Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Dedication and friendship

The dedication to Venus and Adonis. Internet Shakespeare Editions.

The dedication to Venus and Adonis is formal:

Right Honourable, 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 burden, only if your Honour seeme but pleased, I account my selfe highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I haue honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a god-father: and never after ear [plough] so barren a land, for feare it yield me still so bad a harvest. . .

The difference between this formally phrased dedication to Venus and Adonis and the more chatty dedication to The Rape of Lucrece has suggested to some biographers that Southampton became friendly with Shakespeare.

The loue I dedicate to your Lordship is without end: wherof this Pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous moiety [portion]. The warrant I haue of your Honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines makes it assured of acceptance. What I haue done is yours, what I haue to doe is yours, being part in all I haue, devoted yours...

Your Lordship's in all duty.

William Shakespeare.