Page images
PDF
EPUB

There is such strength and warrantise of skill,
That in my mind thy worst all best exceeds ?
Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,
The more I hear and see just cause of hate?
0, though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state ;

If thy unworthiness rais'd love in me,

More worthy I to be belov'd of thee.- 150.
Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove.
For thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no farther reason,
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.

No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her-love, for whose dear love I rise and fall.--15).

In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn, to me love swearing;
In act thy bed-vow broke, and new faith torn,
In vowing new hate after new love bearing.
But why of two oaths' breach do I accuse thee,
When I break twenty? I am perjur'd most;
For all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee,
And all my honest faith in thee is lost :
For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy;
And, to enlighten thee, gave eyes to blindness,
Or made them swear against the thing they see ;

For I have sworn thee fair : more perjur d I,

To swear, against the truth, so foul a lie !—152. We have only three Sonnets left, out of the twenty-six stanzas, in which we may find any allusion to the “ ' infidelity" of the poet's " mistress." They are these :

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is 't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be ?
Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engross'd;
Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken;
A torment thrice three-fold thus to be cross'd.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom's ward,
But then my friend's heart let my poor heart bail;
Who e'er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigour in my jail :

Thou usurer,

And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,

Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.-133.
So now I have confess'd that he is thine,
And I myself am mortgag‘d to thy will;
Myself I 'll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore, to be my comfort still :
But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous, and he is kind;
He learn'd but, surety-like, to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fast doth bind.
The statute of thy beauty thou wilt take,

that putt'st forth all to use,
And sue a friend, came debtor for my sake;
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.

Him have I lost ; thou hast both him and me ;

He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.-134.
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still ;
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman,

colour*d ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend,
Suspect I may, but not directly tell ;
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell.

Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.-144.

The 144th, we must again point out, was printed in The Passionate Pilgrim'in 1599. This Sonnet, then, referring, as it appears to do, to private circumstances of considerable delicacy, was public enough to fall into the hands of a piratical bookseller, ten years before the larger collection in which it a second time appears was printed. But in that larger collection the poet accuses the friend as well as the mistress. We have no means of knowing whether the six Sonnets, in which this accusation appears, existed in 1599, or what was the extent of their publicity; but by their publication in 1609 we are enabled to compare “the better angel with “ the worser spirit :"—

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchymy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide.
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace :
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;

But out! alack! he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud bath mask'd him from me now.

Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain, when heaven's sun staineth._33.

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'T is not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak,
That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss :
The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's cross.

Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich, and ransom all ill deeds.-34.

No more be griev'd at that which thou hast done :
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorising thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are :
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
(Thy adverse party is thy advocate,)
And gainst myself a lawful plea commence :
Such civil war is in my love and hate,

That I an accessory needs must be

To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.-35.
Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all;
What bast thou then more than thou hadst before ?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.
Then if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee, for my love thou usest ;
But yet be blam'd, if thou thyself deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty ;
And yet, love knows, it is a greater grief
To bear love's wrong than hate's known injury.

Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,

Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.--40.
Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits,
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
Thy beauty and thy years full well befits,
For still temptation follows where thou art.

Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won,
Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assail'd;
And when a woman woos, what woman's son
Will sourly leave her till she have prevail'd ?
Ah me! but yet thou mightst my seat forbear,
And chide thy beauty and thy straying youth,
Who lead thee in their riot even there
Where thou art forc'd to break a twofold truth;

Hers, by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
Thine, by thy beauty being false to me.—41.

That thou hast her, it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I lov'd her dearly;
That she hath thee, is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly.
Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye :-
Thou dost love her, because thou knew'st I love her ;
And for my sake even so doth she abuse me,
Suffering my friend for my sake to approve her.
If I lose thee, my loss is my love's gain,
And losing her, my friend hath found that loss ;
Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross :

But here's the joy; my friend and I are one;

Sweet flattery! then she loves but me alone.—42. It is probably to the same friend that the following mild reflections upon the general faults of his character are addressed :

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow;
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces,
And husband nature's riches from expense ;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die ;
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity:

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds ;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.-94.

How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
0, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!
That tongue that tells the story of thy days,
Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise;
Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
O what a mansion have those vices got,
Which for their habitation chose out thee!

Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot,
And all things turn to fair that eyes can see!

Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege ;
The hardest knife ill:used doth lose his edge.-95.

Some say, thy fault is youth, some wantonness;
Some say,

thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
Both grace and faults are lov'd of more and less :
Thou mak’st faults graces that to thee resort.
As on the finger of a throned queen
The basest jewel will be well esteem'd;
So are those errors that in thee are seen
To truths translated, and for true things deem'd.
How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,
If like a lamb he could his looks translate!
How many gazers mightst thou lead away,
If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!

But do not so; I love thee in such sort,
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.-96.

But the poet, true to his general principle of morals, holds that forgiveness should follow upon repented transgressions :

Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge :
As, to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness, when we purge;
Even so, being full of your ne'er-cloying sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding,
And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness
To diseas'd ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, to anticipate
The ills that were not, grew to faults assurd,
And brought to medicine a healthful state,
Which, rauk of goodness, would by ill be cur’d.

But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.—118.

What potions have I drunk of Siren tears,
Distill’d from limbecs foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win!
What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never!
How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted,
In the distraction of this madding fever !
O benefit of ill! now I find true
That better is by evil still made better ;
And ruin'd love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.

So I return rebuk'd to my content,
And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.—119.

« PreviousContinue »