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sad interim be called by some loved name, unlike estrangement.
57. What should I do but, in all obedience, attend upon you at your own hours, without regard to myself? Nor can I presume to guess at your affairs, or where you
58. God forbid I should imagine any restraint on your liberty! My duty, as your vassal, is patience, without a
Whatever I may suffer while absent from you, it is my part to await your pleasure.
59. If everything which exists has existed before, would I could open a record, a thousand years old, and see what was said of you in ancient times !
60. Time by degrees destroys what he bestows; yet, in despite of time, I will celebrate your worth to posterity.
61. When your image breaks my rest, is it yourself, in spirit, that haunts me, to discover if I continue to bear you in
my mind ? O no! your friendship, though much, is not so great. It is my fear of losing you that keeps me wakeful.
62. In spite of my glass, showing me in the wane of life, I am full of self, because I regard my young friend as my own self.
63. When my friend's youth and beauty shall fade, and when, like me, he shall be crushed and o'erworn by time, this verse shall preserve him as he is.
64. While I observe the destruction or change of every thing by Time, I reflect that Time also will take away my friend; the thought of which is as death.
65. Since the power of Time, over the strongest substances, is irresistible, what can beauty, weaker than a flower, expect? It cannot survive, unless in verse.
66. Tired of beholding the corruptions of this world, I would fain die, were it not that I must leave
67. Ah! wherefore should his presence grace corruption ? Why should he live, now nature is disfigured, unless it be that she keeps him as a sample of the wealth she once possessed ?
68. She shows him, to mark the distinction between beauty and its artful counterfeit.
69. Foes, as well as friends, speak of the perfection of your outward form; yet their praise is confounded when they guess at the qualities of your mind. The cause is this,-you associate too much with many.
70. The slander of others shall not harm you. On the contrary, while you remain good, it will but prove your worth the more.
Your having long escaped censure, is no security for the future; and your power in the world might be too great, were you believed faultless.
71. Mourn not for me when I anı dead; forget the hand that writes these lines ; for, in my friendship, I desire you may never feel sorrow. But, should you remember me, forbear to speak my name, least you be reproached with my unworthiness.
72. O, rather than you should be reproached, may I, dear friend, be utterly forgotten !—unless you can devise some virtuous untruth in my favour. But no, nothing that seems false must come from you.
73. My youth is past, and I journey on towards age and death; therefore, since I may leave you ere long, your friendship, aware of this, is the stronger.
74. But be content; these lines, the better part of me, will remain when I am no more.
75. As food to life, or sweet-seasoned showers to the ground, your friendship is to me. Sometimes I enjoy it to the full; at other times I am bereaved of it.
76. Why is my verse, contrary to the fashion of the day, so unvaried ? Know, kind friend, I always write of you, and I can only repeat my estimation of you.
Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
And of this book this learning may'st thou taste.
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Time's thievish progress to eternity.
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
Whether the advice contained in this Envoy was or was not followed, is of no importance; but it certainly was the occasion of a counter-gift of a memorandumbook, possibly too fine a one for use, since we read, in stanza 122nd, that such a gift had been made, and that the poet had bestowed it on another; for which he is compelled, as we read in that stanza, to make a complimentary excuse:
“Thy gift, thy tables
Nor need I tallies, thy dear love to score ;
To trust those tables that receive thee more:
STANZAS LXXVIII TO CI.
TO HIS FRIEND, COMPLAINING THAT HE PREFERS ANOTHER POET'S PRAISES, AND REPROVING HIM FOR FAULTS
THAT MAY INJURE HIS CHARACTER.
Who this rival poet was is beyond my conjecture; nor does it matter. We perceive many intimations that he owed his preferment to flattery. Accordingly Shakespeare, in this poem particularly, disclaims such unworthiness ; asserting that he praises his friend for nothing but what all men, friends and foes, freely acknowledged. His personal beauty, which the newly favoured poet was also celebrating, he had ever made the chief subject of eulogy, as none could contradict it. Even when it became, at the time of his mistress's falling in love with it, a curse to himself, he still continued to do it justice, and, in his magnanimity, paid it equal or greater compliments while suffering from its influence. Farther, to point out how different he is from a servile poet, and to prove his honesty, he now blames the youth for his faults, excusing himself for interference by reminding him that a stain on his character affects a friend. The faults he notices are those of licentious conversation, and fickleness in his friendship. His sharpest reproof for the latter fault is in these lines :
“Farewell ! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate !" The reproof for the other fault, is given with a pater
nal love. It is contained in stanzas 94th, 95th, and 96th. Only imagine them, with Dr. Chalmers, addressed to old Queen Elizabeth ! I give them for their excellence, and in illustration.
“ The summer flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die;
The basest weed outbraves his dignity;
Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose !
Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
Which for a habitation chose out thee!
And all things turns to fair that eyes can see!
The hardest knife ill-used doth lose its edge.
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
and faults are loved of more or less ;
The basest jewel will be well esteem'd;
To truths translated, and for true things deem'd.
If like a lamb he could his looks translate !