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The tender spring upon thy tempting lip
Shews thee unripe; yet may'st thou well be tasted;
Fair flowers that are not gather'd in their prime,
Were I hard-favour'd, foul, or wrinkled-old,
But having no defects, why dost abhor me?
Thou canst not see one wrinkle in my brow; Mine eyes are grey, and bright, and quick in turning ;
quarto 1593, and 16mo. of 1596. The double negative is frequently employed by our old English writers, and is often found in the translation of the Bible. The edition of 1600 reads
- nor know they what they mean; " and this, as well as various other alterations made in our author's plays in the printed editions as they passed through the press, shews that in Shakspeare's time the correctors of the press (that is, the stewards or managers of the printing house, where his plays and poems were printed,) who revised the sheets of the various editions as they were reprinted, altered the text at random according to their notion of propriety and grammar. MALONE.
- harsh in voice.] Our poet on all occasions expresses his admiration of the fascinating powers of a sweet female voice, and his dislike of the opposite defect. Thus in King Lear:
Her voice was ever soft,
"Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman." MALONE. 2 and lacking JUICE,] Thus the quarto 1593 and 1596. The edition of 1600 has-joice. The word juice, as Dr. Farmer informs me, is so pronounced in the midland counties.
3 Mine eyes are GREY,] What we now call blue eyes, were in Shakspeare's time called grey eyes, and were considered as eminently beautiful. See a note on Romeo and Juliet, vol. vi. p. 100. MALONE.
My beauty as the spring doth yearly grow,
Would in thy palm dissolve, or seem to melt.
Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell❜d hair,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire 5.
Witness this primrose bank whereon I lie;
From morn to night, even where I list to sport me:
Is thine own heart to thine own face affected?
And died to kiss his shadow in the brook.
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell'd hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen;] So, in The Tempest:
"And ye, that on the sands with printless feet "Do chase the ebbing Neptune-." MALONE. 5 Love is a spirit all COMPACT of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.] So, in The Comedy of Errors: "Let Love, being light, be drowned, if she sink."
Compact is, made up, composed. See vol. v. p. 309, n. 6.
Torches are made to light, jewels to wear,
Thou wast begot7,—to get it is thy duty.
Upon the earth's increase why should'st thou feed,
By this, the love-sick queen began to sweat,
6 Things GROWING TO THEMSELVES are growth's abuse:] Alluding to twinn'd cherries, apples, peaches, &c. which accidentally grow into each other. Thus our author says, King Henry VIII. and Francis I. embraced as they grew together." STEEVENS.
Shakspeare, I think, meant to say no more than this; "that those things which grow only to [or for] themselves," without producing any fruit, or benefiting mankind, do not answer the purpose for which they were intended. Thus, in a subsequent
"So in thyself thyself art made away." Again, in our author's 95th Sonnet :
"The summer's flower is to the summer
Though to itself it only live and die."
Again, more appositely in the present poem:
"Poor flower! quoth she, this was thy father's guise,"For every little grief to wet his
"To grow unto himself was his desire,
7 Thou WAST begot -] So the quarto 1593. The copy of 1600 and the later editions read less correctly-" Thou wert."
8 Upon the earth's INCREASE -] i. e. upon the produce of
the earth. MALONE.
And Titan, tired in the mid-day heat,
And now Adonis, with a lazy spright,
Ah me, (quoth Venus,) young, and so unkind2
I'll make a shadow for thee of my hairs;
9 And Titan-with burning eye, &c.] So, in King Henry V.: like a lackey, from the rise to set, "Sweats in the eye of Phoebus." MALONE. "Titan tired," is 'Titan attired.' BoswELL. SOURING his CHEEKS,] So, in Coriolanus: "Some news is come,
"That turns their countenances."
Again, in Timon of Athens:
"Has friendship such a faint and milky heart, "It turns in less than two nights?" MALONE. -YOUNG, and so UNKIND?] So, in K. Lear, Act I. Sc. I.: "So young, and so untender?" STEEVENS.
3 What bare excuses mak'st thou -] Things easily seen through and refuted. So, in K. Henry IV. Part I. vol. xvi. p. 217: "Never did bare and rotten policy
"Colour her working with such deadly wounds."
4 I'll SIGH celestial BREATH,] So, in Coriolanus:
Sigh'd truer breath." MALONE.
5 The sun that shines from heaven, shines but warm,] The
The heat I have from thence doth little harm,
Art thou obdurate, flinty, hard as steel,
What am I, that thou should'st contemn me this?? Or what great danger dwells upon my suit?
sun affords only a natural and genial heat: "it warms, but it does not burn. "Thou sun," exclaims Timon, Act V. Sc. II. "that comfort'st, burn!" MALONE.
So, in King Lear :
her eyes are fierce, but thine "Do comfort, and not burn." W.
6 life were done,] i. e. expended, consumed. Timon of Athens:
So, in "Now Lord Timon's happy hours are done and past.” MALONE.
So, in All's
7 O, had thy mother borne So HARD a mind.] Well That Ends Well:
but you are cold and stern;
"And now you should be as your mother was,
Thus the quarto 1593. In the copy of 1596, bad is inserted instead of hard. The context shews that the latter was the poet's word. MALONE.
8 - UNKIND.] That is, unnatural.
Kind and nature were
formerly synonymous. MALONE.
9 What am I, that thou should'st contemn me THIS?] "That thou should'st contemn me this," means, "that thou should'st contemptously refuse this favour that I ask."
The original copy, as well as that of 1596, both read as I have printed the text; and I have not the least suspicion of its being erroneous. MALONE.
I suppose, without regard to the exactness of the rhyme, we