Shakspeare's Sonnets Never Before Interpreted: His Private Friends Identified; Together With a Recorded Likeness of Himself

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Excerpt from Shakspeare's Sonnets Never Before Interpreted: His Private Friends Identified; Together With a Recorded Likeness of Himself

'As the soule of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras: so the sweete wittie soule of Ovid lives mellifluous & hony-tongued Shakespeare, witnes his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred Sonnets among his private friends.' Thus wrote Francis Meres, Master of Arts of both Universities, in his work entitled 'Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury, being the Second Part of Wits Commonwealth,' published in the year 1598.

This is the earliest notice we have of Shakspeare's Sonnets, and it supplies us with an important starting-point. From the information given by Meres, we learn that in the year 1598, the sonnets of Shakspeare were sufficiently known and sufficiently numerous to warrant public recognition on the part of a writer, who is remarkable for his compressed brevity; well known enough in certain circles for the critic to class them with Shakspeare's published poems. That the sonnets spoken of by Meres are to a large extent those which have come down to us, cannot be doubted, save, in desperation, by the supporters of an unsound theory.

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