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Edited with Notes and Entroduction
THOMAS TYLER, M.A.,
EDITOR OF “ SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS" (1609) IN FACSIMILE ; AUTHOR
OF “ THE PHILOSOPHY OF "HAMLET,'" "ECCLESIASTES," ETC.
WITH PORTRAITS OF WILLIAM HERBERT, EARL OF PEMBROKE ;
AND OF HIS MOTHER, MARY, COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE.
“If any should be curious to discover
Whether to you I am a friend or lover,
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GENERAL VIEW OF THE SONNETS. § 1. Alleged Obscurity.—Of the numerous questions suggested by Shakespeare's works, those which relate to the Sonnets have been regarded as not the least obscure, perhaps even as the most difficult. Yet for the poet's biography so scanty materials are presented elsewhere, that the Sonnets have, in this respect, peculiar attractiveness. None of Shakespeare's creations, not even Hamlet or Prospero, can be completely and in all respects identified with the poet himself. His dramas may be regarded as a many-coloured veil, concealing, or but imperfectly and intermittently disclosing, the soul of the great artificer. But in the Sonnets we come nearer to that august presence, and attain a more continuous, if not an unrestricted, view. The possibility of this closer approach to Shakespeare's personality has, however, been doubted. “His supposed self-revelation in the Sonnets,” it has been said, “is so obscure, that only a few outlines can be traced by the boldest conjecture.” “In spite of the ingenuity of commentators, it is difficult, and even impossible, to derive any knowledge of Shakespeare's