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VENUS AND ADONIS.
This poem, which our author himself has informed us was his first composition, was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, April 18th, 1593, and is frequently alluded to by his contemporaries. • As the soul of Euphorbus,' says Meres, in his Wit's Treasury, 1598, 'was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet, witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakspeare. Witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece,' &c. Sbakspeare had without doubt read the account of Venus and Adonis in the tenth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses translated by Golding, 1567, though he has chosen to deviate from the classical story, which Ovid and Spenser had set before him, following probably the model presented to him by a short piece intitled · The Sheepheard's Song of Venus and Adonis,' supposed by Malone to have been the production of Henry Constable, and published some time previous to the appearance of this poem; although no earlier copy of it can now be found than that contained in England's Helicon, 1600.
RIGHT HONORABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLY,
RIGHT HONORABLE, 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 so weak a burthen: only, if your honor seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honored you with some graver labor. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I leave it to your honorable survey,
and your honor to your heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation.
Your honor's in all duty,