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Lest I (too much profane) should do it wrong, Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind, And haply of our old acquaintance tell.
Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie. For thee, against myself I'll vow debate, O what a happy title do I find, For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost Happy to have thy love, happy to die ! hate.-89.
But what's so blessed-fair that fears no
blot? Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it Now, while the world is bent my deeds to
So shall I live, supposing thou art true, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
Like a deceived husband; so love's face And do not drop in for an after loss :
May still seem love to me, though alter'd-new; Ah ! do not, when my heart hath scaped this
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place : sorrow,
For there can live no hatred in thine eye, Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe;
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change. Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
In many's looks the false heart's history To linger out a purposed overthrow.
Is writ, in moods and frowns and wrinkles If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
strange; When other petty griefs have done their spite.
But Heaven in thy creation did decree But in the onset come; so shall I taste
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell; At first the very worst of fortune's might;
Whate'er thy thoughts or thy heart's workAnd other strains of woe, which now seem
ings be, woe,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetCompared with loss of thee will not seem
ness tell. 50.-90.
How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show ! Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
--93. Some in their wealth, some in their body's force;
Separated from the preceding stanzas by Some in their garments, though new-fangled three Sonnets, the 94th, 95th, and 96th, which ill;
we have already given-(they are those in Some in their hawks and hounds, some in which a friend is mildly upbraided for the their horse;
defects in his character)—we have a second And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure, little poem on Absence. It would be difficult Wherein it finds a joy above the rest ; But these particulars are not my measure,
to find anything more perfect in our own or All these I better in one general best.
any other language :Thy love is better than high birth to me, How like a winter hath my absence been Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year ! cost,
What freezings have I felt, what dark days Of more delight than hawks or horses be;
seen! And having thee, of all men's pride I boast. What old December's bareness everywhere ! Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst And yet this time removed was summer's take
time; All this away, and me most wretched The teeming autumn, big with rich increase, make.-91.
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lord's But do thy worst to steal thyself away,
decease : For term of life thou art assured mine;
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me And life no longer than thy love will stay, But hope of orphans, and unfather'd fruit; For it depends upon that love of thine.
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee, Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs, And, thou away, the very birds are mute; When in the least of them my life hath end. Or, if they sing, 't is with so dull a cheer, I see a better state to me belongs
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's Than that which on thy humour doth depend.
From you have I been absent in the spring, held all to refer, except when they specially
sweetness of his breath, or the whiteness of
questionably addressed to a male, although Could make me any summer's story tell, Or from their proud lap pluck them where they employ the term “beauty” in a way
which we cannot easily comprehend in our they grew : Nor did I wonder at the lilies white,
own days, have always reference to manly Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
beauty. The comparisons in the above Sonnets
as clearly relate to female beauty. They
one of his Amoretti,—the 64th ; which thus
"Such fragrant flowers do give most odorous The forward violet thus did I chide :
smell, Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet
But her sweet odour did them all excel." that smells,
It appears to us that in both the poems on If not from my love's breath? The purple Absence, in the stanzas which anticipate pride
neglect and coldness, and in others which Which on thy soft cheek for complexion
we have given and are about to give, we dwells,
must not be too ready to connect their images In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed. with the person who is addressed in the first The lily I condemned for thy hand,
seventeen Sonnets; or be always prepared to And buds of marjoram had stolen thy hair :
“ seize a clue which innumerable passages The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, One blushing shame, another white despair;
give us,” according to Mr. Hallam, "and A third, nor red nor white, had stolen of both, suppose that they allude to a youth of And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;
high rank as well as personal beauty and But for his theft, in pride of all his growth
."'* The chief characteristic A vengeful canker eat him up to death. of those passages which clearly apply to that More flowers I noted, yet I none could sce,
“unknown youth” is, as it appears to us, But sweet or colour it had stolen from extravagance of admiration conveyed in very thee.---99.
hyperbolical language. Much that we have But this poem is quite unconnected with quoted offers no example of the justness of what precedes it. It is placed where it is, ductions :-“There is a weakness and folly
Mr. Hallam's complaint against these proupon no principle of continuity. Are we,
in all excessive and misplaced affection, then, to infer that the friend whose "shame" is “like a canker in the budding rose” is
which is not redeemed by the touches of
nobler sentiments that abound in this long the person who is immediately afterwards
series of Sonnets." It would be difficult, we addressed as one from whom every flower bath stolen “ sweet or colour ?" If we read think, to find more forcible thoughts expressed these three stanzas without any impression of in more simple, and therefore touching lantheir connexion with something that has
guage, than in the following continuous
They comprise all the Sonnets gone before, we shall irresistibly feel that they are addressed to a female. They point of 118, 119, 120, 121, three of which we have
numbered from 109 to 125, with the exception at repeated absences ; and why may they already printed as belonging to another not then be addressed to the poet's first love? The Earl of Southampton, or the Earl of subject than the poet's constancy of affection; Pembroke, to whom the series of Sonnets are
*Literature of Europe,' vol. iii. p. 503.
and one of which we shall give as an isolated fragment :
0, never say that I was false of heart,
For nothing this wide universe I call,
Your love and pity doth the impression fill
tongue; None else to me, nor I to none alive, That my steeld sense or changes, right or
You are so strongly in my purpose bred,
Alas, 't is true, I have gone here and there,
best, Even to thy pure and most most loving
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
ture, The mountain or the sea, the day or night, The crow, or dove, it shapes them to your
feature. Incapable of more, replete with you, My most true mind thus maketh mine
Or whether doth my mind, being crown'd
O, for my sake do you with fortune chide,
breeds. Thence comes it that my name receives a
brand, And almost thence my nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer's hand : Pity me then, and wish I were renew'd; Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink Potions of eysell,'gainst my strong infection; No bitterness that I will bitter think, Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye, Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery,
If it be poison'd, 'tis the lesser sin
Those lines that I before have writ, do lie, Even those that said I could not love you
dearer; Yet then my judgment knew no reason why My most full flame should afterwards burn
clearer. But reckoning time, whose million'd accidents Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of
kings, Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents, Divert strong minds to the course of altering
things; Alas! why, fearing of time's tyranny, Might I not then say, "Now I love you best," When I was certain o'er incertainty, Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?
Love is a babe; then might I not say so, To give full growth to that which still doth
Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
To keep an adjunct to remember thee,
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and
If this be error, and upon me proved,
No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do
change : Thy pyramids built up with newer might To me are nothing novel, nothing strange; They are but dressings of a former sight. Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire What thou dost foist upon us that is old; And rather make them born to our desire, Than think that we before have heard them
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
Accuse me thus; that I have scanted all Wherein I uld your great deserts repay; Forget upon your dearest love to call, Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day; That I have frequent been with unknown
minds, And given to time your own dear-purchased
right; That I have hoisted sail to all the winds Which should transport me farthest from your
sight. Book both my wilfulness and errors down, And, on just proof, surmise accumulate, Bring me within the level of your frown, But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate :
Since my appeal says, I did strive to prove The constancy and virtue of your love.-117.
If my dear love were but the child of state,
hours, But all alone stands hugely politic, That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with
showers. To this I witness call the fools of time, Which die for goodness, who have lived for
Were 't aught to me I bore the canopy, With my extern the outward honouring.
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage Which prove more short than waste or ruining? Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit, Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour To thee I send this written embassage, Lose all, and more, by paying too much rent, To witness duty, not to show my wit. For compound sweet foregoing simple savour, Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent ?
say make seem are, in ting words to No ;-let me be obsequious in thy heart, And take thou my oblation, poor but free, But that I hope some good conceit of thine Which is not mix'd with seconds, knows no In thy soul's thought, all naked, will beart,
stow it: But mutual render, only me for thee.
Till whatsoever star that guides by moving, Hence, thou suborn'd informer! a true Points on me graciously with fair aspect, soul,
And puts apparel on my tatter'd loving, When most impeach'd, stands least in thy To show me worthy of thy sweet respect : control.-125.
Then may I dare to boast how I do love
thee, Dr. Drake, in maintaining that the Son- Till then, not show my head where thou nets, from the 1st to the 126th, were ad
mayst prove me.-26. dressed to Lord Southampton, has alleged,
one of the most striking proofs of this The Sonnet which precedes this has also the position,” the fact " that the language of the marked character of the same respectful Dedication to the “Rape of Lucrece,' and affection ; and, like the 26th, in all prothat of the 26th Sonnet, are almost precisely bability accompanied some offering of friendthe same." If the reader will turn to this ship :Dedication, he will at once see the resem- Let those who are in favour with their stars blance. “ The love I dedicate to your lord- Of public honour and proud titles boast, ship is without end,” shows that, in the Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars, Sonnets as in the works of contemporary
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most. writers, the perpetually recurring terms of Great princes' favourites their fair leaves love and lover were meant to convey the
spread, most profound respect as well as the
But as the marigold at the sun's eye; strongest affection. In that age friendship
And in themselves their pride lies buried, was not considered as a mere conventional
For at a frown they in their glory die. intercourse for social gratification. There
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil'd, was depth and strength in it. It partook of
Is from the book of honour razed quite, the spiritual energy which belonged to a
And all the rest forgot for which he toild : higher philosophy of the affections than now
Then happy I, that love and am beloved, presides over clubs and dinner-parties. “My
Where I may not remove, nor be removed. friend,” or “my lover," meant something
---25. more than one who is ordinarily civil, returns our calls, and shakes hands upon great | Again, the 23rd Sonnet is precisely of the occasions. Lord Southampton, in a letter of
same character. All these appear to us introduction to a grave Lord Chancellor, wholly unconnected with the poems which calls Shakspere “my especial friend.” To surround them-little gems, perfect in themLord Southampton Shakspere dedicates selves, and wanting no "setting to add to “love without end." This 26th Sonnet, we
their beauty: have little doubt, is also a dedication, ac
As an unperfect actor on the stage, companying some new production of the Who with his fear is put besides his part, mighty dramatist, in accordance with his
Or some fierce thing replete with too much declaration, “What I have done is yours, rage, what I have to do is yours, being part in all Whose strength's abundance weakens his own I have devoted yours :"