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And my laments would be drawn out too long,
To tell them all with one poor tired tongue.

Then be this all the task it hath to say,
Dear husband, in the interest of thy bed
A stranger came, and on that pillow lay,
Where thou wast wont to rest thy weary head;
And what wrong else may be imagined
By foul enforcement might be done to me,
From that, alas! thy Lucrece is not free.'”

The tale concludes with the self-slaughter of Lucretia, and with Brutus's casting off his masque of folly. Collatinus and his friends are standing, full of grief, by the body of Tarquin's victim, when—

Brutus, who pluck'd the knife from Lucrece side,
Seeing such emulation in their woe,
Began to clothe his wit in state and pride,
Burying in Lucrece' wound his folly's shew:
He with the Romans was esteemed so,
As silly jeering idiots are with kings,
For sportive words, and uttering foolish things.

But now he throws that shallow habit by,
Wherein deep policy did him disguise ;
And arm’d his long-hid wits advisedly,
To check the tears in Collatinus' eyes.
· Thou wronged lord of Rome,' quoth he, “ arise ;
Let my unsounded self, suppos'd a fool,

Now set thy long-experienc'd wit to school.'”

He proceeds to offer advice suiting the necessity of the time, and with this (and an intimation, that the mourners are about to publish “Tarquin's foul offence” to the people of Rome) the poem concludes.

There are more things in this production which we should be tempted to extract, did not our limits forbid. In fact, Shakespeare's excellence lies oftener in solitary thoughts and striking images, than in any splendid sweep of verse, or sustained eloquence of diction. It is difficult to select these jewels of poetry, so as to shew them to advantage.' They must be seen in their original setting, where, if the reader can forgive the antique fashion, he will find many things that are beautiful, and some that are rare and precious.

But setting aside the great dramas of our poet, the Sonnets of Shakespeare contain, perhaps, more absolute thought than any other poems of the same extent in our language. They have often the closeness (though not the turn) of epigrams. A good deal of discussion has been wasted upon them, in order to shew, by some, that they were addressed to a lady, and, by others, to a male friend. This is not a very important question, perhaps : but, if it be, we think there cannot be a doubt but that they refer to at least two persons of distinct sexes. Indeed, the language of the 19th and 130th sonnets puts this opinion past doubt.

The poem, called the Sonnet, seems to have been used, if not intended, for the developement of a single idea. It is the only poem, that we know of, in the English language, which has a defined fashion and limit; its extent being fourteen lines, neither more or less. Of these the first eight lines must have only two different terminations, and the last six lines two or three, at the option of the poet.* This, we apprehend, is the established rule. Milton has invariably observed it, and Drummond, Sidney,and Warton, we believe, with scarcely an exception. Shakespeare himself has deviated from this system : and, indeed, his poems have little claim, beyond the mere number of lines which each contains, to the title of Sonnets. The character of the Sonnet seems to approximate in a manner to the epigram. It is not a loose desultory composition of fourteen lines; but is the developement of one single idea, which is generally personal to the writer. It may consist solely of

* Note. Milton's beautiful Sonnet, addressed “ To Mr. Lawrence," will exemplify what we wish to say. He has chosen to use three rhymes (instead of two) in the six concluding lines.

Sonnet XV.
“ LAWRENCE, of virtuous father virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining ? Time will run
On smoother till Favonius reinspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
The lily and the rose, that neither sowed nor spun.-

What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touched, or artful voice
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
He who of those delights can judge, and spare
To interpose them oft, is not unwise.”

an elaborate antithesis :-or it may be grounded on a position obvious or even common place, with a new inference deduced from it. In this case it partakes of the nature of a syllogism. In fact, it is a poem for a logician. Something must be made out in it, some feeling, or likeness, or moral. Even the compliment conveyed by it should scarcely be simple, but should be made out by comparison or deduction. In ordinary poems, the writer steeps his thoughts in the rich dews of imagination, or exalts his passion by the help of fancy, and it is all sufficient. They may be loose, wandering, unconstrained; so that they possess poetry and beauty. But a Sonnet requires more compact texture, more strength and precision; and it should have its crowning thought at the close, in the same manner as an epigram or a jest. Without this last mentioned peculiarity it may be a quatorzain, a poem, or what the reader pleases,-but it can hardly be called, in the strict sense of the term, a Sonnet.

Under this impression, we consider Shakespeare's Sonnets, as Sonnets, to be defective. Nevertheless they are beautiful poems, replete with airy fancy, and profound thought, and amorous desire. Or they are gentle and uncomplaining, sighing out Æolian music, or tinged with splendid colours, or dark with tears. They are, in brief, transcripts of the poet's mind, shewing it in all its changes from joy to sorrow; and never, throughout the whole range, bearing testimony of any ungenerous feeling, any base exultation, or bitter wish. There is certainly a sameness about them, from the circumstance of their being addressed principally to one person, and turning generally upon one subject. But it is not an easy thing, perhaps, to carry an ordinary reader through upwards of one hundred and fifty Sonnets, without his experiencing some little sense of weariness. Without narrative, and without event, the curiosity of the multitude is not very easily preserved.

The best writer of English Sonnets is, we think, Milton. There is too much coldness and quaintness about Daniel, Drummond, and Sir Philip Sidney; and Warton (though he was a graceful writer) was inferior in poetry and power. Of the present day, Mr. Wordsworth approaches nearer Milton, in his Sonnets, than any other writer whom we are aware of, although even his Sonnets, not unfrequently, want that particular turn which seems to us to belong properly to the poem.

In order to give our readers an opportunity of comparing, without trouble, some of these great writers with each other, we shall take the liberty of extracting, for their amusement, some Sonnets from those whom we have mentioned.-But our first attention is due to Shakespeare: and we shall begin our extracts with a defiance to Time.

XIX.
“ Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood ;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-liv'd phænix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet'st,
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world, and all her fading sweets ;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow,
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.”

The following is beautiful and pathetic. (The reader will keep in mind the low station of Shakespeare, whilst he listens to his musical complaining.)

XXIX.
“When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my out-cast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,-and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

This melancholy feeling is indulged again in one or two instances afterwards, on which account we shall extract parts of a couple of Sonnets, which otherwise would be somewhat out of place. He says in the 110th :

“ Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new.

Most true it is, that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays prov'd thee my best of love.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end, &c."

And again in the 11lth Sonnet :

O for my sake do thou with fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,
Than public means, which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu'd
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand.
Pity me then, and wish I were renew’d;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink, &c.”

The three following are well known, and have not unfrequently been quoted. The first is something like a repetition of the 29th Sonnet, which we have already extracted. The second begins very magnificently, and the third has all the colour and odour of Spring.

XXX.
“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste :
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long-since-cancell'd woe,
And moan the expence of many a vanish'd sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end."

XXXIII.

“ 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;
VOL. VII. PART II.

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