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To the Right Honourable
HENRY WRIOT HESLY,
Earl of Southampton, and Baron of Tichfield.
Right Honourable, The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end : whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutor'd 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 should shew greater: mean time, as it is, it is bound to your lordlhip: to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with all happiness.
Lucius Tarquinius (for his exceflive pride furnamed Superbus) after he had caused his father-inlaw, Servius Tullius, to be cruelly murdered, and contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people's fuffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom ; went, accompanied with his sons, and other noblemen of Rome, to befiege 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 Colatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucrece. 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 Colatinus finds his wife (though it were late in the night) spinning amongst her maids, the other ladies were found all dancing and revelling, or in several difports. Whereupon the noblemen yielded Colatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time, Sextus Tarquinius being inflamed with Lucrece's beauty, yet smothering his passion for the present, departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was (according to his state) royally entertained, and lodged by Lucrece at Colatium. The same night, he treacherously stealing into her chamber, violently ravished her; and early in the morning speeded away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily dispatcheth messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the camp for Colatine. They came, the one accompanied with funius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius : and finding Lucrece attired in a mourning habit, demanded the cause of her forrow. She first taking an oath of them for her revenge, revealed the actor, and whole matter 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, 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 confent, and a general acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state-government changed, from kings to consuls.
From the besieg'd Ardea all in post,
And girdle, with imbracing fames, the waste
Haply that name of chaste, unhaply set
Where mortal star, as bright as heaven's beauties,
For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor prince to such a peerless dame.
Honour and beauty in the owner's arms,
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sov’reignty
His high-pitcht thoughts, that meaner men should
The golden-hap, which their superiors want.
orash false heat wrapt in repentant cold !
When at Colatium this false lord arriv’d,
When beauty boasted blushes, in despight,