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He scowls, and hates himself for his offence,
She stays, exclaiming on the direful night;
He thence departs a heavy convertite,
And my true eyes have never practis'd how
They think not but that every eye can see
grave, like water that doth eat in steel, Upon my cheeks what helpless shame I feel.
Here she exclaims against repose and rest,
Frantic with grief thus breathes she forth her spite
Oh, comfort-killing night, image of hell !
Grim cave of death! whispering conspirator
Oh, hateful, vaporous, and foggy night!
His wonted height, yet ere he go to bed,
With rotten damps ravish the morning air;
That in their smoky ranks his smother'd light
Were Tarquin night, as he is but night's child,
And fellowship in woe doth woe assuage,
Where, now, I have no one to blush with me,
Mingling my talk with tears, my grief with groans,
Oh night! thou furnace of foul-reeking smoke,
That all the faults which in thy reign are made
Make me not object to the tell-tale day!
9 And let thy musty vapours] Modern editors (including the Rev. Mr. Dyce), following the later impressions, have, with Malone, printed “musty” misty: the context shows that “musty,'' the word in all the copies of the edition of 1594, is right: in the previous part of the stanza we have had “rotten damps,” and “ wholesome airs,” and “musty vapours" is quite consistent with them. “Misty vapours" is mere tautology, since vapours are necessarily misty.
The story of sweet chastity's decay,
To cipher what is writ in learned books,
The nurse to still her child will tell my story,
Will tie the hearers to attend each line,
Let my good name, that senseless reputation,
That is as clear from this attaint of mine,
Oh unseen shame! invisible disgrace!
Alas! how many bear such shameful blows,
If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me,
In thy weak hive a wandering wasp hath crept,
1 Will quote my loathsome trespass] i. e. Will note or observe my loathsome trespass. See Vol. iv. p. 568; Vol. v. p. 116, &c.
may read the mot afar,] The “ mot " is the word of reproach, from the French : we generally now resort to the Italian, motto. In “ Pericles " (this Vol. p. 413), where Thaisa repeats the inscriptions on the shields of the knights, Shakespeare uses “word " just as he employs “mot" in our text.
Yet am I guiltys of thy honour's wrack;
And talk'd of virtue.-Oh, unlook'd for evil,
Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud,
But no perfection is so absolute,
The aged man that coffers
up Is plagu'd with cramps, and gouts, and painful fits,
Having no other pleasure of his gain,
So, then he hath it, when he cannot use it,
The sweets we wish for turn to loathed sours,
Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring,
3 Yet am I GUILTY] Malone altered “guilty" to guiltless, but he was clearly wrong: Lucrece first accuses herself of being guilty by entertaining Tarquin, and then excuses herself by adding that she did it for her husband's honour. The Rev. Mr. Dyce properly retains “ guilty.” “Wrack,” at the end of the line, is again the old spelling of wreck ; and it is here, as on pp. 502 and 556, necessary to preserve it for the sake of the rhyme.
But ill annexed opportunity
Oh, Opportunity! thy guilt is great : 'Tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason ; Thou sett'st the wolf where he the lamb may get; Whoever plots the sin, thou 'point'st the season. 'Tis thou that spurn’st at right, at law, at reason;
And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him, Sits sin to seize the souls that wander by him.
Thou mak'st the vestal violate her oath;
Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief,
Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
How comes it, then, vile Opportunity,
When wilt thou be the humble suppliant's friend, And bring him where his suit may be obtained ? When wilt thou sort an hour* great strifes to end, Or free that soul which wretchedness hath chained ? Give physic to the sick, ease to the pained ?
The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee, But they ne'er meet with Opportunity.
The patient dies while the physician sleeps ;
4 When wilt thou sort an hour] i.e. Select or choose an hour. See Vol. iv. pp. 211. 270. Steevens refers to the line,
“But I will sort a pitchy day for thee," as if it were in “ Richard III.” It is in fact in “Henry VI., Part III.;" but the scene was made a portion of “ Richard III.” as it was acted in the time of Steevens, and in our own, and hence, perhaps, his strange mistake.