Page images

O, let me suffer (being at your beck) .
The imprison'd absence of your liberty;
And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each check",
Without accusing you of injury.
Be where you list; your charter is so strong,
That you yourself may privilege your time:
Do what you willo, to you it doth belong
Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.

I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;
Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

If there be nothing new, but that, which is,
Hath been before, how are our brains beguild,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child ?
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done?!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;

5 And patience, TAME TO SUFFERANCB, bide each check,] So, in King Lear: “A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows."

MALONE, 6 Do what you will —] The quarto reads :-To what you will.-There can, I think, be do doubt that to was a misprint.


Since mind at first in CHARACTER was done!] Would that I could read a description of you in the earliest manuscript that appeared after the first use of letters. That this is the meaning appears clearly from the next line :

“That I might see what the old world could say." Again : “ - the wits of former days,” &c. We yet use the word character in the same sense. MALONE.

This may allude to the ancient custom of inserting real portraits among the ornaments of illuminated manuscripts, with inscriptions under them. Steevens.

Whether we are mended, or whe'r better they
Or whether revolution be the same.

O! sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before ;
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And time that gave, doth now his gift confound'.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth ?,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow';
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow :

And yet, to times in hope, my verse shall stand 4, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

8 — or whe'r better they,1 Whe'r for whether. The same abbreviation occurs in Venus and Adonis, and in King John. See vol. xv. p. 231, n. 6. Malone.

9 Nativity once in the main of light,] In the great body of light. So, the main of waters. MALONE.

1- his gift confOUND.) To confound in Shakspeare's age generally meant to destroy. Malone.

2 Time doth transfix the FLOURISH -] The external decoration. So, in The Comedy of Errors : “ Like painted trunks o'er-flourish'd by the devil.”

MALONE. 3 And delves the PARALLELs in beauty's brow ;] Renders what was before even and smooth, rough and uneven. So, in the second Sonnet:

“When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,

“ And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field.'
Again, in the 19th Sonnet :

Swift-footed time,
O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,

“Nor draw no line there with thine antique pen.' Our author uses the word parallel in the same sense in Othello :

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 home, into my deeds to pry;
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenour of thy jealousy ?
O no! thy love, though much, is not so great;
It is my love that keeps mine eye awake;
Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
To play the watchman ever for thy sake :

For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere
From me far off, with others all-too-near.

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
And all my soul, and all my every part;.
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity?,

“ — How am I then a villain,

To counsel Cassio to this parallel course?" MALONE. 4 And yet, to times in HOPE, my verse shall sTAND,] So, in King Richard II. :

“ Strong as a tower in hope, I say amen." STEVENS. į It is my love -] See p. 225, n. 8. Malone.

6 Methinks no face so GRACIOUS is as mine,] Gracious was frequently used by our author and his contemporaries in the sense of beautiful. So, in King John:

“There was not such a gracious creature born." MALONE. 7 Beated and chopp'd with tann'd ANTIQUITY,] Thus the old copy. Beated was perhaps a misprint for 'bated. 'Bated is

Mine own self-love quite contrary I read,
Self so self-loving were iniquity.

'Tis thee (myself) that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

Against my love shall be, as I am now,
With time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn 8 ;
When hours have drain'd his blood, and fill'd his

brow With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn Hath travellid on to age's steepy night'; And all those beauties, whereof now he's king,

properly overthrown; laid low; abated; from abattre, Fr. Hence (if this be the true reading) it is here used by our author with his usual licence, for disfigured; reduced to a lower or worse state than before. So, in The Merchant of Venice :

“ With 'bated breath and whispering humbleness." Again, in the 63d Sonnet :

“With time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn." Beated however, the regular participle from the verb to beat, may be right. We had in a former Sonnet-weather-beaten face. In King Henry V. we find-casted, and in Macbeth-thrusted.

MALONE. I think we should read blasted. So, in King Henry IV. Part I. : “ — every part about you blasted with untiquity."

STEEVENS. 8 With time's injurious hand crush'd and o’erworn ;] The old copy reads chrusht. I suspect that our author wrote frush'd, a word that occurs in Troilus and Cressida :

“I'll frush it, and unlock the rivets all." Again, Holinshed in his Description of Ireland, p. 29: “When they are sore frushl with sickness, or so farre withered with age." To say that a thing is first crush'd, and then over-worn, is little better than to observe of a man, that he was first killed, and then wounded. Steevens.

To frush is to bruise or batter. See Troilus and Cressida, vol. viii. p. 438, n. 3. What then is obtained by the change?

MALONE. 9 - when his youthful morn

Hath travellid on to AGE'S STEEPY NIGHT;] So, in King Richard III. :

“And turn my infant morn to aged night."

Are vanishing or vanish'd out of sight,
Stealing away the treasure of his spring;
For such a time do I now fortify
Against confounding age's cruel knife,
That he shall never cut from memory
My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's life?:

His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
And they shall live, and he in them still green.

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd

The rich-proud cost of out-worn bury'd age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras'd,
And brass eternal, slave to mortal rage:
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore”,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;

I once thought that the poet wrote-sleepy night. But the word travellid shows, I think, that the old copy is right, however incongruous the epithet steepy may appear. So, in the 7th Sonnet:

“Lo, in the orient when the gracious light
“ Lifts up his burning head-
“And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill,

“ Resembling strong youth in his middle age-" These lines fully explain what the poet meant by the steepy night of age. The same opposition is found in the 15th Sonnet:

" Then wasteful time debateth with decay

“ To change your day of youth to sullied night.Were it not for the antithesis which was certainly intended between morn and night, we might read:

“ – to age's steepy height." MALONE. 1- though my lover's life:] See p. 255, n. 8. MALONE. 2 – the hungry ocean gain

Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,] So, Mortimer, in King Henry IV. Part I. speaking of the Trent:

- he bears his course, and runs me up “ With like advantage on the other side, “Gelding the opposed continent as much." STEEVENS.

« PreviousContinue »