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the last to think of, and which it shews the greatest ingenuity in him to find out. The whole is laboured, up-hill work. The poet is perpetually singling out the difficulties of the art to make an hibition of his strength and skill in wrestling with them. He is making perpetual trials of them as if his mastery over them were doubted. The images, which are often striking, are generally applied to things which they are the least like: so that they do not blend with the poem, but seem stuck upon it, like splendid patch-work, or remain quite distinct from it, like detached substances, painted and varnished over. A beautiful thought is sure to be lost in an endless commentary upon it. The speakers are like persons who have both leisure and inclination to make riddles on their own situation, and to twist and turn every object or incident into acrosticks and anagrams.
Every thing is spun out into allegory; and a digression is always preferred to the main story. Sentiment is built up upon plays of words; the hero or heroine feels, not from the impulse of passion, but from the force of dialecticks. There is besides a strange attempt to substitute the language of painting for that of poetry, to make us see their feelings in the faces of the persons; and again, consistently with this, in the description of the picture in Tarquin and Lucrece, those circumstances are chiefly insisted on, which it would be impossible to convey except by words. The invocation to Opportunity in the Tarquin and Lucrece, is full of thoughts and images, but at the same time it is over-loaded by them. The concluding stan
za expresses all our objections to this kind of poetry :
“Oh! idle words, servants to shallow fools ;
The description of the horse in Venus and Adonis has been particularly admired, and not without
“Round hoof'd, short jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Now this inventory of perfections shews great knowledge of the horse ; and is good matter of fact poetry. Let the reader but compare it with a speech in the Midsummer Night's Dream where Theseus describes his hounds
66 And their heads are hung
and he will perceive at once what we mean by the difference between Shakspeare's own poetry, and that of his plays. We prefer the Passionate Pilgrim very much to the Lover's Complaint. It has been doubted whether the latter poem is Shakspeare's.
Of the sonnets we do not well know what to say. The subject of them seems to be somewhat equivo
cal; but many of them are highly beautiful in themselves, and interesting as they relate to the state of the personal feelings of the author. The following are some of the most striking :
Then happy I that love and am belov’d,
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
NOVELTY. “My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming'; I love not less, though less the show appear :
That love is merchandis'd, whose rich esteeming
Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
This thoui perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
In all these, as well as in many others, there is a mild tone of sentiment, deep, mellow, and sustained very different from the crudeness of his earlier poems.