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FROM the besieg'd Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathing Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Colatium bears the lightless fire,
Which in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire,
And girdle with embracing fames the waist
Of Colatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste,
Haply that name of chaste, unhaply set
This baitless edge on his keen appetite:
When Colatine unwisely did not let,
To praise the clear unmatched red and white,
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight:
Where mortal star, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspect did him peculiar duties.
For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
What prizeless wealth the heavens had him lent,
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reck’ning his fortune at so high a rate,
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor prince to such a peerless dame.
O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And if possess'd, as soon decay'd and done!
As is the morning's silver melting dew,
Against the golden splendour of the sun ;
A date expir'd and cancell'd ere begun.
Honour and beauty in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortress'd in a world of harms.
Beauty itself doth oft itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator ;
What needed then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular ?
Or why is Colatine the publisher
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish cares, because it is his own?
Perchance his boast of Lucrece's sov’reignty
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
His high pitcht thoughts, that meaner men should vant,
The 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.
Orash false heat, wrapt in repentant cold !
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old
When at Colatium this false lord arriv'd,
Well was he welcom'd by the Roman dame,
Within whose face beauty and virtue striv'd,
Which of them both should under prop her fame.
When virtue bragg’d, 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 intituled,
From Venus' doves doth challenge that fair field ;
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golded age to gild
Her silver cheeks, and call'd it then her shield ;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
When shame assail'd, the red should fence the white.
This heraldry in Lucrece's face was seen,
Argu'd by beauty's red and virtue's white ;
either's colour was the other queen, Proving from world's minority their right;
Yet their ambition makes them still to fight :
The sov'reignty of either being so great,
That oft they interchange each other's seat.
This silent war of lilies and of roses,
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field,
In their pure ranks his traitor eye incloses,
Where, lest between them both it should be kill'd,
The coward captive vanquished doth yield
To those two armies, that would let him go,
Rather than triumph o'er so false a foe.
Now thinks he, that her husband's shallow tongue,
The niggard prodigal that prais'd her so,
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show.
Therefore that praise, which Colatine doth owe,
Inchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still gazing eyes.
This earthly saint, adored by this devil,
Little suspected the false worshipper.
“ For thoughts unstain'd do seldom dream of evil,
“ Birds never lim’d, no secret bushes fear :"
So guiltless she securely gives good cheer
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm exprest.
For that he colour'd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in pleats of majesty,
That nothing in him seem'd inordinate,
Save sometimes too much wonder of his eye :
Which having all, all could not satisfy ;
But poorly rich so wanteth in his store,
That cloy'd with much, he pineth still for more.
But she that never cop'd with stranger-eyes,
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
Nor read the subtle shining secresies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books,
She touch'd no unknown baits, nor fear'rl no hooks ;
Nor could she moralize his wanton sight
More, than his eyes were open'd to the light.
He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy ;
And decks with praises Colatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry,
With bruised arms and wreaths of victory.
Her joy with heav'd-up hand she doth express,
And, wordless, so greets heav'n for his success.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither,
He makes excuses for his being there ;
No cloudy show of stormy blusťring weather,
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear,
Till sable night, sad source of dread and fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display,
And in her vaulty prison shuts the day.
For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending weariness with heavy sprite ;
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 themselves betake,
Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds that wake.
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 traffick oft for gaining ;
And when great treasure is the meed propos'd,
Tho' death be adjunct, there's no death suppos'd.
Those that much covet are of gain so fond,
That oft 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.
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 battle's rage,
Honour for wealth, and oft that wealth doth cost The death of all and altogether lost.
So that in venturing all, 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 doating 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 himseif, himself confounds, betrays
To sland'rous tongues the wretched hateful lays ?
Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had clos’d 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 surprize
The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
Whilst lust and murder wakes to stain and kill.
And now this lustful lord leapt from his bed,
'Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm,
Is madly tost between desire and dread ;
Th’ one sweetly flatters, the other feareth harm ;
But honest fear, bewitch'd with lust's foul charm,
Doth too, too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten away by brain-sick rude desire.
His fauchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fiy,
Whereat a waxen torch forth with he lighteth,
Which must be load-star to his lustful eye ;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly ;
“ As from this cold flint I enforc'd this fire,
“ So Lucrece must I force to my desire."
E VOL. IX.