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“What is the quality of mine offence,
Being constrain'd with dreadful circumstance ? May my pure mind with the foul act dispense, My low-declined honour to advance ? “May any terms acquit me from this chance ?
“The poison’d fountain clears itself again; “ And why not I from this compelled stain ?”
With this, they all at once began to say,
living, “ By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving."
Here with a sigh, as if her heart would break, She throws forth Tarquin's name: He, he," she
says, But more than he her poor tongue could not speak; Till after many accents and delays, Untimely breathings, sick and short assays,
She utters this : “ He, he, fair lords, 'tis he, “That guides this hand to give this wound to
Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast
Of that polluted prison where it breath'd :
Her winged sprite, and through her wounds
Life's lasting date from cancell’d destiny.
Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deed,
The murderous knife, and as it left the place,
And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
Some of her blood still pure and red remain'd,
About the mourning and congealed face
55 vastly) i. e. like a waste.
56 rigol] i. e. circle.
And blood untained still doth red abide,
“ Daughter, dear daughter,” old Lucretius cries, “ That life was mine, which thou hast here de
priv’d. “If in the child the father's image lies, “ Where shall I live, now Lucrece is unliv'd ? “ Thou wast not to this end from me deriv'd.
“ If children predecease progenitors, “ We are their offspring, and they none of ours.
“ Poor broken glass, I often did behold “ In thy sweet semblance my
age newborn ; “ But now that fair fresh mirror, dim and old, “ Shows me a barebon’d death by time outworn; “O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn !
6 And shiver'd all the beauty of my glass,
“() time, cease thou thy course, and last no longer, “ If they surcease to be, that should survive. “ Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger, “ And leave the faltering feeble souls alive? “ The old bees die, the young possess their hive:
“ Then live, sweet Lucrece, live again, and see “ Thy father die, and not thy father thee !"
By this starts Collatine as from a dream,
And then in key-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream He falls, and bathes the pale fear in his face, And counterfeits to die with her a space ;
Till manly shame bids him possess his breath, And live, to be revenged on her death.
The deep vexation of his inward soul
aid, That no man could distinguish what he said.
Yet sometime Tarquin was pronounced plain,
Then son and father weep with equal strife,
The one doth call her his, the other his,
“He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
“O,” quoth Lucretius, " I did give that life,
The dispers'd air, who, holding Lucrece' life,
Brutus, who pluck'd the knife from Lucrece' side,
As silly jeering idiots are with kings,
But now he throws that shallow habit by,
“Let my unsounded self, suppos'd a fool, “ Now set thy long-experienc'd wit to school.
Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe? “ Do wounds help wounds, or grief help grievous
deeds ? “ Is it revenge to give thyself a blow, “ For his foul act by whom thy fair wife bleeds ?
67 late) i. e. recently.