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seducer, when“ he 'gan besiege her,” opens in a strain of such beautiful simplicity, that we cannot avoid an expression of regret, that the defective taste of the age prevented its continuance and completion in a similar style of tenderness and ease : –
« Gentle maid, Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity, And be not of my holy vows afraid."
After relating, rather too circumstantially, the arts and hypocrisy which had been exercised for her ruin, she bursts into the following exclamation :
" O father, what a hell of mischief lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!”
Various lines, and brief extracts, of no common merit, might be detached from the Lover's Complaint; but enough has now been said on the Miscellaneous Poetry of Shakspeare, to prove that it possesses a value far beyond what has been attributed to it in modern times. The depreciation, indeed, to which it has been lately subjected, a fate so directly opposed to that which accompanied its first reception in the world, must be ascribed, in a great measure, to the unaccountable prejudices of Mr. Steevens, who, in an Advertisement prefixed to the edition of our author's Dramas, in 1793, has made the following curious declaration :
“ We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of Shakspeare, because the strongest act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into their service; notwithstanding these miscellaneous poems have derived every possible advantage from the literature and judgment of their only intelligent editor, Mr. Malone, whose implements of criticism, like the ivory rake and golden spade in Prudentius, are on this occasion disgraced by the objects of their culture — had Shakspeare produced no other works than these, his name would have reached us with as little celebrity as time has
conferred on that of Thomas Watson, an older and much more elegant sonnetteer." *
That Watson was a much more elegant sonnetteer than Shakspeare, is an assertion which wants no other mean for its complete refutation, than a reference to the works of the elder bard. At the period when Mr. Steevens advanced this verdict, such a reference was not within the power of one in a thousand of his readers, but all may now be referred to a very satisfactory article in the British Bibliographer, where Sir Egerton Brydges has transcribed seventeen of Watson's sonnets, and declares it to be his conviction, that they “ want the moral cast” of Shakspeare's sonnets ; “ his unsophisticated materials; his pure and natural train of thought.” It may be added, that a more extended comparison would render the inferiority of Watson still further apparent, and that the Bard of Avon would figure from the juxta-position like “ Hyperion to a satyr.”
When Mr. Steevens compliments his brother-commentator at the expense of the poet ; when he tells us, that his implements of criticism are on this occasion disgraced by the objects of their culture, who can avoid feeling a mingled emotion of wonder and disgust ? who can, in short, forbear a smile of derision and contempt at the folly of such a declaration ?
And lastly, when he assures us, that the strongest act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into the service of our author's Miscellaneous Poetry, and when, at the same time, we recollect, what gives us pleasure to acknowledge, the wit, the ingenuity, and research of this able editor on almost every other occasion, it will not, we trust, be deemed a work of supererogation, that we have attempted to unfold, at length, the beauties of these calumniated poems, and to refute the sweeping censure which they have so unworthily incurred; nor will the summary inference with which we shall conclude this chapter, be viewed, we hope, as either
* Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 30.
+ British Bibliographer, No. XII. p. 16.
incorrect, or unauthorised by the previous disquisition, when we state it to consist of the following terms ; namely, that the Poems of Shakspeare, although they are chargeable with the faults peculiar to the age in which they sprung, yet exhibit so much originality, invention, and fidelity to nature, such a rich store of moral and philosophic thought, and often, such a purity, simplicity, and grace of style, as not only deservedly placed them high in the favour of his contemporaries, but will permanently secure to them no inconsiderable share of the admiration and the gratitude of posterity.
* That Shakspeare himself entertained a confident hope of the immortality of his minor poems, the following, out of many instances, will sufficiently prove :
“ So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
Son. 54. 66 Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow;
Son. 60. “ Confounding age
shall never cut from memory
Son. 63 66 When all the breathers of this world are dead;
You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen),
ON THE DRESS, AND MODES. OF LIVING, THE-MANNERS, AND CUSTOMS, op THE INHA
BITANTS OF THE METROPOLIS, DURING THE AGE OF SHAKSPEARE.
Before we enter on the dramatic career of Shakspeare, a subject which we wish to preserve unbroken, and free from irrelative matter, it will be necessary, in order to prosecute our view of the costume of the Times, to give a picture in this place of the prevalent habits of the metropolis, which, with the sketch already drawn of those peculiar to the country, will form a corresponding, and, we trust, an adequate whole.
In no period of our annals, perhaps, has dress formed a more curious subject of enquiry, than during the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First. The Queen, who possessed an almost unbounded share of vanity and coquetry, set an example of profusion which was followed through every rank of society, and furnished by its universality, an inexhaustible theme for the puritanic satirists of the age.
Of the mutability and eccentricity of the dresses both of men and women, during this period, Harrison has provided us with a singular and interesting account, and which, as constituting a very appropriate preface to more minute particulars, we shall here transcribe.
“ Such is our mutabilitie, that to daie there is none to the Spanish guise, to morrow the French toies are most fine and delectable, yer long no such apparell as that which is after the high Alman fashion, by and by the Turkisk maner is generallie best liked of, otherwise the Morisco gowns, the Barbarian sleeves, the mandilion worne to Collie westen ward, and the short French breeches make such a comelie vesture, that except it were a dog in a doublet, you shall not sée anie so disguised, as are my countrie men of England. And as these fashions are diverse, so likewise it is a world to see the costlinesse and the curiositie : the excesse and the vanitie: the pompe and
the braverie: the change and the varietie: and finallie the ficklenesse and the follie that is in all degrees : insomuch that nothing is more constant in England than inconstancie of attire. Oh how much cost is bestowed now adaies upon our bodies and how little upon our soules ! how many sutes of apparell hath the one and how little furniture hath the other ? how long time is asked in decking up of the first, and how little space left wherin to feed the later? how curious, how nice also are a number of men and women, and how hardlie can the tailer please them in making it fit for their bodies ? how manie times must it be sent backe againe to him that made it? what chafing, what fretting, what reprochfull language doth the poore workman beare awaie ? and manie times when he dooth nothing to it at all, yet when it is brought home againe it is verie fit and handsome; then must we put it on, then must the long seames of our hose be set by a plumb-line, then we puffe, then we blow, and finallie sweat till we drop, that our clothes may stand upon us. I will saie nothing of our heads, which sometimes are polled, sometimes curled, or suffered to grow at length like woman's lockes, manie times cut off above or under the ears round as by a woodden dish. Neither will I meddle with our varietie of beards, of which some are shaven from the chin like those of Turks, not a few cut short like to the beard of marques Otto, some made round like a rubbing brush other with a pique devant (O fine fashion) or now and then suffered to grow long, the barbers being growen to be so cunning in this behalfe as the tailers. And therefore if a man have a leane and streight face, a marquesse Ottons cut will make it broad and large; if it be platter like, a long slender beard will make it seeme the narrower ; if he be wesell becked, then much heare left on the cheekes will make the owner looke big like a bowdled hen, and so grim as a goose, if Cornelius of Chalmeresford saie true: manie old men doo weare no beards at all. Some lustie courtiers also and gentlemen of courage, doo weare either rings of gold, stones, or pearle in their eares, whereby they imagine the workmanship of God not to be a little amended. But herein they rather disgrace than adorne their