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On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,
And you in Grecian tires are painted new :
Speak of the spring, and foizon of the year ;
The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
The other as your bounty doth appear,
And you in every blessed shape we know.
In all external grace you have some part,
But you like none, none you, for constant heart.-53.
Between the 20th Sonnet and the 53rd occur, as it appears to us, a number of fragments which we have variously classified; and wbich seem to have no relation to the praises of that “unknown youth" who has been supposed to preside over five-sixths of the entire series of verses. We have little doubt that the “ begetter" of the Sonnets was not able to beget, or obtain, all; and that there is a considerable hiatus between the 20th Sonnet and the second hyperbolical close, which he filled up as well as he could, from other “sugared sonnets amongst private friends :"
O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses :
But, for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwood, and unrespected fade;
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made :
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, by verse distils your truth.—54.
Not marble, not the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.—55.
Wherever we meet with these magnificent promises of the immortality which the poet's verses are to bestow, we find them associated with that personage, the representative at once of “ Adonis" and of “Helen," who presents himself to us as the unreal coinage of the fancy. In many of the lines which we bave given in the second division of this inquiry, the reader will have noticed the affecting mo
desty, the humility without abasement, of the great poet comparing himself with others. Here Shakspere indeed speaks. For example, take the whole of the 32nd Sonnet. We should scarcely imagine, if the poem were continuous, as Mr. Brown believes, that the last stanza of the second portion of it in his classification would conclude with these lines :
“ Not marble, not the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme."
They contrast remarkably with the tone of the 32nd Sonnet,
80 say I severally of Sir Philip Sidney's, Spenser's, Daniel's, Drayton's, Shakespeare's, and Warner's works.” What Ovid and Horace said is imitated in the 55th Sonnet. But we greatly doubt if what Meres would have said of Shakspere he would have said of himself, except in some assumed character, to which we have not the key. Ben Jonson, to whom a boastful spirit has with some justice been objected, never said anything so strong of his own writings; and he wrote with too much reliance, in this and other particulars, upon classical examples. But Jonson was not a writer of Sonnets, which, pitched in an artificial key, made this boastful tone a constituent part of the whole performance. The man, who never once speaks of his own merits in the greatest productions of the human intellect, when he put on the imaginary character in which a poet is weaving a fiction out of his supposed personal relations, did not hesitate to conform himself to the practice of other masters of the art. Shakspere here adopted the tone which Spenser, Daniel, and Drayton had adopted. The parallel appears to us very remarkable; and we must beg the indulgence of our readers while we present them a few passages from each of these writers.
And first of Spenser. His 27th Sonnet will furnish an adequate notion of the general tone of his ‘Amoretti,' and of the self-exaltation which appears to belong to this species of poem :
“ Fair Proud! now tell me, why should fair be proud,
Sith all world's glory is but dross unclean,
And in the shade of death itself shall shroud,
However now thereof ye little ween!
That goodly idol, now so gay beseen,
Shall doff her flesh's borrow'd fair attire;
And be forgot as it had never been ;
That many now much worship and admire!
Ne any then shall after it inquire,
any mention shall thereof remain,
But what this verse, that never shall expire,
Shall to you purchase with her thankless pain!
Fair! be no longer proud of that shall perish,
But that, which shall you make immortal, cherish."
And the 69th Sonnet is still more like the model upon which Shakspere formed his 55th:
“ The famous warriors of the antique world
Used trophies to erect in stately wise,
In which they would the records have enrolld
Of their great deeds and valorous emprise.
What trophy then shall I most fit devise,
In which I may record the memory
Of my love's conquest, peerless beauty's prize,
Adorn d with honour, love, and chastity ?
Even this verse, vow'd to eternity,
Shall be thereof immortal monument ;
And tell her praise to all posterity,
That may admire such world's rare wonderment;
The happy purchase of my glorious spoil,
Gotten at last with labour and long toil."
Spenser's 75th Sonnet also thus closes :
“ My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name.
Where, when as Death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew."
Of Daniel's Sonnets, the 41st and 42nd furnish examples of the same tone, though somewbat more subdued than in Shakspere or Spenser:
“ Be not displeas'd that these my papers should
Bewray unto the world how fair thou art;
Or that my wits have show'd the best they could.
(The chastest flame that ever warmed heart!)
Think not, sweet Delia, this shall be thy shame,
My muse should sound thy praise with mournful warble;
How many live, the glory of whose name
Shall rest in ice, when thine is gravd in marble!
Thou mayst in after ages live esteem'd,
Unburied in these lines, reservd in pureuess;
These shall entomb those eyes, that have redeemid
Me from the vulgar, thee from all obscureness.
Although my careful accents never mov'd thee,
Yet count it no disgrace that I have lov'd thee."
“ Delia, these eyes, that so admire thine,
Have seen those walls which proud ambition reard
To check the world; how they entomb'd have lien
Within themselves, and on them ploughs have ear'd.
Yet never found that barbarous hand attain'd
The spoil of fame deserv‘d by virtuous men;
Whose glorious actions lackily bad gain'd
The eternal annals of a happy pen.
And therefore grieve not if thy beauties die;
Though time do spoil thee of the fairest veil
That ever yet cover'd mortality;
And must enstar the needle and the rail.
That grace which doth more than enwoman thee,
Lives in my lines, and must eternal be."
But Drayton, if he display not the energy of Shakspere, the fancy of Spenser, or the sweetness of Daniel, is not behind either in the extravagance of his admiration
or his confidence in his own power. The 6th and the 44th “ Ideas" are sufficient examples :
“How many paltry, foolish, painted things,
That now in coaches trouble every street,
Shall be forgotten, whom no poet sings,
Ere they be well wrapp'd in their winding-sheet !
When I to thee eternity shall give,
When nothing else remaineth of these days,
And queens hereafter shall be glad to live
Upon the alms of thy superfluous praise ;
Virgins and matrons, reading these my rhymes,
Shall be so much delighted with thy story,
That they shall grieve they liv'd not in these times,
To have seen thee, their sex's only glory:
So thou shalt fly above the vulgar throng,
Still to survive in my immortal song."
“Whilst thus my pen strives to eternize thee,
Age rules my lines with wrinkles in my face,
Where, in the map of all my misery,
Is modell’d out the world of my disgrace :
Whilst, in despite of tyrannizing rhymes,
Medea-like, I make thee young again,
Proudly thou scorn'st my world-outwearing rhymes,
And murther'st virtue with thy coy disdain ;
And though in youth my youth untimely perish,
To keep thee from oblivion and the grave,
Ensuing ages yet my rhymes shall cherish,
Where I entomb'd my better part sball save;
And though this earthly body fade and die,
My name shall mount upon eternity."
We now proceed to what appears another continuous poem amongst Shakspere's Sonnets, addressed to the same object as the first nineteen stanzas were addressed to, and devoted to the same admiration of his personal beauty. The leading idea is now that of the spoils of Time, to be repaired only by the immortality of verse :
Where art thou, Muse, that thou forgett'st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power, to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, restive Muse, my love's sweet face survey,
If Time have any wrinkle graven there ;
If any, be a satire to decay,
And make Time's spoils despised everywhere.
Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life ;
So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.-100.
O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends,
For thy neglect of truth in beauty dy'd ?
Both truth and beauty on my love depends ;
So dost thou too, and therein dignified.
Make answer, Muse: wilt thou not haply say,
“ Truth needs no colour with his colour fix'd,
Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay;
But best is best, if never intermix'd ?”—
Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
Excuse not silence so; for it lies in thee
To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
And to be prais'd of ages yet to be.
Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how
To make him seem long hence as he shows now.—101.
My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming ;
I love not less, though less the show appear;
That love is merchandis'd whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops his pipe in growth of riper days :
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mourful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough,
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
Because I would not dull you with my song.–102.
Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument, all bare, is of more worth,
Than when it hath my added praise beside.
O blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass, and there appears a face
That overgoes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well ?
For to no other pass my verses tend,
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
And more, much more, than in my verse can sit,
Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.-103.
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters' cold
Have from the forest shook three summers' pride;
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,
Since first I saw you fresh which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv'd;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv'd.