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The earth can have but earth, which is his due :
The worth of that, is that which it contains,
LXXV. So are you to my thoughts, as food to life, Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground; And for the peace of you I hold such strife 6 As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found; Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure; Now counting best to be with you alone, Then better'd that the world may see my pleasure: Some time all full with feasting on your sight, And by and by clean starved for a look? ; Possessing or pursuing no delight, Save what is had or must from you be took.
s — and this with thee Remains.] So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
" And I hence Reeting, here remain with thee." o And for the peace of you I hold such strife -] The context seems to require that we should rather read :
“ – for the price of you"-or-" for the sake of you." The conflicting passions described by the poet were not produced by a regard to the ease or quiet of his friend, but by the high value he set on his esteem : yet as there seems to have been an opposition intended between peace and strife, I do not suspect any corruption in the text. Malone.
1 - CLEAN STARVED for a look ;] That is, wholly starved. So, in Julius Cæsar:
“ Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.”
So, in The Comedy of Errors :
“ While I at home starve for a merry look.”
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
For as the sun is daily new and old,
LXXVII. Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear, Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste; The vacant leaves ? thy mind's imprint will bear, And of this book this learning may'st thou taste'.
8 Or gluitoning on all, or all away,] That is, either feeding on various dishes, or having nothing on my board, -all being away. MALONE.
Perhaps, or all away, may signify, or away with all ! i. e. 1 either devour like a glutton what is within my reach, or command all provisions to be removed out of my sight. Steevens.
9 - in a noted weed,] i. e. in a dress by which it is always known, as those persons are who always wear the same colours.
Steevens. | That every word doth almost tell my name ;] The quarto has : fel my name. Malone,
3 Thy vacant leaves -] Perhaps Shakspeare wrote- These vacant leaves. So afterwards : “ Commit to these waste blanks."
MALONE. 3 And of ruus book this learning may'st thou taste.] This,
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show,
their, and thy, are so aften confounded in these Sonnets, that it is only by attending to the context that we can discover which was the author's word. In the present instance, instead of this book, should we not read thy book ? So, in the last line of this Sonnet :
“ These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
MALONE. Probably this Sonnet was designed to accompany a present of a book consisting of blank paper. Were such the case, the old reading this book) may stand. Lord Orrery sent a birth-day gift of the same kind to Swift, together with a copy of verses of the same tendency. Steevens.
This conjecture appears to me extremely probable. We learn from the 122d Sonnet that Shakspeare received a table-book from his friend.
In his age it was customary for all ranks of people to make presents on the first day of the new year. Even Queen Elizabeth condescended to receive new-year's gifts from the lords and ladies of her court. Malone.
4 Of MOUTHED graves — ] That is, of all-devouring graves. Thus, in King Richard III. :
“- in the swallowing gulph
“Of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion." Again, in Venus and Adonis :
“ What is thy body but a swallowing grave ?” Malone. s Time's thievish PROGRESS —] So, in All's Well That Ends Well :
“Or four and twenty times the pilot's glass
“ Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass." Milton in one of his Sonnets has imitated our author : “ How soon hath time, that subtle thief of youth," &c.
MALONE. 6 – to these waste BLANKS,] The old copy has-waste blacks. The emendation was proposed by Mr. Theobald. It is fully supported by a preceding line : The vacant leaves, &c.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
But thou art all my art, and dost advance
7 And heavy IGNORANCE aloft to Alv,] So, in Othello: “O heavy ignorance ! thou praisest the worst, best.” MALONE.
8 Have added FEATHERS to the learned's WING,] So, in Cymbeline:
" your lord,
Then thank him not for that which he doth say, Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.
Then if he thrive, and I be cast away,
9 Knowing a betTER SPIRIT doth use your name,] Spirit is here, as in many other places, used as a monosyllable. Curiosity will naturally endeavour to find out who this better spirit was, to whom even Shakspeare acknowledges himself inferior. There was certainly no poet in his own time with whom he needed to have feared a comparison ; but these Sonnets being probably written when his name was but little known, and at a time when Spenser was in the zenith of his reputation, I imagine he was the person here alluded to. MALONE.
i The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,] The same thought occurs in Troilus and Cressida :
" The sea being smooth, “ How many shallow bauble boats dare sail “Upon her patient breast, making their way “ With those of nobler bulk ?-Where's then the saucy boat ? "