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The homely villain curtsies to her low,
And blushing on her with a stedfast eye,
Receives the scroll without or yea or no:
For outward bashful innocence doth fly.
But they whose guilt within their bosoms lie,
Imagine every eye beholds their blame,
For Lucrece thought he blush'd to see her shame.
When silly groom, God wot, it was defect,
Of spirit, life, and bold audacity;
Such harmless creatures have a true respect
To talk in deeds, while others saucily
Promise more speed, but do it leisurely.
Even so this pattern of the worn-out age
Pawn'd honest looks, but laid no words to gage.
His kindled duty kindled her mistrust,
That two red fires in both their faces blaz’d,
She thought he blush'd as knowing Tarquin's lust,
And blushing with him, wistly on him gaz'd ;
Her earnest eye did make him more amaz’d;
The more she saw the blood his cheeks replenish,
The more she thought he spy'd in her some blemish. But long she thinks till he return again, And yet the duteous vassal scarce is gone ; The weary time she cannot entertain, For now 'tis stale to sigh, to weep, and groan. So wo hath wearied wo, moan tired moan,
That she her plaints a little while doth stay,
Pausing for means to mourn some newer way.
At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece
Of skilful painting made for Priam's Troy ;
Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
For Helen's rape the city to destroy,
Threatening cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy ;
Which the conceited painter drew so proud,
As heaven, it seem’d, to kiss the turrets bow'd.
A thousand lamentable objects there,
In scorn of nature, art gave lifeless life;
Many a dire drop seem'd a weeping tear,
Shed for the slaughter'd busband by the wife.
The red blood reek'd to shew the painter's strife,
And dying eyes gleam'd forth their ashy lights,
Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.
There might you see the labouring pioneer
Begrim'd with sweat, and smeared all with dust!
And from the towers of Troy, there would appear
The very eyes of men thro' loop-holes thrust,
Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust :
Such sweet observance in this work was had,
That one might see those far-off eyes look sad..
In great commanders, grace and majesty
You might behold triumphing in their faces.
In youth quick-bearing and dexterity:
And here and there the painter interlaces
Pale cowards marching on with trembling paces :
Which heartless peasants did so well resemble,
That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble.
In Ajax and Ulysses, O what art
Of phisiognomy might one behold!
The face of either cypher'd either's heart;
Their face, their manners most expressly told.
In Ajax's eyes blunt rage and rigour roll'd ;
But the mild glance that she Ulysses lent,
Show'd deep regard and smiling government.
There pleading might you see brave Nestor stand,
As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight,
Making such sober actions with his hand,
That it beguil'd attention, charm’d the sight:
In speech it seem'd his beard, all silver white,
Wagg'd up and down, and from his lips did fly
Thin winding breath, which pearl'd up to the sky.
About him were a press of gaping faces,
Which seem'd to swallow up his sound advice;
All jointly list’ning, but with several graces,
As if some mermaid did their ears entice;
Some high, some low, the painter was so nice.
The scalps of many almost hid behind,
To jump up higher seem'd to mock the minda
Here one man's hand lean'd on another's head,
His nose being shadow'd by his neighbour's ear ;
Here one being throng'd, bears back all swoln and red ;
Another smother'd seems to pelt and swear,
And in their rage, (such signs of rage they bear,)
As but for loss of Nestor's golden words,
It seems they would debate with angry swords.
For much imaginary work was there ;
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear,
Grip'd in an armed hand ; himself behind
Was left unseen, save in the eye of mind :
A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imagined. And from the walls of strong besieged Troy, When their brave hope, bold Hector, march'd to field, Stood many Trojan mothers, sharing joy, To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield, And to their hope they such odd action yield,
That thro' their light joy seemed to appear,
(Like bright things stain’d) a kind of heavy fear. And from the strond of Dardan where they fought, To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran; Whose waves to imitate the battle fought With swelling ridges ; and their ranks began To break upon the galled shore, and then Retire again, till meeting greater ranks,
They join, and shoot their foam at Simois' banks.
To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come
To find a face where all distress is stellid ;
Many she sees, where cares have carved some,
But none where all distress and dolour dwell’d,
Till she despairing Hecuba beheld,
Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,
Who bleeding under Pyrrhus' proud foot lies.
In her the painter had anatomiz'd
Time's ruin, beauty's wreck, and grim care's reign ;
Her cheeks with chops and wrinkles were disguis'd;
Of what she was no semblance did remain ;
Her blue blood chang'd to black in every vein:
Wanting the spring that those shrunk pipes had fed,
Show'd life imprison'd in a body dead.
On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes,
And shapes her sorrow to the beldame's woes ;
Who nothing wants to answer but her cries,
And bitter words to ban her cruel foes.
The painter was no god to lend her those ;
And therefore Lucrece swears he did her wrong,
To give her so much grief, and not a tongue.
Poor instrument (quoth she) without a sound !
I'll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue ;
And drop sweet balm in Priam's painted wound,
And rail on Pyrrhus, that hath done him wrong,
And with my tears quench Troy, that burnt so long :
And with thy knife scratch out the angry eyes
Of all the Greeks, that are thine enemies.
Show me this strumpet, that began this stir,
That with my nails her beauty I may tear:
Thy heat of lust fond Paris did incur
This load of wrath, that burning Troy did bear;
Thy eye kindled the fire that burneth here :
And here in Troy, for trespass of thine eye,
The sire, the son, the dame and daughter die.
Why should the private pleasure of some one,
Become the publick plague of many moe?
Let sin, alone committed, light alone
Upon his head, that hath transgressed so,
Let guiltless souls be freed from guilty wo.
For one's offence why should so many fall,
To plague a private sin in general ?
Lo ! here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies !
Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus sounds!
Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies !
And friend to friend gives unadvised wounds!
And one man's lust these many lives confound !
Had doating Priam check'd his son's desire,
Troy had been bright with fame, and not with fire.
Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes :
For sorrow, like a heavy hanging bell,
Once set a ringing, with his own weight goes ;
Then little strength rings out the doleful knell.
So Lucrece set a-work, sad tales doth tell
To pencil'd pensiveness, and colour'd sorrow;
She lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.
She throws her eyes about the painted round,
And whom she finds forlorn she doth lament:
At last she sees a wretched image bound,
That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent;
His face, tho' full of cares, yet show'd content.
Onward to Troy with these blunt swains he goes,
So mild, that patience seem'd to scorn his woes.
In him the painter labour'd with his skill,
To hide deceit, and give the harmless show,
An humble gait, calm looks, eyes wailing still,
A brow unbent, that seem'd to welcome woe ;
Cheeks, neither red, nor pale, but mingled so,
That blushing red, no guilty instance gave,
Nor ashy pale, the fear that false hearts have.
But like a constant and confirmed devil,
He entertain'd a show so seeming just ;
And therein so insconc'd this secret evil,
That jealousy itself could not mistrust,
False creeping craft and perjury should thrust,
Into so bright a day such black-fac'd storms,
Or blot with hell-born sin such saint-like forms.
The well skill'd woman this wild image drew
For perjur'd Sinon, whose inchanting story
The credulous old Priam after slew ;
Whose words like wild-fire burnt the shining glory
Of rich-built Ilion ; that the skies were sorry,
And little stars shot from their fixed places,
When their glass fell wherein they viewed their faces.
This picture she advisedly perus’d,
And chid the painter for his wond'rous skill;
Saying, some shape in Sinon's was abus'd,
So fair a form lodg'd not a mind so ill: