When the second part of William Davenant’s The Siege of Rhodes appeared in 1663 it was accompanied by an epistle dedication to the Earl of Clarendon. On the face of it, the dedication was an opportune attempt to secure the patronage of a powerful statesman in the ascendancy. The playwright explains that his dedication is especially timely and includes an enigmatic allusion to Clarendon’s earlier life:

The excuse which men have had for dedication of Books, has been to protect them from the malice of Readers: but a defence of this nature was fitter for your forces when you were early known to Learned men (and had no other occasion for your abilities, but to vindicate Authors) than at this Season when you are of extraordinary use to the whole Nation. 1