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Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.”.

Son. 100.

From the expressions “old rhyme,and “ antique pen,” in the extract which we are about to quote, it is highly probable that our bard alluded to Chaucer, certainly before his own appearance the greatest poet that England had produced. The chivalric picture in the first quatrain, is peculiarly interesting, and the cadence of the metre is harmony itself:

“ When, in the chronicle of wasted time,

I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhime,
In praise of ladies dead, and lovely knights;
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express'd
Even such a beauty as you master now.”

Son. 106.

It is a striking proof of the poetical inferiority of the few sonnets which Shakspeare has addressed to his mistress, that we find it difficult to select more than one passage from them which does honour

Of this, however, it will be allowed, that the comparison is happy, the rhythm pleasing, and the expression clear :

to his memory

“ And truly not the morning sun of heaven

Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even,
Doth half that glory to the sober west,
As those two mourning eyes become thy face.”

Son. 132.

In order, however, to judge satisfactorily of the merit of these poems, it will, no doubt, be deemed necessary by the reader, that a few entire sonnets be presented to his notice; for, though the passages just quoted, as well as numerous others which might be given, have a decided claim upon our approbation, yet, the sonnet being a

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“ Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove :
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.”

Son. 116.

Of a lighter though more glowing cast of poetry, both in expression and imagination, but with a slight blemish, arising from the pharmaceutical allusion in the last line, is the sonnet which we are about to quote. A trifling inaccuracy with respect to the colour of the cynorhodon, or canker-rose, afforded Mr. Steevens a pretext for the splenetic interrogation which has been recorded by us with due censure.

It is somewhat strange that the beauties of the could not disarm the prejudices of the critic :


si O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,

By that sweet ornament which truth doth give !
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye,
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses :
But, for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwoo'd, and unrespected fade;
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:

And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.”

Son. 54.

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In spirit, however, in elegance, in the skill and texture of its modulation, and beyond all, in the dignified and highly poetical

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I al, aione beweep my outcast state',
And toubit ural weaver with my boolit Tie.
And look upon mysel', and curse mi jutt.
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I catur's like him, like him with irienus possess c.
Desiring tins man's art, and that man á scone.
With what I most enjoy contented seast :
Yet in these thougtis myself almost despising
Haply I think on thets — au ther, my stall,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sulien earth, sings hymus at Deaven't gete:

For thy sweet love remember 4, suct. wen it brings.
That then I scorr to change my state wil kings

It is, time, however, to terminate these transcripcions, which hase been already sufficiently numerous to enable the reader to form an estimate of the poet's merit in the difficult task of bonnei-Writing. That many more miglit be brought forward, of equal value with those which we have selected, will be allowed perhaps when we state, that in the specimens of Mr. Ellis, the Petrarca of Mr. Henderson, and the Laura of Mr. Lofft, eleven have been chosen, of which, we find upon reference, only one anong the four just DOW adduced.

The last production in the minor poems of Shakspeare, is A Lover's CoMPLAINT, in which a forlorn damsel, seduced and deserted. relates the history of her sorrows to

" A reverend man that grazd his caule nigłu."

It is written in stanzas of seven lines; the first and third, and the second, fourth, and titili, vioning to each other, while the sixth and seventh form a couplet ; an arrangement exactly similar to the stanza of the Rape of Lucrece, Like many of our author's, smaller pieces, it is too full of imagery and allusion, but has several



great beauty and force. In the description which this forsaken fair one gives of the person and qualities of her lover, the following lines will be acknowledged to possess considerable excellence :

“ His browny locks did hang in crooked curls,

And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.

His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongu'd he was, and therefore free;
Yet, if men mov'd him, was he such a storm
As oft 'twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, unruly though they be.
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament.”

These, and every other portion of the poem, however, are eclipsed

, by a subsequent part of the same picture, in which, as Mr. Steevens well remarks, the poet “ has accidentally delineated his own character as a dramatist.” *

So applicable, indeed, did the passage appear to us, as a forcible though rapid sketch of the more prominent features of the author's own genius, and of his universal influence over the human mind, that we have selected it as a motto for the second volume of this work:

“On the tip of his subduing tongue
All kind of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will ;

That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted.”

The address which the injured mistress puts into the mouth of her

* Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 748. note.

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