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Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
From the expressions “old rhyme,” and “ antique pen,” in the extract which we are about to quote, it is highly probable that our bard alluded to Chaucer, certainly before his own appearance the greatest poet that England had produced. The chivalric picture in the first quatrain, is peculiarly interesting, and the cadence of the metre is harmony itself :
66 When, in the chronicle of wasted time,
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
It is a striking proof of the poetical inferiority of the few sonnets which Shakspeare has addressed to his mistress, that we find it difficult to select more than one passage from them which does honour to his memory. Of this, however, it will be allowed, that the comparison is happy, the rhythm pleasing, and the expression clear :
“ And truly not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east, ,
In order, however, to judge satisfactorily of the merit of these poems, it will, no doubt, be deemed necessary by the reader, that a few entire sonnets be presented to his notice; for, though the passages just quoted, as well as numerous others which might be given, have a decided claim upon our approbation, yet, the sonnet being a
si uurse, be required, that all its
chile. That this is not always the ...aur author, will be inferred from the Lonxitled; but that it is so in very many ...!!levi, und will, indeed, be proved by the
peruery being the general characteristic 2.-4.kiselt must declare, that more frequent
tervus diction are to be culled from
the sonnets of any of his contemna parkirnis is given, not as a solitary proof, . twittervus class of Shakspearean sonnets;
Los inter in this instance, nor in many others, Ilin, it's ieilg language, or thought, the smallest
Invecestion or conceit:
.., derness of sentiment, form the sole this better in the next, with an equal chastity of life because the friergy and dignity, together with the met het in Whe, une sppropriate imagery. It must also be
litri thi a structure of the verse are singularly
“ Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
Of a lighter though more glowing cast of poetry, both in expression and imagination, but with a slight blemish, arising from the pharmaceutical allusion in the last line, is the sonnet which we are about to quote. A trifling inaccuracy with respect to the colour of the cynorhodon, or canker-rose, afforded Mr. Steevens a pretext for the splenetic interrogation which has been recorded by us with due censure.
It is somewhat strange that the beauties of the poem could not disarm the prejudices of the critic:
ci O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
In spirit, however, in elegance, in the skill and texture of its modulation, and beyond all, in the dignified and highly poetical
Lowot of list third quatrail. 110 One of ou' autor; sonnets excei: iD: lwenty-winth.. Tue ascent of tise iari, was á lavorrits sure: 0 contempiation with the poeti
5. WHEN i diograce with iuriunt and mean ever
I al. aiobe beweep my oulcast statt.
For thy sweet love remember 4, suci. wenil brug
It is, time, however, to terminate these transcriptions, which hate been already sufficiently numerous to enable the reader to form an estimate of the poet's merit in the difficult task of bonnei-writing, That wany wore might be brought forward, of equal raine wich those which we have selected, will be allowed perhaps when we state, that in the specimens of Mr. Ellis, the Petrarca of Mr. Herderson, and the Laura of Mr. Loift, eleven have been chosen, of which, we find upon reference, only one anong the four just DOW adduced.
The last production in the minor poems of Shakspeare, is A Lover's COMPLAINT, in which a forlorn damsel, seduced and deserted. relates the history of her sorrows to
" A reverend man that graz'd his caule nigła."
It is written in stanzas of seven lines; the first and third, and the second, fourth, and fitili, whiming to each other, while the sixth and seventh for a complet; an arrangement exactly similar to the stanza of the Rape of Lucrece, Like many of our author's, smaller pieces, it is too full of imagery and allusion, but has several passages of
great beauty and force. In the description which this forsaken fair one gives of the person and qualities of her lover, the following lines will be acknowledged to possess considerable excellence:
66 His browny locks did hang in crooked curls,
And every light occasion of the wind
His qualities were beauteous as his form,
His real habitude gave life and grace
These, and every other portion of the poem, however, are eclipsed by a subsequent part of the same picture, in which, as Mr. Steevens well remarks, the poet “ has accidentally delineated his own character as a dramatist.” *
So applicable, indeed, did the passage appear to us, as a forcible though rapid sketch of the more prominent features of the author's own genius, and of his universal influence over the human mind, that we have selected it as a motto for the second volume of this work:
-“ On the tip of his subduing tongue
That he did in the general bosom reign
young, of old ; and sexes both enchanted."
The address which the injured mistress puts into the mouth of her
* Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 748. note.