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sonnets, not in his own person, but for individuals who asked his assistance. We entirely abandon that supposition, notwithstanding we are aware that such was not an uncommon practice in Shakespeare's age: Gascoigne, who died in 1577, mentions that he had been frequently so employed: the author of " The Forest of Fancy,” 1579, tells us that he had written many of the poems it contains for persons “who had occasion to crave his help in that behalf." Drayton was avowedly similarly resorted to, and Sir John Harington, in his "Epigrams," written probably about 1591, states expressly,

“ Verses are grown such merchantable ware,

That now for Sonnets sellers are and buyers." Marston, in his “Satires," 1598, accuses “Roscio the tragedian” of having written love-verses for Mutio; and he adds elsewhere that “absolute Castilio" had furnished himself in a like manner, in order that he might pay acceptable court to his mistress. Therefore, if Shakespeare had now and then condescended in this way to supply the wants of his “private friends," who thus became possessed of his “sugred sonnets," as Meres calls them, it would, at all events, not have been without precedent.

Thorpe's edition of "Shakespeare's Sonnets" is a well printed volume, although not perhaps so good a specimen of the typography of that time, as Field's impressions of “Venus and Adonis ” and “Lucrece.” It is remarkable, that while most of Shakespeare's plays came from the press, in the 4to. editions, in so slovenly and uncorrected a state, his minor poems have been handed down to us, perhaps, more accurately printed than those of any poets of the time, with the exception of Daniel and Drayton, who seem generally to have bestowed great pains upon the accuracy of their productions. At the end of the “Sonnets" is a poem, called "A Lover's Complaint;" and here, although it has no fresh title-page, we are assured that it is “by William Shake-speare:" there could in fact be no doubt respecting the authorship of it; but on what occasion, or for what purpose it was written, we have no information.

The ensuing sonnets, with other poems, were reprinted in 1640, 8vo, with a frontispiece of the author, engraved by Marshall. It is an edition of no authority: it repeats and multiplies the errors of the previous separate impressions, and includes productions with which Shakespeare had no concern.

Our text is that of the 4to, 1609, in every case where a reason is not assigned for deviating from it. In all modern reprints various errors bave been committed in consequence of carelessness of collation, or because one editor copied the mistakes of another: of these our notes contain sufficient indications.

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From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory :
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.


When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gaz’d on now,
Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held :
Then, being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv'd thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer—“ This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,”
Proving his beauty by succession thine.

This were to be new made, when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm, when thou feel'st it cold.


Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest,
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair, whose un-ear'd womb?
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry ?
Or who is he so fond, will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity ?
Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime :
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

But if thou live, remember'd not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.


Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy ?
Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend;
And being frank, she lends to those are free.
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give ?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
For, having traffic with thyself alone,
Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave ?

Thy unus'd beauty must be tomb’d with thee,
Which, used, lives th' executor to be?


Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,


whose UN-EAR'd womb] “Un-ear'd” is un-ploughed, untilled. See this Vol. pp. 139. 148. 483.

2 Which, used, lives th' executor to be.] So every copy of the old edition we have been able to inspect. Modern editors read thy executor," forgetting that “used " is a dissyllable, and, unprecedentedly, substituting y for an apostrophe.

Will play the tyrants to the very same,
And that unfair, which fairly doth excel :
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap check'd with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o'er-snow'd, and bareness every where:
Then, were not summer's distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was :

But flowers distill'd, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show'; their substance still lives sweet.

Then, let not winter's ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distill’d:
Make sweet some phial; treasure thou some place
With beauty's treasure, ere it be self-kill'd.
That use is not forbidden usury',
Which happies those that pay the willing loan ;
That's for thyself to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one:
Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigur'd thee.
Then, what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity ?

Be not self-will'd; for thou art much too fair
To be death's conquest, and make worms thine heir.

Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,

3 LEESE but their show ;] " Leese" is an old form of lose. In Shakespeare's time it was not generally adopted, unless it were wanted for the rhyme, and he has it not elsewhere.

4 That use is not forbidden usury,] “ Use” and usance were the old terms for interest of money. See Vol. ii. p. 684; Vol. iv. p. 430; and Vol. v. p. 220.


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Attending on his golden pilgrimage:
But when from high-most pitch with weary car,
Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract, and look another way.

So thou thyself, out-going in thy noon,
Unlook'd on diest, unless thou get a son.


Music to hear', why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy ?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark, how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who all in one one pleasing note do sing:

Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee,-thou, single, wilt prove none.


Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye,
That thou consum’st thyself in single life?
Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee, like a makeless wifeo;

5 Music to hear,] i.e. Thou, to whom it is music to listen.

6 – like a MAKELESS wife;] i.e. Like a mateless wife : make and mate were sometimes used indifferently : Chaucer always has make, and Spenser and Shakespeare generally mate. To mate is probably from the A. S. metan, to meet: hence also, perhaps, to match. There is a passage in Beaumont and Fletcher's “ Love's Pilgrimage,” A. v. sc. 4 (Edit. Dyce, xi. p. 313), which, from having been originally misprinted, no editor has understood : the usual text has been,

“Go home a waited Leocadia," which, we must be excused for saying, is mere nonsense. The old compositor mistook w for m, and printed wated for “mated :" Leocadia was to be married, and the words, which precede those we have quoted, “Go home a wife," ought to have shown the misprint, and to have proved that

Go home a mated Leocadia" must be the true language of the poet. Strange to say, no commentator, not even the last, has ever detected the error.

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