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The baser is he, coming from a king,
To shame his hope with deeds degenerate;
The mightier man, the mightier is the thing,
That makes him honoured, or begets him hate:
For greatest scandal waits on greatest state.
The moon being clouded, presently is mist,
But little stars may hide them when they list.
The crow may bathe his coal-black wings in mire,
And unperceiv'd fly with the filth away;
But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
The stain upon his silver down will stay.
Poor grooms are sightless night, kings glorious day.
Gnats are unnoted wheresoe'er they fly,
But eagles gaz'd upon with every eye.
O idle words! servants to shallow fools;
Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators;
Busy yourselves in skill-contending schools;
Debate where leisure serves,- with dull debaters:
To trembling clients be their mediators.
For me I force not argument a straw,
Since that my case is past all help of law.
In vain I rail at opportunity,
At time, at Tarquin, and unsearchful night •
In vain I cavil with mine infamy,
In vain I spurn at my confinu'd despight:
This helpless smoke of words doth me no right,
The remedy indeed to do me good,
Is to let forth my foul defiled blood.
Poor hand, why quiver'st thou at this decree?
Honour thyself, to rid me of this shame:
For if I die, my honour lives in thee:
But if I live, thou liv'st in my defame;
Since thou could'st not defend thy loyal dame,
And wast afraid to scratch her wicked foe,
Kill both thyself and her for yielding so.
This said, from her betumbled couch she starts,
To find some desperate instrument of death.
But this no slaughter-house, no tool imparts,
To make more vent for passing of her breath,
Which thronging thro' her lips so vanisheth,
As smoke from . L'tjia, that in air consumes,
Or that which from discharged cannon fumes.
In vain (quoth she) I live and seek in vain
Some happy mean to end a hapless life:
I fear'd by Tarouin's falchion to be slain,
Yet for the self-same purpose seek a knife:
But when I fear'd, I was a loyal wife;
So am I now: O no! that cannot be;
Of that true type hath Tarquin rifled me.
O! that is gone, for which I sought to live,
And therefore now I need not fear to die;
To clear this spot by death (at least) I give
A badge of fame to slander's livery,
A dying life to living infamy!
Poor helpless help, the treasure stol'n away,
To burn the guiltless casket where it Jay.
We,ll, well, dear Colatine, thou shalt not know
The stained taste of violated troth;
I will not wrong thy true affection so,
To flatter thee with an infringed oath:
This bastard grass shall never come to growth;
He shall not boast, who did thy stock pollute,
That thou art doating father of his fruit.
Nor shall he smile at thee in secret thought,
Nor laugh with his companions at thy state;
But thou shalt know thy interest was not bought
Basely with gold, but stol'n from forth thy gate.
For me, I am the mistress of my fate,
And with my trespass never will dispense,
Till life to death acquit my first offence.
I will not poison thee with my attaint,
Nor foul my fault in cleanly coin'd excuses;
My sable ground of sin I will not paint,
To hide the truth of this false night's abuses:
My tongue shall utter all, mine eyes like sluices,
As from a mountain spring,that feeds a dale,
Shall gush pure streams, to purge my impure tale.
By this, lamenting Philomel had ended
The well tun'd warble of her nightly sorrow;
And solemn night with slow sad gait descended
To ugly hell; when lo! the blushing morrow
Lends light to all fair eyes, that light would borrow.
But cloudy Lucrece shames herself to see,
And therefore still in night would cloister'd be.
Revealing day thro' every cranny spies,
And seems to point her out where she sits weeping;
To whom she sobhing speaks! Oh, eye of eyes!
Why pry'st thou thro' my window! leave thy peeping,
Mock with thy tickling beams, eyes that are sleeping:
Brand not my forehead with thy piercing light,
For day has nought to do what's done by night,
Thus cavils she with every thing she sees:
True grief is fond, and testy as a child,
Who way-ward once, his mood with nought agrees;
Old woes, not infant sorrows bear them mild;
Continuance tames the one, the other wild,
Like an unpractis'd swimmer, plunging still,
With too much labour, drowns for want of skill.
So she deep drenched in a sea of care,
Holds disputation with each thing she views;
And to herself all sorrow doth compare;
No object but her passion's strength renews,
And as one shifts, another strait ensues:
Sometimes her grief is dumb, and hath no words:
Sometimes 'tis mad, and too much talk affords.
The little hirds that tune their morning's joy,
Make her moans mad, with their sweet melody.
For mirth doth search the bottom of annoy;
Sad souls are slain in merry company;
Grief best is pleas'd with griefs society.
True sorrow then is feelingly surpriz'd.
When with like semblance it is sympathised. •
Tis double death to drown in ken of shore;
He ten times pines, that pines beholding food:
To see the salve, doth make the wound ache more;
Great grief grieves most at that will do it good;
Deep woes roll forward, like a gentle flood,
Which being stopt, the bounding banks o'erflows;
Grief dally'd with, nor law nor limit knows.
You mocking hirds, quoth she, your tunes intomb
Within your hollow swelling feather'd breasts; ,
And in my hearing be you ever dumb,
My restless discord loves no stops nor rests;
A woeful hostess brooks not merry guests.
Relish your nimble notes to pleasing ears,
Distress likes dumps, when time is kept with tears.
Come, Philomel, thou sing'st of ravishment,
Make thy sad grove in my dishevel'd hair.
As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment,
So I at each sad strain will strain my tear,
And with deep groans the Diapason bear:
For burden-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descants better skill.
And while against a thorn thou bear'st thy part,
To keep thy sharp woes waking ; wretched l,
To imitate thee well, against my heart
Will fix a sharp knife, to affright mine eye,
Who if it wink, shall thereon fall and die.
These means, as frets upon an instrument,
Shall tune our heart-strings to true languishment.