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THE RAPE OF LUCRECE
RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLEY,
EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON AND BARON OF TITCHFIELD.
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 ; meantime, 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 owI 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 VOL. X 305
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 enflamed 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.
From the besieged Ardea all in post,
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Haply that name of chaste' unhappily set
10. let, forbear.
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
O happiness enjoy'd but of a few !
Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
37. Suggested, tempted.
His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men
should vaunt That golden hap which their superiors want.
But some untimely thought did instigate
O rash false heat, wrapp'd in repentant cold,
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old !
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
But beauty, in that white intituled,
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,
This heraldry in Lucrece' face was seen,
The sovereignty of either being so great,
Their silent war of lilies and of roses,
To those two armies that would let him go,
Now thinks he that her husband's shallow tongue,
Enchanted Tarquin answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still-gazing eyes.
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm express'd :
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 89. securely, carelessly.
93. plaits, folds. 100. parling, speaking.