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And every fair from fair sometime declines,
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
"— when the searching eye of heaven is hid "Behind the globe, and lights the lower world." Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:
"The eye of heaven is out." Malone. 6 —untrimm'd;] i.e. divested of ornament. So, in King John:
"— a new untrimmedbride." SteeVens. 1 Nor lose possession of that Fair thou Owest ;] Of that beauty thou possessest. Fair was, in our author's time, used as a substantive. See p. 238, and the first line of the present page. To owe in old language is to possess. Malone.
8 And Burn the long-liv'd phoenix In Her Blood ;] So, in Coriolanus:
"Your temples burned in their cement." The meaning of neither phrase is very obvious; however, "burned in her blood," may signify 'burnt alive ;' and "burned in their cement,"—' burnt while they were standing.' Steevens.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong, My love shall in my verse ever live young.
A woman's face, with nature's own hand painted,
8 — the Master-mistress of my passion;] It is impossible to read this fulsome panegyrick, addressed to a male object, without an equal mixture of disgust and indignation. We may remark also, that the same phrase employed by Shakspeare to denote the height of encomium, is used by Dryden to express the extreme of reproach:
"That woman, but more daub'd; or, if a man,
Let me be just, however, to our author, who has made a proper use of the term male varlet, in Troilus and Cressida. See that play, ActV. Sc. I. Steevens.
Some part of this indignation might perhaps have been abated, if it had been considered that such addresses to men, however indelicate, were customary in our author's time, and neither imported criminality, nor were esteemed indecorous. See a note on the words—" thy deceased lover," in the 32d Sonnet. To regulate our judgment of Shakspeare's poems by the modes of modern times, is surely as unreasonable as to try his plays by the rules of Aristotle.
Master-mistress does not perhaps mean man-mistress, but sovereign mistress. See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note on the 165th verse of the Canterbury Tales, vol. iv. p. 197. Malone.
'An Eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling, Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;] So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor > "I have writ me here a letter to her; and here another to Page's wife; who even now gave me good eyes too, examined my parts with most gracious eyeliads; sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes my portly belly,"
And for a woman wert thou first created;Till nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting3,
And by addition me of thee defeated, By adding one thing to my purpose nothing. But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure 4;
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure. XXI.
So is it not with me, as with that muse
Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse;
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use,
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse;
Making a couplement5 of proud compare,
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,
1 A man in Hue all Hues in his controlling,] This line is thus exhibited in the old copy:
"A man in hew all Hews in his controlling." Hews was the old mode of spelling hues (colours), and also Hughes, the proper name. See the printer's dedication of these sonnets to W. H. Malone.
1 Which steals men's eyes,] So, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:
"That excellent complexion, which did steal"The eyes of young and old." Malone. s And for a woman wert thou first created;Till nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting, &c.] There is an odd coincidence between these lines and a well-known modern epigram:
"Whilst nature Hervey's clay was blending, "Uncertain what the thing would end in,"Whether a female or a male,"A pin dropp'd in, and turn'd the scale." Malone. ♦ But since she Prick'd thee out, &c.] To prick is to nominate by a puncture or mark. So, in Julius Caesar:
"These many then shall die, their names areprick'd." Again, in King Henry IV. Part II.:
"Shall I prick him, Sir John?"—I have given a wrong explanation ofthis phrase elsewhere. Steevens. * Making a Couplement—] That is, an union. So, in Love's
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare
Let them say more that like of hear-say well;
I will not praise, that purpose not to sell8.
My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
Labour's Lost: "I wish you the peace of mind, most royal couplement."
I formerly thought this word was of our author's invention, but I have lately found it in Spenser's Faery Queene:
"Allide with bands of mutual complement." Malone.
6 That heaven's air in this huge Rondure hems.] Rondure is a round. Rondeur,Fr. The word is again used by our author in King Henry V.:
"Tis not the roundure of your old-fac'd walls." Malone.
7 As those Gold Candles fix'd in heaven's air:] That is, the stars. So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"Night's candles are burnt out —." Again, in Macbeth:
"There's husbandry in heaven;"Their candles are all out." So also in the Merchant of Venice:
"For by these blessed candles of the night."
Malone. "— those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air." So, in the old copies of Pericles:
"— the air-remaining lamps." Steevens.
8 I will not Praise, that purpose not to Sell.] So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
. "Tothings ofsale a seller's praise belongs." Steevens. Again, in Troilus and Cressida:
"We'll not commend what we intend to sell." Where Dr. Warburton with some probability conjectures that Shakspeare wrote,
"— what we intend not sell." Malone.
But when in thee time's furrows I behold 9,
Presume not on thy heart, when mine is slain;
Thou gav'st me thine, not to give back again.
XXIII. As an unperfect actor on the stage, Who with his fear is put besides his part2,
9 — time's Furrows I behold,] Dr. Sewellreads:
"—time's sorrows—Malone. 1 Then look I death my days should Expiate.] I do not comprehend how the poet's days were to be expiated by death. Perhaps he wrote:
"my days should expirate,"
i. e. bring them to an end. In this sense our author uses the verb expire, in Romeo and Juliet:
"and expire the term"Of a despised life." I am sure I have met with the verb I would supply, though I have no example of it to offer in support of my conjecture. Shakspeare, however, delights to introduce words with this termination. Thus we meet with festinate and conspirate, in King Lear; combinate, in Measure for Measure; and ruinate, in King Henry VI. Steevens. *
The old reading is certainly right. Then do I expect, says Shakspeare, that death should fill up the measure of my days. The word expiate is used nearly in the same sense in the tragedy of Locrine, 1595:
"Lives Sabren yet to expiate my wrath?" i. e. fully to satisfy my wrath.
So also, in Byron's Conspiracie, a tragedy by Chapman, 1608, an old courtier says, he is
"A poor and expiate humour of the court." Again, in our author's King Richard III.:
"Make haste; the hour of death is expiate." Malone.