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Youre man1 am I, and lowly yow beseche
Thoo gan this Medea to him declare
Now hath Jason the flese, and home ys went
1 That is,' Your vassal.'—See vol. Iv. p. 281, note J. * This line is omitted in the Fairfax MS., given in the Selden.
And wedded yet the thridde wife anoon,
This ys the mede of lovynge and guerdoun,
Well kan Ovyde hire letter in verse endyte. Which were as now to longe for to write.
EXPLICIT LEGENDA YSIPHILE ET MEDEE MABTIRTJM.
INCIPIT LEGENDA LUCRECIE KOME, MAETIRIS
NOW mote I sayne thexilynge of kynges
1 'Cur mini plus aequo flavi placuere capilli,
Quantum perndue tecum, scelerate, perisset-'
Ovid, Her. xli.
a Ovid, Fast. ii. 74', Livy, i. S7.
The verray wif, the verray Lucresse,
Whanne Ardeaa beseged was aboute
A knyghte, that highte Colatyne, up sterte,
1 St. Augustin, commenting on this story in the milder and more rational spirit of Christian morality, while he admires the parity of Lucrece, blames her folly in committing the crime of self-murder as a punishment on herself for that of which she was really innocent. 'SI adultera,' he asks, 'curlaudata? Si pudica, cur occisa?' Aug. Be Civitate Dei, c. xix.
2 Ardea, a city of the Rutuli, which the Roman army was besieging.
And at the cbambre dore they abyde.
This noble wjrf sate by hir beddes syde
Disshevelyd, for no malice she ne thoghte,
A nd softe wolle, sayeth oure boke, that she wroghte^
To kepen hire fro slouthe and ydelnesse;
And bad hire servauntes doon hire besynesse;
And axeth hem? 'What tydynges heren ye?
How sayne men of the sege? how shall yt be'
God wolde the walles werne falle adoune!
Myn housbonde ys to longe out of this toune,
For which the drede doth me so to smerte;
Ryghte as a swerde hyt styngeth to myn herte,
Whanne I thenke on these or of that place.
God save my lorde, I pray him for his grace!'
And therwithalle ful tenderly she wepe,
And of hire werke she toke no more kepe,
But mekely she let hire eyen falle,
And thilke semblant sate hire wel withalle.
And eke the teres ful of hevytee,
Embelysshed hire wifly chastitee.
Hire countenaunce ys to her herte digne,
For they acordeden in dede and signe.
And with that worde hire housbonde Colatyne,
Or she of him was ware, come stertyng ynne,
And sayede, ' Drede the noght, for I am here!'
And she anoon up roos, with blysful chere,
And kyssed hym, as of wives ys the wone.
Tarquynyus, this prowde kynges sone, Conceyved hath hire beaute and hire chere, Hire yelow heer, her bounte, and hire manere, Hire hywe, hire wordes that she hath compleyned, And by no crafte hire beaute was not feyned; And kaught to this lady suche desire, That in his herte brent as any fire So wodely that hys witte was foryeten, For wel thoghte he she shulde nat be geten. And ay the more he was in dispaire, The more he coveteth, and thoghte hire faire;
Hys blynde lust was al hys covetynge.
Thus faire she was, and thys was hire manere.
Al this conceyte hys herte hath newe ytake,
And as the see, with tempeste al to-shake,
That after whanne the storme ys al agoo,
Yet wol the water quappe a day or twoo;
Byghte so, thogh that hire forme were absente,
The plesaunce of hire forme was presente.
But natheles, nat plesaunce, but delyte,
Or an unryghtful talent with dispite,
'For mawgree hire, she shal my lemman be:
Happe helpeth hardy man alway,' quod he,
'What ende that I make, hit shal be soo!'
And gyrt hym with his swerde, and gan to goo,
And he fortheryghte til he to Rome ys come,
And al allon hys way thanne hath he nome,
Unto the house of Colatyne ful ryghte;
Doune was the sonne, and day hath lost hys lyghte.
And inne he come unto a prevy halke,
And in the nyghte ful thefely gan he stalke,1
Whanne every wyghte was to hys reste broghte,
Ne no wyghte had of tresoun suche a thoghte,
Whether by wyndow, or by other gynne.
With swerde ydraw, shortly he commeth ynne
There as she lay, thys noble wyfe Lucresse,
And as she woke, hire bedde she felte presse:
'What beste ys that,' quod she, 'that weyeth thusT
* I am the kynges sone Tarquynyus,'
1 'Into the chamber wickedly he staXks,
Shakspeabe—Rape o/Lucreee. Annot. Ed., p. 96.