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Edited with Notes and Introduction
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 MRS. MARY FITTON.
WITH APPENDIX: THE HERBERT-FITTON THEORY OF
THE FITTON TOMB AT GAWSWORTH.
13 487. 42.3
PARVARD COLLEGA Ci 74 mil 1928)
John Dane, mit
“If any should be curious to discover
(All rights reserved.]
PREFIXED to the fac-simile edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets which, some three or four years ago, I edited for Dr. Furnivall was a somewhat brief Introduction in which was expressed the hope that I might be able before very long to publish a fuller account of the questions relating to the Sonnets, and also of the interpretation of these poems, than was possible in the limits within which that Introduction was confined. The hope thus expressed is realised in the present work.
The opinions set forth in the brief Introduction to which I have just alluded have been received with a measure of approval much greater than, considering their novelty in several particulars, could have been reasonably anticipated. Not unnaturally attention was specially directed to the evidence adduced concerning the persons with whom the Sonnets are mainly concerned. It is now about half a century since that judicious critic, Hallam, adopting the hypothesis of Boaden and Bright, said of the identification of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, with the high-born, beautiful, and gifted youth for whom Shakespeare expressed so devoted an attachment, that, though this was not then strictly proved, yet it was already sufficiently so “to demand our assent." The evidence which it is now possible to adduce places the theory in a very different position from that which, difficulties notwithstanding, obtained for it Hallam's marked approval. As to the lady with whom
the later Sonnets especially are concerned, no previous investigator had, so far as I am aware, proposed any identification wearing even the semblance of probability. But in endeavouring to pursue the investigation concerning Herbert further than it had been previously carried, the name of Queen Elizabeth's maid of honour, Mrs. Mary Fitton, came into view. And, indeed, if the identification of Shakespeare's male friend with Herbert has been proved, the facts of the Sonnets render certain the existence of an amorous connection between Herbert and the lady who may be spoken of as the Sonnet-heroine. There was at first but a possibility or slight probability ; but gradually, as fact after fact was brought to light from contemporary records, the connected series closed so decisively round Mrs. Fitton that the proof in her case became not less clear than it had been in the case of Herbert. The facts are certainly remarkable ; but, in connection with such a woman as Mrs. Fitton must have been, facts somewhat remarkable and extraordinary were to be expected. If a real addition to our knowledge of Shakespeare's life has been made, this result has not been attained by any unscientific and, so to speak, cabalistic methods, such as those which, unhappily, have of late attracted so large a share of public attention.
Apart, however, from the questions with which the Introduction is concerned, the present volume contains the fullest Commentary on the Sonnets which has yet been published. In saying this I have not the least wish to detract from the merits of Professor Dowden's valuable work issued a few years ago. I venture to hope that I shall not be found chargeable with what is said to be the usual fault of commentators, that they pass over places which are dark and difficult, and explain what needs no explanation. Having in view, however, readers of varying intelli
gence and attainments, I have wished, in elucidation, to err by excess rather than defect. In interpreting some very difficult places I have received valuable assistance which will be found duly acknowledged in the commentary on the respective passages. The text I have given is somewhat conservative, but there appeared to be practical difficulties in the way of printing, as the basis of the commentary, the text of the Quarto of 1609, with its spelling and punctuation,
Thanks are due to the Marquis of Salisbury and his librarian, Mr. R. T. Gunton, for very valuable information obtained from documents in his lordship’s possession at Hatfield, to Lord De Tabley for assistance of a similar nature, and, for important aid of various kinds, to Dr. F. J. Furnivall, to Dr. Richard Garnett, to Mr. George Scharf, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, to Mr. J. P. Earwaker, to the Rev. P. A. Lyons, to Mr. G. Bernard Shaw, to Mr. W. T, Lynn, and to Mr. Kensington, of the Department of Manuscripts, British Museum. To my friend the Rev. W. A. Harrison very special acknowledgment is required.
With regard to books consulted, I ought, perhaps, to make particular mention of the work of Professor Dowden previously alluded to, and of the Shakespeare-Lexicon of Dr. A. Schmidt.