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No man inveigh against the withered flower,
But chide rough winter that the flower hath kill'd.
Not that devour'd, but that which doth devour,
Is worthy blame. Oh! let it not be hild'
Poor women's faults, that they are so fulfill'd
With men's abuses: those proud lords, to blame,
Make weak-made women tenants to their shame.
The precedent whereof in Lucrece view,
Assail'd by night, with circumstances strong
Of present death, and shame that might ensue
By that her death, to do her husband wrong:
Such danger to resistance did belong,
That dying fear through all her body spread;
And who cannot abuse a body dead?
By this, mild patience bid fair Lucrece speak
To the poor counterfeit of her complaining:
My girl, quoth she, on what occasion break
Those tears from thee, that down thy cheeks are raining?
If thou dost weep for grief of my sustaining,
Know, gentle wench, it small avails my mood:
If tears could help, mine own would do me good.
But tell me, girl, when went (and there she stay'd
Till after a deep groan) Tarquin from hence?
Madam, ere I was up, replied the maid;
The more to blame my sluggard negligence:
Yet with the fault I thus far can dispense;
Myself was stirring ere the break of day,
And, ere I rose, was Tarquin gone away.
But lady, if your maid may be so bold,
She would request to know your heaviness.
Oh peace! quoth Lucrece: if it should be told,
The repetition cannot make it less;
For more it is than I can well express:
5 Oh! let it not be HILD] Thus the old copies; and it is necessary to preserve the false orthography for the sake of the rhyme. Elsewhere we have observed the same rule with respect to the words wrack, than, &c. The Rev. Mr. Dyce, in his "Remarks," p. 272, has pointed out several instances in which held was spelt "hild," although occurring in the middle of a line. It is, in fact, a known old form of the word, but only now to be preserved, when the rhyme is imperative.
And that deep torture may be call'd a hell,
When more is felt than one hath power to tell.
Go, get me hither paper, ink, and pen,-
Yet save that labour, for I have them here.
What should I say?-One of my husband's men
Bid thou be ready by and by, to bear
A letter to my lord, my love, my dear:
Bid him with speed prepare to carry it;
The cause craves haste, and it will soon be writ.
Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
First hovering o'er the paper with her quill.
Conceit and grief an eager combat fight;
What wit sets down is blotted straight with will;
This is too curious-good, this blunt and ill:
Much like a press of people at a door
Throng her inventions, which shall go before.
At last she thus begins: "Thou worthy lord
Of that unworthy wife that greeteth thee,
Health to thy person: next, vouchsafe t' afford
(If ever, love, thy Lucrece thou wilt see)
Some present speed to come and visit me.
So I commend me from our house in grief:
My woes are tedious, though my words are brief."
Here folds she up the tenour of her woe,
Her certain sorrow writ uncertainly.
By this short schedule Collatine may know
Her grief, but not her grief's true quality:
She dares not thereof make discovery,
Lest he should hold it her own gross abuse,
Ere she with blood had stain'd her stain'd excuse.
Besides, the life and feeling of her passion
She hoards, to spend when he is by to hear her;
When sighs and groans and tears may grace the fashion Of her disgrace, the better so to clear her
From that suspicion which the world might bear her. To shun this blot she would not blot the letter With words, till action might become them better.
To see sad sights moves more than hear them told,
For then the eye interprets to the ear
The heavy motion that it doth behold,
When every part a part of woe doth bear:
'Tis but a part of sorrow that we hear;
Deep sounds make lesser noise than shallow fords,
And sorrow ebbs, being blown with wind of words.
Her letter now is seal'd, and on it writ,
"At Ardea to my lord, with more than haste."
The post attends, and she delivers it,
Charging the sour-fac'd groom to hie as fast
As lagging fowls before the northern blast:
Speed more than speed but dull and slow she deems;
Extremity still urgeth such extremes.
The homely villain court'sies to her low,
And, blushing on her, with a stedfast eye
Receives the scroll, without or yea or no,
And forth with bashful innocence doth hie:
But they whose guilt within their bosoms lie,
Imagine every eye beholds their blame,
For Lucrece thought he blush'd to see her shame;
When, silly groom! God wot, it was defect
Of spirit, life, and bold audacity.
Such harmless creatures have a true respect
To talk in deeds, while others saucily
Promise more speed, but do it leisurely:
Even so this pattern of the worn-out age
Pawn'd honest looks, but lay'd no words to gage.
His kindled duty kindled her mistrust,
That two red fires in both their faces blazed;
She thought he blush'd, as knowing Tarquin's lust,
6 Even so THIS pattern of THE worn-out age] Here we have another instance of variance in different copies of the 4to, 1594. The usual and, no doubt, true reading is that of our text; but in the Duke of Devonshire's copy the line is thus given:
"Even so the pattern of this worn-out age,"
which seems contrary to what was meant. In general the "Lucrece," 1594, in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire, is more correct than that among Malone's books at Oxford, but this instance is an exception.
And, blushing with him, wistly on him gazed;
Her earnest eye did make him more amazed:
The more she saw the blood his cheeks replenish,
The more she thought he spied in her some blemish.
But long she thinks till he return again,
And yet the duteous vassal scarce is gone.
The weary time she cannot entertain,
For now 'tis stale to sigh, to weep, and groan:
So woe hath wearied woe, moan tired moan,
That she her plaints a little while doth stay,
Pausing for means to mourn some newer way.
At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece
Of skilful painting, made for Priam's Troy;
Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
For Helen's rape the city to destroy,
Threatening cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy;
Which the conceited painter drew so proud,
As heaven it seem'd to kiss the turrets bow'd.
A thousand lamentable objects there,
In scorn of nature, art gave lifeless life.
Many a dry drop seem'd a weeping tear,
Shed for the slaughter'd husband by the wife:
The red blood reek'd to show the painter's strife;
And dying eyes gleam'd forth their ashy lights,
Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.
There might you see the labouring pioneer
Begrim'd with sweat, and smeared all with dust;
And from the towers of Troy there would appear
The very eyes of men through loop-holes thrust,
Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust:
Such sweet observance in this work was had,
That one might see those far-off eyes look sad.
In great commanders grace and majesty
You might behold, triumphing in their faces;
In youth quick bearing and dexterity;
And here and there the painter interlaces
Pale cowards, marching on with trembling paces:
Which heartless peasants did so well resemble,
That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble.
In Ajax and Ulysses, oh, what art
Of physiognomy might one behold!
The face of either 'cipher'd either's heart;
Their face their manners most expressly told:
In Ajax' eyes blunt rage and rigour roll'd;
But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent,
Show'd deep regard, and smiling government.
There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand,
As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight;
Making such sober action with his hand,
That it beguil'd attention, charm'd the sight.
In speech, it seem'd, his beard, all silver white,
Wagg'd up and down, and from his lips did fly
Thin winding breath, which purl'd up to the sky.
About him were a press of gaping faces,
Which seem'd to swallow up his sound advice;
All jointly listening, but with several graces,
As if some mermaid did their ears entice:
Some high, some low; the painter was so nice,
The scalps of many, almost hid behind,
To jump up higher seem'd, to mock the mind.
Here one man's hand lean'd on another's head,
His nose being shadow'd by his neighbour's ear;
Here one, being throng'd, bears back, all boll'n and red';
Another, smother'd, seems to pelt and swear;
And in their rage such signs of rage they bear,
As, but for loss of Nestor's golden words,
It seem'd they would debate with angry swords.
For much imaginary work was there;
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear,
Grip'd in an armed hand: himself behind
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind.
A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imagined.
all BOLL'N and red;] "Bollen" means swollen, and it is used by Chaucer, as well as by later writers. See also "The Merchant of Venice," A. iv. sc. 1, Vol. ii. p. 324, where "boll'n " is applied to a bag-pipe.
so compact, so KIND,] i. e. So natural, so according to "kind."