of his Venus and Adonis, which we must not forget that Shakespeare regarded as his first appearance as an author, he expressed a fear that he might offend the young Earl by connecting his name with the first heir of his invention; but he promised that, if his patron were only pleased, he would devote all the time that he could steal from the daily labor of playing and play-writing to some graver labor in his honor. Such a work, we may be sure, he then already had in mind; for in the very next year appeared the Lucrece, a grave and even tragic poem, showing much greater maturity of thought and style than its predecessor, and dedicated also to Southampton. But the tone of the poet toward the patron is now very different from what it was a year before ; although it is still tainted with that deference of simple manhood to privilege, which, in the time of Elizabeth, Englishmen of Shakespeare's rank, no matter what their age, their ability, or their character, must needs pay to English lads of Southampton's. How is it now, except among those Englishmen who have never bowed again under the yoke of privilege which their forefathers cast off in the days when Milton was our mouthpiece and Cromwell our leader?
It is evident from this dedication, that the Earl had done something more than seem pleased with its predecessor. Shakespeare speaks in it of a warrant which he had of his patron's honorable disposition that makes him sure of acceptance, and adds, “What I have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours." This is not flattery, or even deference: words of acknowledgment could not be stronger. On this evidence alone it is plain that something had passed between Shakespeare and the Earl which had bound the former entirely to the latter by lasting ties of gratitude. Again circumstance and tradition strengthen and eke out each other. A story reached Rowe through Davenant (would that so excellent a thing had been preserved in a cleaner vessel !) that Southampton gave Shakespeare a thousand pounds to make a purchase of importance. Now, it so happened that in 1594 the Globe Theatre was built by the company to which Shakespeare belonged, in all the property of which we know that he became a large owner. The sum which the Earl is said to have given to Shakespeare is so very large, - being equal to thirty thousand dollars at our present rate of value, that, while the world has willingly believed the substance of the story, many have doubted the correctness of its details. And yet, remembering the customs of those times, the more we consider how splendid a fellow young
Southampton was, how munificent to men of letters, how whole-hearted to his friends, the more we shall be ready to receive the story of his generosity to Shakespeare without abatement. We know that the Earl of Essex gave Bacon — then only Mr. Francis Bacon, a rising young barrister -an estate worth eighteen hundred pounds, nearly twice as much as Southampton's reported gift to Shakespeare. And the story that Sir Philip Sidney, on reading the first stanza of The Faerie Queene, which had been sent to him in manuscript, directed fifty guineas to be given to the author, which he doubled on reading the second, and raised to two hundred as he went on, at least shows the way in which the higher class of Englishmen of noble birth treated the higher class of men of letters in the days of Queen Elizabeth. This story is probably not true, because Sidney was not rich; but Southampton
When only eight years old he inherited large estates, which, being well cared for during his minority, made him one of the wealthiest of his class when he came of age. He used his money with discriminating liberality. John Florio, George Chapman, Thomas Nash, and Francis Beaumont, all sing his praises. Florio says, in the dedication of his World of Words to the Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Southampton, and the Countess of Bedford, in 1598: “In truth I acknowledge an entyre debt, not onely of my best
knowledge, but of all; yea of more than I can or know to your bounteous lordship, most noble, most vertuous and most Honorable Earle of Southampton, in whose paie and patronage I have lived some yeeres; to whom I owe and vow the yeeres I have to live. But as to me and manie more, the glorious and gracious sunneshine of your honour hath infused light and life.” “Who," asks Beaumont, “lives on England's stage and knows him not ?" Chapman calls him, in his Iliad, "the choice of all our country's noblest spirits"; and Nash says, “Incomprehensible is the height of his spirit,” and calls him “a dear lover and cherisher as well of the lovers of poets as of poets themselves.” Nor should we be troubled about any loss of manly dignity on Shakespeare's part by the acceptance of such a gift. For there need be no doubt that there was a genuine friendship between these men, in spite of their difference of rank. Nay, wise Francis Bacon would say, by very reason of that difference. “There is little friendship in the world,” (thus he closes his essay Of Followers and Friends) "and least of all between equals, which was wont to be magnified. That that is, is between superior and inferior whose fortunes may comprehend the one the other." In those days there might be such friendship between a peer and a player, because then classes were sharply defined, and rank meant something; and therefore the creature now called