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That you were once unkind, befriends me now,
Aud for that sorrow, which I then did feel,
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammer'd steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
As I by yours, you have pass'd a hell of time:
And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffer'd in
O that our night of woe might have remember'd
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
And soon to you, as you to me, then tenderd
The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits!
But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.—120.
We have thus selected all the Sonnets, or stanzas, that appear to have reference to the subject of love,—whether those which express the light playfulness of affection, the abiding confidence, the distracting doubts, the reproaches for pride or neglect, the fierce jealousies, the complaints that another is preferred. Much of this may be real, much merely dramatic. But it appears to us that it would bave been quite impossible to bave maintained that these fragments relate to a particular incident of the poet's life—the indulgence of an illicit love, with which the equally illicit attachment of a youthful friend interfered-unless there had been a forced association of the whole series of Sonnets with that youthful friend to whom the first seventeen Sonnets are clearly addressed. Mr. Brown groups the Sonnets from the 27th to the 55th as the “Second Poem,” which he entitles, “ To his Friend-who had robbed him of his mistress—forgiving him.' Now, literally, the Sonnets we have already given, the 33rd, 34th, 35th, 40th, 41st, and 42nd, are all that within these limits can be held to have reference to such a subject. The 27th and 28th Sonnets have not the slightest allusion to this supposed injury; and we shall presently endeavour to show that they have been wrested from their proper place. The 29th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd are Sonnets of the most confiding friendship, full of the simplest, and therefore the deepest pathos, and which we have no hesitation in classing amongst those which are strictly personal—those to which the lines of Wordsworth apply :
“Scorn not the Sonnet: Critic, you have frown'd
Mindless of its just honours. With this key
Shakspere unlock'd his heart."
The following exquisite lines are familiar to most poetical students :-
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possessid,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least ;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,—and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.—2:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear times' waste :
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long-since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.--30.
Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead;
And there reigns love and all love's loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stolen from mine eye,
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things remov'd, that bidden in thee lie?
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give;
That due of many now is thine alone :
Their images I lov'd I view in thee,
And thou (all they) hast all the all of me.-31.
If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bettering of the time;
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O then vouchsafe me but this loving thought!
Had my friend's muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died, and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I ’ll read, his for his love.-32. Immediately succeeding these are the three stanzas we have already quoted, in which the poet is held to accuse his friend of having robbed him of his mistress. In
these stanzas the friend is spoken of in connexion with a “sensual fault,” a “tres
But in those which follow, the “ bewailed guilt" belongs to the poetthe “worth and truth” to his friend. Surely these are not continuous. In the 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th Sonnets, we have the expression of that deep humility which may be traced through many of these remarkable compositions, and of which we find the first sound in the 29th Sonnet :
Let me confess that we two must be twain,
Although our undivided loves are one:
So sball those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in our lives a separable spite,
Which, though it alter not love's sole effect,
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame;
Nor thou with public kivdness honour me,
Unless thou take that honour from thy name:
But do not so; I love thee in such sort,
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.—36.
As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So 1, made lame by fortune's dtarest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth;
For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store :
So then I am not lame, poor, nor despis'd,
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give,
That I in thy abundance am suffic'd,
And by a part of all thy glory live.
Look what is best, that best I wish in thee;
This wish I bave; then ten times happy me!-37.
How can my muse want subject to invent,
While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse
Thine own sweet argument, too excellent
For every vulgar paper to rehearse ?
0, give thyself the thanks, if aught in me
Worthy perusal stand against thy sight;
For who's so dumb that cannot write to thee,
When thou thyself dost give invention Jight ?
Be thou the tenth muse, ten times more in worth
Than those old nine which rhymers invocate ;
And he that calls on thee, let him bring forth
Eternal numbers to outlive long date.
If my slight muse do please these curious days,
The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise.—38.
O, how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring ?
And what is 't but mine own, when I praise thee?
Even for this let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee which thou deserv'st alone.
O absence, what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
(Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,)
And that thou teachest how to make one twain,
By praising him here, who doth hence remain !-39. The 40th, 41st, and 42nd Sonnets return to the complaint of his friend's faithlessness. Surely, then, the Sonnets we have just quoted must be interpolated. The 43rd is entirely isolated from what precedes and what follows. But in the 39th we have allusions to “separation " and "absence;” and in the 44th we return to the subject of injurious distance.” With some alterations of arrangement we can group nine Sonnets together, which form a connected epistle to an absent friend, and which convey those sentiments of real affection which can only be adequately transmitted in language and imagery possessing, as these portions do, the charm of nature and simplicity. The tone of truth and reality is remarkably contrasted with those artificial passages which have imparted their character to the whole series in the estimation of many :
How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek,-my weary travel's end, -
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
“ Thus far the miles are measur'd from thy friend !"
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider lov'd not speed, being made from thee :
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side ;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.-50.
Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed :
From where thou art why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.
0, what excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow ?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In winged speed no motion shall I know :
Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
Therefore desire, of perfect love being made,
Shall neigh (no dull flesh) in his fiery race;
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade ;
Since from thee going he went wilful slow,
Towards thee I'll run, and give him leave to go.–51.
So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
The which he will not every hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
Since seldom coming, in the long year set,
Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
Or captain jewels in the carcanet.
So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special.bless’d,
By new unfolding his imprison'd pride.
Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope,
Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope.—52.
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tird;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work 's expird :
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see :
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new
Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.—27.
How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night and night by day oppress'd ?
And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
I tell the day, to please him, thou art bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven
So flatter I the swart-complexion d night ;
When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild'st the even.
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.—28.
Is it thy will thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows, like to thee, do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send 'st from thee
So far from bome, into my deeds to pry;
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenor of thy jealousy ?