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What priceless wealth the Heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,

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
Against the golden splendour 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
The eyes of men without an orator ;
What needeth, then, apologies be made,
To set forth that which is sò singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher

Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish ears, because it is his own?

Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested 3 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, 4 disdainfully did sting
His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should

That golden hap which their superiors want.

3 To suggest is, in old English, to tempt or incite. The plays abound in examples. See vol. vii. page 52, note 54.

4 Braving compare is challenging or defying comparison.

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 5 glows.

O rash-false heat, wrapp'd in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old !

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;

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 : 8
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
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.9

5 The liver was supposed to be the special seat of certain passions; hence was often put for the passions themselves. See vol. v. page 177, note II.

6 Blasts for is blasted. The meaning is," thy premature shoots or buds are blighted in their spring."

7 Would stain the colour of those blushes over with silver white.

8 The doves of Venus were noted for their pure silver whiteness. The meaning here seems to be, that the beauty which consists in whiteness, or takes its title therefrom, and which has its seat in the fair field of Lucretia's face, from thence challenges comparison, or vies, with the beauty of Venus' doves.

9 To fence, as the word is here used, is to contend with, as opposing parties in a fencing-match. White is regarded as the colour of modesty, red,

This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
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,
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 encloses ;
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 in so false a foe.

Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue,
The niggard prodigal that praised her so,
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show :
Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe 10

Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.

This earthly saint, adored by this devil,
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
For unstain'd thoughts do seldom dream on evil ;

of chaste love. And the strife, that is, the meeting or mingling, of these two colours in the face of a fair beauty is a favourite theme with Shakespeare. So in The Taming of the Shrew, iv. 6:

Hast thou beheld a fresher gentlewoman ?

Such war of white and red within her cheeks ! 10 Praise is here put for the object praised, that is, the lady herself. Here, as usual, owe is own, possess, or have.

Birds never limed i no secret bushes fear :
So guiltless she securely? gives good cheer

And reverent 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,
Save sometime 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,
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,3
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books : 4
She touch'd no unknown baits, nor fear'd no hooks ;

Nor could she moralize 5 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 Collatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry
With bruised arms and wreaths of victory :

Her joy with heaved-up hand she doth express,
And, wordless, so greets Heaven for his success.

1 "

Birds never limed" is birds never caught by bird-lime; which was any snare set in bushes for the purpose of catching birds. See vol. iv. page 200, note to.

2 Securely is unguardedly, confidingly: the Latin sense.
3 Parling looks is speaking, significant, insinuating glances.

Alluding to the old custom of writing comments in the margin of books, to explain the text. See vol. xiv. page 307, note 33.

5 To moralize is to interpret, to expound, to take the meaning of.


Far from the purpose of his coming hither,
He makes excuses for his being there :
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.

For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending 6 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,
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,
For what they have not, that which they possess
They scatter, and unloose it from their bond, 8
And so, by hoping more, they have but less;

6 Intending here is pretending. The two words were us interchangeably. See vol, ix, page 218, note 2. 7 Questioned is talked, conversed. Often so.

See vol. iii. page 193, note 18.

8 The meaning seems to be, "Those who covet much are so greedy of gain, that, for the purpose of gaining what they have not, they scatter that which they possess, and unloose it from their grasp."

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