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Then happy I, that love and am belov'd,
Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
'tis not my meaning,
"To raze one title of your honour out." MALONE. This stanza is not worth the labour that has been bestowed on it. By transposition, however, the rhyme may be recovered, without further change:
"The painful warrior for worth famoused,
"Is from the book of honour quite razed—”
My name be blotted from the book of life," is a line in King Richard II. STEEVENS.
Why it should not be worth while to correct this as well as any other manifest corruption in our author's works, I confess, I do not comprehend. Neither much labour, nor many words, have been employed upon it. MALONE.
8 Lord of my love, to whom in VASSALAGE
Thy merit hath MY DUTY STRONGLY KNIT ;] So, in Macbeth:
Lay your highness'
"Command upon me; to the which my duties
"Are with a most indissoluble tie
"For ever knit."
Again, in the same play:
"your highness' part
"Is to receive our duty, and our duties
"Are to your throne and state children and servants.” Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :
"To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
Again, in Othello: "I have profess'd myself thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness." MALone.
9 Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy MERIT hath my DUTY strongly KNIT;
To witness DUTY, NOT TO SHOW MY WIT:] So, in the Dedication of The Rape of Lucrece : The warrant I have of your
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it;
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
honourable disposition, not the worth of my untulor'd lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty should show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship." C.
This note, I imagine, suggested to Dr. Drake his theory, that the Sonnets were addressed to Lord Southampton. BosWELL.
I Till WHATSOEVER STAR THAT GUIDES my moving, Points on me GRACIOUSLY WITH FAIR ASPECT,] So, Coriolanus:
"As if that whatsoever God who leads him, "Were slily crept into his human powers, "And gave him graceful posture." C. Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :
he hath fought to-day,
"As if a god in hate of mankind had
Destroy'd in such a shape." MALONE.
2 To show me worthy of THY sweet respect:] The old copy has
of their sweet respect."
It is evidently a misprint. For the correction I am answerable. The same mistake has several times happened in these Sonnets, owing probably to abbreviations having been formerly used for the words their and thy, so nearly resembling each other as not to be easily distinguished. I have observed the same error in some of the old English plays. MALONE.
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide) 3
How can I then return in happy plight,
3 For then my thoughts (FROM FAR where I abide)] We might better read:
-far from where I abide)."
The old reading is, however, sense. For then my thoughts, setting out from my place of residence, which is far distant from thee, intend, &c. MALONE.
4 Presents THY shadow to my sightless view,] The quarto reads corruptly-Presents their shadow-. See n. 2, in preceding page. MALONE.
Which, like a JEWEL hung in ghastly NIGHT,
Makes black night BEAUTEOUS, and her old face new.] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night,
"Like a rich jewel in an Æthiop's ear." MALOne. SWART-complexion'd night;] Swart is dark, approaching to black. So, in King Henry VI. Part I.:
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
"And where I was black and swart before-." The word is common in the North of England. MALONE. 7 When sparkling stars TWIRE not, thou GILD'ET the even.] The quarto reads corruptedly: thou guil'st the even." Gild'st was formerly written-guild'st.-Perhaps we should read:
"When sparkling stars twirl not-."
The word twire occurs in Chaucer. See Boethius, b. iii. et. 2: " The bird twireth, desiring the wode with her swete voice." Twireth (says Mr. Tyrwhitt) seems to be the translation of susurrat. In The Merchant of Venice, our author, speaking of the stars, has the following passage:
Look how the floor of heaven
"Is thick inlaid with pattens of bright gold:
"There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st, "But in his motion like an angel sings, "Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubins." Twire may perhaps have the same signification as quire. poet's meaning will then amount to this:" When the sparkling stars sing not in concert, (as when they all appear he supposes them to do), thou mak'st the evening bright and cheerful." Still, however, twire may be a corruption. If it is, we may read twink for twinkle. Thus, in The Taming of the Shrew: "That in a twink she won me to her love."
Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : "At first I did adore a twinkling star." So much for guess-work. STEEVENS.
A passage in our author's Rape of Lucrece may add some support to Mr. Steevens's conjecture:
"Her [Diana's] twinkling handmaids too, by him defil'd-." But I believe the original reading is the true one. In Ben Jonson's Sad Shepherd, this word occurs:
"Which maids will twire at 'tween their fingers thus." Mr. Gifford, in a note on that passage, Jonson's Works, vol. vi. p. 280, produces several instances of the word in our ancient writers, and explains the expression in the text thus: "When the stars do not gleam or appear at intervals." To twire seems to have much the same signification as to peep: when sparkling stars peep not through the blanket of the dark. BOSWELL.
8 But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make grief's length seem STRONGER.] An anonymous correspondent, whose favours are distinguished
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
by the letter C, proposes to make the two concluding words of this couplet change places. But I believe the old copy to be right. Stronger cannot well apply to drawn out or protracted sorrow. The poet, in the first line, seems to allude to the operation of spinning. The day at each return draws out my sorrow to an immeasurable length, and every revolving night renders my protracted grief still more intense and painful.' MALONE.
9 When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, &c.] These nervous and animated lines, in which such an assemblage of thoughts, cloathed in the most glowing expressions, is compressed into the narrow compass of fourteen lines, might, I think, have saved the whole of this collection from the general and indiscriminate censure thrown out against them by Mr. Steevens, p. 226. MALONE.
and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate :] The same image is presented in Cymbeline:
"Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
Again, in Romeo and Juliet :
the lark, whose notes do beat
"The vaulty heavens so high above our heads." Perhaps, as Mr. Reed has observed, Shakspeare remembered Lilly's Compaspe, printed in 1584:
who is't now we hear?
"None but the lark so shrill and clear;
"How at heaven's gate she claps her wings,