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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 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 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
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;
Th' one sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm;
But honest Fear, bewitch'd with lust's foul charm,
Doth too-too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten away by brain-sick rude Desire.
His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly,
Whereat a waxen torch forthwith he lighteth,
Which must be lode-star to his lustful eye;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:
"As from this cold flint I enforced this fire, So Lucrece must I 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;
Then looking scornfully, he doth despise
His naked armour of still-slaughter'd lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust :
"Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it
To darken her whose light excelleth thine!
And die, unhallow'd thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness that which is divine!
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine :
Let fair humanity abhor the deed
That spots and stains love's modest snow-white weed.
"O shame to knighthood and to shining
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act, including all foul harms!
A martial man to be soit fancy's slave;
True valour still a true respect should have;
Then my digression is so vile, so base,
That it will live engraven in my face.
"Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive,
And be an eyesore in my golden coat;
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive,
To cipher me how fondly I did dote ;
That my posterity, shamed with the note,
Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
To wish that I their father had not bin.
"What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy :
Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken
"If Collatinus dream of my intent,
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage
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-during blame?
"O, what excuse can my invention make,
When thou shalt charge me with so black a
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 éxtreme fear can neither fight nor fly,
But, coward-like, with trembling terror die.
"Had Collatinus kill'd my son or sire,
Or lain in ambush to betray my life,
Or were he not my dear friend, this desire
Might have excuse to work upon his wife,
As in revenge or quittal of such strife:
But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
66 Shameful it is ;-ay, if the fact be known:
Hateful it is;-there is no hate in loving:
I'll beg her love;-but she is not her own;
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
'Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
And with good thoughts makes dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still;
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed,
That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
Quoth he, "She took me kindly by the hand,
And gazed for tidings in my eager eyes,
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
Where her beloved Collatinus lies.
O, how her fear did make her colour rise!
First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the roses took away.
"And how her hand, in my hand being lock'd,
Forced it to tremble with her loyal fear;
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rock'd,
Until her husband's welfare she did hear;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cheer,
That had Narcissus seen her as she stood,
Self-love had never drown'd him in the flood.
Why hunt I, then, for colour or excuses?
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses;
Love thrives not in the heart that shadows
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth ;
And when his gaudy banner is display'd,
The coward fights, and will not be dismay'd.
'Then, childish fear, avaunt! debating, die! Respect and reason, wait on wrinkled age! My heart shall never countermand mine eye: Sad pause and deep regard beseem the sage; My part is youth, and beats these from the stage: Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?"
As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost choked by unresisted lust.
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 him with their opposite persuasion,
That now he vows 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;
But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart,
Which once corrupted takes the worser part;
And therein heartens up his servile powers,
Who, flatter'd by their leader's jocund show,