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But beauty, in that white intituled,1
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; Teaching them thus to use it in the fight;— When shame assail'd, the red should fence the white.
This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white.
Of either's color 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)
i. e. which consists in that whiteness, or takes its title from it.
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show:
Therefore that praise 1 which Collatine doth cwe,*
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;
Birds never limed 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 color'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,
Nor read the subtle-shining secresies
Writ in the glassy margents of such books:
She touch'd no unknown baits, nor fear'd no hooks;
1 Praise here signifies the object of praise, i. e. Lucretia. Own, possess.
Nor could she moralise1 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.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither,
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 weariness with heavy spright;
For, after supper, long he questioned
With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night.
Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth
And every one to rest himself betakes,
Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds, that wakes.
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 abs. taining :
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,
That what they have not, that which they possess,
They scatter and unloose it from their bond,
And so, by hoping more, they have but less ;
Or, gaining more, the profit of excess
Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain,
That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.
The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honor, wealth, and ease, in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife,
That one for all, or all for one we gage:
As life for honor, in fell battle's rage;
Honor for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and all together lost.
So that, in venturing ill, we leave 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, and, all for want of wit,
Make something nothing, by augmenting it.
Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honor 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 confounds, betrays
To slanderous tongues, and wretched, hateful
Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed 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,
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;
Is madly toss'd between desire and dread;
The 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 brainsick, rude Desire.
His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;