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ROM faireft creatures we defire increase,
That thereby beauty's rofe might never die,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee 5.
3 Shakspeare's Sonnets were entered on the Stationers' books by Thomas Thorpe, on the 20th of May, 1609, and printed in quarto in the fame year. They were, however, written many years before, being mentioned by Meres in his Wit's Treasury, 1598: "As the foul of Euphorbus (fays he) was thought to live in Pythagoras, fo the sweet witty foul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare. Witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his fugred SONNETS among his private friends," &c.
The general style of these poems, and the numerous paffages in them which remind us of our authour's plays, leave not the fmallest doubt of their authenticity.
In thefe compofitions, Daniel's Sonnets, which were published in 1592, appear to me to have been the model that Shakspeare followed.
An edition of Shakspeare's Sonnets was published in 1640, in small octavo, which, though of no authority or value, was followed by Dr. Sewell, and other modern editors. The order of the original copy was not adhered to, and according to the fashion of that time, fantastick titles were prefixed to different portions of these poems: The glory of beauty; The force of love; True admiration, &c. Heywood's tranflations from Ovid, which had been originally blended with Shakspeare's poems in 1612, were likewife reprinted in the fame volume. MALONE.
4 And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding.]So, in Romeo and Juliet: "Then the hath fworn that he will ftill live chafte?
"Rom. She hath: and in that sparing makes huge wafte." C. this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.] The ancient editors of Shakspeare's works, deferve at least the praife of impartiality. If
When forty winters fhall befiege thy brow,
This were to be new made, when thou art old,
they have occafionally corrupted his nobleft fentiments, they have like
-this glutton be;
To eat the world's due, be thy grave and thee.
i. e. be at once thyfelf, and thy grave. The letters that form the two words were probably tranfpofed. I did not think the late Mr. Rich had fuch example for the contrivance of making Harlequin jump down his own throat. STEEVENS.
I do not believe there is any corruption in the text. Mankind being daily thinned by the grave, the world could not fubfift if the places of those who are taken off by death were not filled up by the birth of chil dren. Hence Shakspeare confiders the propagation of the species as the world's due, as a right to which it is entitled, and which it may demand from every individual. The fentiment in the lines before us, it must be owned, is quaintly expreffed; but the obfcurity arifes chiefly, I think, from the aukward collocation of the words for the fake of the rhime. The meaning feems to me to be this.-Pity the world, which is daily depopulated by the grave, and beget children, in order to supply the lofs; or, if you do not fulfil this duty, acknowledge, that as a glutton fwallows and confumes more than is fufficient for bis own fuppert, fo you (who by the course of nature muft die, and by your own remiffness are likely to die childless) thus "living and dying in fingle blessedness,' fume and defray the world's due; to the defolation of which you will doubly contribute; 1. by thy death, 2. by thy dying childless.
Our authour's plays, as well as the poems now before us, affording a fufficient number of conceits, it is rather hard that he fhould be anfwerable for fuch as can only be obtained through the medium of alte ration; that he fhould be ridiculed not only for what he has, but for what he has not written. MALONE.
6-a tatter'd weed,-] A torn garment. MALONE.
Look in thy glafs, and tell the face thou vieweft,
Thou art thy mother's glafs, and the in thee?
Die fingle, and thine image dies with thee.
7-whofe un-ear'd womb
Difdains the tillage of thy busbandry ?] Thus, in Measure for Mea
"Expreffeth his full tilth and busbandry." STEEVENS. Un-ear'd is unploughed. See p. 3, n. 1. MALONE.
8 Or avbo is be fo fond, will be the tomb
Of bis felf-love, to stop pofterity?] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"Cuts beauty off from all pofterity."
Again, in Venus and Adonis :
What is thy body but a swallowing grave, "Seeming to bury that pofterity
"Which by the rights of time thou needs must have,
"If thou destroy them not in their obfcurity ?"
Fond, in old language, is foclifh. See Vol. III. p. 66, n. 5. MALONE. Thou art thy mother's glafs, &c.] So, in The Rape of Lucrece : "Poor broken glass, I often did behold
"In thy faveet femblance my old age new-born." MALONE. Calls back the lovely April of ber prime:] So, in Timon of Athens: "She, whom the spital house and ulcerous fores
"Would caft the gorge at, this embalms and fpices
"To the April day again." MALONE.
2 So thou through windows of thine age foalt fee,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.] Thus, in our authour's
"Time had not feythed all that youth begun,
"Nor youth all quit; but, fpite of heaven's fell rage,
"Some beauty peep'd through lattice of fear'd age." MALONE
Unthrifty lovelinefs, why doft thou spend
Nature's bequeft gives nothing, but doth lend;
So great a fum of fums, yet canft not live?
Thy unus'd beauty must be tomb'd with thee,
Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
3 Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend
And being frank, fhe lends to those are free, &c.] So, Milton, in his
Mafque at Ludlow Caftle:
"Why should you be fo cruel to yourself,
"And to thofe dainty limbs which nature lent
"For gentle ufage, and foft delicacy?
"But you invert the covenants of her trust,
"And harshly deal, like an ill borrower,
"With that which you receiv'd on other terms." STEEVENS.
4 What acceptable audit canft thou leave?] So, in Macbeth:
"To make their audit at your highnefs' pleasure." STEEVENS. Thofe hours, &c.] Hours is almost always ufed by Shakspeare as a diffyllable. MALONE.
5 And that unfair, which fairly doth excell;] And render that which was once beautiful, no longer fair. To unfair, is, I believe, a verb of our authour's coinage. MALONE.
For never-refting time leads fummer on-] So, in All's well that ends well:
For, with a word, the time will bring on fummer." STEEV.
Sap check'd with froft, and lufty leaves quite gone,
But flowers diftill'd, though they with winter meet, Leefe but their show; their substance still lives sweet®.
Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
Which happies thofe that pay the willing loan;
Then, what could death do, if thou should' depart,
Be not self-will'd, for thou art much too fair
To be death's conquest, and make worms thine heir.
7 Beauty o'er fnow'd, and bareness every where :] Thus the quarto, 1609. The modern editions have
-barrenness every where.
In the 97th Sonnet we meet again with the fame image:
"What freezings have I felt, what dark days feen!
"What old December's bareness every where!" MALONE. But flowers diftill'd, though they with winter meet,
Leefe but their fhow; their fubftance ftill lives fweet.] This is a thought with which Shakspeare feems to have been much pleafed. We find it again in the 54th Sonnet, and in A Midsummer Night's Dream, A& I. fc. i. MALONE.
9 let not winter's ragged band-] Ragged was often used as an opprobrious term in the time of our authour. See p. 136, n. 8, and Vol. V. p. 286, n. 4.
› That use—] Use here fignifies usance. See Vol. II. p. 232, n. 6.