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To the Right Honourable

HENRY WRIOTHESLY,

BARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TICHFIELD.

Right Honourable,

THE love I dedicate to your lordship is without end: whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a su perfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your hopourable 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 should shew 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,

WILL. SHAKESPEARE.

THE ARGUMENT.

LUCIUS TARQUINIUS, surnamed Superbus, from his excessive pride, after he had caused his 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 throne and 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 Colatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucrece. In that pleasant humour they all posted to Rome, intending by their secret and sudden arrival, to make trial of that which every one had before avouched only Colatinus finds his wife, though it were late in the night, spinning amongst her maids, the other ladies were found all dancing and revelling, or in several disports. Whereupon the noblemen yielded Colatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius being inflamed with Lucrece's beauty, yet smothering his passion for the present, departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was, according to his state, royally entertained, and lodged by Lucrece at Colatium. The same night, he, treacherously stealing into her chamber, violently ravished her; and early in the morning speeded away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily dispatched messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the camp for Colatine. They came, the one accompanied with Junius Brus tus, the other with Publius Valerius: and finding Lucrece attired in a mourning habit, demanded the cause of her sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them for her revenge, revealed the actor, and the whole matter 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; to which he added 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.

TARQUIN AND LUCRECE.

FROM the besieg'd Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathing Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Colatium bears the lightless fire,
Which in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire,
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Colatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of chaste, unhaply set
This baitless edge on his keen appetite:
When Colatine unwisely did not let,

To praise the clear unmatched red and white,
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight:

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

For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
What prizeless wealth the heavens had him lent,
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reck'ning his fortune at so high a rate,

That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor prince to such a peerless dame.

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;
A date expir'd and cancell'd ere begun.
Honour and beauty in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortress'd in a world of harms.

Beauty itself doth oft itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needed then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Colatine the publisher

Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
From thievish cares, because it is his own?

Perchance his boast of Lucrece's sov❜reignty
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 pitcht thoughts, that meaner men should vant,
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.
Orash false heat, wrapt in repentant cold!
Thy hasty spring still blasts, and ne'er grows old.

When at Colatium this false lord arriv'd,
Well was he welcom'd by the Roman dame,
Within whose face beauty and virtue striv'd,

Which of them both should under prop her fame.
When virtue bragg'd, beauty would blush for shame;
When beauty boasted blushes, in despite,
Virtue would stain that o'er 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 golded age to gild

Her silver cheeks, and call'd it then her shield;
Teaching them thus to use it in the fight,

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

This heraldry in Lucrece's face was seen,
Argu'd 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 sov❜reignty 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 incloses,
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 o'er so false a foe.

Now thinks he, that her husband's shallow tongue,
The niggard prodigal that prais'd her so,
In that high task hath done her beauty wrong,
Which far exceeds his barren skill to show.
Therefore that praise, which Colatine doth owe,
Inchanted Tarquin (answers with surmise,
In silent wonder of still gazing eyes.

This earthly saint, adored by this devil,
Little suspected the false worshipper.

"For thoughts unstain'd do seldom dream of evil,
"Birds never lim'd, no secret bushes fear :"
So guiltless she securely gives good cheer
And reverend welcome to her princely guest,
Whose inward ill no outward harm exprest.

For that he colour'd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in pleats of majesty,
That nothing in him seem'd inordinate,
Save sometimes 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 cop'd with stranger-eyes,
Could pick no meaning from their parling looks,
Nor read the subtle shining secresies

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.

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