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So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
My heart doth plead, that thou in him dost
part, And my heart's right thine inward love of
Between the 23rd and 25th Sonnets, which we have just given-remarkable as they are for the most exquisite simplicity of thought and diction-occurs the following conceit :Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath
done; Vine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine
Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
Or if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
Are windows to my breast, where through the
Delights to pecp, to gaze therein on thee; The 77th Sonnet interrupts the continuity Yet cyes this cunning want to grace their of a poem which we shall presently give, in art,
which the writer refers, with some appearThey draw but what they see, know not ance of jealousy, to an “alien pen." There the heart.-24.
can be no doubt that this Sonnet is comBut, separated by a long interval, we find pletely isolated. It is clearly intended to
accompany the present of a note-book :two variations of the air, entirely out of place where they occur. Can we doubt that Thy glass will show thee how thy beautics these three form one little poem of them
wear, selves ?
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war,
bear, How to divide the conquest of thy sight; And of this book this learning mayst thou Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show, My heart mine eye the freedom of that right. Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial's shady stealth mayst know Why write I still all one, ever the same, Time's thievish progress to eternity.
And keep invention in a noted weed, Look, what thy memory cannot contain, That every word doth almost tell my name, Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt Showing their birth, and where they did find
proceed? Those children nurs’d, deliver'd from thy O know, sweet love, I always write of you, brain,
And you and love are still my argument; To take a new acquaintance of thy mind. So all my best is dressing old words new, These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Spending again what is already spent: Shall profit thee, and much enrich thy For, as the sun is daily new and old, book.–77.
So is my love still telling what is told.—76. The 76th to the 87th Sonnets (omitting
So oft have I invok'd thee for my muse, the 77th and 81st) have been held to refer
And found such fair assistance in my verse, to a particular event in the poetical career
As every alien pen hath got my use, of Shakspere. He expresses something like
And under thee their poesy disperse. jealousy of a rival poet-a "better spirit."
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to By some, Spenser is supposed to be alluded
sing, to; by others, Daniel. But we do not accept
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly, these stanzas as a proof that William Herbert
Have added feathers to the learned's wing, is the person always addressed in these Son
And given grace a double majesty. nets, for the alleged reason that Daniel was Yet be most proud of that which I compile, patronised by the Pembroke family, and Whose influence is thine, and born of thee : that, in 1601, he dedicated a book to William In others' works thou dost but mend the Herbert, to which Shakspere is held to allude style, in the 82nd Sonnet, by the expression
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be; “ dedicated words." This is Mr. Boaden's But thou art all my art, and dost advance theory. One of the Sonnets, supposed also
As high as learning my rude ignorance. to refer to William Herbert as a man right
-78. fair," was published in 1599, when the young Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid, nobleman was only nineteen years of age. My verse alone had all thy gentle grace; But in the stanzas which relate to some
But now my gracious numbers are decay'd, poetical rivalry, real or imaginary, the per- And my sick muse doth give another place. son addressed has
I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument “added feathers to the learned's wing,
Deserves the travail of a worthier pen; And given grace a double majesty.”
Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent,
He robs thee of, and pays it thee again. He is
He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word "as fair in knowledge as in hue."
From thy behaviour; beauty doth he give, The praises of the “ lovely boy,” be he Wil
And found it in thy cheek; he can afford liam Herbert or not, are always confined to
No praise to thee but what in thee doth ltve.
Then thank him not for that which he doth his personal appearance and his good nature.
say, There is a quiet tone about the following
Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost which separates them from the Sonnets addressed to that “unknown youth ;” and yet
pay.—79. they may be as unreal as we believe most of those to be :
0, how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name, Why is my verse so barren of new pride? And in the praise thereof spends all his might, So far from variation or quick change?
To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your Why, with the time, do I not glance aside
fame! To new-found methods and to compounds But since your worth (wide, as the ocean is,) strange?
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
I grant thou wert not married to my muse,
friend; And their gross painting might be better
us'd Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is
Lean penury within that pen doth dwell,
You to your beauteous blessings add a curse,
praises worse.-84. My tongue-tied muse in manners holds her
still, While comments of your praise, richly com
pil'd, Reserve their character with golden quill, And precious phrase by all the muses fil'd. I think good thoughts, while others write good
words, And, like unletter'd clerk, still cry “ Amen" To every hymn that able spirit affords, In polish'd form of well-refined pen. Hearing you prais'd, I say, “'T is so, 't is
true," And to the most of praise add something
more; But that is in my thought, whose love to you, Though words come hindmost, holds his rank
before. Then others for the breath of words respect, Me for my dumb thoughts speaking in
I never saw that you did painting need,
show How far a modern quill doth come too short, Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth
grow. This silence for my sin you did impute, Which shall be most my glory, being dumb; For I impair not beauty being mute, When others would give life, and bring a
tomb. There lives more life in one of your fair
Was it the proud full sail of his great verse, Bound for the prize of all-too-precious you, That did my ripe thoughts in my brain in
hearse, Making their tomb the womb wherein they
grew ? Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead ? No, neither he, nor his compeers by night Giving him aid, my verse astonished. He, nor that affable familiar ghost Which nightly gulls him with intelligence, As victors, of my silence cannot boast; I was not sick of any fear from thence.
But, when your countenance fild up his line, Then lack'd I matter : that enfeebled mine.
-86. Farewell ! thou art too dear for my possess
ing, And like enough thou know'st thy estimate :
Than both your poets can in praise devise.
Who is it that says most? which can say more Than this rich praise,—that you alone are
you? In whose confine immured is the store Which should example where your equal grew.
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
flatter, In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.
Why dost thou pine within, and suffer dearth,
We cannot trace the connexion of the
III. 121st Sonnet with what precedes and what follows it. It may stand alone—a somewhat We have thus, with a labour which we fear impatient expression of contempt for the may be disproportionate to the results, seopinion of the world, which too often galls parated those parts of this series of poems those most who, in the consciousness of right, which appeared to be manifestly complete in ought to be best prepared to be indifferent themselves, or not essentially connected with to it:
what has been supposed to be the “leading 'T is better to be vile, than vile esteemid,
idea ” which prevails throughout the collecWhen not to be receives reproach of being,
tion. It has been said, with great eloquence, And the just pleasure lost, which is so deem'd
“It is true that, in the poetry as well as in Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing.
the fictions of early ages, we find a more For why should others' false adulterate eyes
ardent tone of affection in the language of Give salutation to my sportive blood ?
friendship than has since been usual ; and Or on my frailties why are frailer spies, yet no instance has been adduced of such Which in their wills count bad what I think rapturous devotedness, such an idolatry of good ?
admiring love, as the greatest being whom No.—I am that I am; and they that level nature ever produced in the human form At my abuses, reckon up their own :
pours forth to some unknown youth in the I may be straight though they themselves be majority of these Sonnets.”
accomplished critic further speaks of the By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be strangeness of “Shakspere's humiliation in shown,
addressing him (the youth) as a being beUnless this general evil they maintain,
fore whose feet he crouched, whose frown he All men are bad, and in their badness feared, whose injuries, and those of the most reign.—121.
insulting kind—the seduction of the mistress
to whom we have alluded-he felt and beLastly, of the Sonnets entirely independent wailed without resenting.” We should agree of the other portions of the series, the fol
with Mr. Hallam, if these circumstances were lowing, already mentioned, furnishes one of the many proofs which we have endeavoured manifest
, that, notwithstanding the frequent
beauties of these Sonnets, the pleasure of to produce that the original arrangement their perusal would be much diminished. was in many respects an arbitrary one :
But we believe that these impressions have Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth, been, in a great degree, produced by regardFool'd by those rebel powers that thee array, * Hallam, 'Literature of Europe,' vol. iii. p. 502.
ing the original arrangement as the natural have therefore left us no regret that he had and proper one—as one suggested by the written them. If we are to regard a few of dependence of one part upon another, in a these as real disclosures, with reference to a poem essentially continuous. Mr. Hallam, “dark-haired lady whom the poet loved, but with these impressions, adds, somewhat over whose relations to him there is thrown strongly, “it is impossible not to wish a veil of mystery, allowing us to see little that Shakspere had never written them.” | except the feeling of the parties that their Let us, however, analyze what we have love was guilt,”—
—we are to consider, what is presented to the reader in a different order so justly added by the writer from whom we than that of the original edition :
quote, that “much that is most unpleasing in the circumstances connected with those magnificent lyrics is removed by the air of
despondency and remorse which breathes Will
through those which come most closely on 3 the facts.”*
But it must not be forgotten The virginal
that, in an age when the Italian models False compare •
of poetry were so diligently cultivated, Tyranny
imaginary loves and imaginary jealousies Slavery
were freely admitted into verses which apColdness.
peared to address themselves to the reader I hate not you.
in the personal character of the poet. The little love-god (not reprinted) 2
Regarding a poem, whether a sonnet or an Love and hatred
epic, essentially as a work of art, the artist Infidelity
was not careful to separate his own identity Injury
from the sentiments and situations which A friend's faults
he delineated—any more than the pastoral Forgiveness
poets of the next century were solicitous to 43
tell their readers that their Corydons and Phyllises were not absolutely themselves
and their mistresses. The 'Amoretti' of Sonnets
. Spenser, for example, consisting of eightyConfiding friendship
eight Sonnets, is also a puzzle to all those Humility
who regard such productions as necessarily Absence.
autobiographical. These poems were pubEstrangement
lished in 1596 ; in several passages a date A second absence
is somewhat distinctly marked, for there are Fidelity.
lines which refer to the completion of the Dedications
first six Books of the 'Fairy Queen,' and to The picture
Spenser's appointment to the laureatshipThe note-book
“the badge which I do bear.” And yet they Rivalry
are full of the complaints of an unrequited Reputation
love, and of a disdainful mistress, at a period The soul.
when Spenser was married, and settled with 61
his family in Ireland. Chalmers is here again
ready with his solution of the difficulty. We have thus as many as 104 Sonnets which, They were addressed, as well as Shakspere's if they had been differently arranged upon Sonnets, to Queen Elizabeth. We believe their original publication, might have been that, taken as works of art, having a certain read with undiminished pleasure, as far as degree of continuity, the Sonnets of Spenser, regards the strangeness of their author's of Daniel, of Drayton, of Shakspere, although humiliation before one unknown youth; and * Edinburgh Review,' vol. Ixxi. p. 466.