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CXXXIV. Ideal love (i.), the lɔver's heart identified with his mistress's will, passes a false judgment on her, Sonnets CXXXV.-CXXXVII. ; (ii.) this false judgment triumphs over falsehood, slander, the disillusion of the senses, and jealousy, Sonnets CXXXVIII.-CXLIII. ; (iii.) love growing to despair and hate, with darkened and perverted conscience, Sonnets CXLIV., CLII.
The indications of time in the Sonnets are imaginary ; the indications of jealousy (of the rival poet) are also imaginary. The Sonnets suggest questions about Shakspere's life, but do not answer them.
Mr. Simpson's little book is of much value in illustrating the Renaissance theories respecting love and beauty.
T. D. BUDD.
[Shakespeare's Sonnets, with commentaries. Philadelphia, J. Campbell,
1868. 172 pp. 4to.]
66 The author maintains that the Sonnets are addressed to the soul materialized, and they are thus applicable to mankind generally, individually, and to the poet in
H. VON FRIESEN.
[(i.) Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, iv. 1869. Ueber Shakespeare's Sonette, pp.
94-120. (ii.) Altengland und William Shakespeare. 1874. pp. 324348.]
The greater number of Sonnets I.-CXXVI. were addressed to a real person, probably the Earl of Southampton ; some may have been written as love sonnets for him, some perhaps form fragments of a poetical correspondence. Everything in the Sonnets is not to be taken literally, but they are founded on fact. They do not form a continuous series; nor are we to look for a harmonious interdependence among poems written in various moods and on various occasions. The Sonnets to the dark woman are but half serious in their description of her person and character. The date of the Sonnets lies between 1590 and 1595.
1 Catalogue of the Works of William Shakespeare, original and translated, Barton Collection, Boston Public Library. By James Mascarene Hubbard. Boston, 1878. p. 51.
[TÒ Tí hv elva.. Die Idee Shakespeare's und deren Verwirklichung. Son
nettenerklärung und Analyse des Dramas Hamlet. Hamburg, 1869.
Sonnets I.-CXXVI. do not relate to any other
person than Shakspere ; they treat of the genius of the poet, his creative activity, the Divine spirit in his spirit. Sonnets CXXVII.-CLIV. refer to the poet's art-practice and his Muse (the dark woman). The theory differs from Barnstorff's chiefly in the discovery of Aristotelian philosophy in Shakspere's Sonnets.
[The Sonnets of Shakespeare Solved, and the Mystery of his Friendship,
Love, and Rivalry revealed. By Henry Brown. London, 1870.] Mr. W. H., the young friend spoken of so much in the Sonnets, was William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. The date, 1598-1604. The Sonnets are in proper order, and form two poems, I.-CXXVI., and CXXVII.-CLIV. The first poem consists of two parts, I.-LXXVII. and LXXVIII.-CXXVI., an interval of twelve months (1601–1602), during which Shakspere ceased to write sonnets separating the two parts. There are three currents of purpose in the sonnets :
First, they are satires on mistress-sonneting, and upon the sonneteers of Shakspere's day. Drayton, and afterwards Davies, were more directly the subjects of his sportive musings and feignings.
Second, they are autobiographical.
Third, the key which unlocks the heart of the mystery is the conceit of Shakspere's having married his Muse to Herbert by wedlock of verse and mind. They were written at Herbert's request, who thus, wedded to Shakspere's Muse, was their “only begetter.”
The rival poet who addressed dedications to Herbert, and of whose “great verse” Shakspere writes ironically, was John Davies, of Hereford. Shakspere alludes ironically to his fame for calligraphy (LXXXIII., LXXXIV., Lxxxv.).
The lady of the sonnets, beloved by Herbert, is unknown. Shakspere professes love to her only because she was beloved by his friend, who was one with himself. It was arranged between Herbert and Shakspere that the latter should picture Herbert's love of the dark lady as a satire upon mistress-sonneting, with pointed allusions to Lady Rich, whom Sidney Pembroke's uncle—had, to the dishonour of the Pembroke family, celebrated in Astrophel and Stella.
Mr. Brown divides the first 126 Sonnets into 40 groups;
the remaining 28 into 17 groups. A prose paraphraseoften really helpful—of each sonnet is given.
H. W. HUDSON.
[Shakespeare, his Life, Art, and Character. Boston, 1872.
pp. 21–26.] The Sonnets punning on the name Will were addressed to Anne Hathaway; so also were XCVII.-XCIX.; so also a third cluster of nine, which includes cx., CXI., CXVII. “ It will take more than has yet appeared to convince me that when the poet wrote these and other similar lines his thoughts were travelling anywhere but home to the bride of his youth and mother of his children.”
[(i.) Vorlesungen über Shakespeare (2nd ed. 1874. Vol. i. p. 121.) (ii.)
Shakespeare-Fragen. 1871. pp. 62–67. (iii.) Shakespeare's Lyrische
Many of the Sonnets (as those concerning love and jealousy) are personal, deep in feeling, dealing with real persons and incidents.
Some of the Sonnets are light poetical exercises in the fashion of the time.
Some deal with moral questions of a general kind, suggested by Shakspere's real experience.
1 W. König (Shakespeare als Dichter, Weltweiser und Christ. Leipzig, 1873. pp. 234-245) takes a similar view of the Sonnets. I regret that I have not seen Kreyssig's articles in the Preussiche Jahrbücher, which, I doubt not, are excellent.
R. GRANT WHITE.
[The Works of William Shakespeare. Edited by Richard Grant White.
Boston, 1872. Sonnets (in vol. i. pp. 145–237).] Begetter" in the Dedication, which is not written in the common phraseology of the period, and is throughout a piece of elaborate quaintness, means procurer. Five of the Sonnets-LXXX., CXXXIII., LXXXV., LXXXVI.,
and CXXI.—were written to be presented to some lady who had verses addressed to her by at least one other person than the supposed writer of these. The first seventeen sonnets may have been written at the request of a doting mother, who wished to persuade a handsome wayward son into an early marriage. “I hazard this conjecture with little confidence.”
On June 25, 1873, Dr. Ingleby read a paper before the Royal Society of Literature, maintaining that the “onlie begetter” of Thorpe's dedication means sole author, and that Mr. W. H. is a misprint for Mr. W. S., i.e., William Shakspere. (This is also the view of Mr. E. A. Brae.)
PROF. MINTO. [Characteristics of English Poets from Chaucer to Shirley. By William
Minto, M.A. (Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London. 1874), pp. 275–292. William Shakespeare-Sonnets.] Sonnets CXXVII.-CLII. are “exercises of skill, undertaken in a spirit of wanton defiance and derision of commonplace. The only sonnet of the series inconsistent with this theory is CXLVI., which is unequivocally serious.