« السابقةمتابعة »
In that collection it is immediately succeeded by another poem, almost equally celebrated, bearing the signature of “ Ignoto :
THE Nympu's REPLY TO THE SHEPHERD.
If all the world and love were young,
Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy belt of straw, and ivy buds,
But could youth last, and love still breed,
In our Illustrations of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III., we have already noticed the probable authorship of these poems. Warburton, upon the authority of The Passionate Pilgrim, assigns “Come live with me” to Shakspeare. But we fear that Mr. William Jaggard's authority is not quite so much to be relied upon as that of “ England's Helicon ;” and, moreover, there was an honest witness living some fifty years after, whose traditionary evidence must go far to settle the point. We cannot resist the pleasure of transcribing dear Izaak Walton's testimony: “Look ! under that broad beech-tree I sat down when I was last this way a-fishing. And the birds in the adjoining grove seemed to have a friendly contention with an echo, whose dead voice scemed to live in a hollow tree near to the brow of that primrose-hill. There I sat viewing the silver streams glide silently towards their centre, the tempestuous sea; but sometimes opposed by rugged roots and pebble-stones, which broke their waves, and turned them into foam. And sometimes I beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs — some leaping securely in the cool shade, whilst others sported themselves in the cheerful sun; and saw others craving comfort from the swollen udders of their bleating dams. As thus I sat, these and other sights had so fully possessed my soul with content that I thought, as the poet has happily expressed it,
• I was for that time lifted above earth,
As I left this place, and entered into the next field, a second pleasure entertained me : 'twas a handsome milkmaid, that had not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to load her mind with any fears of many things that will never be, as too many men too often do; but she cast away all care, and sung like a nightingale : her voice was good, and the ditty fitted for it; it was that smooth song which was made by Kit Marlow, now at least fifty years ago. And the milkmaid's mother sung an answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger days.
They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good; I think much better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in this critical age. Look yonder ! on my word, yonder they both be a-milking again. I will give her the chub, and persuade them to sing those two songs to us."
We have now gone through all the poems of The Passionate Pilgrim; and, taking away the five poems which are undoubtedly Shakspeare's, but which are to be found in the Sonnets and Love's Labor 's Lost, and considering at least as apocryphal those which have been assigned to other authors, there is not a great deal left that posterity may thank Mr. William Jaggard for having rescued from oblivion.
There are two other poems that usually follow The Passionate Pilgrim, though they form no part of that collection. The first is the celebrated song of
“ Take, O take those lips away."
Our readers are aware that the first stanza is found in Measure for Measure, as sung by a boy to Mariana, who says, “ Break off thy song.” The two stanzas are in the tragedy, ascribed to Fletcher of " Rollo, Duke of Normandy.” There is no possibility, we apprehend, of deciding the authorship of the second stanza, (see Illustrations of Measure for Measure, Act iv.) The other poem, beginning,
“Let the bird of loudest lay,”
is found with Shakspeare's name in a book printed in 1601, the greater part of which consists of a poem translated from the Italian by Robert Chester, entitled “Love's Martyr; or, Rosalin's Complaint: allegorically shadowing the Truth of Love, in the constant Fate of the Phænix and Turtle.” There is a second title to this volume prefixed to some supplementary verses :
6 Hereafter follow diverse Poetical Essaies on the former Subject, viz., the Turtle and Phænix. Done by the best and chiefest of our modern Writers, with their Names subscribed to their particular Works. Never before extant.” The name “ Wm. Shake-speare ” is subscribed to this poem, in the same way that the names of Ben Jon. son, Marston, and Chapman are subscribed to other poems.
"If the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather.” These are the words which, in relation to the Venus and Adonis, Shakspeare addressed, in 1593, to the Earl of Southampton. Are we to accept them literally? Was the Venus and Adonis the first production of Shakspeare's imagination ? Or did he put out of his view those dramatic performances which he had then unquestionably produced, in deference to the critical opinions which regarded plays as works not be. longing to "invention"? We think that he used the words in a literal sense. We regard the Venus and Adonis as the production of a very young man, improved, perhaps, considerably in the interval between its first composition and its publication, but distinguished by peculiarities which belong to the wild luxuriance of youthful power, — such power, however, as few besides Shakspeare have ever possessed.
A deep thinker and eloquent writer, Julius Charles Hare, thus describes the spirit of self-sacrifice," as applied to poetry :