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She looks upon his lips, and they are pale ;
She takes him by the hand, and that is cold ;
She whispers in his ears a heavy tale,
As if they heard the woful words she told :
She lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes,
Where, lo! two lamps, burnt out, in darkness lies:
“My tongue cannot express my grief for one,
And yet," quoth she, “behold two Adons dead !
My sighs are blown away, my salt tears gone,
Mine eyes are turned to fire, my heart to lead :
Heavy heart's lead melt at mine eyes' red fire !
So shall I die by drops of hot desire.
"Alas, poor world, what treasure hast thou lost!
What face remains alive that 's worth the viewing ?
Whose tongue is music now? what canst thou boast
Of things long since, or anything ensuing ?
The flowers are sweet, their colours fresh and trim,
But true-sweet beauty lived and died with him.
Two glasses where herself herself beheld
A thousand times, and now no more reflect;
Their virtue lost wherein they late excelled,
And every beauty robbed of his effect :
“Wonder of time," quoth she, “this is my spite,
That, you being dead, the day should yet be light.
Lucius TARQUINIU8 (for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus), after he had caused his own father-in-law, Servius Tullius,
to be cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom, went, accompanied with his sons, and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea. During which siege, the principal men of the army meeting one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the king's son, in their discourses after supper every one commended the virtues of his own wife; among whom, Collatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humour they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and sudden arrival, to make trial of that which every one had before avouched, only Collatinus finds his wife (though it were late in the night) spinning amongst her maids : the other ladies were all found dancing and revelling, or in several disports. Whereupon the noblemen yielded Collatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time, Sextus Tarquinius being inflamed with Lucrece' beauty, yet smothering his passions for the present, departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was (according to his state) royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Collatium. The same night, he treacherously stealeth into her chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the morning speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily despatcheth messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the camp for Collatine. They came, the one accompanied with Junius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius; and finding Lucrece attired in mourning habit, demanded the cause of her sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them for her revenge, revealed the actor, and whole manner of his dealing, and withal suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one consent they all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins; and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the people with the doer and manner of the vile deed with a bitter invective against the tyranny of the king: wherewith the people were so moved, that with one consent and a general acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state government changed from kings to consulg.
From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathéd Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire,
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlocked the treasure of his happy state :
What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate
That kings might be espouséd to more fame,
But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.
Haply that name of “chaste" unhapp’ly set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumphed in that sky of his delight;
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.
O happiness enjoyed but of a few !
And if possessed, as soon decayed and done
As is the morning's silver-melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expired date, cancelled ere well begun :
Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortressed from a world of harms.
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
of men without an orator;
What needeth then apology be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish ears, because it is his own?
Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested this proud issue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting (vaunt
His high-pitched thoughts, that meaner men should
That golden hap which their superiors want.
But some untimely thought did instigate
His all-too-timeless speed, if none of those:
His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state,
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes
To quench the coal which in his liver glows.
O rash-false heat, wrapt in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts and ne'er grows old !
This earthly saint, adoréd by this devil,
Little suspecteth the false worshipper ;
For unstained thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
Birds never limed no secret bushes fear:
So, guiltless, she securely gives good cheer
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm expressed :
For that he coloured with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty;
That nothing in him seemed inordinate,
Save sometime too much wonder of his eye,
Which, having all, all could not satisfy ;
But, poorly rich, so wanteth in his store,
That cloyed with much, he pineth still for more.
But she, that never coped with stranger eyes,
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books;
She touched no unknown baits, nor feared no hooks ;
Nor could she moralise his wanton sight,
More than his eyes were opened to the light.
He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy;
And decks with praises Collatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry,
With bruised arms and wreaths of victory; .
Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express,
And wordless so, greets heaven for his success.
When at Collatium this false lord arrived,
Well was he welcomed by the Roman dame,
Within whose face beauty and virtue strived
Which of them both should underprop her fame :
When virtue bragged, beauty would blush for shame ;
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
Virtue would stain that o'er with silver white.
But beauty, in that white intituléd,
From Venus' doves doth challenge that fair field;
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden age to gild
Their silver cheeks, and called it then their shield;
Teaching them thus to use it in the light,
When shame assailed, the red should fence the white.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither,
He makes excuses for his being there.
No cloudy show of stormy blustering weather,
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear;
Till sable Night, mother of Dread and Fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display,
And in her vaulty prison stows the day.
For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending weariness with heavy spright;
For after supper long he questioned
With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night:
Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight;
And every one to rest himself betakes,
[wakes. Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds, that
This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white.
Of either's colour was the other queen,
Proving from world's minority their right:
Yet their ambition makes them still to fight;
The sovereignty of either being so great,
That oft they interchange each other's seat.
This silent war of lilies and of roses,
Which Tarquin viewed in her fair face's field,
In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses ;
Where, lest between them both it should be killed,
The coward captive vanquished doth yield
To those two armies, that would let him go,
Rather than triumph in so false a foe.
As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining;
Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
Tho' weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining:
Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining;
And when great treasure is the meed proposed,
Though death be adjunct there's no death supposed.
Those that much covet are with gain so fond,
That what they have not, that which they possess
They scatter and unloose it from their bond,
And so, by hoping more, they have but less;
Or, gaining more, the profit of excess
Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain,
That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.
Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue
(The niggard prodigal that praised her so)
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to shew :
Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe,
Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.
The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honour, wealth, and ease, in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife,
That one for all, or all for one, we gage ;
As life for honour in fell battles' rage;
Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and altogether lost.
"O shame to knighthood and to shining arms !
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act, including all foul harms!
A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!
True valour still a true respect should have;
Then my digression is so vile, so base,
That it will live engraven in my face.
“Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive,
And be an eye-sore in my golden coat;
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive
To cipher me, how fondly I did dote ;
That my posterity, shamed with the note,
Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
To wish that I their father had not been.
So that in vent'ring ill, we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect;
And this ambitious foul infirmity,
In having much torments us with defect
Of that we have: so then we do neglect
The thing we have; and, all for want of wit,
Make something nothing by augmenting it.
Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust;
And, for himself, himself he must forsake :
Then where is truth if there be no self-trust ?
When shall he think to find a stranger just,
When he himself himself confounds, betrays
To slanderous tongues and wretched hateful days ?
“What win I if I gain the thing I seek ?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week:
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy ?
Or what fond beggar but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?
Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes;
No comfortable star did lend his light,
No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries :
Now serves the season that they may surprise
The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
While lust and murder wake to stain and kill.
“If Collatinus dream of my intent
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage
Post hither this vile purpose to prevent ?
This siege that hath engirt his marriage,
This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,
This dying virtue, this surviving shame,
Whose crime will bear an ever-during blame!
And now this lustful lord leaped from his bed,
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm ;
Is madly tossed between desire and dread;
Th’ one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm;
But honest Fear, bewitched with lust's foul charm,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten away by brain-sick rude Desire.
“O what excuse can my invention make,
When thou shalt charge me with so black a deed ?
Will not my tongue be mute, my frail joints shake;
Mine eyes forego their light, my false heart bleed?
The guilt being great the fear doth still exceed;
And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
But coward-like with trembling terror die.
“ Had Collatinus killed my son or sire,
Or lain in ambush to betray my life,
Or were he not my dear friend, this desire
Might have excuse to work upon his wife ;
As in revenge or quittal of such strife :
But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
His falchion on a fint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lightech,
Which must be lode-star to his lustful eye;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:
“As from this cold flint I enforced this fire,
So Lucrece must I force to my desire."
Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
And in his inward mind he doth debate
What following sorrow may on this arise :
Then looking scornfully, he doth despise
His naked armour of still-slaughtered lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust.
"Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine !
And die unballowed thoughts before you blot
With your uncleanness that which is divine !
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine:
Let fair humanity abhor the deed
That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed.
“ Shameful it is ;'-ay, if the fact be known:
• Hateful it is;'-—there is no hate in loving:
I'll beg her love ;-'but she is not her own:'
The worst is but denial and reproving :
My will is strong past reason's weak removing :
Who fears a sentence or an old man's saw,
Shall by a painted cloth be kept in awe."
Thus graceless holds he disputation,
'Tween frozen conscience and hot burning will,
And with good thoughts makes dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still ;
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed,
That what is vile shews like a virtuous deed.