Edmond Malone proposes Shakespeare as the "Aetion" mentioned in Spenser's Colin Clouts Come Home Againe. This identification has not been accepted, the favored candidate now being Michael Drayton.
On 25 April 1785, Malone had written to Thomas Warton, "Can you furnish me with a clew to any of the poets alluded to by Spenser in his Colin Clout's Come home againe, ed. 1595 Sign. C.1.2? Alabaster and Daniel are mentioned by name, but all the rest are feigned" Correspondence of Thomas Warton, ed. Fairer (1995) 528.
Most of this long essay is given over to identifying the other figures in Spenser's catalogue of poets. Elsewhere, Malone rejects the identification of "Willy" in Tears of the Muses with William Shakespeare, 2:167ff.
John Taylor: "He sits down happy, with having accomplished a great undertaking, and invites his poetical readers to repose with him; but facts, substantial facts, rise up and push us from our stools. We have very little confidence generally in the explications which have been heretofore given of Spenser's meaning; but in Mr. Malone's opinion, that the name of Aetion is a mask for Shakspeare, we cannot for a moment agree" "On Spenser's supposed Acquaintance with Shakspeare" London Magazine 4 (September 1821) 266.
Sir James Prior: "No publication of the age of Elizabeth, her predecessors or successors, in the form of poem, drama, pamphlet, or miscellaneous tract, was neglected. Manuscripts, wherever found, were carefully consulted; no expense or application was spared to exhume something like truth and substance out the graveyards of time. Collectors, antiquaries, and college men, whose lives had been spent in sorting their shelves or their memories with knowledge of the past, were solicited to disburse such acquisitions as could be turned to account" Life of Edmond Malone (1860) 49-50.
The life of Shakespeare, which was never completed, was posthumously published by the younger Boswell in a collected edition of the Shakespeare's works in 1821.
Though the preceding observations have perfectly satisfied my own mind, and, I doubt not, will impress a similar conviction on my readers, it was not, I must acknowledge, without a considerable degree of regret, that I found, by the success of my own researches, a strong obstacle placed against indulging in the pleasing notion, that the two great poets of the age of Elizabeth lived in mutual harmony and friendship with each other, as far as Spenser's short visits to England during his latter years would admit. The modest and humble Shakspeare appears not to have thought his praise of any value; and therefore, while all the poets of the time were complimenting each other, we do not find a single encomium on a contemporary writer subscribed with the name of our great dramatist: and indeed so few are the addresses or allusions to him, that one is led to suspect, that though he was very highly estimated, his age did not set a sufficient value on his transcendent abilities. But that Spenser, who has mentioned and praised many of the makers of his time, after Shakspeare had acquired a considerable degree of celebrity, should have been wholly silent concerning such a phenomenon, may seem so improbable, as to weaken in some degree the force of the foregoing remarks; and indeed almost made me distrust my own hypothesis, till, by a very careful perusal of all his smaller pieces, I discovered that he was not insensible to the merits of his illustrious contemporary; and, by a singular coincidence, the covert manner in which he is noticed, above four years after The Tears of the Muses was published, and the period at which he is referred to, in a passage that has hitherto escaped the observation of all the commentators and editors of both these poets, affords a strong confirmation of what has been already suggested, — that Shakspeare was not the dramatick writer eulogized in that poem, and indirectly strengthens the explication of that eulogy given in the preceding pages.
Spenser, whose history, like that of many of our celebrated English writers, is involved in a mist of confusion and error, published at London, in 1595, or consented to the publication of, a poem, called Colin Clout's Come Home Again. The subject of this piece is his own return to his humble mansion at Kilcolman, in the south of Ireland, after having visited London in company with Sir Walter Ralegh, to whom the poem is addressed; who, in April, 1589, having been "chased from the English court" by Lord Essex, had retired to his estate in the county of Corke, from whence he made an excursion to Spenser's castle, which was situated in the same county. This production, however, may have taken its rise from some visit of Ralegh to Ireland, at a later period; and even if it alluded to that of 1589, it was written some years afterwards. To the Dedicatory Epistle the printer has erroneously affixed a false date: "From my house of Kilcolman the 27 of December 5, 1591;" for the poem itself was composed unquestionably after the middle of 1594, and perhaps in the December of that year. This error of the date, which, so far as Shakspeare has any connexion with this piece, is a material consideration, is ascertained by the verses that it contains, addressed to Alice, Countess of Derby, under the name of Amaryllis, to whom, by the title of Lady Strange, The Tears of the Muses had been dedicated. She had now become a widow by the death of her husband, Ferdinand, the fifth Earl of Derby, who enjoyed that title little more than six months, dying April 16, 1594. To this event the poet has particularly alluded. The error of the date of this poem is also ascertained by Spenser's Daphnaida, published in 1596, the Epistle Dedicatorie of which is dated "London, the first of Januarie, 1591;" i. e. 1591-2; for this poet could not have affixed his name to a dedication at Kilcolman in Ireland, on Dec. 27, 1591, and five days afterwards write another dedication in London.
In this pleasing pastoral, Spenser, under the name of Colin, after having given an account of his visit to the court of Elizabeth, and drawn a striking contrast between the peaceful, well-ordered, and happy land of England, and the then wild and barbarous country to which his hard lot had led him, breaks out into a panegyrick on his Sovereign, by whom, as he here relates, he had been highly favoured; her Majesty, herself a great poetess (if there be truth in song), having allowed him to recite to her some of his verses. — "If she be so great a poetess (replies Alexis, one of his companions), what need has she of so simple a versifier as you? Perhaps, however (adds he), the poets of the time are either too lazy to write, or such worthless rhymers, as not to be entitled to descant on so lofty a theme, and hence she condescended to hear Colin's minstrilsey." In reply to this observation, Spenser takes occasion to enumerate and commend many of the flourishing metricians of the time, some of whom are expressly mentioned, while the greater part are concealed under fictitious names and the dark veil of description [quotation omitted].
Though probably at the time when these verses were published, all the poets here alluded to under fictitious names, were well known to the more enlightened class of readers, they can now be discovered only by conjecture. Indeed, at the first view, the inquiry concerning them seemed to me quite hopeless; for many years ago, when I consulted the late Mr. Warton on this point, expecting that his various and profound researches into the history of the poetry and poets of that age might furnish some aid towards overcoming this difficulty, he told me that nothing had occurred in the course of his reading, which could throw any light upon the subject. Since that period, however, a minute and very careful investigation of all the circumstances and facts, supplied by the lines themselves, has enabled me to dispel a great part of the artful obscurity in which these persons were involved, and to point them out with, at least, a considerable degree of probability.
The first poet alluded to, under the description of the "aged Harpalus," was doubtless Thomas Churchyard, at that time above seventy years old. He had been a writer of poetry, in the reign of Henry the Eighth; and for some years lived in the service of Henry Earl of Surrey; and he has himself told us, that among the Miscellaneous Verse, by various authors, appended in 1557, and in subsequent editions, to the poems of that accomplished and unfortunate nobleman, many of his productions are to be found. Here we meet with one, entitled "Harpalus' Complaint of Philladaes love bestowed on Corin'," which was deservedly admired; and being, I suppose, well known in Spenser's time to be written by Churchyard, he denominates him from the hero of the piece. He had now been long in the service of Queen Elizabeth, here denominated "fair Cynthia," and recently (January 27, 1592-3), had obtained from her Majesty a pension of eighteen pence a day 8, or 27l. 7s. 6d. per annum; which, small as it was, was not punctually paid. In the patent granting this little annuity, which I discovered in the rolls, and have examined on the present occasion, he is expressly named the Queen's servant.
By Corydon was certainly meant Abraham Fraunce, a poet of considerable learning, who, from various circumstances, we may be assured, was a friend of Spenser's. In 1588, he had published, in quarto, "The Lamentation of Corydon for the Love of Alexis," being a translation of Virgil's second Eclogue, in English hexameters; which appears to have given occasion to the poetical designation here employed. This piece he afterwards annexed to his Lawyer's Logike, which appeared in the same year; and it was again reprinted and attached to his poem, entitled "The Countess of Pembroke's Ivy Church" in 1591. Abraham Fraunce appears to have been born about the year 1564, in or near Shrewsbury, in which town and neighbourhood, several persons, of the same name, in lower life, yet remain. His father's Christian name I have not been able to discover; but he appears to have been a burgess of Shrewsbury, and probably, like our poet's father, was a glover. Abraham Fraunce, the person of whom we are now speaking, was bred at the free-school of Shrewsbury, of which the celebrated Mr. Ashton was master; and his name stands the twenty-fifth in the list of admissions, for January, 1571, in the register kept by that gentleman. He appears then as a burgess. At this school, Sir Philip Sidney was bred, and laid the foundation of his friendship with Foulke Greville (afterwards Lord Brooke), they both being admitted into it on the same day; several years, however, before the admission of Fraunce.
His friendship and connexion with Spenser, it may be presumed, began at an early period; for Fraunce, like him, was honoured by the patronage of Sir Philip Sidney, by whom he was sent to St. John's College, in Cambridge, in 1579; where, for a long period, he was supported by his bounty. Here he resided eight years; and, after his patron's death, he, in 1587, removed to Gray's Inn, to study the law. In 1590, by the favour of Henry Earl of Pembroke, who had married Sidney's sister, he was, we have reason to believe, made the Queen's solicitor at the Council or Court of the Marches in Wales; a situation in which he was certainly but "meanly waged;" the salary of his office amounting only to ten pounds a year. While he was an undergraduate at Cambridge, he presented his early patron (in 1581) with a small discourse on logick, which he afterwards enlarged: and, he tells us, he "read the perfect copy" (in publick, I suppose), "three times over, at St. John's, and three times at Gray's Inn." It was, originally, he informs us, "A Discourse on the Use of Logick, and a contracted Comparison between this of Ramus, and that of Aristotle;" but when he changed his situation, and, from a Cambridge student, became a lawyer, he altered the title of his book, and called it the Lawyer's Logick. "Yet," says he, "because many love logike, that never learne lawe, I have reteyned those ould examples out of the new Shepheard's Kalendar [Spenser's celebrated work], which I first gathered, and thereunto added those also out of our law-books, which I lately collected." Neither his English hexameters, nor this odd and motley mixture of law, logick, and poetry, will, I fear, much raise Abraham Fraunce in the opinion of a reader of the present day. But he must be estimated by the notions which prevailed in his own time, and by the judgment of his contemporaries; among whom the praise of Spenser cannot but cast some degree of splendour around his name. The absurd kind of metre in which several of his English compositions are written, he appears to have adopted, on the authority of his patron, Sir Philip Sidney, for whom he had so great a veneration, that, in his treatise entitled (perhaps with allusion to Sidney's celebrated work), "The Arcadian Rhetoricke," published in 1588, he has made him his great English exemplar, on almost every topick, both in prose and verse; and here, also, we find The Faery Queen quoted, though neither that poem, nor the Arcadia, was then published; a circumstance which ascertains that Spenser lived on terms of intimacy with Fraunce, and gratified him with the perusal of a portion of his great poem, while it yet remained in manuscript.
Thus we see these poets were connected and endeared to each other, by various ties, and by congenial studies. Spenser, who, in compliment to Sidney, had himself made some English verses "halt ill on Roman feet," was not only attached to Fraunce, in consequence of his connexion with that extraordinary and accomplished man by whom he was bred, but must also have been highly gratified by the flattering circumstance of his having exemplified most of his logical precepts, in a book of near three hundred quarto pages, by quotations from The Shepheard's Calendar.
Another work of Fraunce's yet remains to be mentioned, which was also given to the publick in 1588, in quarto, and is entitled "Abrahami Fransi Insignium, Armorum, Emblematum, Hieroglyphicorum et Symbolorum, quae ab Italis Impresse nominantur, Explicatio. Quae Symbolican Philosophiae postrema Pars est." In the first part of this learned work, which is dedicated, in a Latin quatrain, to Robert Sidney, the brother of Sir Philip, he has introduced a very elegant translation, in Latin hexameters, of Homer's beautiful description of the shield of Achilles, in the eighteenth book of the Iliad. From this, and his other works, he appears to have been a very excellent and general scholar, having made himself master of the Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French languages; and, therefore, well merited the high praise here bestowed, by Spenser, on his talents and erudition, in the couplet in which he is shadowed:
And there is Corydon, though meanly waged
Yet ablest wit of most I know this day.
Alcyon, who is next mentioned, is ascertained by another of Spenser's poems to have been Arthur Gorge, or Gorges, "a lover of learning and virtue," for whom he has himself told us he had "particular good will." This gentleman had married Douglas Howard, the daughter and heir of Henry Howard, afterwards Viscount Bindon; on the death of which lady in 1590, Spenser wrote a poem, in January, 1591-2, entitled Daphnaida, and addressed to Helena, Marchioness of Northampton, then the wife of Sir Thomas Gorges, a kinsman of Arthur. In that poem, as in the verse before us, the lady of Mr. Gorges is lamented under the name of Daphne. The designation (Alcyon) here given to her disconsolate husband, was evidently formed by rejecting the final letter in Alcyone, and thus converting a female name into that of a man: and Spenser may be presumed to have adopted it with a reference either to Alcyone the wife of Meleager, who died of sorrow for the loss of her husband; or of Alcyone the wife of Ceyx, king of Thrace; who, according to the fable, being overcome with immoderate grief for his death, was, in compassion to her sufferings, converted by the gods into the bird called a king's-fisher. What "the brave conceit" was, which Mr. Gorges had begun in his happier days, and which he is here exhorted to resume in the sweet scented arbour of Meriflure, it is now, I fear, too late to inquire. Of his lighter poetical effusions, I believe few have been transmitted to posterity; though while he was yet living, we are told by one of his sons, in the middle of the reign of James the First, that many of his productions were then preserved in manuscript; and in 1614, his translation of Lucan was published, which probably was begun many years before, and was, I suspect, "the brave conceit" alluded to by Spenser. His grief for the death of Daphne, however deep at the time, does not appear to have lasted many years after these verses were written; for in or before the year 1597, he married a second wife, Elizabeth, a daughter of Henry Clinton, Earl of Lincoln, by whom he had afterwards several children.
There eke is Palin, worthie of great praise,
Albe he envie at my rustick quill.
Palin is doubtless the abbreviation of Palinode, which Spenser has used as the name of a shepherd in his fifth Eclogue; and, I conceive, was here intended to represent George Peele, a distinguished poet of that time, who was nearly of Spenser's age, and had commenced a poetical writer about the same time with him. He is thus denominated on the same principle which appears to have guided the author in the choice of several of the adumbrations found in these verses, in consequence of Peele's having published, in 1589, a high eulogy on Lord Essex, a nobleman for whom Spenser had the greatest respect. In this piece the interlocutors are Piers and Palinode. Of Peele's various productions in the course of the preceding fifteen years, which are alluded to as "worthy of great praise," it is not necessary to say any thing in this place, as some account will be given of them hereafter.
At this distance of time it is not easy to say to what part of Peele's conduct Spenser alludes, in the qualification of his encomium on this poet: but, I imagine, he was displeased at his having been personally introduced on the scene, under his assumed name of Colin, in a dramatick pastoral entitled The Arraignment of Paris, written by Peele, and represented before Queen Elizabeth in or before 1584. As Spenser's unfortunate passion for the lady whom he has concealed under the name of Rosalind, was, after the publication of his eclogues, well known, the application of this character to the new poet, as he was then called, must have been immediately made by the spectators, and he had some reason to be offended at being exhibited on the scene, as a hapless swain, actually dying for love; in addition to which serio-comick representation, his fellow-shepherds, Hobbinol, Diggon, and Thenot, bring his corpse on the stage, and while they are proceeding to his interment, sing a funeral dirge over it. "The pangs of despised love," however they may affect the bosom of pining youth, exciting but little sympathy in the mass of mankind, this exhibition had certainly a tendency to place him in a ludicrous light, and is perhaps alluded to under the words,
Albe he envie at my rustick quill.
He may, however, also have had in view Peele's not very successful imitation of his rustick pastorals, in the piece above mentioned, a performance of which perhaps this poet had boasted as equal or superior to the admired prototype on which it was formed.
Under the name of Alcon, who is exhorted to attempt something of a higher strain than love-verses, I believe was shadowed Thomas Lodge, then a student in physick, and an admired poet; a man whose learning and profession Spenser must have respected. Alcon, like Corydon, is one of Virgil's shepherds; but Spenser, while he employed this pastoral name, thus familiarized to every classical reader, appears to have had particularly in his contemplation a very popular play, entitled The Looking-glasse for London and England, and written by Lodge in conjunction with Robert Greene, then deceased. In this drama, which had been frequently performed in 1591, and the following year, one of the characters is named Alcon. The moral and religious turn of this piece, probably, particularly recommended it to Spenser, and induced him to take Lodge's poetical name from thence rather than from any of his other productions. Lodge had also written a great number of lays or short amatory poems, some of which are found dispersed in his various novels, and some published unmixed with prose; and the advice here given to him to attempt "some matter of more skill," appears to have had due weight; for in the middle of the year 1595, he gave the publick a small volume of moral satires and epistles. Previously to the appearance of Colin Clout, he had propitiated Spenser by a paper of verses, prefixed to a collection of sonnets and elegies, published in 1595, which is now so extremely rare, that I shall subjoin the Induction to it (as it is called) in a note, on account of the high and very elegant eulogy on Spenser that it contains, which well entitled Lodge to this great poet's notice.
Palemon is the poet next introduced:
And there is old Palemon, free from spight,
Whose careful pipe may make the hearer rew;
Yet he himself may rewed be more right,
Who sung so long untill quite hoarse he grew.
From these verses it appears that the person here alluded to was somewhat advanced in years, though not yet, like Harpalus, "waxen aged;" — that he had long been a votary of the Muses; — and that his writings were distinguished for their moral tendency. These considerations induce me to believe that Arthur Golding was the poet in this place in Spenser's thoughts, a very voluminous writer, who was at this time about sixty years old, and had been a "maker" so early in the reign of Elizabeth as 1565, when he published a poetical version of the first four books of Ovid's Metamorphosis, in the then popular measure — fourteen syllable verse. . . . The late Mr. Warton, in his excellent History of English Poetry, has cited with just praise a large portion of Golding's translation of this part of the Metamorphosis, as a striking specimen of the abilities of Golding as a translator, whom in this respect he greatly prefers to Phaer and Twyne, the poetical translators of Virgil. Doubtless the English version of the story of Palemon, made a similar impression on Spenser and his contemporaries; and hence we may reasonably presume he was induced to conceal the translator of Ovid under this adumbration.
In the midst of these fanciful adumbrations, we are surprised with the undisguised name of [William] Alabaster, a very distinguished scholar, then about twenty-seven years of age; whose Roxana, a Latin tragedy, had been acted at Trinity College, in Cambridge, a few years before, with great applause, and was surreptitiously and imperfectly printed about forty years afterwards (1632); which drew from the author a genuine edition in the same year: but the unfinished performance here so highly eulogized, his Eliseis, a Latin poem of considerable length, in honour of Queen Elizabeth, with all its attributed merit; and notwithstanding the subject was once so popular, has never been submitted to the press. It is, however, yet extant in manuscript. Of his English poetry, I have been able to recover but two short specimens, preserved in the Bodleian Library, in a manuscript of Archbishop Sancroft's, which have never been printed, and which, therefore, I shall give below. In naming Alabaster thus directly, Spenser's object, doubtless, was to recommend his friend to the Queen's favour, and to procure him promotion in the church, which he afterwards obtained.
In like manner, the poet next mentioned is not concealed under the cloud of description, or the mysterious perplexity of a fictitious name, but we are plainly told, that [Samuel] Daniel, a new poet, (whose sonnets to his "scornful" mistress, Delia, appeared in 1592,) had surpassed all his predecessors, and was equal to the most arduous poetical attempts.
The Shepherd of the Ocean, by other parts of this poem, is ascertained to have been Sir Walter Ralegh, at this time in disgrace with the Queen, for having seduced Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of her maids of honour; though he had made the best reparation in his power, by marrying that lady. He had some years before written a poem entitled Cynthia, expressly in honour of Elizabeth, of which, having in vain sought for it in many ancient manuscript collections, I fear no copy has been preserved; but Spenser, in the present passage, seems rather to have had in contemplation some passionate poetical effusions of Ralegh, who was now endeavouring to regain the Queen's favour; and, affecting a kind of romantic love for her Majesty, pretended that, while she frowned on him, and excluded him from her presence, life was not worth enjoying.
By Amyntas, the next person introduced, at once a poet himself, and a patron of poets, we may pronounce with certainty, was meant one of the most accomplished noblemen of his time, Ferdinand, the fifth Earl of Derby, and the husband of Alice Spenser, afterwards mentioned under the name of Amarillis, whom he married in or before the year 1583. The high eulogy on Amyntas, which is found in the conclusion of one of Nashe's tracts, was undoubtedly addressed to the same nobleman, who is represented as the second mystical argument of Spenser's Redcrosse Knight. Lord Derby perhaps acquired the name given him in the verses under our consideration, either from his having written an original poem, of which Amyntas was the principal personage, or from his having been thus denominated in some verses written expressly in his praise, or from his having translated either Tasso's Pastoral (Aminta), or Thomas Watson's "sugred Amyntas," as it is called by a writer of that age; an admired Latin poem, published in 1585. . . . Some of his letters have come down to us, which are written with perspicuity and spirit; and perhaps some more both of his poetry and prose may yet be extant in manuscript, or miscellaneous printed collections, erroneously attributed to others. But his career of literary and honourable exertions lasted not long; for a short while before these verses were written, this amiable and much respected nobleman died at the age of thirty-seven, in extreme agony, having been poisoned, as there are the strongest grounds for believing, by one of his own servants.
But where, it may be asked, among all these distinguished votaries of the Muses, is Shakspeare found? — He closes the poetical band, obscurely, yet unquestionably shadowed in these lines:
And then, though last, not least, is Aetion,—
A gentler shepheard may no where be found;
Whose Muse, full of high thoughts' invention,
Doth, like himself, heroically sound.
None of the poetical denominations in this list, we have already seen, were adopted capriciously, or are without meaning. In forming the name by which our great poet is here designated, as in some others introduced in his Faery Queen, and elsewhere, the author is indebted to the Greek language, in the study of which he took great delight, the word perhaps signifying only what in the preceding part of the line had been said in plainer terms; or he may have formed this denomination with a reference to the cause or origin of our poet's surname, to which in the following lines he more openly alludes. It may be conjectured that before this poem was written, Shakespeare had produced on the stage one or more of his historical plays, probably King Richard the Second and Third. Spenser, therefore, while he distinguished him by that characteristick epithet which several of his contemporaries have applied to him, — "A gentler shepherd may no where be found," and alluded to the brandished spear from which his name, so congenial with heroick song, was originally derived, may be supposed to have had in contemplation these imperial tragedies, then perhaps performing with applause at the Curtain Theatre, as well as his Venus and Adonis, and the newly published poem of the Rape of Lucrece, which had appeared in the middle of the year 1594, and may, with perfect propriety, be referred to under the denomination of heroick verse. In Richard the Second, the challenge of Bolingbroke and the Duke of Norfolk in the first act, and the contention in the fourth act between the various noble disputants assembled in the lists at Coventry, being conducted with all the forms and pomp of chivalry, furnished, doubtless, a very splendid spectacle; and indeed the whole drama, as well as that of Richard the Third, doth, like its author, "heroically sound."
Let it not, however, be supposed, that Shakspeare was lightly estimated by Spenser, because his name is last introduced in this list of poetical worthies; for, not to insist on the law of heraldry, by which, in all processions, the last place is considered the most honourably and always assigned to the person of the greatest dignity, we may observe that Nashe, in an eulogy on his friend George Peele, whom he preferred to all the dramatic writers of the period when it was written (1589), introduces his admired and favourite poet precisely in the same manner, though certainly he intended to represent him as far surpassing all his contemporaries: "And for the last, though not the least of them all, I dare commend him [Peele] unto all that know him, as the chief supporter of pleasaunce, now living, the Atlas of poetry, and primas verborum artifex; whose first increase [production], The Arraignment of Paris, might plead to your opinions his pregnant dexteritie of wit, and manifold variety of invention, wherein, me judice, he goeth a step beyond all that write." Such having been the usage and phraseology of the time, no inference can be drawn to the disadvantage of Shakspeare, from the last place being allotted to him in this poetical catalogue; which Spenser may have been induced to assign him from his having been the last of the whole band, whose muse had solicited the publick favour. Churchyard and Golding preceded him many years. Gorges, Peele, Lodge, Alabaster, Ralegh, and Lord Derby, had written between 1580 and 1590, and Daniel in 1592. Shakspeare's two poems did not appear till afterwards, the one in 1593, the other in 1594; and the historical tragedies already mentioned, it is highly probable, were then also first produced. In like manner, our poet's Cordelia, though, as the youngest daughter, last interrogated concerning her filial affection, was unquestionably her fond father's "joy," and more beloved by him than either of her sisters, who, solely on account of their seniority, had been previously addressed.
For this long, but, I trust not wholly uninteresting, disquisition, no apology is necessary. Every poetical reader, I am confident, will be gratified by an endeavour to "pluck out the heart of this mystery," to penetrate the thick "veil of words," under which, for more than two centuries, the characters and productions of so many ingenious men have been concealed; and will feel no less satisfaction than I have done, on discovering, that, though Shakspeare was not the comick writer eulogized by the author of The Tears of the Muses, at a time when his name was scarcely known in the world, he yet, afterwards, was duly appreciated by his illustrious and amiable contemporary; who, in talents and virtues, more nearly resembled Shakspeare than did any writer of that age; and who, we find, at a very early period of our great poet's dramatick life, had a high and just sense of his transcendent merits.