Imagens das páginas

59th, and closes appropriately with the 60th. But there is a short poem which stands completely alone in the original edition, the 126th; and it is remarkable for being of a different metrical character, wanting the distinguishing feature of the Sonnet in its number of lines. Its general tendency,

however, connects it with those which we have just given :—

O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour; Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st

Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow'st !

If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack, As thou goest onwards, still will pluck thee back,

She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill May Time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill.

Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure; She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure:

Her audit, though delay'd, answer'd must be, And her quietus is to render thee.-126.

There is an enemy as potent as Time, who cuts down the pride of youth as the flower of the field. That enemy is Death; and the poet most skilfully presents the images of mortality to his "lovely boy" in connexion with the decay of the elder friend. In this portion of the poem there is a touching simplicity, which, however, is intermingled with passages which, denoting that the Poet is still speaking in character, take the stanzas, in some degree, out of the range of the real :

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate.
For all that beauty that doth cover thee
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me;
How can I then be elder than thou art?
O therefore, love, be of thyself so wary,
As I not for myself but for thee will;
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary,
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.

Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;

Thou gav 'st me thine, not to give back again.-22.

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account,
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read,
Self so self-loving were iniquity.

"T is thee (myself) that for myself I praise. Painting my age with beauty of thy days.


Against my love shall be, as I am now, With Time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn;

When hours have drain'd his blood, and fill'd his brow

With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful


Hath travell'd on to age's steepy night;
And all those beauties, whereof now he's king.
Are vanishing or vanish'd out of sight,
Stealing away the treasure of his spring;
For such a time do I now fortify
Against confounding age's cruel knife,
That he shall never cut from memory
My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's

His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,

And they shall live, and he in them, still green.-63.

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defae'd,
The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras'd,
And brass eternal, slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the wat'ry main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate—
That Time will come and take my love away.

This thought is as a death, which cannot choose

But weep to have that which it fears to lose.-64.

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,

But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack!

Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?

Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid ?

O none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,--
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplac'd,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgrac'd,
And strength by limping sway disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill,
And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tir'd with all these, from these would I be

Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.-66.

Ah! wherefore with infection should he live,
And with his presence grace impiety,
That sin by him advantage should achieve,
And lace itself with his society?

Why should false painting imitate his cheek,
And steal dead seeing of his living hue?
Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
Roses of shadow, since his rose is true?
Why should he live now Nature bankrupt is,
Beggar'd of blood to blush through lively veins?
For she hath no exchequer now but his,
And, proud of many, lives upon his gains.
O, him she stores, to show what wealth
she had,

In days long since, before these last so


Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,
When beauty liv'd and died as flowers do now,
Before these bastard signs of fair were borne,
Or durst inhabit on a living brow:
Before the golden tresses of the dead,
The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,
To live a second life on second head,
Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay:
In him those holy antique hours are seen,
Without all ornament, itself, and true,
Making no summer of another's green,
Robbing no old to dress his beauty new;
And him as for a map doth Nature store,
To show false Art what beauty was of yore.

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That thou art blam'd shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
The ornament of beauty is suspect,

A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.
So thou be good, slander doth but approve
Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time:
For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love,
And thou present'st a pure unstained prime.
Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days,
Either not assail'd, or victor being charg'd;
Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise,
To tie up envy, evermore enlarg'd:

If some suspect of ill mask'd not thy show, Then thou alone kingdoms of hearts shouldst owe.-70.

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled

From this vile world, with vilest worms to

Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be for-

If thinking on me then should make you


O, if (I say) you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay:
Lest the wise world should look into your

And mock you with me after I am gone.

O, lest the world should task you to recite
What merit liv'd in me, that you should love
After my death, dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove;
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart :
O, lest your true love may seem false in this,
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
For I am sham'd by that which I bring

And so should you, to love things nothing


That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the

But be contented: when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee.

The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me :
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead;
The coward conquest of a wretch's knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.

The worth of that, is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee re-

Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die: .
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read;
And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,
When all the breathers of this world are dead;
You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)
Where breath most breathes,-even in the
mouths of men.-81.

Thirteen of these stanzas, the 62nd to the
74th, follow in their original order. The
first of the fifteen, the 22nd Sonnet, stands
quite alone, although its idea is continued
in the 62nd. The last of the series, the 81st,
not only stands alone, but actually cuts off
the undoubted connexion between the 80th
and the 82nd Sonnets. The 71st to the 74th |

Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds Sonnets seem bursting from a heart oppressed


In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love
more strong

with a sense of its own unworthiness, and surrendered to some overwhelming misery. There is a line in the 74th which points at suicide. We cling to the belief that the sentiments here expressed are essentially dramatic. In the 32nd Sonnet, where we recognise the man Shakspere speaking in his own modest and cheerful spirit, death is to come across his "well-contented day."

The opinion which we have endeavoured

To love that well which thou must leave to sustain of the probable admixture of the ere long.-73.

artificial and the real in the Sonnets, arising

from their supposed original fragmentary | in a poem, or poems, of fifty stanzas, written state, necessarily leads to the belief that upon a plan by which it is obviously presome are accurate illustrations of the poet's sented as a work of fiction, in which the poet situation and feelings. It is collected from displays his art in a style accordant with the these Sonnets, for example, that his pro- existing fashion and the example of other fession as a player was disagreeable to him; poets. The theme is the personal beauty of and this complaint is found amongst those a wonderful youth, and the strong affection portions which we have separated from the of a poet. Beauty is to be perpetuated series of verses which appear to us to be by marriage, and to be immortalized in the written in an artificial character; it might poet's verses. Beauty is gradually to fade be addressed to any one of his family, or before Time, but is to be still immortalized. some honoured friend, such as Lord South- Beauty is to yield to Death, as the poet himampton :self yields, but its memory is to endure in "eternal lines." Separating from this somewhat monotonous theme those portions of a hundred and fifty-four Sonnets which do not appear essentially to belong to it, we separate, as we believe, more or less, what has a personal interest in these compositions from what is meant to be dramatic-the real from the fictitious. Our theory, we well know, is liable to many objections; but it is based upon the unquestionable fact that these one hundred and fifty-four Sonnets cannot be received as a continuous poem upon any other principle than that the author had written them continuously. If there are some parts which are acknowledged interpolations, may there not be other parts that are open to the same belief? If there are parts entirely different in their tone from the bulk of these

"O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means, which public manners

Thence comes it that my name receives a

And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand."

But if from his professional occupation his
nature was felt by him to be subdued to
what it worked in,-if thence his name re-
ceived a brand,—if vulgar scandal sometimes
assailed him, he had high thoughts to con-
sole him, such as were never before imparted
to mortal. This was probably written in some
period of dejection, when his heart was ill at
ease, and he looked upon the world with a
slight tinge of indifference, if not of dislike.
Every man of high genius has felt something
of this. It was reserved for the highest to
throw it off, "like dewdrops from the lion's
mane." But the profound self-abasement
and despondency of the 74th Sonnet, ex-
quisite as the diction is, appear to us unreal,

as a representation of the mental state of William Shakspere; written, as it most probably was, at a period of his life when he revels and luxuriates (in the comedies which belong to the close of the sixteenth century) in the spirit of enjoyment, gushing from a heart full of love for his species, at peace with itself and with all the world.

We have thus, if we have not been led away by imaginary associations, connected

the verses addressed to

"the world's fresh ornament, And only herald to the gaudy spring,"

Sonnets, may we not consider that one portion was meant to be artificial and another real,-that the poet sometimes spoke in an assumed character, sometimes in a natural one? This theory we know could not hold if the poet had himself arranged the sequence of these verses; but as it is manifest that two

stanzas have been introduced from a poem printed ten years earlier,—that others are acknowledged to be out of order, and others positively dragged in without the slightest connexion,-may we not carry the separation still further, and, believing that the "begetter "-the getter-up-of these Sonnets had levied contributions upon all Shakspere's "private friends,"-assume that he was indifferent to any arrangement which might make each portion of the poem tell its own history? There is one decided advantage in the separation which we have proposed-the


idea with which the series opens, and which | dulgence of his passions.
is carried, here and there, in the original,
"thou might'st
through the first hundred and twenty-six
Sonnets, does not now over-ride the whole of
the series. The separate parts may be read
with more pleasure when they are relieved

The poet says,

"chide thy beauty and thy straying youth, Who lead thee in their riot even there Where thou art forc'd to break a two-fold truth."

from this strained and exaggerated associa- Again, in the 95th stanza we have these tion. lines:

There are three points connected with the opinion we have formed with regard to the entire series of Sonnets, which we must briefly notice before we leave the subject.

The first is, the inconsistencies which obviously present themselves in adopting the theory that the series of Sonnets--or at least the first hundred and twenty-six Sonnets are addressed to one person. It is not our intention to discuss the question to whom they were addressed, which question depends upon the adoption of the theory that they are addressed to one. Drake's opinion that they were addressed to Lord Southampton rests upon the belief that Shakspère looked up to some friend to whom they point, "with reverence and homage." The later theory, that William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, was their object, is supported by the facts, derived from Clarendon and others, that he was "a man of noble and gallant character, though always of a licentious life." W. H. is held to be William Herbert; and Mr. Hallam says, "Proofs of the low moral character of 'W. H.' are continual." We venture to think that the term "continual" is somewhat loosely applied. The one "sensual fault," of which the poet complains, is obscurely hinted at in the 33rd, 34th, 35th, 40th, 41st, and 42nd stanzas; and the general faults of his friend's character, from which the injury proceeded, are summed up in the 94th, 95th, and 96th. We shall search in vain throughout the hundred and fifty-four Sonnets for any similar indications of the "low moral character" of the person addressed. But the supposed continuity of the poem implies arrangement, and therefore consistency, in the author. In the 41st stanza the one friend, according to this theory, is reproached for the treachery which is involved in the in

"How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,

Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!" And,

"O, what a mansion have those vices got,

Which for their habitation chose out thee!"

Here are not only secret "vices," but "shame,” "Tongues" make defacing the character. "lascivious comments" on the story of his days. Is it to this person that in the 69th Sonnet we have these lines addressed ?— "Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view

Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend."

Is it to this person that the 70th Sonnet is devoted, in which are these remarkable words?—

"Thou present'st a pure unstained prime, Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days,

Either not assail'd, or victor being charg'd."

These lines, be it remembered, occur between the first reproof for licentiousness in the 41st stanza, and the repetition of the blame in the 95th. Surely, if the poem is to be taken as continuous, and as addressed to one person, such contradictions would make us believe that the whole is based on unreality, and that the poet was satisfied to utter the wildest inconsistencies, merely to produce verses of exquisite beauty, but of "true no-meaning."

The second point to which we would briefly request attention is the supposed date of the series of Sonnets. The date must, it is evident, be settled in some measure according to the presiding belief in the person to whom they are held to be addressed. Mr. Hallam, who thinks the hypothesis of William Her-! bert sufficiently proved to demand our assent,

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