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aggerated friendship, in the complaints of arranged them ? Certainly not the poet himan abused confidence, in the pictures of an self: for those who believe in their conunhallowed and unhappy love ; sometimes tinuity must admit that there are portions speaking with the real earnestness of true which it is impossible to regard as confriendship and a modest estimation of his tinuous. In the same volume with these own merits ; sometimes employing the lan- Sonnets was published a most exquisite narguage of an extravagant eulogy, and a more rative poem, 'A Lover's Complaint.' The extravagant estimation of the powers of the form of it entirely prevents any attempts to man who was writing that eulogy ? Suppose, consider it autobiographical. The Sonnets, for example, that in the leisure hours, we on the contrary, are personal in their form ; will say, of William Herbert, Earl of Pem- but it is not therefore to be assumed that broke, and William Shakspere, the poet they are all personal in their relation to the should have undertaken to address to the author. It is impossible to be assumed that youth an argument why he should marry. they could have been printed with the conWithout believing the Earl to be the W. H. sent of the author as they now stand. If he of the Dedication, we know that he was a had meant in all of them to express his friend of Shakspere. There is nothing in actual feelings and position, the very the first seventeen Sonnets which might not slightest labour on his part—a few words of have been written in the artificial tone of introduction either in prose or verse—would the Italian poetry, in the working out of this have taken those parts which he would have scheme. Suppose, again, that in other Son- naturally desired to appear like fiction, and nets the poet, in the same artificial spirit, which to us even now look like fiction, out complains that the friend has robbed him of of the possible range of reality. The same his mistress, and avows that he forgives the slight labour would, on the other hand, have falsehood. There is nothing in all this classed amongst the real, apart from the which might not have been written essen- artificial, those Sonnets which he would have tially as a work of fiction,-received as a desired to stand apart, and which appear to work of fiction,-handed about amongst us to stand apart, as the result of genuine "private friends” without the slightest ap- moods of the poet's own mind. prehension that it would be regarded as an It is our intention, without at all presumexposition of the private relations of two ing to think that we have discovered any persons separated in rank as they probably real order in which these extraordinary prowere in their habitual intimacies,—of very ductions may be arranged, to offer them to different ages,—the one an avowedly pro- the reader upon a principle of classification, fligate boy, the other a matured man. But which, on the one hand, does not attempt to this supposition does not exclude the idea reject the idea that a continuous poem, or that the poet had also, at various times, com- rather several continuous poems, may be posed, in the same measure, other poems, traced throughout the series, nor adopt the truly expressing his personal feelings,—with belief that the whole can be broken up into nothing inflated in their tone, perfectly fragments; but which, on the other hand, simple and natural, offering praise, express does no violence to the meaning of the ing love to his actual friends in the language author by a pertinacious adherence to a of the time "lovers "), showing regret in principle of continuity, sometimes obvious separation, dreading unkindness, hopeful of enough, but at other times maintained by continued affection. These are also cir- links as fragile as the harness of Queen culated amongst "private friends.” Some Mab's chariot :“W. H.” collects them together, ten, or
“Her traces of the smallest spider's web, twelve, or fifteen years after they have been
Her collars of the moonshine's watery beams." written; and a publisher, of course, is found to give to the world any productions of a The reader will have the ordinary text man so eminent as Shakspere. But who before him in every modern edition of Shakspere containing "The Poems ;' and he will
Make but my name thy love, and love that be enabled at every step to judge whether
still, the original arrangement, to which we must
And then thou lov'st me,-for my name is constantly refer, was a systematic or an
Will.-136. arbitrary one.
Lo, as careful housewife runs to catch
Sets down her babe, and makes all swift
In pursuit of the thing she would have stay; The earliest productions of a youthful
Whilst her neglected child holds her in chace, poet are commonly Love-Sonnets, or Elegies
Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent as they were termed in Shakspere's time.
To follow that which flies before her face, The next age to that of the school-boy is Not prizing her poor infant's discontent; that of
So runn'st thou after that which flies from “ the lover,
thee, ighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Whilst I thy babe chase thee afar behind; Made to his mistress' eyebrow.”
But, if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me, We commence our series with three Sonnets
And play the mother's part, kiss me, be kind:
So will I pray that thou mayst have thy which certainly bear the marks of juvenility,
Will, when compared with others in this collec
If thou turn back, and my loud crying still. tion, as distinctly impressed upon them as
-143. the character of the poet's mind at different periods of his life is impressed upon ‘Love's
The figures which we subjoin to each Labour's Lost' and 'Macbeth:'
Sonnet show the place which it occupies in Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy will,
the collection of 1609. If the reader will And will to boot, and will in over-plus; turn to the reprints of that text, he will see More than enough am I that vex thee still, where these Sonnets, through each of which To thy sweet will making addition thus. the same play upon the poet's name is kept Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious, up with a boyish vivacity, are found. The Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine ? first two follow one of those from which Shall will in others scem right gracious, Mr. Brown derives the title of what he calls And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The Sixth Poem,' being “To his Mistress, The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
on her Infidelity.'* Mr. Brown, however, And in abundance addeth to his store;
qualifies the dissimilarity of tone by the folSo thou, being rich in will, add to thy will
lowing admission :" All the stanzas in the One will of mine, to make thy large will more.
preceding poems (to Stanza 126) are retained Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill; Think all but one, and me in that one Wil. disturbing the links, having done no worse
in their original order; the printers, without -135.
than the joining together of five chains into If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
But I suspect the same attention has Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will, not been paid to this address to his mistress. And will, thy soul knows, is admitted there; Indeed, I farther suspect that some stanzas, Thus far for love, my love-suit, sweet, fulfil. irrelevant to the subject, have been introWill will fulfil the treasure of thy love, duced into the body of it.” The stanzas Ay, fill it full with wills, and my will one, to which Mr. Brown objects are the 135th In things of great receipt with ease we prove; I and 136th, just given. But let us proceed. Among a number one is reckoned none.
The poet now sings the praise of those eyes Then in the number let me pass untold,
which so took his brother-poet, Phineas Though in thy stores' account I one must be;
Fletcher:For nothing hold me, so it please thee hold That nothing me, a something sweet to thee: * Shakspeare's Autobiographical Poems,' p. 96.
“But most I wonder how that jetty ray,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even, Which those two blackest suns do fair display, Doth half that glory to the sober west, Should shine so bright, and night should make As those two mourning eyes become thy face: so sweet a day.”
O, let it then as well beseem thy heart
To mourn for me, since mourning doth thee We know not the colour of Anne Hathaway's
grace, eyes; but how can we affirm that the fol
And suit thy pity like in every part. lowing three Sonnets were not addressed to
Then will I swear beauty herself is black, her —
And all they foul that thy complexion lack. In the old age black was not counted fair,
—132. Or, if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But the last two immediately precede the But now is black beauty's successive heir,
“Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to power,
groan, Fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd For that deep wound it gives my friend and face,
me :"— Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy hour, and so the lady of the “mourning eyes” is But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace. associated with a tale of treachery and sin. Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black, The line of the 131st Sonnet, Her eyes so suited; and they mourners seem
“In nothing art thou black, save in thy deeds," At such, who, not born fair, no beauty lack, Slandering creation with a false esteem: may be held to imply something atrocious.
Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe, The first two lines, however, show of what That every tongue says bcauty should look the poet-lover complains :80.-127.
"Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
cruel." As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel :
The 128th Sonnet has never been exceeded For well thou know'st to my dear doting in airy elegance, even by the professed writers heart
of amatory poems: Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel. How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st, Yet, in good faith, some say that thee behold, Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds Thy face hath not the power to make love With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently groan :
sway'st To say they err, I dare not be so bold,
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds, Although I swear it to myself alone.
Do I envy those jacks, that nimble leap And, to be sure that is not false I swear,
To kiss the tender inward of thy A thousand groans, but thinking on thy face, Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest One on another's neck, do witness bear
reap, Thy black is fairest in my judgment's place. At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand! In nothing art thou black, save in thy To be so tickled, they would change their state deeds,
And situation with those dancing chips, And thence this slander, as I think, pro- O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait, ceeds.-131.
Making dead wood more bless'd than living
lips. Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me, Since saucy jacks so happy are in this, Knowing thy heart, torment me with dis- Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.
-128. Have put on black, and loving mourners be, Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain.
The 130th, too, is one of the prettiest rers And truly not the morning sun of heaven de société that a Suckling, or a Moore, could Better becomes the gray cheeks of the east,
have produced :
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her
head. I have seen roses damask'd, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress
reeks. I love to hear her speak,-yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go,— My mistress, when she walks, treads on the
ground: And yet, by heaven, I think my love as
As any she belied with false compare.
The tyranny of which the poet complains in the 131st Sonnet forms the subject of the three following
0, call not me to justify the wrong That my unkindness lays upon my heart; Wound me not with thine eye, but with thy
tongue; Use power with power, and slay me not by
art. Tell me thou lov'st elsewhere; but, in my
sight, Dear heart, forbear to glance thine eye aside. What need'st thou wound with cunning, when
thy might Is more than my o'erpress'd defence can 'bide ? Let me excuse thee : ah ! my love well knows Her pretty looks have been my enemies; And therefore from my face she turns my
foes, That they elsewhere might dart their injuries :
Yet do not so; but, since I am near slain,
pain.—139. Be wise as thou art cruel : do not press My tongue-tied patience with too much dis
dain ; Lest sorrow lend me words, and words ex
press The manner of my pity-wanting pain. If I might teach thee wit, better it were, Though not to love, yet, love, to tell me so; (As testy sick men, when their deaths be
near, No news but health from their physicians
That I may not be so, nor thou belied,
heart go wide.-140.
And of what character is the 129th Sonnet, which separates these two playful compositions? It is a solemn denunciation against unlicensed gratifications—a warning “To shun the heaven that leads men to this
hell.” If we are to bring those Bonnets in apposition where the “leading idea” is repeated, we shall have to go far back to find one that will accord with the 130th :
So is it not with me as with that muse,
gems, With April's first-born flowers, and all things
That heaven's air in his huge rondure hems.
-21. This is the 21st Sonnet; and it has as much the character of a love-sonnet as any we have just given.
Canst thou, O cruel ! say I love thee not,
When all my best doth worship thy defect, the same time, with more kindness, in their
according to Mr. Brown, is for the “coldThose that can see thou lov’st, and I am
ness” which the noble youth had erinced blind.-149.
towards his friend, The “coldness" is imAnd yet the tyranny is meekly borne by the plied in these stanzas, and in that which lover :
precedes them :
"Sweet love, renew thy force ; be it not said Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite, Upon the hours and times of your desire ?
Which but to-day by feeding is allay'd, I have no precious time at all to spend,
Tomorrow sharpen'd in his former might: Nor services to do, till you require.
So, love, be thou : although to-day thou fill Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour,
The hungry eyes, even till they wink with Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for
Tomorrow see again, and do not kill Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
The spirit of love with a perpetual dulness. When you have bid your servant once adieu ;
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted.
Come daily to the banks, that, when they see
Return of love, more bless'd may be the view; Save, where you are how happy you make
Or call it winter, which, being full of care, those :
Makes summer's welcome thrice more So true a fool is love, that in your will
wish'd, more rare.—56. (Though you do anything) he thinks no ill.—57.
We believe, on the contrary, that the three
Sonnets are addressed to a female. It apThat God forbid, that made me first your
pears to us that a line in the 57th is decislave, I should in thought control your times of
sive upon this :pleasure,
“When you have bid your servant once adieu." Or at your hand the account of hours to
The lady was the mistress, the lover the crave,
servant, in the gallantry of Shakspere's time. Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure ! In Beaumont and Fletcher's “Scornful Lady' 0, let me suffer (being at your beck)
we have, “Was I not once your mistress, The imprison'd absence of your liberty,
and you my servant ?” The three stanzas, And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each 56, 57, 58, are completely isolated from what
check Without accusing you of injury.
precedes and what follows them ; and there
fore we have no hesitation in transposing Be where you list; your charter is so strong,
them to this class. That you yourself may privilege your time: Do what you will, to you it doth belong
We are about to give a Sonnet which Mr. Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.
Brown thinks “should be expunged from I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;
the poem.” We should regret to lose so Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well. pretty and playful a love-verse : --58.
Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said I hate, The Sonnets last given are the 57th and
To me that languish'd for her sake: 58th. These are especially noticed by Mr.
But, when she saw my woeful state, Brown as evidence that the person to whom Straight in her heart did mercy come, he considers the Sonnets are addressed—W.
Chiding that tongue, that ever sweet H.-was “a man of rank.” He adds, “Re- Was used in giving gentle doom; proach is conveyed more forcibly, and, at And taught it thus anew to greet: