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O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And is possess'd, as soon decay'd and done!
As if the morning's silver melting dew,
Against the golden splendor of the sun;
A date expir'd and cancel'd ere begun.
Honour and beauty in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortrest from a world of harms.
Beauty itself doth of it self persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needed then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is not 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 Locrece' 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 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, bis 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 Colatiam 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 Vends' doves doth challenge that fair field;
Then virtue claims from beauty beauty's red,
Which virtue gave the golden 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 Lccrece' face was seen,
Argu'd by beauty's red and virtue's white;
Of either 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 these 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,
Enchanted 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 chear;
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 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
He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
Won in the fields of fruitful Italy;
And decks with praises Colatine's high name,
Made glorious by his manly chivalry,
With bruised arm and wreaths of victory.
Her joy with heav'd-up hand she doth express,
And wordless, so greets heav'n for his success.
Far from the purpose of his coming thither,
He makes excuses for his being there;
No cloudy show of stormy blust'ring weather,
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear,
Till sable night, sad source of dread and fear,
Upon the world dim darkness doth display,
And in her vaulty prison shuts the day.
For then is Tarquin brought unto his bed,
Intending weariness with heavy sprite;
For after supper long he questioned
With modest Lucrece, and wore out the night.
Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight,
And every one to rest themselves betake,
Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds that wake.
As one of which doth Tarquin lie revolving
The sundry dangers of his will's obtaining,
Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
Tho' weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining;
Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining:
And when great treasure is the meed propos'd,
Tho' death be adjunct, there's no death suppos'd.
Those that much covet are of gain so fond,
That oft they have not that which they possess:
They scatter and unloose it from their bond,
And so by hoping more, they have but less;
Or gaining more, the profit of excess
Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain,
That they prove bankrupt in this poor, rich gain.
The aim of all, is but to nurse the life
With honour, wealth and ease in waining age:
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife.
That one for all, or all for one we 'gage:
As life for honour, in fell battle's rage,
Honour for wealth, and oft that wealth dost cost
The death of all, and altogether lost.
So that in venturing all, we leave to be
The things we are, for that which we expect:
And this ambitious foul infirmity,
In having much, torments us with defect
Of that we have: so then we do neglect
The thing we have, and, all for want of wit
Make something nothing, by augmenting it.
Such hazard now must doating Tarqvin make,
Pawning his honour to obtain bis lust:
And for himself, himself he must forsake!
Then where is truth, if there be no self-trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just,
When he himself, himself confounds, betrays
To sland'rous tongues the wretched harefal lay«?