Subject and servile to all discontents,
As dry combustious matter is to fire :

Sith in his prime death doth my love destroy,
They that love best, their loves shall not enjoy.

By this the boy, that by her side lay kill'd,
Was melted like a vapour from her sight,
And in his blood, that on the ground lay spill’d,
A purple flower sprung up, checquer'd with white;

Resembling well his pale cheeks, and the blood
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood.

She bows her head the new-sprung flower to smell,
Comparing it to her Adonis' breath;
And says, within her bosom it shall dwell,
Since he himself is reft from her by death:

She crops the stalk, and in the breach appears
Green dropping sap, which she compares to tears.

Poor flower, quoth she, this was thy father's guise,
Sweet issue of a more sweet-smelling sire,
For every little grief to wet his eyes:
To grow unto himself was his desire,

And so 'tis thine ; but know, it is as good
To wither in my breast, as in his blood.

Here was thy father's bed, here in my breast ;
Thou art the next of blood, and 'tis thy right:
Lo! in this hollow cradle take thy rest,
My throbbing heart shall rock thee day and night:

There shall not be one minute in an hour,
Wherein I will not kiss my sweet love's flower.

Thus weary of the world, away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves; by whose swift aid
Their mistress mounted through the empty skies
In her light chariot quickly is convey'd ;

Holding their course to Paphos, where their queen
Means to immure herself and not be seen.


“Lvcrece. London. Printed by Richard Field, for Iohn Harrison, and are to be sold at the signe of the white Greyhound in Paules Churh-yard. 1594.” 4to. 47 leaves.

“Lvcrece At London, Printed by P. S. for John Harrison. 1598." 8vo. 36 leaves.

“ Lvcrece London. Printed by I. H for Iohn Harrison. 1600." 8vo. 36 leaves.

“ Lvcrece. At London, Printed be N. O, for Iohn Harison. 1607." 8vo. 32 leaves.


“Lucrece," as it is merely called in the earlier impressions, came out in the year following “ Venus and Adonis," and it was printed for John Harrison, the publisher of the edition of “ Venus and Adonis,” in 1596. It had been previously entered, under a more explanatory title, in the Stationers' Registers :

“ 9 May 1594. “ Mr. Harrison, sen.) A booke intitled the Ravyshement of

Lucrece." Like “ Venus and Adonis," it was dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, but in a more confident and assured spirit.

This second production was, probably, not quite so popular as the first, and it was not again printed until 1598, for the same bookseller, who put forth a third edition of it in 1600 : the fourth edition was issued in 1607: these are not so marked, and Malone tells us that he had heard of impressions in 1596 and 1602, but they have not since come to light; and our belief is, that “Lucrece was only printed four times between 1594 and 1607. An edition in 1616 purports to have been “newly revised and corrected;" but, as Malone truly states, “it is the most inaccurate and corrupt of the ancient copies; and he adds that “most of the alterations seem to have been made, because the reviser did not understand the poet's meaning." That Shakespeare had nothing to do with the revision and correction of this edition requires no proof; and so little was it esteemed, that it was not followed in its changes in the edition of 1624, which also professes to have been “newly revised.” This last is accompanied by marginal notes, prosaically explanatory of the incidents poetically narrated.

The earliest mention of " Lucrece occurs in the year in which it made its first appearance. Michael Drayton published his “Matilda," (a poem in seven-line stanzas, like “Lucrece") in 1594, and there we meet with the following passage :

“ Lucrece, of whom proud Rome hath boasted long,

Lately reviv'd to live another age,
And here arriv'd to tell of Tarquin's wrong,
Her chaste denial, and the tyrant's rage,
Acting her passions on our stately stage :

She is remember'd, all forgetting me,
Yet I as fair and chaste as e'er was she.”

A difficulty here may arise out of the fifth line, as if Drayton were referring to a play upon the story of Lucrece, and it is very possible that one was then in existence. Thomas Heywood's tragedy, “ The Rape of Lucrece," did not appear in print until 1608, and he could hardly have been old enough to have been the author of such a drama in 1594: he may, nevertheless, have availed himself of an elder play, and, according to the practice of the time, he may have felt warranted in publishing it as his own. It is likely, however, that Drayton's expressions are not to be taken literally, and that his meaning merely was, that the story of Lucrece had lately been revived, and brought upon the stage of the world: if this opinion be correct, the stanza we have above quoted contains a clear allusion to Shakespeare's "Lucrece;" and a question then presents itself, why Drayton entirely omitted it in the after impressions of his “ Matilda ?" He was a poet who, as we have shown in the Introduction to “ Julius Cæsar," (Vol. vii. p. 4) was in the habit of making extensive alterations in his productions, as they were severally reprinted, and the suppression of this stanza may have proceeded from many other causes than repentance of the praise he had bestowed

upon a rival,

It may

The edition of " Lucrece" we have taken as our text is the first, which, like “ Venus and Adonis," was printed by Richard Field, though not on his own account.

be stated on the whole to be an extremely creditable specimen of his typography: as the sheets were going through the press, some material errors were, however, observed in them, and they are therefore in several places corrected. This fact has hitherto escaped remark, but the variations are explained in our notes.

Modern editors have performed their task without due care, but of their want of attention we shall only here adduce two specimens. In one of the speeches in which Lucrece endeavours to dissuade Tarquin from his purpose, she tells him,

“ Thou back’st reproach against long-living laud." Which every

modern editor misprints,

“ Thou back’st reproach against long-lived laud." Our second proof is from a later portion of the poem, just after Collatine has returned home, and meets his dishonoured wife : the true text, speaking of Collatine and Lucretia, is,

Both stood like old acquaintance in a trance

Met far from home, wondering each other's chance." Malone, and all editors after him, make nonsense of the couplet, by printing,

But stood like old acquaintance in a trance," &c. depriving the verb of its nominative, and destroying the whole force of the figure. It would be easy to add other instances of the same kind, but we refer for them to our notes.

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