RIGHT HONORABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLY,
Earl of Southampton, and Baron of Tichfield.
The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end; whereof
this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety. 5
The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth
of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I
have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in
all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty would
show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship, 10
to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with all happiness.
Your lordship's in all duty,
Lucius Tarquinius, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus,
after he had caused his own father-in-law Servius Tullius to be 15
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 20
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 posted to Rome; and
intending, by their secret and sudden arrival, to make trial of 25
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 30
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 estate, royally entertained and lodged by
Lucrece at Collatium. The same night he treacherously stealeth 35
into her chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the
morning speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight,
hastily dispatcheth 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; 40
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 45
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 50
government changed from kings to consuls.
The Rape of Lucrece
From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire 55
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
Haply that name of 'chaste' unhappily set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite; 60
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties. 65
For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd 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, 70
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor peer 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 75
Against the golden splendor of the sun!
An expired date, cancell'd ere well begun:
Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortress'd from a world of harms.
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade 80
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needeth then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown 85
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, 90
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
That golden hap which their superiors want.
But some untimely thought did instigate
His all-too-timeless speed, if none of those: 95
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, wrapp'd in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old! 100
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 bragg'd, beauty would blush for shame; 105
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, 110
Which virtue gave the golden age to gild
Their silver cheeks, and call'd it then their shield;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
When shame assail'd, the red should fence the white.
This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen, 115
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, 120
That oft they interchange each other's seat.
Their silent war of lilies and of roses,
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field,
In their pure ranks his traitor eye encloses;
Where, lest between them both it should be kill'd, 125
The coward captive vanquished doth yield
To those two armies that would let him go,
Rather than triumph in so false a foe.
Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue,--
The niggard prodigal that praised her so,-- 130
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show:
Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe
Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes. 135
This earthly saint, adored by this devil,
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
For unstain'd thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
Birds never limed no secret bushes fear:
So guiltless she securely gives good cheer 140
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm express'd:
For that he colour'd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty;
That nothing in him seem'd inordinate, 145
Save something 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 coped with stranger eyes, 150
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books:
She touch'd no unknown baits, nor fear'd no hooks;
Nor could she moralize his wanton sight, 155
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 Collatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry 160
With bruised arms and wreaths of victory:
Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express,
And, wordless, so greets heaven for his success.
Far from the purpose of his coming hither,
He makes excuses for his being there: 165
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. 170
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; 175
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, 180
Though 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, 185
For 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, 190
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; 195
As life for honour in fell battle's rage;
Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and all together lost.
So that in venturing ill we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect; 200
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. 205
Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust;
And for himself himself be must forsake:
Then where is truth, if there be no self-trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just, 210
When he himself himself confounds, betrays
To slanderous tongues and wretched hateful days?
Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes:
No comfortable star did lend his light, 215
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.
And now this lustful lord leap'd from his bed, 220
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm;
Is madly toss'd between desire and dread;
Th' one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm;
But honest fear, bewitch'd with lust's foul charm,
Doth too too oft betake him to retire, 225
Beaten away by brain-sick rude desire.
His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
Which must be lode-star to his lustful eye; 230
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, 235
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-slaughter'd lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust: 240
'Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excelleth thine:
And die, unhallow'd thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness that which is divine;
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine: 245
Let fair humanity abhor the deed
That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed.
'O shame to knighthood and to shining arms!
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act, including all foul harms! 250
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, 255
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 260
To wish that I their father had not bin.
'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? 265
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?
'If Collatinus dream of my intent,
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage 270
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? 275
'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; 280
And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
But coward-like with trembling terror die.
'Had Collatinus kill'd my son or sire,
Or lain in ambush to betray my life,
Or were he not my dear friend, this desire 285
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.
'Shameful it is; ay, if the fact be known: 290
Hateful it is; there is no hate in loving:
I'll beg her love; but she is 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 295
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 make dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still; 300
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed,
That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
Quoth he, 'She took me kindly by the hand,
And gazed for tidings in my eager eyes, 305
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band,
Where her beloved Collatinus lies.
O, how her fear did make her colour rise!
First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the roses took away. 310
'And how her hand, in my hand being lock'd
Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear!
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rock'd,
Until her husband's welfare she did hear;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cheer, 315
That had Narcissus seen her as she stood,
Self-love had never drown'd him in the flood.
'Why hunt I then for colour or excuses?
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses; 320
Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth:
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth;
And when his gaudy banner is display'd,
The coward fights and will not be dismay'd.
'Then, childish fear, avaunt! debating, die! 325
Respect and reason, wait on wrinkled age!
My heart shall never countermand mine eye:
Sad pause and deep regard beseem the sage;
My part is youth, and beats these from the stage:
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize; 330
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?'
As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost choked by unresisted lust.
Away he steals with open listening ear,
Full of foul hope and full of fond mistrust; 335
Both which, as servitors to the unjust,
So cross him with their opposite persuasion,
That now he vows a league, and now invasion.
Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
And in the self-same seat sits Collatine: 340
That eye which looks on her confounds his wits;
That eye which him beholds, as more divine,
Unto a view so false will not incline;
But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart,
Which once corrupted takes the worser part; 345
And therein heartens up his servile powers,
Who, flatter'd by their leader's jocund show,
Stuff up his lust, as minutes fill up hours;
And as their captain, so their pride doth grow,
Paying more slavish tribute than they owe. 350
By reprobate desire thus madly led,
The Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed.
The locks between her chamber and his will,
Each one by him enforced, retires his ward;
But, as they open, they all rate his ill, 355
Which drives the creeping thief to some regard:
The threshold grates the door to have him heard;
Night-wandering weasels shriek to see him there;
They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear.
As each unwilling portal yields him way, 360
Through little vents and crannies of the place
The wind wars with his torch to make him stay,
And blows the smoke of it into his face,
Extinguishing his conduct in this case;
But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch, 365
Puffs forth another wind that fires the torch:
And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks:
He takes it from the rushes where it lies,
And griping it, the needle his finger pricks; 370
As who should say 'This glove to wanton tricks
Is not inured; return again in haste;
Thou see'st our mistress' ornaments are chaste.'
But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him;
He in the worst sense construes their denial: 375
The doors, the wind, the glove, that did delay him,
He takes for accidental things of trial;
Or as those bars which stop the hourly dial,
Who with a lingering slay his course doth let,
Till every minute pays the hour his debt. 380
'So, so,' quoth he, 'these lets attend the time,
Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring,
To add a more rejoicing to the prime,
And give the sneaped birds more cause to sing.
Pain pays the income of each precious thing; 385
Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves and sands,
The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands.'
Now is he come unto the chamber-door,
That shuts him from the heaven of his thought,
Which with a yielding latch, and with no more, 390
Hath barr'd him from the blessed thing be sought.
So from himself impiety hath wrought,
That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
As if the heavens should countenance his sin.
But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer, 395
Having solicited th' eternal power
That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair,
And they would stand auspicious to the hour,
Even there he starts: quoth he, 'I must deflower:
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact, 400
How can they then assist me in the act?
'Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide!
My will is back'd with resolution:
Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried;
The blackest sin is clear'd with absolution; 405
Against love's fire fear's frost hath dissolution.
The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
Covers the shame that follows sweet delight.'
This said, his guilty hand pluck'd up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide. 410
The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch:
Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.
Who sees the lurking serpent steps aside;
But she, sound sleeping, fearing no such thing,
Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting. 415
Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.
The curtains being close, about he walks,
Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head:
By their high treason is his heart misled; 420
Which gives the watch-word to his hand full soon
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
Look, as the fair and fiery-pointed sun,
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun 425
To wink, being blinded with a greater light:
Whether it is that she reflects so bright,
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed;
But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
O, had they in that darksome prison died! 430
Then had they seen the period of their ill;
Then Collatine again, by Lucrece' side,
In his clear bed might have reposed still:
But they must ope, this blessed league to kill;
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight 435
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss;
Who, therefore angry, seems to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his bliss; 440
Between whose hills her head entombed is:
Where, like a virtuous monument, she lies,
To be admired of lewd unhallow'd eyes.
Without the bed her other fair hand was,
On the green coverlet; whose perfect white 445
Show'd like an April daisy on the grass,
With pearly sweat, resembling dew of night.
Her eyes, like marigolds, had sheathed their light,
And canopied in darkness sweetly lay,
Till they might open to adorn the day. 450
Her hair, like golden threads, play'd with her breath;
O modest wantons! wanton modesty!
Showing life's triumph in the map of death,
And death's dim look in life's mortality:
Each in her sleep themselves so beautify, 455
As if between them twain there were no strife,
But that life lived in death, and death in life.
Her breasts, like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew, 460
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred;
Who, like a foul ursurper, went about
From this fair throne to heave the owner out.
What could he see but mightily he noted? 465
What did he note but strongly he desired?
What he beheld, on that he firmly doted,
And in his will his wilful eye he tired.
With more than admiration he admired
Her azure veins, her alabaster skin, 470
Her coral lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.
As the grim lion fawneth o'er his prey,
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified; 475
Slack'd, not suppress'd; for standing by her side,
His eye, which late this mutiny restrains,
Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins:
And they, like straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals fell exploits effecting, 480
In bloody death and ravishment delighting,
Nor children's tears nor mothers' groans respecting,
Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting:
Anon his beating heart, alarum striking,
Gives the hot charge and bids them do their liking. 485
His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye,
His eye commends the leading to his hand;
His hand, as proud of such a dignity,
Smoking with pride, march'd on to make his stand
On her bare breast, the heart of all her land; 490
Whose ranks of blue veins, as his hand did scale,
Left there round turrets destitute and pale.
They, mustering to the quiet cabinet
Where their dear governess and lady lies,
Do tell her she is dreadfully beset, 495
And fright her with confusion of their cries:
She, much amazed, breaks ope her lock'd-up eyes,
Who, peeping forth this tumult to behold,
Are by his flaming torch dimm'd and controll'd.
Imagine her as one in dead of night 500
From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite,
Whose grim aspect sets every joint a-shaking;
What terror or 'tis! but she, in worser taking,
From sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view 505
The sight which makes supposed terror true.
Wrapp'd and confounded in a thousand fears,
Like to a new-kill'd bird she trembling lies;
She dares not look; yet, winking, there appears
Quick-shifting antics, ugly in her eyes: 510
Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries;
Who, angry that the eyes fly from their lights,
In darkness daunts them with more dreadful sights.
His hand, that yet remains upon her breast,--
Rude ram, to batter such an ivory wall!-- 515
May feel her heart-poor citizen!--distress'd,
Wounding itself to death, rise up and fall,
Beating her bulk, that his hand shakes withal.
This moves in him more rage and lesser pity,
To make the breach and enter this sweet city. 520
First, like a trumpet, doth his tongue begin
To sound a parley to his heartless foe;
Who o'er the white sheet peers her whiter chin,
The reason of this rash alarm to know,
Which he by dumb demeanor seeks to show; 525
But she with vehement prayers urgeth still
Under what colour he commits this ill.
Thus he replies: 'The colour in thy face,
That even for anger makes the lily pale,
And the red rose blush at her own disgrace, 530
Shall plead for me and tell my loving tale:
Under that colour am I come to scale
Thy never-conquer'd fort: the fault is thine,
For those thine eyes betray thee unto mine.
'Thus I forestall thee, if thou mean to chide: 535
Thy beauty hath ensnared thee to this night,
Where thou with patience must my will abide;
My will that marks thee for my earth's delight,
Which I to conquer sought with all my might;
But as reproof and reason beat it dead, 540
By thy bright beauty was it newly bred.
'I see what crosses my attempt will bring;
I know what thorns the growing rose defends;
I think the honey guarded with a sting;
All this beforehand counsel comprehends: 545
But will is deaf and hears no heedful friends;
Only he hath an eye to gaze on beauty,
And dotes on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty.
'I have debated, even in my soul,
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed; 550
But nothing can affection's course control,
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.' 555
This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
Which, like a falcon towering in the skies,
Coucheth the fowl below with his wings' shade,
Whose crooked beak threats if he mount he dies:
So under his insulting falchion lies 560
Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
With trembling fear, as fowl hear falcon's bells.
'Lucrece,' quoth he,'this night I must enjoy thee:
If thou deny, then force must work my way,
For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee: 565
That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honour with thy life's decay;
And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
Swearing I slew him, seeing thee embrace him.
'So thy surviving husband shall remain 570
The scornful mark of every open eye;
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurr'd with nameless bastardy:
And thou, the author of their obloquy,
Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhymes, 575
And sung by children in succeeding times.
'But if thou yield, I rest thy secret friend:
The fault unknown is as a thought unacted;
A little harm done to a great good end
For lawful policy remains enacted. 580
The poisonous simple sometimes is compacted
In a pure compound; being so applied,
His venom in effect is purified.
'Then, for thy husband and thy children's sake,
Tender my suit: bequeath not to their lot 585
The shame that from them no device can take,
The blemish that will never be forgot;
Worse than a slavish wipe or birth-hour's blot:
For marks descried in men's nativity
Are nature's faults, not their own infamy.' 590
Here with a cockatrice' dead-killing eye
He rouseth up himself and makes a pause;
While she, the picture of pure piety,
Like a white hind under the gripe's sharp claws,
Pleads, in a wilderness where are no laws, 595
To the rough beast that knows no gentle right,
Nor aught obeys but his foul appetite.
But when a black-faced cloud the world doth threat,
In his dim mist the aspiring mountains hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust doth get, 600
Which blows these pitchy vapours from their bidding,
Hindering their present fall by this dividing;
So his unhallow'd haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks while Orpheus plays.
Yet, foul night-waking cat, he doth but dally, 605
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth:
Her sad behavior feeds his vulture folly,
A swallowing gulf that even in plenty wanteth:
His ear her prayers admits, but his heart granteth
No penetrable entrance to her plaining: 610
Tears harden lust, though marble wear with raining.
Her pity-pleading eyes are sadly fix'd
In the remorseless wrinkles of his face;
Her modest eloquence with sighs is mix'd,
Which to her oratory adds more grace. 615
She puts the period often from his place;
And midst the sentence so her accent breaks,
That twice she doth begin ere once she speaks.
She conjures him by high almighty Jove,
By knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath, 620
By her untimely tears, her husband's love,
By holy human law, and common troth,
By heaven and earth, and all the power of both,
That to his borrow'd bed he make retire,
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire. 625
Quoth she, 'Reward not hospitality
With such black payment as thou hast pretended;
Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee;
Mar not the thing that cannot be amended;
End thy ill aim before thy shoot be ended; 630
He is no woodman that doth bend his bow
To strike a poor unseasonable doe.
'My husband is thy friend; for his sake spare me:
Thyself art mighty; for thine own sake leave me:
Myself a weakling; do not then ensnare me: 635
Thou look'st not like deceit; do not deceive me.
My sighs, like whirlwinds, labour hence to heave thee:
If ever man were moved with woman moans,
Be moved with my tears, my sighs, my groans:
'All which together, like a troubled ocean, 640
Beat at thy rocky and wreck-threatening heart,
To soften it with their continual motion;
For stones dissolved to water do convert.
O, if no harder than a stone thou art,
Melt at my tears, and be compassionate! 645
Soft pity enters at an iron gate.
'In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee:
Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
To all the host of heaven I complain me,
Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely name. 650
Thou art not what thou seem'st; and if the same,
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a god, a king;
For kings like gods should govern everything.
'How will thy shame be seeded in thine age,
When thus thy vices bud before thy spring! 655
If in thy hope thou darest do such outrage,
What darest thou not when once thou art a king?
O, be remember'd, no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wiped away;
Then kings' misdeeds cannot be hid in clay. 660
'This deed will make thee only loved for fear;
But happy monarchs still are fear'd for love:
With foul offenders thou perforce must bear,
When they in thee the like offences prove:
If but for fear of this, thy will remove; 665
For princes are the glass, the school, the book,
Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.
'And wilt thou be the school where Lust shall learn?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern 670
Authority for sin, warrant for blame,
To privilege dishonour in thy name?
Thou black'st reproach against long-living laud,
And makest fair reputation but a bawd.
'Hast thou command? by him that gave it thee, 675
From a pure heart command thy rebel will:
Draw not thy sword to guard iniquity,
For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
Thy princely office how canst thou fulfil,
When, pattern'd by thy fault, foul sin may say, 680
He learn'd to sin, and thou didst teach the way?
'Think but how vile a spectacle it were,
To view thy present trespass in another.
Men's faults do seldom to themselves appear;
Their own transgressions partially they smother: 685
This guilt would seem death-worthy in thy brother.
O, how are they wrapp'd in with infamies
That from their own misdeeds askance their eyes!
'To thee, to thee, my heaved-up hands appeal,
Not to seducing lust, thy rash relier: 690
I sue for exiled majesty's repeal;
Let him return, and flattering thoughts retire:
His true respect will prison false desire,
And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eyne,
That thou shalt see thy state and pity mine.' 695
'Have done,' quoth he: 'my uncontrolled tide
Turns not, but swells the higher by this let.
Small lights are soon blown out, huge fires abide,
And with the wind in greater fury fret:
The petty streams that pay a daily debt 700
To their salt sovereign, with their fresh falls' haste
Add to his flow, but alter not his taste.'
'Thou art,' quoth she, 'a sea, a sovereign king;
And, lo, there falls into thy boundless flood
Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning, 705
Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.
If all these pretty ills shall change thy good,
Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed,
And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.
'So shall these slaves be king, and thou their slave; 710
Thou nobly base, they basely dignified;
Thou their fair life, and they thy fouler grave:
Thou loathed in their shame, they in thy pride:
The lesser thing should not the greater hide;
The cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot, 715
But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root.
'So let thy thoughts, low vassals to thy state'--
No more,' quoth he; 'by heaven, I will not hear thee:
Yield to my love; if not, enforced hate,
Instead of love's coy touch, shall rudely tear thee; 720
That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
Unto the base bed of some rascal groom,
To be thy partner in this shameful doom.'
This said, he sets his foot upon the light,
For light and lust are deadly enemies: 725
Shame folded up in blind concealing night,
When most unseen, then most doth tyrannize.
The wolf hath seized his prey, the poor lamb cries;
Till with her own white fleece her voice controll'd
Entombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold: 730
For with the nightly linen that she wears
He pens her piteous clamours in her head;
Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.
O, that prone lust should stain so pure a bed! 735
The spots whereof could weeping purify,
Her tears should drop on them perpetually.
But she hath lost a dearer thing than life,
And he hath won what he would lose again:
This forced league doth force a further strife; 740
This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
This hot desire converts to cold disdain:
Pure Chastity is rifled of her store,
And Lust, the thief, far poorer than before.
Look, as the full-fed hound or gorged hawk, 745
Unapt for tender smell or speedy flight,
Make slow pursuit, or altogether balk
The prey wherein by nature they delight;
So surfeit-taking Tarquin fares this night:
His taste delicious, in digestion souring, 750
Devours his will, that lived by foul devouring.
O, deeper sin than bottomless conceit
Can comprehend in still imagination!
Drunken Desire must vomit his receipt,
Ere he can see his own abomination. 755
While Lust is in his pride, no exclamation
Can curb his heat or rein his rash desire,
Till like a jade Self-will himself doth tire.
And then with lank and lean discolour'd cheek,
With heavy eye, knit brow, and strengthless pace, 760
Feeble Desire, all recreant, poor, and meek,
Like to a bankrupt beggar wails his case:
The flesh being proud, Desire doth fight with Grace,
For there it revels; and when that decays,
The guilty rebel for remission prays. 765
So fares it with this faultful lord of Rome,
Who this accomplishment so hotly chased;
For now against himself he sounds this doom,
That through the length of times he stands disgraced:
Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced; 770
To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares,
To ask the spotted princess how she fares.
She says, her subjects with foul insurrection
Have batter'd down her consecrated wall,
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection 775
Her immortality, and made her thrall
To living death and pain perpetual:
Which in her prescience she controlled still,
But her foresight could not forestall their will.
Even in this thought through the dark night he stealeth, 780
A captive victor that hath lost in gain;
Bearing away the wound that nothing healeth,
The scar that will, despite of cure, remain;
Leaving his spoil perplex'd in greater pain.
She bears the load of lust he left behind, 785
And he the burden of a guilty mind.
He like a thievish dog creeps sadly thence;
She like a wearied lamb lies panting there;
He scowls and hates himself for his offence;
She, desperate, with her nails her flesh doth tear; 790
He faintly flies, sneaking with guilty fear;
She stays, exclaiming on the direful night;
He runs, and chides his vanish'd, loathed delight.
He thence departs a heavy convertite;
She there remains a hopeless castaway; 795
He in his speed looks for the morning light;
She prays she never may behold the day,
'For day,' quoth she, 'nights scapes doth open lay,
And my true eyes have never practised how
To cloak offences with a cunning brow. 800
'They think not but that every eye can see
The same disgrace which they themselves behold;
And therefore would they still in darkness be,
To have their unseen sin remain untold;
For they their guilt with weeping will unfold, 805
And grave, like water that doth eat in steel,
Upon my cheeks what helpless shame I feel.'
Here she exclaims against repose and rest,
And bids her eyes hereafter still be blind.
She wakes her heart by beating on her breast, 810
And bids it leap from thence, where it may find
Some purer chest to close so pure a mind.
Frantic with grief thus breathes she forth her spite
Against the unseen secrecy of night:
'O comfort-killing Night, image of hell! 815
Dim register and notary of shame!
Black stage for tragedies and murders fell!
Vast sin-concealing chaos! nurse of blame!
Blind muffled bawd! dark harbour for defame!
Grim cave of death! whispering conspirator 820
With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!
'O hateful, vaporous, and foggy Night!
Since thou art guilty of my cureless crime,
Muster thy mists to meet the eastern light,
Make war against proportion'd course of time; 825
Or if thou wilt permit the sun to climb
His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed,
Knit poisonous clouds about his golden head.
'With rotten damps ravish the morning air;
Let their exhaled unwholesome breaths make sick 830
The life of purity, the supreme fair,
Ere he arrive his weary noon-tide prick;
And let thy misty vapours march so thick,
That in their smoky ranks his smother'd light
May set at noon and make perpetual night. 835
'Were Tarquin Night, as he is but Night's child,
The silver-shining queen he would distain;
Her twinkling handmaids too, by him defiled,
Through Night's black bosom should not peep again:
So should I have co-partners in my pain; 840
And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage,
As palmers' chat makes short their pilgrimage.
'Where now I have no one to blush with me,
To cross their arms and hang their heads with mine,
To mask their brows and hide their infamy; 845
But I alone alone must sit and pine,
Seasoning the earth with showers of silver brine,
Mingling my talk with tears, my grief with groans,
Poor wasting monuments of lasting moans.
'O Night, thou furnace of foul-reeking smoke, 850
Let not the jealous Day behold that face
Which underneath thy black all-hiding cloak
Immodestly lies martyr'd with disgrace!
Keep still possession of thy gloomy place,
That all the faults which in thy reign are made 855
May likewise be sepulchred in thy shade!
'Make me not object to the tell-tale Day!
The light will show, character'd in my brow,
The story of sweet chastity's decay,
The impious breach of holy wedlock vow: 860
Yea the illiterate, that know not how
To cipher what is writ in learned books,
Will quote my loathsome trespass in my looks.
'The nurse, to still her child, will tell my story,
And fright her crying babe with Tarquin's name; 865
The orator, to deck his oratory,
Will couple my reproach to Tarquin's shame;
Feast-finding minstrels, tuning my defame,
Will tie the hearers to attend each line,
How Tarquin wronged me, I Collatine. 870
'Let my good name, that senseless reputation,
For Collatine's dear love be kept unspotted:
If that be made a theme for disputation,
The branches of another root are rotted,
And undeserved reproach to him allotted 875
That is as clear from this attaint of mine
As I, ere this, was pure to Collatine.
'O unseen shame! invisible disgrace!
O unfelt sore! crest-wounding, private scar!
Reproach is stamp'd in Collatinus' face, 880
And Tarquin's eye may read the mot afar,
How he in peace is wounded, not in war.
Alas, how many bear such shameful blows,
Which not themselves, but he that gives them knows!
'If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me, 885
From me by strong assault it is bereft.
My honour lost, and I, a drone-like bee,
Have no perfection of my summer left,
But robb'd and ransack'd by injurious theft:
In thy weak hive a wandering wasp hath crept, 890
And suck'd the honey which thy chaste bee kept.
'Yet am I guilty of thy honour's wrack;
Yet for thy honour did I entertain him;
Coming from thee, I could not put him back,
For it had been dishonour to disdain him: 895
Besides, of weariness he did complain him,
And talk'd of virtue: O unlook'd-for evil,
When virtue is profaned in such a devil!
'Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?
Or hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows' nests? 900
Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud?
Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts?
Or kings be breakers of their own behests?
But no perfection is so absolute,
That some impurity doth not pollute. 905
'The aged man that coffers-up his gold
Is plagued with cramps and gouts and painful fits;
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
But like still-pining Tantalus he sits,
And useless barns the harvest of his wits; 910
Having no other pleasure of his gain
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.
'So then he hath it when he cannot use it,
And leaves it to be master'd by his young;
Who in their pride do presently abuse it: 915
Their father was too weak, and they too strong,
To hold their cursed-blessed fortune long.
The sweets we wish for turn to loathed sours
Even in the moment that we call them ours.
'Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring; 920
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
What virtue breeds iniquity devours:
We have no good that we can say is ours,
But ill-annexed Opportunity 925
Or kills his life or else his quality.
'O Opportunity, thy guilt is great!
'Tis thou that executest the traitor's treason:
Thou set'st the wolf where he the lamb may get;
Whoever plots the sin, thou 'point'st the season; 930
'Tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason;
And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.
'Thou makest the vestal violate her oath;
Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thaw'd; 935
Thou smother'st honesty, thou murder'st troth;
Thou foul abettor! thou notorious bawd!
Thou plantest scandal and displacest laud:
Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief,
Thy honey turns to gall, thy joy to grief! 940
'Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
Thy private feasting to a public fast,
Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name,
Thy sugar'd tongue to bitter wormwood taste:
Thy violent vanities can never last. 945
How comes it then, vile Opportunity,
Being so bad, such numbers seek for thee?
'When wilt thou be the humble suppliant's friend,
And bring him where his suit may be obtain'd?
When wilt thou sort an hour great strifes to end? 950
Or free that soul which wretchedness hath chain'd?
Give physic to the sick, ease to the pain'd?
The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee;
But they ne'er meet with Opportunity.
'The patient dies while the physician sleeps; 955
The orphan pines while the oppressor feeds;
Justice is feasting while the widow weeps;
Advice is sporting while infection breeds:
Thou grant'st no time for charitable deeds:
Wrath, envy, treason, rape, and murder's rages, 960
Thy heinous hours wait on them as their pages.
'When Truth and Virtue have to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid:
They buy thy help; but Sin ne'er gives a fee,
He gratis comes; and thou art well appaid 965
As well to hear as grant what he hath said.
My Collatine would else have come to me
When Tarquin did, but he was stay'd by thee.
Guilty thou art of murder and of theft,
Guilty of perjury and subornation, 970
Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift,
Guilty of incest, that abomination;
An accessary by thine inclination
To all sins past, and all that are to come,
From the creation to the general doom. 975
'Mis-shapen Time, copesmate of ugly Night,
Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care,
Eater of youth, false slave to false delight,
Base watch of woes, sin's pack-horse, virtue's snare;
Thou nursest all and murder'st all that are: 980
O, hear me then, injurious, shifting Time!
Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.
'Why hath thy servant, Opportunity,
Betray'd the hours thou gavest me to repose,
Cancell'd my fortunes, and enchained me 985
To endless date of never-ending woes?
Time's office is to fine the hate of foes;
To eat up errors by opinion bred,
Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.
'Time's glory is to calm contending kings, 990
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light,
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the morn and sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right,
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours, 995
And smear with dust their glittering gold