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1605; and No. 124, almost the last of the first group, later still; whereas Nos. 138 and 144, being Nos. 12 and 18 in the second group, were among the earliest written, and were known in 1599.
As the 'Will' sonnets, Nos. 135 and 136, are respectively Nos. 9 and 10 of the second group, they also would be among the earliest written; and their matter and manner are seen to be quite in keeping with this idea. It would also be natural for Shakespeare to write No. 144 very early, giving as it does the complete plot of the drama. Sonnets 40, 41, and 42, showing a relationship between his 'friend' and his mistress,' exactly correspond to Sonnets 133, 134, and 144, respectively Nos. 7, 8, and 18 of the second group; and this also is evidence that the two groups were written side by side.
The existence of the two groups, of the opening sequence of the first and the closing summary to each, as well as the direct development of the relationship of the poet to his subject (especially noticeable in the second group) and the many sequences throughout, satisfy us that the Sonnets are printed in the order intended by the writer; and as those sonnets whose dates can be identified are printed in order of date (considering each group separately), it is probable that the whole of each group are printed in the order in which they were written.
The completeness, and the correctness of structure of the collection, show that the Sonnets were not obtained by a pirate-publisher among Shakespeare's private friends, but that they were put into the hands of the publisher by the author, and published at his request. A contemporary whose opinion on this point is entitled to much respect,
certainly considered that Shakespeare had authorized the publication. Drummond of Hawthornden wrote: 'The Authors I have seen on the Subject of Love, are the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyat (whom, because of their Antiquity, I will not match with our better Times), Sidney, Daniel, Drayton and Spenser. . . . The last we have are Sir William Alexander and Shakespeare, who have lately published their Works. Constable saith some have written excellently, and Murray with others, I know, hath done well, if they could be brought to publish their Works: But of Secrets who can soundly judge?' 1 Every word of Drummond's that follows on the subject, as well as those we have given, shows that he was speaking of sonnets, and that he referred to Shakespeare's Sonnets is made doubly sure by a reference to dates. As Shakespeare is referred to as a living writer, Drummond wrote before April 23, 1616; and if he referred to Shakespeare's Sonnets he wrote after May 20, 1609—the date they were registered. The mention of Alexander's title confirms the reference to the Sonnets. The Dictionary of National Biography says: 'Alexander must have been knighted in 1609; for whilst in 1608 he is simply "gent," on the 25th of May, 1609, he is described as Sir William Alexander.' Alexander's sonnet collection, 'Aurora,' was first published in 1604; Drummond, writing about 1609, might well speak of Alexander's as well as of Shakespeare's as 'lately published,' since the dates of publication of the others' he had seen were, in the order he names them, 1557, 1557, 1591, 1592, 1594, and 1595.
The publisher of the Sonnets was Thomas Thorpe. He 1 Drummond's Works, fol. 1711, p. 226.
had taken up the freedom of the Stationers' Company, which qualified him to print and publish on his own account, in 1594, at the close of his apprenticeship. He, however, made no use of his privilege until 1600; but between that year and 1624 (when his business ceased) twenty-nine volumes were published by him-most of them before 1614. Besides the dedication of the Sonnets, only four dedications by him are known. The earliest is dated 1600, and is that of Marlowe's translation of the first book of Lucan, the unpublished manuscript of which came into Thorpe's hands. It is addressed to Edward Blount, who was evidently a familiar friend, and probably then, like himself, a stationer's assistant. It is simply a long humourous instruction to Blount how to behave in the, to him, novel position of a patron of letters.
The three other dedications are of interest as bearing on the question of Thorpe's responsibility for the dedication of the Sonnets, and we give them so that they may be compared with that dedication.
Two occur in 1610, prefixed to translations by John Healey, who had gone abroad shortly before. One of them is that of St. Augustine, of the Citie of God: With the learned comments of Jo. Lod. Vives,' and is as follows:
'To the honorablest patron of muses and good mindes, Lord William Earle of Pembroke, Knight of the Honourable Order &c.
'Right gracious and gracefull Lord, your late imaginary, but now actuall Travailer, then to most-conceited Viraginia, now to almost-concealed Virginia; then a light, but not lewde, now a sage and allowed translator; then of a scarce knowne novice, now a famous Father; then of a devised Country scarse on
earth, now of a desired Citie sure in heaven; then of Utopia, now of Eutopia; not as by testament, but as a testimonie of gratitude, observance, and hearts-honour to your Honor, bequeathed at hence-parting (thereby scarse perfecting) this his translation at the imprinting to your Lordships protecting. He, that against detraction beyond expectation, then found your sweete patronage in a matter of small moment, without distrust or disturbance in this worke of more worth, more weight, as he approoved his more abilitie, so would not but expect your Honours more acceptance.
'Though these be Church-men, and this a Church-matter, he unapt, or unworthy to holde trafique with either; yet heere Saint Augustine, and his Commenter Vives, most favour of the secular; and the one accordingly to Marcellinus, the other to our King Henry, directed their dedications; and as translators are onely tyed, to have, and give, true understanding: so are they freer than the authors to sute them-selves a Patrone. Which as to Scipio, the staffe and stay, the type and top of that Cornelian stemme, in quam, vt plura genera in vnam arborem, videtur insita multorum illuminata sapientia, your poore Pacuvius, Terence, or Ennius, (or what you list, so he be yours) thought most convenient to consecrate. Wherefore his legacie laide at your Honours feete, is rather here delivered to your Honours humbly thrise-kissed hands by his poore delegate.
Your Lordships true-devoted,
Thorpe's other dedication of 1610 was of Healey's translation of 'Epictetus his Manuall. And Cebes his Table':
'To a true favorer of forward spirits, Maister John Florio.' 'Sir, as distressed Sostrastus spake to more fortunate Areius, to make him his mediator to Augustus The learned love the learned, if they be rightly learned: So this your poore friend though he have found much of you, yet doth still follow you
for as much more: that as his Mecænas you would write to Augustus, Bee as mindefull of Horace as you would bee of my selfe: For his apprentises essay you procured (God thanke you) an impregnable protection: He now prayes the same Patron most worthy of all praise) for his journey-mans Maister-peece : yet as Horace to Vinnius for his verses to Augustus, Ne studio nostri pecces. And though the land bee the Lords wherein hee most laboured; yet see a handfull of fruites is falne to your share, who first shewed his workmanship. This Manuall of Epictetus, though not Saint Augustines Enchiridion, now by hap is the hand, or rather the hand-maide of a greater body of Saint Augustines: and hath beene held by some the hand to Phylosophy, the instrument of instruments: as Nature, greatest in the least as Homers Ilias in a nutshell: in lesse compasse more cunning: In all languages, ages, by all persons high prized, imbraced, yea imbosomed. It filles not the hand with leaves, but files ye head with lessons: nor would bee held in hand, but had by hart to boote. He is more senceles then a stocke, that hath no good sence of this Stoick. For the translation and translator, to whome better recourse, then one so travail'd in translation; both patterne and patron of translators. Artificers best judge of arts. Wise they must bee that judge the wise. But a short booke would have no long Epistle, more than a small Towne a great gate. Wherefore as hee desired, I have done : Who rest,
Yours in true harted love.
In 1616 Thorpe published a second edition of Healey's translation of Epictetus, and dedicated the book this time to the Earl of Pembroke:
'To the Right Honorable, William Earle of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlaine to His Majestie, one of his most honorable Privie Counsell, and Knight of the most noble order of the Garter &c. 'Right Honorable.-It may worthily seeme strange unto your