« AnteriorContinuar »
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth
brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
XXX. 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 time's waste": Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flows, For precious friends hid in death's dateless night*, And weep afresh love's long-since-canceld woe, And moan the expence of many a vanish'd sight 5.
Milton certainly had Shakspeare in his thoughts, when he
“That singing up to heaven's gate ascend."
Paradise Lost, book i. Malone. 2 When to the sessions of sweet silent THOUGHT I summon up, &c.] So, in Othello :
who has a breast so pure
“ With meditations lawful?” Malone. 3 Then can I drown an EYE, unus’D TO Flow,] So, in Othello:
whose subdu'd eyes,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
in death's DATELESS night,] Shakspeare generally uses the word dateless for endless ; having no certain time of expiration. So, in Romeo and Juliet :
seal with a righteous kiss “A dateless bargain to engrossing death.” Malone. s And moan the expence of many a vanish'd sight.] Sight seems to be here used for sigh, by the same licence which Shakspeare has already employed in his Rape of Lucrece; writing hild instead of held, than, instead of then, &c.; and which Spenser takes throughout his great poem ; where we have adore for adorn, sterve for starve, skyen for sky, &c. He has in his Fairy Queene, b. vi. c, xi. taken the sa liberty with the word now before us,
Then can I grieve at grievances fore-gone,
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
employing sight, in the past tense of the verb to sigh, instead of sigh’d:
his hart, for very fell despight,
“He chaufd, he griev'd, he fretted, and he sight." Again, in his Colin Clout's Come Home Again :
* For one alone he car'd, for one he sight,
“ His life's desire, and his dear love's delight.” The substantive sigh was in our author's time pronounced so hard, that in one of the old copies of King Henry IV. Part I. 4to. 1599, we have:
and with "* A rising sight he wisheth you in heaven.” At present the vulgar pronunciation of the word is sighth.
The poel has just said that he “sigh'd the lack of many a thing he sought.”—By the word expence Shakspeare alludes to an old notion that sighing was prejudicial to health. So, in one of the parts of King Henry VI. we have “ blood-consuming sighs." Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609 :
“ Do not consume your blood with sorrowing.” Malone. Such laboured perplexities of language, and such studied deformities of style, prevail throughout these Sonnets, that the reader (after our best endeavours at explanation) will frequently find reason to exclaim with Imogen:
“ I see before me neither here, nor here,
“ That I cannot look through.” I suppose, however, that by the “ expence of many a vanish'd sight,” the poet means, the “ loss of many an object," which, being gone hence, is no more seen.” Steevens.
s Which I New Pay as if not paid before.] So, in Cymbeline : which I will be ever to pay, and yet pay still.”
STEEVENS. Again, in All's Well That Ends Well:
which I will ever pay, and pay again, “ When I have found it." Malone.
Their images I lov'd I view in thee,
XXXII. 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,
6 How many a holy and OBSEQUIOUS tear — ] Obsequious is funereal. So, in Hamlet:
“. To do obsequious sorrow." Malone.
- that hidden in Thee lie!) The old copy has—in there. The next line shows clearly that it is corrupt. Malone.
of thy deceased Lover,] The numerous expressions of this kind in these Sonnets, as well as the general tenour of the greater part of them, cannot but appear strange to a modern reader. In justice therefore to our author it is proper to observe, that such addresses to men were common in Shakspeare's time, and were not thought indecorous. That age seems to have been very indelicate and gross in many other particulars beside this, but they certainly did not think themselves so. Nothing can prove more strongly the different notions which they entertained on subjects of decorum from those which prevail at present, than
Compare them with the bettering of the time,
But since he died, and poets better prove,
the eulogies which were pronounced on Fletcher's plays for the chastity of their language; those very plays, which are now banished from the stage for their licentiousness and obscenity.
We have many examples in our author's plays of the expression used in the Sonnet before us, and afterwards frequently repeated. Thus, also, in Coriolanus :
I tell thee, fellow,
Thy general is my lover."
“ Farewell, my lord ; I as your lover speak.” So also the Soothsayer in Julius Cæsar concludes his friendly admonition to the dictator with the words :-" Thy lover, Artemedorus."
So, in one of the Psalms : “ My lovers and friends hast thou put away from me, and hid mine acquaintance out of my sight."
In like manner Ben Jonson concludes one of his letters to Dr. Donne by telling him that he is his “ ever true lover ;” and Drayton in a letter to Mr. Drummond of Hawthornden, informs him that Mr. Joseph Davies is in love with him.
Mr. Warton, in confirmation of what has been now advanced, observes in his History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 105, that “ in the reign of Queen Elizabeth whole sets of Sonnets were written with this sort of attachment.” He particularly mentions The Affectionate Shepherd of Richard Barnefielde, printed in 1595. Malone.
9 Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,] Reserve is the same as preserve. So, in Pericles :
“ Reserve that excellent complexion—" MALONE. · Had my friend's muse grown with this growing age,] We may hence, as well as from other circumstances, infer, that these were among
author's earliest compositions. Malone.
2 Full many a glorious MORNING have I seen,
Flatter the MOUNTAIN TOPs with sovereign eye,
“ Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
“ Stands tiptoe on the misty mountains' tops." Again, in Venus and Adonis :
“And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast
Malone. 3 Kissing with golden face, &c.] So, in King Henry IV. Part I. : “ Didst thou never see Titan kiss a dish of butter?
Steevens. 4 - with heavenly ALCHYMY ;) So, in King John :
the glorious sun
Steevens. 3 With ugly RACK on his celestial face,] Rack is the fleeting motion of the clouds. The word is again used by Shakspeare in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ That which is now a horse, even with a thought
“ The rack dislimns."
shall I stray
“ The sailing rack—" Malone. Rack here is probably reek or smoke. See Mr. H. Tooke's EITEA IITEPOENTA, vol. iii. p. 238. See the next sonnet, 1. 4.
Boswell. “Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
“ With ugly rack on his celestial face.” So, in King Henry IV. Part I. :
herein will I imitate the sun ; “ Who doth permit the base contagious clouds VOL. XX.