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1. A woman's face, but not, as women's faces are,
painted by art.
2. Master-mistress of my passion, who with united charms of man and woman.
suggests to me that passion may be used of love-poem, frequent in Watson.
sways my love
Mr. H. C. Hart
in the old sense
5. Less false in rolling. Compare Spenser, Faerie Queene, Bk. III. c. i. s. 41 :—
Her wanton eyes (ill signes of womanhed)
Did roll too lightly.
8. In the Quarto, "A man in hew all Hews in his controwling." The italics and capital letter suggested to Tyrwhitt that more is meant here than meets the eye, that the Sonnets may have been addressed to some one named Hews or Hughes, and that Mr. W. H. may be Mr. William Hughes. But the following words have also capital letters and are in italics :-Rose 1. 2; Audit IV. 12; Statues LV. 5; Intrim LVI. 9; Alien LXXVIII. 3; Satire c. 11; Autumne CIV. 5; Abisme cxII. 9; Alcumie CXIV. 4; Syren CXIX. 1; Heriticke CXXIV. 9; Informer cxxv. 13; Audite cxxvI. 11; Quietus CXXVI. 12. The word "hue" was used by Elizabethan writers not only in the sense of complexion, but also in that of shape, form. The following are instances:
Her snowy substance melted as with heat,
Ne of that goodly hew remained ought,
But th' empty Girdle which about her waist was wrought. Faerie Queene, Bk. V. c. iii. s. 24.
In Faerie Queene, Bk. V. c. ix. ss. 17, 18, Talus tries
to seize Malengin, who transforms himself into a fox, a bush, a bird, a stone, and then a hedgehog:
Then gan it [the hedgehog] run away incontinent,
Nash's Pierce Pennilesse, pp. 82, 83 (Shakespeare Society's Reprint). "The spirits of the water have slow bodies, iesembling birds and women, of which kinde the Naiades and Nereides are much celebrated amongst poets. Nevertheless, however they are restrayned to their severall similitudes, it is certain that all of them desire no forme. or figure so much as the likenesse of a man, and doo thinke themselves in heaven when they are infeoft in that hue." The meaning of lines 7, 8 in this sonnet then may be, "A man in form and appearance, having the mastery over all forms in that of his, which steals," etc. If one were to amuse oneself with fancied discoveries, why not insist on the fact that this mysterious Hews contains the initials of both W. H. and W. S. With the phrase "controlling hues" compare Sonnet CVI. 8:
Even such a beauty as you master now.
11. Defeated, defrauded, disappointed. So A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act IV. sc. 1, 11. 153-155:
They would have stolen away; they would, Demetrius,
You of your wife and me of my consent.
XXI. The first line of XX. suggests this sonnet. The face of Shakspere's friend is painted by Nature alone, and
so too there is no false painting, no poetical hyperbole in the description. As containing examples of such extravagant comparisons, amorous fancies, far-fetched conceits of sonnet-writers as Shakspere here speaks of, Mr. Main (Treasury of English Sonnets, p. 283) cites Spenser's Amoretti, 9 and 64; Daniel's Delia, 19; Barnes's Parthenophil and Parthenophe, Sonnet 48. Griffin's Fidessa, Sonnet XXXIX., and (1594), the sixth Decade, Sonnet I. Charles Lamb (Essays of Elia; Some Sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney), "thinks no labour to send out Thoughts upon the vast and more than Indian voyages, to bring home rich pearls, outlandish wealth, gums, jewels, spicery, to sacrifice in self-depreciating similitudes as shadows of true amiabilities in the Beloved."
Compare also Constable's Diana "True love," says
On the other hand, Elizabethan sonnet-writers protest against using "new-found tropes" and "strange similes," as Sidney, in Astrophel and Stella, III. :—
Let dainty wits cry on the Sisters nine, etc.
So Shakspere's Berowne, in Love's Labour's Lost, Act v. sc. 2, 11. 405-413.
5. Making a couplement of proud compare, joining in proud comparisons. It is worth noting that the word often printed compliment in Spenser's Prothalamion, St. 6, ought to be couplement.
8. Rondure, circle, as in King John, Act II. sc. 1, 1. 259, "the roundure of your old-faced walls." Staunton proposes "vault" in place of "air" in this line.
12. Gold candles. Compare "These blessed candles of the night," The Merchant of Venice, Act v. 1. 220; also
Romeo and Juliet, Act III. sc. 5, 1. 9; Macbeth, Act II. sc. 1, 1. 5.
13. That like of hearsay well. "To like of" meaning "to like" is frequent in Shakspere. Schmidt's explanation is "that fall in love with what has been praised by others; " but does it not rather mean "that like to be buzzed about by talk"?
14. Compare Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV. sc. 3, 11. 239, 240:
Fie, painted rhetoric! O, she needs it not :
XXII. The praise of his friend's beauty suggests by contrast Shakspere's own face marred by time. He comforts himself by claiming his friend's beauty as his own. Lines 11-14 give the first hint of possible wrong committed by the youth against friendship.
4. Expiate, bring to an end. So King Richard III., Act III. sc. 3, 1. 23 :—
Make haste the hour of death is expiate
(changed in the second Folio to "now expired"). In Chapman's Byron's Conspiracie an old courtier says
poor and expiate humour of the court.
Steevens conjectures in this sonnet expirate, which R. Grant White introduces into the text.
9-12. Compare Sidney's poem in Arcadia, p. 344 (ed. 1613):
My true love hath my heart, and I have his, etc.
And Love's Labour's Lost, Act v. sc. 2, 1. 826:
Hence ever then my heart is in thy breast.
10. As I, etc., as I will be wary of myself for thy sake, not my own.
XXIII. The sincerity and silent love of his verses: returning to the thought of XXI.
1, 2. So Coriolanus, Act v. sc. 3, 11. 40-42:—
Like a dull actor now,·
I have forgot my part, and I am out,
5. For fear of trust, fearing to trust myself. Schmidt explains" doubting of being trusted," but the comparison is to an imperfect actor, who dare not trust himself. Observe the construction of the first eight lines; 5, 6 refer to 1, 2; 7, 8 to 3, 4. Staunton proposes for "fear or trust," i.e., through timidity or too much confidence.
9. Books. Sewell and Malone's friend C. [Capell probably] would read "O, let my looks," etc. But the Quarto may be right; so 1. 13 :—
O learn to read what silent love hath writ.
The books of which Shakspere speaks are probably the manuscript books in which he writes his sonnets, sending them, when a group has been written or a book filled, to his friend. In support of looks H. Isaac cites Spenser, Amoretti, 43: