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النشر الإلكتروني

TARQUIN AND LUCRECE.

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 surprise

The silly lambs; pure thoughts are dead and still,
Whilst lust and murder wake to stain and kill.

And now this lustful lord leap'd 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 fly,
Whereat a woxen torch forthwith 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.”
Here pale with fear, he doth premeditate
The dangers of his loathsome enterprize ;
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 controuls his thoughts uujust.

TARQUIN AND LUCRECE.

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:

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 houshold'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.
Yes, tho' I die, the scandle will survive,
And be an eye-sore in my golden coat:
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive
To cypher 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.

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek ?
A dream, a breath, a froth of feeting 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 strait be strucken down?

ERRES

TARQUIN AND LUCRECE:

If COLATINUS dream of my intent,
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage
Post hither, this vile purpose to prevent ;
This siege, that hath ingirt 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?

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 forget 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 dię.
Had CoLatinus kill'd 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 'quital of such strife :

But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,

The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
Shameful it is, if once the fact be known;
Hateful it is; there is no hate in loving.
I'll beg her love, but it 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.

TARQUIN AND LUCRECE,

Thus (graceless) holds he disputation,
'Tween frozen conscience and hot burning wilt ;
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. Quoth he, she took me kindly by the hand, And gaz'd for tidings in my eager eyes. Fearing some bad news from the warlike band, Where her beloved COLATINU6 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. And now her hand in my hand being lock’d, Forc'd it to tremble with her loyal fear: Which strook her sad, and then it faster rock'd Until her husband's welfare she did hear; Whereat she smiled with so sweet a chear,

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 pleads.
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses ;
Love thrives not in the heart, that shadows dreads.
Affection is my captain, and he leads;

And when his gaudy banner is display'd,
The coward fights, and will not be dismay'd.

TARQUIN AND LUCRECE.

Then, childish fear, avant ! debating die !
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;

Then who fears sinking, where such treasure lies? As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear Is almost cloak’d by unresisted lust. Away he steals with open listning ear, Full of foul hope, and full of fond mistrust : 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 COLATINE,
That eye that 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.
And therein heartens up his servile pow'rs,
Who flatter'd by their leaders jucund 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.

By reprobate desire thus madly led,
The Roman lord doth march to LUCRECE' bed.

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