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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,
Her body's stain her mind untainted clears ;
While with a joyless smile she turns away
The face, that map which deep impression bears
Of hard misfortune, carv'd in it with tears.
“No, no," quoth she, “no dame, hereafter

living, “ By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving."

66

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

me."

Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast
A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheath'd:
That blow did bail it from the deep unrest

Of that polluted prison where it breath'd :
Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeath'd

Her winged sprite, and through her wounds

doth fly

Life's lasting date from cancell’d destiny.

Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deed,
Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew;
Till Lucrece' father, that beholds her bleed,
Himself on her self-slaughter'd body threw;
And from the purple fountain Brutus drew

The murderous knife, and as it left the place,
Her blood, in poor revenge, held it in chase ;

And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,
Who like a late-sack'd island vastly 65 stood
Bare and unpeopled, in this fearful flood.

Some of her blood still pure and red remain'd,
And some look'd black, and that false Tarquin

stain'd.

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About the mourning and congealed face
Of that black blood, a watery rigol 56 goes,
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place :
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some watery token shows;

55 vastly) i. e. like a waste.

56 rigol] i. e. circle.

And blood untained still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrify'd.

“ 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

old

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,
“ That I no more can see what once I was.

“() 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 !"

66

By this starts Collatine as from a dream,
And bids Lucretius give his sorrow place;

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
Hath serv'd a dumb arrest upon his tongue;
Who mad that sorrow should his use control,
Or keep him from heart-easing words so long,
Begins to talk; but through his lips do throng
Weak words, so thick come, in his poor heart's

aid, That no man could distinguish what he said.

Yet sometime Tarquin was pronounced plain,
But through his teeth, as if the name he tore.
This windy tempest, till it blow up rain,
Held back his sorrow's tide, to make it more;
At last it rains, and busy winds give o'er:

Then son and father weep with equal strife,
Who should weep most for daughter or for wife.

The one doth call her his, the other his,
Yet neither may possess the claim they lay.
The father says, “ She's mine.” “O, mine she is,"
Replies her husband : “ do not take away
“My sorrow's interest ; let no mourner say

“He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
“And only must be wail'd by Collatine.".

“O,” quoth Lucretius, " I did give that life,
“ Which she too early and too late 57 hath spill’d.”
“ Woe, woe,” quoth Collatine, “she was my wife,
“I ow'd her, and 'tis mine that she hath kill’d.”
My daughter and my wife with clamours fill'd

The dispers'd air, who, holding Lucrece' life,
Answer'd their cries, my daughter and my wife.

Brutus, who pluck'd the knife from Lucrece' side,
Seeing such emulation in their woe,
Began to clothe his wit in state and pride,
Burying in Lucrece' wound his folly's show.
He with the Romans was esteemed so

As silly jeering idiots are with kings,
For sportive words, and uttering foolish things.

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But now he throws that shallow habit by,
Wherein deep policy did him disguise ;
And arm'd his long-hid wits advisedly,
To check the tears in Collatinus' eyes.
“ Thou wronged lord of Rome,” quoth he, “ arise

“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.

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