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his romantic love affair; or have but touched slightingly upon it, but the time is now come when the explanation is called for, and as his Sonnets are in part the object of Shakespeare's satire, it is given here.

nature, and poor in conception. Sir Fulke wrote a memoir of his friend, in which he highly extolled the “Arcadia," but says not a word of his great poetical work, “ Astrophel and Stella.” He undoubtedly viewed that performance as a blot upon his fame. The letter above referred to is only to be found in the edition of Sir Fulke Greville's poems printed in 1633.


The singularity of the conceit of Shakespeare claiming the mistress of his friend as his own, though she was really the friend's love alone, was a purposed imitation of the extravagant assertions and eccentric loving of the Italian and English sonnetteers. As remarked in Preliminary Observations, it was their custom to entertain a futile love. Sidney we have seen declared he was not ashamed to address Stella in bewitching sonnets as his own after she was the wife of another; hence Shakespeare's fantastic imitation with a view of satire.*

That it was a concerted scheme between the poet and his friend that a poetical diary should be formed of passing events connected with their mystical friendship is shown in Sonnets 34, 36, 88, 95, and 96, in which the poet reminds his friend that he is to record his faults, and in Sonnets 61 and 117 the friend is reminded that he is to record the errors of the poet. This mutual record is kept in the last twenty-eight. In Sonnets 139

and 140, the poet is to speak of the faults of the mistress, and in the 142nd she is to speak of her own, as he does of his; and in the 151st, were she to denounce the poets's faults, she would be but urging her own. Hence the scheme was of mutual approval, and each understood its significance and application. The friend of Shakespeare, like the poet, may have merely affected to be in love with the mistress; he was probably delighted with her for joining them in their sonnet scheme, and making up the friendly trio. It may have been her office to speak of the Sonnets, and circulate them so as to come into the hands of Lady Rich, the one whom they (the last series) were intended to represent in not very flattering pictures, reflecting, as shown, her image and acts. * Upon the part of Herbert's lady friend, she would well know that Shakespeare's allegorical love for her was but in contrast to the Muse's allegorical love for the friend ; for in the address to the mistress the poet not only conceives that she is his mistress, but that she is wedded to him in like mystic allegory as is the friend to the Muse; and she is also desired to view their mutual friendship, as converted, by the process of allegory, to loving wedlock, to pursue a scheme perhaps unattainable any other way, and in which she delighted to join, though she

* The reader must remember that the poet does not point alone at Lady Rich, though by her being the foremost sonnetted lady of the age, and having proved, as represented, so corrupt in her wedded love to wedded lovers, the allusions are chiefly to her.

* It is on record that Herbert, Southampton, and other lords, were frequentl; in the company of Lady Rich at the date 1598 to 1602, which was just the time these Sonnets were written ; they, being friends of Mountjoy, would witness more of her mode of life than was observed by the world, and would perhaps see the effect these Sonnets, apparently penned for another, would have on her. This would resemble the play scene in Hamlet. The Sonnets may have been the things to touch her conscience. See letters of Rowland White, the post-master, to Sir Robert Sidney, Governor of Flushing, by whom he was employed to notify to him the news of the court.Collins Memorials of State, 2 vols, folio, 1746. We have seen Shakespeare warns his friend in Sonnet 70 to avoid mixing too much with those whom the world censures, lest he should be slandered with them.


did not think it prudent to comply with every condition of the allegory, not even in idea alone, since the poet entreats her in vain to delude herself with the belief that the two friends are but one. Though he some times deludes himself that he has taught her, not in vain, to deceive herself with the same belief with which he deceives himself, that he is alone her lover, and she alone his love, yet this self delusion he discovers to be but a dream. She will not give her soul up to this belief ;* but the poet resolves, upon his part, though she may still disregard his love, to blindly think she loves him and no other; and in the 151st, which is a reflex of the 136th,t he feigns to give himself entirely up to the belief that he is her real lover, and is beloved by her. The poet sportingly uses every argument to induce her to believe so; he requests her to devise any self flattery to accomplish it—to love him among a number, or to accept his love as nothing, so she loves that nothing, or to love but his name ; she will then have her heart's desire, her loving William. In the 138th he pictures to her the happy result of such mutual Hattery. The mere apprehension delights him ; he will not only gain an attractive mistress, but in idea will be also young and beautiful. If she will fully believe this, he will consider his wish to be

* Shakespeare may, for the definite purpose already shown, appear to speak slightingly of the soul; yet he evidently viewed our bodies but as worthless cases containing that heavenly jewel. The 146th Sonnet, addressed to the soul, proves the poet's belief in a future reward of virtue; the 55th also attests his belief in the day of juc.gment; his will, in the divinity of Christ; and his dramas in the Bible as the book of God.

+ In the 135th and 136th, Will is harped upon in imitation of Rich in the Sonnets of Sidney ; in the 135th, line 2, he pleasantly hints that though she is not Lady Rich, she is rich in Will.”

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accomplished. If demanded why this belief is entertained, an excuse is proposed : the poet may say, love being trust, he lovingly believed his mistress; and as the lover does not like to have his years told, the mistress will be silent. Thus each will lovingly deceive the other. But all without avail. Had she complied, he would have ceased blaming her; but since she would not, in pursuance of the satirical allegory, she who is the most beautiful he views as least so, on account of the sweet thief of love taking his friend from his Muse, for which reason he assumes he has a right to poetically feign he is her lover and she his love. Thus the poet alternately praises and blames her, feigns to be rejoiced and then again to be depressed. Sometimes he views her in mental vision as a bright angel, sometimes as a dark one; sometimes, in a brief interim of self delusion, he praises her, but, for reasons fully shown, she is far oftener denounced and reproached in the severest and bitterest language he could devise. In strong allegorical language he had also blamed the friend, though not to the extent he blamed the mistress. Besides, the Muse everywhere apologises or makes the most loving excuses for the friend, who is praised almost throughout the entire poem to him ; and even in the section devoted to the mistress his cause is advocated. But it is not so with the mis. tress ; she receives an equal measure of praise and blame, and finally is left, in her relation to both the poet and the friend, open to allegorical censure. Sometimes the poet offers feigned excuses for her, at other times she is told she has a right to excuse herself by saying: “I once loved you, but finding my eyes too killing for you, I

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