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The chest of time is the repository where he lays up the most rare and curious productions of nature, one of which the poet esteemed his friend. Malone.
Time's chest is the repository into which he is poetically supposed to throw those things which he designs to be forgotten. The thief who evades pursuit may be said with propriety to lie hid from justice, or from confinement. STEEVENS.
Ib. 1. 9. Can hold their swift foot. Read---his swift, &c.
Ib. 1. 10. Spoil on beauty. The first editions read -of beauty, which is preferable. Others read---or beauty, which is unintelligible. EDITOR.
Ib. 1. 19. And right protection. Read---perfection.
Ib. 1. 23. Miscalld simplicity. Simplicity has here the signification of folly.
P.4, 1.2. On you tend. An abbreviation of attend. So in p. 5, 1. 1, and elsewhere. EDITOR.
Ib. 1. 5. And the counterfeit ; i. e. portrait.
Ib. I. 9. Foyzen of the year. Foysen, or foizon ; i. e. plenty.
This word is yet in common use in the north of England. MALONE.
Ib. 1. 11. The other as your bounty, &c. The foizon, or plentiful season ; that is, the autumn is the emblem of your beauty. MALONE.
Ib 1. 19. The canker-blooms, &c. The canker is the canker-rose, or dog-rose. Malone.
Shakespeare had not yet begun to observe the productions of nature with accuracy, or his eyes would have convinced him that the cynorhadon is by no means of as deep a colour as the rose. But what has truth or nature to do with Sonnets? STEEVENS.
Ib. I. 23. But for their virtues only in their show. Other copies read---But for their virtue only is their show.
For has here the signification of Because. So in Othello :--
“ Haply for I am black.” MALONE.
Ib. 1. 28. By verse distils your truth. Thus the old copy, which, Mr. Malone thinks, reads corruptedly. The other editions have it intelligibly---my verse, &c.
P. 5, 1. 5. The world-without-end hour. The tedious hour that seems as if it would never end. MaLONE,
Ib. 1. 25. To what you will. Thus the quarto; the other editions read--Do what you will.
There can, I think, be no doubt that To was a misprint. Malone.
P.6, 1. 11. Since mine at first in character was done. Read---Since mind, &c.
Would that I could read a description of you in the earliest manuscript, that appeared after the first use of letters. That this is the meaning appears clearly from the next line :
“That I might see what the old world could say." Again,---- The wits of former days, &c. MALONE.
This may allude to the ancient custom of inserting real portraits among the ornaments of illuminated manuscripts, with inscriptions under them. STEE
· Ib. 1. 14. Or where better they. Read-or whe'r; i. e. whether. See note, vol. I. p. 13, 1. 22.
Ib. 1. 22. His tender air. Read--tender heir.
P.7. 1. 10. To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee. The ancient editors of Shakespeare's works deserve at least the praise of impartiality. If they have occasionally corrupted his noble sentiments, they have likewise depraved his short miserable conceits, as, pero haps, in this instance. I read, (piteous constraint, to read such stuff at all)
" this glutton be, “To eat the world's due be thy grave and thee." i. e. be at once thyself and thy grave. The letters that form the two words were formerly transposed. STEEVENS.
I do not believe there is any corruption in the text. Mankind being daily thinned by the grave, the world could not subsist if the places of those who are taken off by death were not filled by the birth of children. Hence Shakespeare considers the propagation of the species as the world's due, as a right to which it is entitled, and which it may demand from every individual. The sentiment in the line before us, it must be owned, is quaintly expressed ; but the obscurity arises chiefly, I think, from the awkward collocation of the words, for the sake of rhyme. The meaning seems to be this :--Pity the world which is daily depopulated by the grave, and beget children in order to supply the loss; or, if you do not fulfil this duty, acknowledge, that as a glutton swallows and consumes more than is sufficient for his own support, so you (who by the course of nature must die, and by your own remissness are likely to die childless) thus, “ living and dying in single blessedness,” consume and destroy the world's due, to the desolation of which you will doubly cmtribute :--- 1st, by thy death. 2dly, by the dying childless.
Our author's plays, as well as the poems before us, affording a sufficient number of conceits, it is rather hard that he should be answerable for such as can only be obtained through the medium of alteration; that he should be ridiculed not only for what he has, but for what he has not written. Malone.
The two succeeding stanzas fully corroborate this latter exposition. We are often apt, like the late Mr. Steevens, to condemn what we do not understund. EDITOR.
Ib. I. 14. A tatter'd weed; i. e. a torn garment. MALONE.
P. 8, 1. 3. Un-eard; i. e. unploughed. Malone.
Ib. I. 5. Or who is, he so fond; i. e. foolish. MALONE.
Ib 1.11 But if thou live. This is correct; yet in the former part of the stanza we read-- . if now thou not renewest ;” a sufficient proof, that grammar, in Shakespeare's time, was willingly sacrificed for the sake of rhyme. EDITOR.
Ib. ib. Remember not to be. Read---Remember'd. Whose existence posterity will forget. EDITOR.
Ib. 1. 15. Then you yourself. Read ---than, &c.
Ib. 1. 22. Who let. Read-o-lets, which has here its modern signification.
Ib. 1. 23. Which husbandry, &c. Husbandry is ge
nerally used by Shakespeare for æconomical prudence. MALONE.
P. 9, 1. 10. By aught predict. Thus Dr. Sewell reads; but the old editions have it---By oft predict, wbich Mr. Malone thinks right.
The old reading may be the true one.---By oft predict, may mean---By what is most frequently prognosticated. STEEVENS.
Ib. 1. 12. And constant stars, &c. Read---And (constant stars) in them, &c.
Ib. I. 14. If from thyself, to store thou would'st convert; i. e. If thou would'st change thy single state and, beget a numerous progeny. MALONE.
Ib. 1. 24. And wear the brave, &c. Read--their brave, &c.
P. 10, 1. 10. Bear you living flowers. The first edition reads, by an apparent error of the press---your living flowers. Malone.
Ib. l. 11. Painted counterfeit. A counterfeit formerly signified a portrait. MALONE.
Ib. 1. 12. The lines of life. This appears to me obscure. Perhaps the poet wrote---the lives of life; i. e. children. MALONE.
The lines of life, perhaps, are living features, AnoNYMOUS.
This explanation is very plausible. Shakespeare has again used line, with a reference to painting, in " All's well that ends well.”
“And every line and trick of his sweet favor." MALONE.