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abbreviated in the manuscript, according to are held to be addressed sanction their pubthe custom of the time. But this species of lication ? Would Lord Pembroke have sufmistake is by no means uniform. For ex- fered himself to be styled “W. H., the only ample : from the 43rd to the 48th Sonnet begetter of these ensuing Sonnets ”—plain these errors occur with remarkable frequency; Mr. W. H.-he, a nobleman, with all the in one Sonnet, the 46th, this species of mis- pride of birth and rank about him—and take happens four times. But we read on, represented in these poems as a man of and presently find that we may trust to the licentious habits, and treacherous in his printed copy, which does not now violate | licentiousness ? The Earl of Pembroke, in the context. What can we infer from this, 1609, had attained great honours in his but that the separate poems were printed political and learned relations. In the first from different manuscripts in which various year of James I. he was made a Knight of systems of writing were employed, --some the Garter; in 1605, upon a visit of James using abbreviations, some rejecting them ? to Oxford, he received the degree of Master If the one poem, as the first hundred and of Arts ; in 1607 he was appointed Governor twenty-six Sonnets are called, had been of Portsmouth; and, more than all these printed either from the author's manuscript, honours, he was placed in the highest station or from a uniform copy of the author's by public opinion ; he was, as Clarendon manuscript, such differences of systematic describes, “ the most universally beloved and error in some places, and of systematic cor- esteemed of any man of that age.” Was rectness in others, would have been very un- this the man, in his mature years, distinctly likely to have occurred. If the poem had to sanction a publication which it was unbeen printed under the author's eye, their derstood recorded his profligacy? He was existence would have been impossible. of “excellent parts, and a graceful speaker
The theory that the first hundred and upon any subject, having a good proportion twenty-six Sonnets were a continuous poem, of learning, and a ready wit to apply to it,” or poems, addressed to one person, and that says Clarendon. Is there in the Sonnets the a very young man—and that the greater slightest allusion to the talents of the one portion of the remaining twenty-eight Son- person to whom they are held to be adnets had reference to a female, with whom dressed ? If, then, the publication was not there was an illicit attachment on the part authorized, in either of the modes assumed, of the poet and the young man-involves we have no warrant whatever for having some higher difficulties, if it is assumed regard to the original order of the Sonnets, that the publication was authorized by the and in assuming a continuity because of that author, or by the person to whom they are order. What then is the alternative? That held to be addressed. Could Shakspere, in the Sonnets were a collection of “Sibylline 1609, authorize or sanction their publica- leaves” rescued from the perishableness of tion? He was then living at Stratford, in their written state by some person who had the enjoyment of wealth ; he was forty-five access to the high and brilliant circle in years of age : he was naturally desirous to which Shakspere was esteemed ; and that associate with himself all those circum- this person's scrap-book, necessarily imperstances which constitute respectability of fect, and pretending to no order, found its character. If the Sonnets had regard to way to the hands of a bookseller, who was actual circumstances connected with his too happy to give to that age what its most previous career, would he, a husband, a distinguished man had written at various father of two daughters, have authorized a periods, for his own amusement, and for the publication so calculated to degrade him in gratification of his “private friends.” the eyes of his family and his associates, if the verses could bear the construction now put upon them? We think not. On the We subjoin, for the more ready informaother hand, did the one person to whom they | tion of those who may be disposed to ex
MR. BROWN'S DIVISION INTO Six POEMS. First Poem.-Stanzas i. to xxvi. To his
Friend, persuading him to marry. Second Poem.-Stanzas xxvii. to ly. To his
Friend, who had robbed him of his
Mistress-forgiving him. Third Poem.--Stanzas lvi. to lxxvii. To his
Friend, complaining of his Coldness,
and warning him of Life's Decay. Fourth Poem.-Stanzas lxxviii. to ci. To
his Friend, complaining that he prefers another Poet's Praises, and reproving him for faults that may injure his cha
racter. Fifth Poem.-Stanzas cii. to cxxvi. To his
Friend, excusing himself for having been sometimes silent, and disclaiming
the charge of Inconstancy. Sixth Poem.-Stanzas cxxvii. to clii. To his
Mistress, on her Infidelity.
An Invitation to Marriage. [8, 9, 10,
11, 12.] False Belief. [138.] A Temptation. [144.] Fast and Loose. [P. P. 1.] True Content. [21.] A bashful Lover. [23.] Strong Conceit. [22.] A sweet Provocation. [P. P. 11.] A constant Vow. [P. P. 3.] The Exchange. [20.] A Disconsolation. [27, 28, 29.] Cruel Deceit. [P. P. 4.] The Unconstant Lover. [P. P. 5.] The Benefit of Friendship. [30, 31, 32.] Friendly Concord. [P. P. 6.] Inhumanity. [P. P. 7.] A Congratulation. [38, 39, 40.] Loss and Gain. [41, 42.] Foolish Disdain. [P. P. 9.] Ancient Antipathy. [P. P. 10.) Beauty's Valuation. [P. P. 11.) Melancholy Thoughts. [44, 45.] Love's Loss. [P. P. 8.] Love's Relief. [33, 34, 35.] Unanimity. [36, 37.] Loth to Depart. [P. P. 12, 13.] A Masterpiece.  Happiness in Content. [25.] A Dutiful Message. [26.] Go and come quickly. [50, 51.] Two Faithful Friends. [46, 47.] Careless Neglect. [48.] Stout Resolution. [49.] A Duel. [P. P. 14.] Love-sick. [P. P. 15.] Love's Labour Lost. [P. P. 16.] Wholesome Counsel. [P. P. 17.] Sat fuisse. [62.] A living Monument. [55.] Familiarity breeds Contempt. [52.] Patiens Armatus. [61.] A Valediction. [71, 72, 74.] Nil magnis Invidia. [70.] Love-sick. [80, 81.] The Picture of true Love. [116.] In Praise of his Love. [82, 83, 84, 85.] A Resignation. [86, 87.] Sympathizing Love. [P. P. 18.] A Request to his Scornful Love. [88,
89, 90, 91.]
ARRANGEMENT OF THE EDITION OF 1640.
*** In this arrangement the greater part
of the Poems of "The Passionate
-18, 19, 43, 56, 75, 76, 96, 126.
A Lover's Affection, though his Love “ There is extant a small volume of mis
prove Unconstant. [92, 93, 94, 95.] cellaneous poems in which Shakspere exComplaint for his Lover's Absence. [97, presses his feelings in his own person. It is 98, 99.]
not difficult to conceive that the editor, An Invocation to his Muse. [100, 101.] George Steevens, should have been insensible Constant Affection. [104, 105, 106.] to the beauties of one portion of that volume, Amazement. [102, 103.]
the Sonnets; though there is not a part A Lover's Excuse for his long Absence. of the writings of this poet where is found, [109, 110.]
in an equal compass, a greater number of A Complaint. [111, 112.]
exquisite feelings felicitously expressed. Self-flattery of her Beauty. [113, 114, But, from regard to the critic's own credit, 115.]
he would not have ventured to talk of an A Trial of Love's Constancy. [117, 118, act of parliament not being strong enough 119.]
to compel the perusal of these, or any proA good Construction of his Love's Un- duction of Shakspere, if he had not known kindness. [120.]
that the people of England were ignorant Error in Opinion. [121.]
of the treasures contained in those little Upon the Receipt of a Table-Book from pieces.” his Mistress. [122.]
That ignorance has been removed ; and A Vow. [123.)
no one has contributed more to its removal, Love's Safety. [124.]
by creating a school of poetry founded upon An Entreaty for her Acceptance. [125.] Truth and Nature, than Wordsworth himUpon her playing upon the Virginals. self. The critics of the last century have [128.]
passed away :Immoderate Lust. [129.]
“Peor and Baälim In praise of her Beauty, though Black.
Forsake their temples dim." [127, 130, 131, 132.] Unkind Abuse. [133, 134.]
By the operation of what great sustaining Love-suit. [135, 136.]
principle is it that we have come back to His Heart wounded by her Eye. [137, the just appreciation of “the treasures con139, 140.]
tained in those little pieces”? The poet A Protestation. [141, 142.]
critic will answer :An Allusion. [143.]
“There never has been a period, and perLife and Death. [145.]
haps never will be, in which vicious poetry, A Consideration of Death. [146.] of some kind or other, has not excited more Immoderate Passion. [147.]
zealous admiration, and been far more Love's powerful Subtilty [148, 149, 150.] generally read, than good; but this advanRetaliation. [78, 79.]
tage attends the good, that the individual, Sunset. [73, 77.]
as well as the species, survives from age to A Monument to Fame. [107, 108.] age : whereas, of the depraved, though the Perjury. [151, 152.]
species be immortal, the individual quickly Cupid's Treachery. [153, 154.]
perishes ; the object of present admiration vanishes, being supplanted by some other as easily produced, which, though no better, brings with it at least the irritation of novelty,— with adaptation, more or less
skilful, to the changing humours of the Of the estimation in which Shakspere's majority of those who are most at leisure to Sonnets' were held some half century ago, regard poetical works when they first solicit the greatest of our Sonnet writers, Words- their attention. Is it the result of the whole, worth, thus speaks :
that, in the opinion of the writer, the judgment of the people is not to be respected ? It is the perpetual mistake of the public The thought is most injurious; and, could for the people that has led to the belief that the charge be brought against him, he would there was a period when Shakspere was repel it with indignation. The people have neglected. He was always in the heart of already been justified, and their eulogium | the people. There, in that deep rich soil, pronounced by implication, when it is said | have the Sonnets rested during two cenabove—that, of good poetry, the individual, turies ; and here and there in remote places as well as the species, survives. And how have the seeds put forth leaves and flowers. does it survive but through the people ? | All young imaginative minds now rejoice in what preserves it but their intellect and their hues and their fragrance. But this their wisdom ?
preference of the fresh and beautiful of
poetical life to the pot-pourri of the last age *Past and future are the wings
must be a regulated love. Those who, seeing On whose support, harmoniously conjoin'd,
the admiration which now prevails for these Moves the great spirit of human knowledge.'
-MS. outpourings of "exquisite feelings feli
citously expressed,” talk of the “Sonnets' The voice that issues from this spirit is that as equal, if not superior, to the greatest of vox populi which the Deity inspires. Foolish the poet's mighty dramas, compare things must he be who can mistake for this a local | that admit of no comparison. Who would acclamation, or a transitory outcry_transi- speak in the same breath of the gem of tory, though it be for years; local, though Cupid and Psyche, and of the Parthenon ? from a nation! Still more lamentable is In the “Sonnets,' exquisite as they are, the his error who can believe that there is any- poet goes not out of himself (at least in the thing of divine infallibility in the clamour form of the composition), and he walks, of that small though loud portion of the therefore, in a narrow circle of art. In the community, ever governed by factitious in- Venus and Adonis,' and the ‘Lucrece,' the fluence, which, under the name of the PUBLIC, circle widens. But in the Dramas, the centre passes itself, upon the unthinking, for the is the Human Soul, the circumference the PEOPLE."
“ SHAKSPERE was not so much esteemed, even Or that his hallow'd relics should be hid during his life, as we commonly suppose ; Under a star-ypointing pyramid ? and after his retirement from the stage he was Dear son of memory, great heir of fame, all but forgotten.” So we read in an What need’st thou such dull witness of thy authority too mighty to enter upon evidence.
name? The oblivion after his retirement and death
Thou in our wonder and astonishment is the true pendant to the alleged neglect
Hast built thyself a lasting monument.
For whilst to th' shame of slow endeavouring during his life t. When did the oblivion
art begin? It could scarcely have existed when,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart in 1623, an expensive folio volume of many
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book hundred pages was published, without regard
Those Delphic lines with deep impression to the risk of such an undertaking--and it
took, was a risk, indeed, if the author had been
Then thou, our fancy of herself bereaving, neglected and was forgotten. But the editors
Dost make us marble with too much conof the volume do not ask timidly for support ceiving, of these neglected and forgotten works. And so sepulchred in such pomp doth lie, They say to the reader, “Though you be a That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.” magistrate of wit, and sit on the stage at
The author of these lines could not have Blackfriars or the Cockpit, to arraign plays known the works of the “admirable dramatic daily, know these plays have had their trial
poet,” while that poet was in life; but already, and stood out all appeals.” Did
sixteen years after his death he was the dear the oblivion continue when, in 1632, a second
son of memory, the great heir of fame ; his edition of this large work was brought out ? bones were honoured, his relics were halThere was one man, certainly—a young and lowed, his works were a lasting monument, ardent scholar—who was not amongst the his book was priceless, his lines were oracular, oblivious. John Milton was twenty-four Delphic. Is this oblivion ? But it may be years of age when these verses were pub- said that Milton was a young enthusiast, lished:
one who saw farther than the million ; that “AN EPITAPH ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMATIC the public opinion of a writer (and we are POET, W. SHAKESPEARE.
not talking of his positive excellence, apart “What need my Shakespeare for his honour'd from opinion) must be sought for in the bones
voice of the people, or at any rate in that of The labour of an age in piled stones,
the leaders of the people. How are we to
arrive at the knowledge of this expression ? * Life of Shakspere, in * Lardner's Cyclopædia' † See Book ix, chap. iv.
We can only know, incidentally, that an