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I see what crosses my attempts will bring,
I know what thorns the growing rose defends,
I think the honey guarded with a sting;
All this beforehand counsel comprehends;
But will is deaf, and hears no heedful friends.
Only he hath an eye to gaze on beauty,

And doats on what he looks, 'gainst law or duty.

I have debated, even in my soul,

What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed ;
But nothing can affection's course control,
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.

This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
Which like a falcon towering in the skies,
Coucheth the fowl below with his wing shade,
Whose crooked beak threats, if he mount he dies:
So under his insulting fauchion lies

Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells

With trembling fear, as fowls hear falcon's bells.

Lucrece, quoth he, this night I must enjoy thee,
If thou deny, then force must work my way;
For in thy bed I purpose to destroy thee.
That done, some worthless slave of thine I'll slay,
To kill thine honour with thy life's decay;

And in thy dead arms do I mean to place him,
Swearing I slew him, seeing thee embrace him.

So thy surviving husband shall remain
The scornful mark of every open eye;
Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain,
Thy issue blurr'd with nameless bastardy;
And thou, the author of their obloquy,

Shalt have thy trespass cited up in rhimes,
And sung by children in succeeding times.

But if thou yield, I rest thy sacred friend,
The fault unknown is as a thought unacted;
A little harm done to a great good end,
For lawful policy remains enacted.

The poisonous simple sometimes is compacted
In purest compounds; being so apply'd,
His venom in effect is purify'd.

Then for thy husband's and thy children's sake,
Tender my suit, bequeath not to their lot
The shame that from them no device can take,
The blemish that will never be forgot,
Worse than a slavish wipe or birth-hour's blot;
For marks describ'd in men's nativity,
Are nature's faults, not their own infamy.

Here with a cockatrice, dead-killing eye,
He rouseth up himself, and makes a pause;
While she, the picture of true piety,

Like a white hind beneath a gripe's sharp claws,
Pleads in a wilderness, where are no laws,

To the rough beast that knows no gentle right;
Nor nought obeys but his foul appetite.

As when a black-fac'd cloud the world does threat,
In his dim mist the aspiring mountain hiding,
From earth's dark womb some gentle gust does get,
Which blow these pitchy vapours from their biding,
Hindering their present fall by this dividing:

So his unhallow'd haste her words delays,
And moody Pluto winks, while Orpheus plays.

Like foul night-waking cat he doth but dally,
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth;
Her sad behaviour feeds his vulture folly,

A swallowing gulf, that e'en in plenty wanteth ;
His ear her prayer admits, but his heart granteth
No penetrable entrance to her plaining;

Tears harden lust, tho' marble wears with raining.

Her pity-pleading eyes are sadly fix'd

In the remorseless wrinkles of his face :
Her modest eloquence with sighs is mix'd,
Which to her oratory adds more grace.
She puts the period often from his place,

And midst the sentence so her accent breaks,
That twice she doth begin ere once she speaks.

She conjures him by high almighty Jove,

By knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship's oath,
By her untimely tears, her husband's love,

By holy human law, and common troth,

By heaven and earth, and all the power of both,
That to his borrow'd bed he make retire,
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.

Quoth she, reward not hospitality

With such black payment as thou hast pretended;
Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee,
Mar not the thing that cannot be amended,
End thy ill aim before thy shoot be ended.
He is no woodman, that doth bend his bow,
To strike a poor unseasonable doe.

My husband is thy friend, for his sake spare me ;
Thyself art mighty, for thy own sake leave me ;
Myself a weakling, do not then insnare me ;
Thou look'st not like deceit, do not deceive me ;
My sighs like whirlwinds labour hence to heave thee.
If ever man was mov'd with woman's moans,
Be moved with my tears, my sighs, my groans.

All which together, like a troubled ocean,
Beat at thy rocky and wreck-threatening heart,
To soften it with their continual motion,
For stones dissolv'd to water do convert.
O if no harder than a stone thou art,
Melt at my tears, and be compassionate ?
Soft pity enters at an iron gate.

In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee,
Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
To all the host of heaven I complain me,

Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely name,
Thou art not what thou seem'st, and if the same,
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a god, a king,
For kings, like gods, should govern every thing.

How will thy shame be seeded in thine age,
When thus thy vices bud before thy spring?
If in thy hope thou dar'st to do such outrage,
What dar'st thou not, when once thou art a king ?

O! be remember'd no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wip'd away,
Then kings' misdeeds cannot be hid in clay.

This deed shall make thee only lov'd for fear,
But happy monarchs still are fear'd for love :
With foul offenders thou perforce must bear,
When they in thee the like offences prove:
If but for fear of this, thy will remove,

For princes are the glass, the school, the book,
Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.

And wilt thou be the school where lust shall learn?
Must he in thee read lectures of such shame ?
Wilt thou be glass, wherein it shall discern
Authority for sin, warrant for blame?

To privilege dishonour in thy name,

Thou back'st reproach against long-living laud,
And makʼst fair reputation but a bawd.

Hast thou commanded? By him that gave it thee,
From a pure heart command thy rebel will:
Draw not thy sword to guard iniquity,

For it was lent thee all that brood to kill.
Thy princely office how canst thou fulfil,

When pattern'd by thy fault, foul sin may say,
He learn'd to sin, and thou didst teach the way?

Think but how vile a spectacle it were,
To view thy present trespass in another;
Men's faults do seldom to themselves appear,
Their own transgressions partially they smother;
This guilt would seem death-worthy in thy brother.
O! how are they wrapt in with infamies,

That from their own misdeeds askance their eyes!

To thee, to thee, my heav'd-up hands appeal,
Not to seducing lust's outrageous fire;

I sue for exil'd majesty's repeal,

Let him return and flattering thoughts retire.
His true respect will prison false desire,

And wipe the dim mist from thy doating eyne,
That thou shalt see thy state and pity mine.

Have done, quoth he, my uncontroled tide
Turns not, but swells the higher by this let;
Small lights are soon blown out, huge fires abide,
And with the wind in greater fury fret:
The petty streams that pay a daily debt

To their salt sovereign with their fresh false haste,
Add to his flow, but alter not the taste.

Thou art (quoth she) a sea, a sovereign king,
And lo! there falls into thy boundless flood
Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning,
Who seek to stain the ocean of thy blood.
If all these petty ills should change thy good,
Thy sea within a puddle womb is burst,
And not the puddle in thy sea dispers❜d.

So shall these slaves be king, and thou their slave ;
Thou nobly base, they basely dignified;
Thou their fair life, and they thy fouler grave;
Thou loathed in thy shame, they in thy pride:
The lesser thing should not the greater hide.
The cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot,
But low shrubs wither at the cedar's root.

So let thy thoughts low vassals to thy state :-
No more, quoth he, by heaven I will not hear thee,
Yield to my love; if not, enforced hate,

Instead of love's coy touch, shall rudely tear thee;
That done, despitefully I mean to bear thee
Unto the base bed of some rascal groom,
To be thy partner in this shameful doom.

This said, he sets his foot upon the light,
For light and lust are deadly enemies;
Shame folded up in blind concealing night,
When most unseen, then most doth tyrannize.
The wolf has seiz'd his prey, the poor lamb cries,
Till with her own white fleece her voice control'd,
Intombs her outcry in her lips' sweet fold.

For with the nightly linen, that she wears,
pens her piteous clamours in her head,
Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.

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