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THE AR Ġ U ME N T 4
Lucius Tarquinius (for his excessive pride surhamed Superbus) after he had caused his own fatherin-law, Servius Tullius, to be cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had poffeffed himself of the kingdom ; went, accompanied with his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea. During which fiege, the principal men of the army meeting one evening at the tent of. 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 all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and sudden arrival, to make trial of 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 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 pri
This argument appears to have been written by Shakspeare, being prefixed to the original edition in 1594; and'is a curiosity, this, and the two dedications to the earl of Southampton, being the only profe compofitions of our great poet (not in a dramatick form) now remaining.
To the edition of 1616, and that printed by Lintot in 1710, a shorter argument is likewise prefixed, under the name of Contents; which not being the production of our author, nor throwing any light on the poem, is now omitted. Malone. H h 3
vily withdrew himself, and was (according to his estate) royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Collatium. The same night, he treacherously stealeth 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; 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 Tarquins ; and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutụs acquainted the people with the doer and manner of the vile deed, with a bitter in vective 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 government changed from kings to consuls.
From the besieged Ardea all in post,
* This poein was first printed in quarto, in the year 1594. It was again published in 1598, 1600, and 1607.. All these copies have been collated for the present edition, and they all correspond, excepting such flight variations as repeated impressions neceffaa rily produce. I have heard of editions of this piece likewise in 1596 and 1602, but I have not seen either of them. In 1616 another edition appeared, which in the title-page is faid to be newly revised and corrected. When this copy first came to my hands, it occurred to me, that our author had perhaps an intention of revising and publishing all his works, (which his fellowcomedians in their preface to his plays seem to hint he would have done, if he had lived,) and that he began with this early produce tion of his mufe, but was prevented by death from completing his scheme; for he died in the same year in which this corrected copy of Lucrece (as it is called) was printed. But on an attentive examination of this edition, I have not the least doubt that the piece was revised by some other hand. It is so far from being correct, that it is certainly the most inaccurate and corrupt of all the ancient copies. In some passages emendations are attempted merely for the sake of harmony; in others, a word of an ancient cast is changed for one somewhat more modern; but mostof the alterations seem to have been made, because the reviser did not understand the poet's meaning, and imagined he saw errors of the press, where in fact there were none. Of this the reader will find instances in
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LUCREC E. And to Collatium bears the lightless fire Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
Where mortal stars 4, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.
the course of the following notes; for the variations of the editions are constantly set down. I may likewise add, that this copy (which all the modern editions have followed) appears manifestly to have been printed from the edition in 1607, the most incorrect of all those that preceded, as being the most distant from the original, which there is reason to suppose was published under the author's immediate inspection. Had he undertaken the task of revising and correcting any part of his works, he would surely have made his own edition, and not a very incorrect re-impreffion of it, the basis of his improvements.
The story on which this poem is founded, is related by Dion. Halicarnaffensis, lib. iv. c. 72; by Livy, lib. i. c. 57, 58; and by Ovid, Fajt. lib. i. Diodorus Siculus and Dion Caffius have also related it. The historians differ in some minute parti. culars. MALONE.
did not let] Did not forbear. Malone. 4 Where mortal stars, -] i. e. eyes. Our author has the fame allusion in The Midsummer Night's Dream:
who more engilds the night,
“ At my poor house look to behold this night
In the poffeffion of his beauteous mate;
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor peer to such a peerless dame 5.
Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,
But king nor peer to fucb a peerless dame.) Thus the quarto, 1594, and three subsequent editions. The duodecimo, 1616, reads :
at fo high a rate, and in the next line but one,
But king nor prince to such a peerless dame. The alteration in the first line was probably made in consequence of the editor's not being sufficiently conversant with Shakspeare's compounded words ; (thus, in All's Well that ends Well, we find high-repented blames, and in Twelfth Night, high-fantastical';) in the last, to avoid that jingle which the author seems to have considered as a beauty or received as a fashion. MALONE.
as soon decay'd and done,] Done is frequently used by our ancient writers in the senfe of consumed. So, in Venus and
wasted, thaw'd, and done,
MALONE. ? As is the morning's filver-melting dew,] The duodecimo, 1616, and the modern editions, read corruptedly :
As if the morning's filver-melting dew. MALONE.
and expire the term “ Of a despised life.” STEEVENS. 9 An expir'd date, cancel'd ere well begun :] Thus the quarto, 1594, the editions of 1598, 16co, and 1607. That of 1616 reads, apparently for the sake of smoother verlification :
A date expir'd, and cancel'd ere begun, MALONE.