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So I return rebuked to my content,
slightest allusion to this supposed injury;
And gain by ill thrice more than I have and we shall presently endeavour to show spent.-119.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
We have thus selected all the Sonnets, or stanzas, that appear to have reference to the subject of love,-whether those which express the light playfulness of affection, the abiding confidence, the distracting doubts, the reproaches for pride or neglect, the fierce jealousies, the complaints that another is preferred. Much of this may be real, much merely dramatic. But it appears to us that it would have been quite impossible to have maintained that these fragments relate to a particular incident of the poet's life-the indulgence of an illicit love, with which the equally illicit attachment of a youthful friend interfered-unless there had been a forced association of the whole series of Sonnets with that youthful friend to whom the first seventeen Sonnets are clearly addressed. Mr. Brown groups the Sonnets from the 27th to the 55th as the "Second Poem," which he entitles, To his Friend—who had robbed him of his mistress, forgiving him.' Now, literally, the Sonnets we have already given, the 33rd, 34th, 35th, 40th, 41st, and 42nd, are all that within these limits can be held to have reference to such a subject. The 27th and 28th Sonnets have not the
that they have been wrested from their proper place. The 29th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd are Sonnets of the most confiding friendship, full of the simplest, and therefore hesitation in classing amongst those which the deepest pathos, and which we have no are strictly personal-those to which the lines of Wordsworth apply :
And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee,—and then my state (Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.-29.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored, and sorrows end.-30.
And all those friends which I thought buried.
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Their images I loved I view in thee,
If thou survive my well-contented day,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
But since he died, and poets better prove, Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love.-32.
Immediately succeeding these are the three stanzas we have already quoted, in which the poet is held to accuse his friend of having robbed him of his mistress. In these stanzas the friend is spoken of in connexion with a "sensual fault," a 66 trespass," &c. But, in those which follow, the "bewailed guilt' belongs to the poet-the "worth and truth" to his friend. Surely these are not continuous. In the 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th Sonnets, we have the expression of that deep humility which may be traced through many of these remarkable compositions, and of which we find the first sound in the 29th Sonnet :
Let me confess that we two must be twain,
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
That I in thy abundance am sufficed,
Look what is best, that best I wish in thee; This wish I have; then ten times happy me!-37.
How can my muse want subject to invent, While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse
Thine own sweet argument, too excellent
O, give thyself the thanks, if aught in me
Than those old nine which rhymers invocate;
If my slight muse do please these curious days,
The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise.-38.
O, how thy worth with manners may I sing, When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is 't but mine own, when I praise thee?
Even for this let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That due to thee which thou deservest alone. O, absence, what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave To entertain the time with thoughts of love, (Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,)
And that thou teachest how to make one twain,
By praising him here, who doth hence remain !-39.
The 40th, 41st, and 42nd Sonnets return to the complaint of his friend's faithlessness. Surely, then, the Sonnets we have just quoted must be interpolated. The 43rd is entirely isolated from what precedes and what follows. But in the 39th we have allusions to "separation" and "absence;" and in the 44th we return to the subject of "injurious distance." With some alterations of arrangement we can group nine Sonnets together, which form a connected epistle to an absent friend, and which convey those sentiments of real affection which can only be adequately transmitted in language and imagery possessing, as these portions do, the charm of nature and simplicity. The tone of truth and reality is remarkably contrasted with those artificial passages which have imparted their character to the whole series in the estimation of many :
How heavy do I journey on the way, When what I seek,-my weary travel's end,Doth teach that case and that repose to say, "Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!"
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide, Which heavily he answers with a groan, More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.
Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Till I return, of posting is no need.
O, what excuse will my poor beast then find, When swift extremity can seem but slow? Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In winged speed no motion shall I know: Then can no horse with my desire keep pace; Therefore desire, of perfect love being made, Shall neigh (no dull flesh) in his fiery race; But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade; Since from thee going he went wilful slow, Towards thee I'll run, and give him leave to go.-51.
So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
The which he will not every hour survey,
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare, Since seldom coming, in the long year set, Like stones of worth they thinly placed are, Or captain jewels in the carcanet.
So is the time that keeps you as my chest, Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special-bless'd, By new unfolding his imprison'd pride.
Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives
Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope.-52.
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night, Makes black night beauteous, and her old face
Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.—
How can I then return in happy plight,
So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night; When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild'st the even.
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
Is it thy will thy image should keep open
While shadows, like to thee, do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake
From me far off, with others all too near.61.
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best
For all the day they view things unrespected: But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And, darkly bright, are bright in dark directed;
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
All days are nights to see, till I see thee, And nights, bright days, when dreams do show thee me.-43.
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought, Injurious distance should not stop my way; For then, despite of space, I would be brought From limits far remote, where thou dost stay. No matter then, although my foot did stand Upon the farthest carth removed from thee, For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me, that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art
But that, so much of earth and water wrought,
The other two, slight air and purging fire,
My life, being made of four, with two alone, Sinks down to death, oppress'd with melancholy;
Until life's composition be recured
By those swift messengers return'd from thee,
This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
The transpositions we have made in the arrangement are justified by the consideration that in the original text the 50th, 51st,
Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make and 52nd Sonnets are entirely isolated; that bright,
the 27th and 28th are also perfectly uncon
How would thy shadow's form form happy nected with what precedes and what follows;
that the 61st stands equally alone; and that
the 43rd, 44th, and 45th are in a similar position. We have now a perfect little poem describing the journey-the restless pilgrimage of thought-the desire for return.
The thoughts of a temporary separation lead to the fear that absence may produce estrangement:
How careful was I, when I took my way,
But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
Within the gentle closure of my breast,
And even thence thou wilt be stolen I fear,
The sentiment is somewhat differently repeated in a Sonnet which is entirely isolated in the place where it stands in the original:— So are you to my thoughts, as food to life, Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground; And for the peace of you I hold such strife As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found: Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone, Then better'd that the world may see my pleasure :
Sometime, all full with feasting on your sight, And by and by clean starved for a look; Possessing or pursuing no delight, Save what is had or must from you be took Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day, Or gluttoning on all, or all away.—75. But the 49th Sonnet carries forward the dread expressed in the 48th that his friend will "be stolen," into the apprehension that coldness, and neglect, and desertion may one day ensue:
Against that time, if ever that time come,
When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
Upon thy part I can set down a story
Of faults conceal'd, wherein I am attainted;
Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault, And I will comment upon that offence: Speak of my lameness, and I straight will
Against thy reasons making no defence.