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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 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 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;
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 enforc'd 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 slaughtered lust,
And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust.
Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
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 arms !
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act, including all foul harms !
A martial man to be soft 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 eye-sore in my golden coat;
Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive,
To cipher me how fondly I did dote;
That my posterity, sham'd with the note,
Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
To wish that I their father had not been.
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 stricken down?
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.
0! what excuse can my invention make,
When thou shalt charge me with so black a deed?
W’ill 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 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 quital of such strife;
But as he is my kinsman, my dear friend,
The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
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 gazd 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,
Forc'd 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 dreadeth:
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'er-grown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost chok'd 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 selfsame 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,
Stuff 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 Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed.
The locks between her chamber and his will,
Each one by him enforc'd retires his ward ;
But as they open they all rate his ill,
Which drives the creeping thief to some regard :
The threshold grates the door to have him heard ;
Night-wandering weesels 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 needle his finger pricks ;
As who should say, this glove to wanton tricks
Is not inur'd; return again in haste ;
Thou seest our mistress' ornaments are chaste.
But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him ;
He in the worst sense construes their denial :
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, so, 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 ;
5- the sneaped birds – ] Shakespeare uses “sneaping” in “Love's Labour's