ePub 版




THE love I dedicate to your lordship is without end; whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty would show greater: mean time, as it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with all happiness.

Your Lordship's, in all duty,



LUCIUS TARQUINIUS (for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus), after he had caused his own father-in-law, Servius Tullius, to be cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom, went, accompanied with his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea. During which siege, the principal men of the army meeting one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the king's son, in their discourses after supper every one commended the virtues of his own wife; among whom, Collatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humour they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and sudden arrival, to make trial of that which every one had before avouched, only Collatinus finds his wife (though it were late in the night) spinning amongst her maids: the other ladies were all found dancing and revelling, or in several disports. Whereupon the noblemen yielded Collatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius being inflamed with Lucrece' beauty, yet smothering his passions for the present, departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was (according to his estate) royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Collatium. The same night, he treacherously stealeth into her chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the morning speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily dispatcheth messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the camp for Collatine. They came, the one accompanied with Junius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius; and finding Lucrece attired in mourning habit, demanded the cause of her sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them for her revenge, revealed the actor, and whole manner of his dealing, and withal suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one consent they all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins; and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the people with the doer and manner of the vile deed, with a bitter invective against the tyranny of the king: wherewith the people were so moved, that with one consent and a general acclamation the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state government changed from kings to consuls.

* This argument appears to have been written by Shakspeare, being prefixed to the original edition in 1594, and is a curiosity; being, with the two dedications to the Earl of Southampton, the only prose compositions of our great poet (not in a dramatic form) now remaining.


["A BOOK entitled the 'Ravishment of Lucrece' was entered on the Stationers' register, by Mr. Harrison, sen., May 9, 1594, and the poem was first printed in 4to. in the same year. It was again published in 16mo. in 1598, 1600, and 1607. There were also editions in 1596 and 1602. There was an edition published in 1616, purporting to be newly revised and correct, but it is of all the editions the most inaccurate and corrupt. The story of Lucrece is given in the first volume of Painter's 'Palace of Pleasure,' whence our author probably borrowed the argument of his poem."]

FROM the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
Haply that name of chaste unhapp❜ly set
This bateless+ edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not lett
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,

Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

For he, the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
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.

* Possibly.

+ Not to be abated.


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 apology be made
To set forth that which is so 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's sovereignty
Suggested 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, disdainfully did sting

His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
The golden hap‡ which their superiors want.

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 glows.§
O`rash-false heat, wrapt 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 or** 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;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,-

When shame assail'd, the red should fence the white.

* Consumed.

† Prompted, instigated.

§ The liver was formerly supposed to be the seat of love.

Too early,

Becomes blighted.


**Or, i. e. gold, to which the poet compares the deep colour of a blush. ++ Taking its title from that whiteness.

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,*
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 thoughts unstain'd 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 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,
Nor read the subtle-shining secrecies

Writ in the glassy margents of such books ;§

She touch'd no unknown baits, nor fear'd no hooks;
Nor could she moralize|| his wanton sight,
More than his eyes were open'd to the light.

* Praise here signifies the object of praise, i. e. Lucretia. To owe, in old language, means to possess.

+ Folds.


In all our ancient English books, the comment is printed in the margin. Interpret.

« 上一頁繼續 »