William Michael Rossetti William Shakespeare.

The complete works of Shakespeare: With a critical biography online

. (page 210 of 224)
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For by our ears our hearts oft taint^ be:
Perchance that env^ of so rich a thing.
Braving compare, disdainfully did stinf^ [vaunt
His high-pitch'd though ts,that meaner men should
The golden hap which their superiors want.
I3ut some untimely thought did instigate
Hia all- too-timeless speed, if none of those:
His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state,
Neglected all, with swift intent he goes
To qa«4nch the coal which in his liver glows,
O rash.false heat, wrapt in repentant cold.
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne*er grows old I
When at Collatium this false lord arrived.
Well was he welcom'd 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
Yiriue 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.
Which virtue gave the golden age, to gild
Their silver cheeks, and call'd it then their shield;
Tea<rhing them thus to use it in the fight,—
When shame assail'd, the red shuul d fence the white.
This heraldry in Lucrece* face was seen.
Argue I bv beauiy's red, and virtue's white.
Ot either s coiour was the other queen.
Proving from world*B minority their right:
Yet their ambition makes them still to tight;
The sovereignty of either being so great.
That oft they intercharge 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 kiU'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 hnsband's shallow ton^e
(The niggard prodigal that prais'd her so)
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong.
Which far exceeds his barren skill to shew :
Therefore that praise which Collatine doth owe,
Knchanted Tarquin answers with sumUse,
In silent wonder of still -gazing eyes.

This earthly saint, adored by this devil.
Little suspecteth the false worshipper;
For thoughts nnstain'd do seldom dream on evil ;
Birds never lim'd no secret bushes fear:
So guiltless she securely gives good cheer
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 mHJesty ;
That nothing in him seem'd inordinate.
Save sometime too much wonder oi his ej%
Which, having all. all could not satisfy ;
But. poorlj' rich, so wanteth in his store.
That cloy'd with much, he pineth still ror more.
But she that never cop*d with stranger eyes,
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
JNor read the subtle-shining secrecies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books ;
She touch 'd no unknown baits, nor feared no hookas
Nor could she moralise his wanton sight.
More than his eye» were open'd to the light.
He stories to her ears her hnsband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful luly ;
And decks with praises Collatine's high nams^
Made glorious by hix manly chivalry.
With bruised anns and wreaths of victory.
Her Joy with heav'd-up hand she doth express^
And, wordless, so greets heaven for his success.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither.
He makes excuses for his being there.
No cloudy shew of stormy blustering weather
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear;
Till sable Night, mother of Dread aud Fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display
And in her vanity prison stows the day.
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 clumber with life's strength doth fight
And every one to rest himself betakes, [wakesL
Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds that
As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining;
Yet ever to obtain his will resolving, Dng;

Though weak-built hopes persuade him to abstain-
Despair to gain, doth traffic oft from gaining ;
And when great treasure is the meed propussd,
Tho' death be adjunct, there's no death supposed.
Those that much covet, are with gam so fond.
That what they have not (that which ihfy uoeseee)
They scatter and unloose it from their bou<t
And so, bv hoping more, they have but leas;
Or gaining more, the protit of excess
Is but to surieit, and such grief aastain»
That they prove bankrupt m this poor-rich gaiB.

The ftim of all Is bnt to none the life
With hononr, wealth, and ease, in waning aee|
And in this aim there is such thwarting struet
That one for all, or all for one we gage ;
As life for honour, in fell battles* rage ;
Honour for wealth ; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all* and altogether lost.

So that in rent'ring ill, we leaye to be
The things we are, for that which we expect}
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, Ibd, all for want of wita
Hake something nothing, by augmenting it.

Such hazard now roust doting Tarquin make.
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust ;
And for himself, himself he must forsake:
Then where is truth, if there be no self- trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just.
When he himself, himself confuunds, betrays
Tu slanderous tongues, and wretched hateful days ?

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 th^y 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,
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm,
1$ madly toss'd between desire and dread ;
The one sweetly flatters, the other feareth harm ;
But honest Fear, bewitcli'd with lust's fuui charm,
Doth too oft betake him to retire.
Beaten away by brain-sick rude Deshre.
His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth.
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly.
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he ligliteib*
Which must be lode-star to his lustful eye ;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly ;
As from this cold flint 1 eiif rc'd this fire,
So Lucrece must 1 force to my desire.
Here pale with fear he doth premeditate
The dangers of his loathsome enterprise,
And in his inward mind he doth debate
What following sorrow may on this arise t
Then looking scornfully, he doth despise
Uis naked armour of still- slaughter' d Inst,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust.
Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her whose light excel leth thine !
And die unhalhiw'd thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness that which ia divine 1
Ofiier pure incense to so pure a shrine:
Let fair humanity abhor the deed C^eed.

That spots and stains love's modest snow-whiti


What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy :
Who buys a minute's worth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity, to get a topr ?
For bne sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown.
Would with the sceptre straight be struckeudown ?
If Collatinns dream of my intent.
Will he not wake, and in a desperate ra^e
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-daring blame ?

O what excuse can my invention make,

When thou sbalt 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 ;
And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
But coward-like with trembling terror die.

Had Collatinns kill'd my son or sire.
Or lain in ambush to betray my life.
Or were he not my dear frfend, this desire
Might have excuse to work upon his wife ;
As in revenge or quittal of such strife :
But as he is mv kinsman, my dear friend.
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
ShamML it is ; — ay, if the fact be known,
hat^w, it is ; — there is no hate in loving :
I'll beg her love ; — hvi she is not her oum :
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.
Thus graceless, holds he disputation
IVeeii frozen conscience, and hot- burning will.
And with good thoughts makes dispensation.
Urging the worser sense for yantage still i
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so fiu: proceed.
That what is vile shews like a virtuous deedL
Quoth he, she took me kindly by the hand.
And gaz'd for tidings in my eager eyes.
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
Where her beloved Collatinns lies.
O how her fear did make her colour risel
First red as rosea that on lawn we lay.
Then white as lawn, the roses took away.
And how her hand, in my hand being lock'd,
Forc'd it to tremble with her loyal fear t
Whit h struck her sad, and then it faster rocl^'A,
Until her husband's welfare she did bear ;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cbeer^
That had Narcissua seen her as she stood.
Self-love had never dmwn'd him in tlie flood.

Digitized by



^8 corn o'wfCTOwn by weeds, so heedfhl fear
la almost chok'd by anresisted last
Away he steals with open listening ear,
Full of foul hope, and full of fond mistrust;
Both which, as servitors to the unjust.
So cross hira with their opposite persuasion,
That now he rows a league, and now invasion.

Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
And in the self-same seat sits Collatine :
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 j
But with a pure appeal seeks to the he^rt.
Which once corrupted, takes the worser part|

And therein heartens up his servile powers,
Who, flatter'd by their leader's jocund show,
Stu£f 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 Boman 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 iil,
Which drives the creeping thief to some regard :
The threshold grates the door to have him heard ;

Night-wand ring weasels shriek to see him there ;

They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear.
As each unwilling portal yields him way,
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.

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 neeld his finger pricks :
As who wouid say, this glove to wanton tricks

Is not inur'd ; return again in haste;

Then seest our mistroi^s^ ornaments are chaste.
But all thexe poor forbiddings could not stav him;
He in the worst sense construes their deuial ;
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 ling'ring stay his course doth let,

Till every minute pays the hour his debt
So, 80, 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 ; [sands.

Huge rocks, high winds,8trongpirates,shelve:) and

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.
Hath barr'd him from the blessed thing he sought
So from himself impiety hath wrought.
That for his prey to pray he doth begin
As if the heaven should countenance his sin.
But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
Having solicited the 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, 1 must deflower ;
The powers to whom 1 pray, abhor this fact.
How can they then assist me in the act ?


Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide t

My will is back'd with resolution t

Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried.

The blackest sin is cleared with absolution ;

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 ap the latcb.
And with his knee the door he opens wide :
The dove sleeps fast that this night owl will catch *
Thus treason works ere traitors be e^^pied.
Who sees the lurking serp^t, steps aside;
But she, sound sleeping, fearing no such things
Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting.

Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.
'I'he curtains being close, about he walks.
Rolling his greedy eye-balls in his head t
By their high treason is his heart misled ;
Which gives the watch-word to his hand fullsoon.
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.

Look as the fair and fiery- pointed sun.
Rushing from forth a clouu, bereaves our sight ;
Even 80, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
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 endoaed.
O, had they in that darksome prison died.
Then had they seen the period of their ill t
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- though ted Lucrece to their sight
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight
Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies ander.
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss ;
Who therefore angry, seems to part in snnder.
Swelling on either side to want his bliss ;
Between whose hills her head intomb'd U t
Where, like a virtuous monument, she lies,
To be admir'd of lewd nnhallow'd eyes.
Without the bed her oeher fair hand was,
On the green coverlet ; whose perfect white
Shew'd like an April daisy on the grass.
With pearly sweat, resembling dew of night
Her eves, like marigolds, had sheathM their light.
And, canopied in darkness, sweetly lay.
Till they might open to adorn the day.
Her hair, like golden threads,play'd with her breath;
O modest wantons 1 wanton modesty I
Shewing life's triumph in the map of death.
And death's dim look in life's mortality.
Each in her sleep themselves so beautify.
As if between them twain there were no strife.
But that life liv'd in death, and death iu life.
Her breasts, like ivory globes circled with blae,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered.
Save of their lord, no bearing yoke they knew.
And him by oaih they truly hoi\oured.
These worfds in Tarquin new ambition bred ;
Who, like a foul Uiturper, went at>out
From this fair throne to heave the owner oat
What could he see, but mightily he noted f
What d^d he note, but strongly he desiied?
What he beheld, on that lie firmly doted,
And in his will his wilful eye he tired.
With more t^ian admiration he admired
Her azure veins, her alabaster skin, T

Her coral lips, her snow -white dimpled chw.

At the frrlm Ifon fawnetli o'er bis prey,
Sharp hunger bj the conquest satisfied.
So o'er this i-leeiiing soul doth Taiquin sta^t
Bis raf^ of lu-^i by gazing quaiitied ;
61a*('d, not suppress'd; for standing by her side.
HiA eye, which late this mutiny restrains,
Uuto a greater uproar ten)pt8 bis veins.

And thcy,Iike straggling slaves for pillage fighting,
Obdurate vassals, TeW exploits effecting,
In bloody death and ravishment delighting.
Nor children's tears nor mother's groans respecting,
Swell in their pride, the onset still expecting:

Adod his beating b^art, alarum striking, [ing.

Gives the hot charge, and bids them do their lik-

His drumming heart cheers up his burning eye,
Bis eye commends the leading to his band;
Bis hand, as proud o^such a dignity.
Smoking with pride, niarch'd on to make his stand
On her bare breast, the heart of all her land ;
Whose ranks of blue veins, as his hand did scale
Left their 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.
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 controU'd.
Imagine her as one in dead of night
From forth dull shiep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite.
Whose grim aspect sett every joint a shaking j
What terror 'tis! but slie in worser taking,
Froiu sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view,
The sight which makes supposed terror true.
WrappM and confounded in a thousand fears,
Like to a new-kilTd bird, she trembling lies;
She dares not look; yet, winking there appears
Quick shifting antics, ugly in her eyes;
Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries;
Who, angry that the eyes fly from their lights,
In darkneesdaunts them with more dreadful sighta.
His hand that yet remains upon her breast
(Kude ram, to batter such an ivory wall !)
Hay feel her heart (poor citizen!) distress d.
Wounding itself to death, rise up and full.
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.
Fhrtt, like a trumpet, doth his tongue begin
Tc sotmd a parley to his heartless foe.
Who o'er the white sheet peers her whiter cbiii.
The reafton of this rash alarm to know,
Which he by dumb demeanour seeks to show;
But sbe with vehement prayers urgeth still.
Under what colour he commits this ill.
Thus he replies : The colour in th v face
(lliat even for anger makes the liiy pale^
And the red rose olush at her own disgrace,)
Shall plead for me, and tell my loving tale:
Under what 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 ;
Thy oeauty huth ensnar'd thee to this night.
Where thou with patience roust my will abide.
My will that marks thee for my earth's delight,
Woich I to connuer sought with all my might ;
Bat at reproot and reason beat it dead.
By thy bright beauty was it newly bred.



I see what crosses my attempt will bring ;

1 know what thorns the growing rose defends;

I think the honev guarded with a sting;

All this, beforehand, counsel comprehends;

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,wbat shame, what sorrow I shall breed ;

But nothing can affection's course control.

Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.

I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Keproach, iisdain, and deadly enmity}
Yet strive 1 to embrace mine infamy.

This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade.
Which like a faulcon towering in the skies,
Coucheth the fowl below with his wings' shade.
Whose crooked beak threats if he mount he dies .
So under the insulting falchion lies
Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells,
With trembling fear, as foMrl hear faulcona' belli.

Lucreoe, 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 ;
That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honour with thv life's decay;
And in thy dead arms do 1 mean to place him,
Sweairing 1 slew him, seeing thee embrace him.
So thy surviving husband shall remain
The scornful mark of every open eye z
Thy kinsmen hang their lieads at this disdain.
Thy issue blurr'd with nameless bastardy :
And thou, the author of their oblot^uy,
Shall have thy trespass cited up m rh^es.
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.
The poisonous simple sometimes is compacted
In a pure compound ; being so applied.
His venom iu effect is purified.
Then for thy husband's and thy children's sake
1'ender my suit : bequeath not to their lot
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 i
For marks described in man's nativity
Are nature's faults, not their own iiifamy.
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 grype's sharp claws,
Pleads in a wilderness, where are no laws.
To the rough beast that knows no gentle right,
l^or ought obeys but his foul appetite.
Look,whena black-fac'dcloud theworlU doth threat,
In hit dim mist the aspiring moimtaiiis Hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust doth get.
Which blows these pitchyvapours from their biduig
Hindering their present fall by this dividing.
So his uuhallow'd haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks while Orpheus plays.
Tet foul night- waking cat, he doth but dally,
While in his hold- fast foot the weak mouse pantetl ,
Her tad behaviour feeds his vulture folly,
A swallowing gulf that even in plenty wanteth ;
His ear her prayer admits, but his heart grauteth
1^0 penetrable entrance to her plaining t [in
Tears harden lust, though marble wear with rai


Her piiy-pleAding ^yes are sadly fixed
Id the reraorseleM wrinklei of his face ;
Her modest eloquence with sighs is mixed.
Which to her oratory adds more grace.
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 cdnjures him by high almighty Jove,
Bv knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath.
By her untimely tears, her husband's loTe|
By holv human laws, and common troth.
By heaven and earth, and all the power of both.
That to his borrowed bed he make retire.
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.

Quoth she, reward not hospitality
With SQch black payment as thou hast pretended ;
If ud not the fountain that gave drink to thee ;
Mar not th« thing that cannot be amended ;
End thy ill aim, before thy shoot be ended ;

He is no woodman that doth bend his bow

To strike a poor unseasonable doe.

My husband is thy friend, for his sake spare roe;
Thyself are mighty, for thine own sake leave me ;
Myiielf a weakling, do not then ensnare me.
Tliou look'st not like deceit ; do not deceive me:
Mvsighsylikewhirlwinds, labour hence to heave thee.
Jf ever man were mov'd with woman's moans.
Be moved with my tears, my sighs, my groans.
All which together, like a troubled ocean,
Beat at thv 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 tean), and be compassionate!
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 1 complain thee, [name.
Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely
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?
If in thy hope thou dar'st do such outrage.
What dar'st thou not when once thou art a king?
O b« remeniber'd. no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wip'd away:
Then king's misdeeds cannot be hid in clay.
This deed will make thee 6nly lov'd for fear,
But happy monarchs still are fear'd for love:
\\ ith foul offenders thou perforce must bear,
Wheu the> in thee the \Ut offences pntve:
If but for fear of this, thy will remove ;

Online LibraryWilliam Michael Rossetti William ShakespeareThe complete works of Shakespeare: With a critical biography → online text (page 210 of 224)