« AnteriorContinua »
survey, and your honour to your heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation".
Your Honour's in all duty,
and your HONOUR -] This was formerly the usual mode of address to noblemen. So, in a Letter written by Sir Francis Bacon to Robert, lord Cecil, July 3, 1603: "Lastly, for this divulged and almost prostituted title of knighthood, I could without charge, by your honour's mean, be content to have it-." Birch's Collection, p. 24. MALONE.
3-hopeful expectation.] Lord Southampton was but twenty years old when this poem was dedicated to him by Shakspeare, who was then twenty-seven. Malone.
For a memoir of this accomplished nobleman, see the end of this volume. BosWELL.
EVEN as the sun with purple-colour'd face
1 Our author himself has told us that this poem was his first composition. It was entered in the Stationers' books by Richard Field, on the 18th of April, 1593. When I first republished this poem in 1790 I had seen no earlier edition than that which was printed for John Harrison, in small octavo, in 1596; but I have since become possessed of the first edition, printed by Richard Field in 1593, which I have now followed. This poem is frequently alluded to by our author's contemporaries. "As the soul of Euphorbus (says Meres in his Wit's Treasury, 1598,) was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet, witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakspeare. Witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece," &c.-In the early part of Shakspeare's life, his poems seem to have gained him more reputation than his plays;—at least they are oftener mentioned, or alluded to. Thus the author of an old comedy called The Return from Parnassus, written about the year 1602, in his review of the poets of the time, says not a word of his dramatick compositions, but allots him his portion of fame solely on account of the poems that he had produced. When the name of William Shakspeare is read, one of the characters pronounces this eulogium:
"Who loves Adonis' love, or Lucrece' rape?
"His sweeter verse contains heart-robbing life;
This subject was probably suggested to Shakspeare either by
Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him, And like a bold-fac'd suitor 'gins to woo him.
Thrice fairer than myself, (thus she began,)
Nature that made thee, with herself at strife,
Spenser's description of the hangings in the Lady of Delight's Castle, Faery Queen, b. iii. c. i. st. 34, et seq. 4to, 1590, or by a short piece entitled The Sheepheard's Song of Venus and Adonis, subscribed with the letters H. C. (probably Henry Constable,) which, I believe, was written before Shakspeare's poem; though I have never seen any earlier copy of it than that which we find in England's Helicon, 1600. He had also without doubt read the account of Venus and Adonis in the tenth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, translated by Golding, 1567, though he has chosen to deviate from the classical story, which Ovid and Spenser had set before him, following probably the model presented to him by the English poem just mentioned. See the notes at the end.
2 ROSE-CHEEK'D Adonis -] So, in Timon of Athens : bring down the rose-cheek'd youth
"To the tub-fast and the diet."
Our author perhaps remembered Marlowe's Hero and Leander: "The men of wealthy Sestos every yeare,
"For his sake whom their goddess held so deare,
3 the field's CHIEF flower,] So the quarto 1593. Modern editions have-sweet flower. MALONE.
4 NATURE that made thee, with herself at STRIFE,] With this contest between art and nature, &c. I believe every reader will be surfeited before he has gone through the following poems. The lines under the print of Noah Bridges, engraved by Faithorne, have the same thought:
Faithorne, with nature at a noble strife," &c. It occurs likewise in Timon of Athens. STEEVENS.
We have in a subsequent passage a contest between art and nature, but here surely there is none. I must also observe that there is scarcely a book of Shakspeare's age, whether in prose or
Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety,
A summer's day will seem an hour but short,
With this she seizeth on his sweating palm,
And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
verse, in which this surfeiting comparison (as it has been called,) may not be found. MALONE.
5 Saith, that the world hath ending with thy life.] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"And when she dies, with beauty dies her store."
6 And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety,
But rather famish them amid their plenty,] So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
other women cloy
"The appetites they feed; but she makes hungry,
she seizeth on his SWEATING PALM,
The PRECEDENT OF PITH AND LIVELIHOOD,] So, in Antony and Cleopatra, Charmian says: "-if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear." STEEVENS.
Again, in Othello:
This hand is moist, my lady;
"This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart ;
Hot, hot, and moist." MALOne.
Over one arm the lusty courser's rein,
She red and hot, as coals of glowing fire,
The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Backward she push'd him, as she would be thrust,
So soon was she along, as he was down,
He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears
8 Under HER Other -] So the original copy 1693, and 16mo. of 1596. The edition of 1600, and all subsequent, have-under the other.
she with her TEARS
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks;
Then with her windy SIGHS, and golden hairs,
To fan and blow them DRY again she seeks :] So, in Marlowe's King Edward II. :
"Wet with my tears, and dried again with sighs." Shakspeare, throughout this poem, takes the same liberty as Spenser has done in his Faery Queen; and, for the sake of rhyme, departs from the usual orthography of his time. Thus here we have in the original copy 1593,-golden heares. And so again, below: