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Youre man1 am I, and lowly yow beseche
To ben my helpe, withoute more speche;
But certes for my dethe shal I not spare.'

Thoo gan this Medea to him declare
The peril of this case, fro poynt to poynt
Of hys batayle, and in what disjoynte
He mote stonde; of whiche no creature
Save oonly she ne myghte hys lyf assure.
And shortely, ryghte to the poynt to goo,
They ben accorded ful betwix hem two,
That Jason shal hire wedde, as trewe knyghte,
And terme ysette to come soone at nyghte
Unto hire chambre, and make there hys oothe
Upon the goddys, that he for leve ne loothe
Ne shulde hire never falsen, nyghte ne day,
To ben hire husbonde while he lyve may,
As she that from hys dethe hym saved here.
And here upon at nyghte they mete yfere,"
And doth his oothe,' and goothe with hire to bedde.
And on the morwe upwarde he him spedde,
For she hath taughte him how he shal nat faile
The flese to wynne, and stynten his batayle;
And saved him his lyf and his honour,
And gete a name as a conquerour,
Ryghte thurgb the sleyghte of her enchauntemente.

Now hath Jason the flese, and home ys went
With Medea, and tresotires ful grete woone;
But unwiste of hire fader she is goone
To Tessalye, with duke Jason hire leefe,
That afterwarde hath broghte hire to myschefe.
For as a traytour he ys from hire goo,
And with hire lefte yonge children twoo,
And falsly hath betrayed hire, allas!
And ever in love a cheve traytour he was;

1 That is,' Your vassal.'—See vol. Iv. p. 281, note J. * This line is omitted in the Fairfax MS., given in the Selden.

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And wedded yet the thridde wife anoon,
That was the doughtre of kynge Creoou.

This ys the mede of lovynge and guerdoun,
That Medea receyved of Jasoun
Ryghte for hire trouthe, and for hire kyndenesse,
That loved hym better thanne hire selfe, I gesse;
And lefte hire fadir and hire heritage.
And of Jason this is the vassalage,
That in hys dayes nas never noon yfounde
80 fals a lover goynge on the grounde.
And therfore in hire letter thus she seyde,
First whanne she of hys falsnesse hym umbrayde:—
'Why lyked me thy yelow heere to see,
More than the boundes of myn honeste?
Why lyked me thy youthe and thy fairenesse,
And of thy tong the infynyte graciousnesse?
O, haddest thou in thy conquest ded ybe,
Ful mykel untrouthe had ther dyed with the!'1

Well kan Ovyde hire letter in verse endyte. Which were as now to longe for to write.



NOW mote I sayne thexilynge of kynges
Of Rome, for the horrible doynges
Of the last kynge Tarquynyus,
As saythe Ovyd, and Titus Lyvyus."
But for that cause telle I nat thys story,
But for to preysen, and drawen to memory

1 'Cur mini plus aequo flavi placuere capilli,
Et decor, et lingua gratia Acta tute?

Quantum perndue tecum, scelerate, perisset-'

Ovid, Her. xli.

a Ovid, Fast. ii. 74', Livy, i. S7.

The verray wif, the verray Lucresse,
That for hire wifhode, and hire stedfastnesse,
Nat oonly that these payens hire commende,
But that cleped ys in oure legende
The grete Austyne,1 hath grete compassyoun
Of this Lueresse that starf in Rome toun.
And in what wise I wol but shortly trete,
And of this thynge I touche but the grete.

Whanne Ardeaa beseged was aboute
With Romaynes, that ful sterne were and stoute,
Ful longe lay the sege, and lytel wroghten,
So that they were halfe ydel, as hem thoghten.
And in his pley Tarquynyus the yonge
Gran for to jape, for he was lyghte of tonge;
And seyde, that hit was an idel lyf;
No man dide ther more than hys wif.
'And lat us speke of wives that is best;
Preise every man hys owne as him lest,
And with oure speche let us ese oure herte.'

A knyghte, that highte Colatyne, up sterte,
And sayde thus:—' Nay, for hit ys no nede
To trowen on the worde, but on the dede.
I have a wif,' quod he, 'that as I trowe
Ys holden good of alle that ever hire knowe.
Go we to Rome to nyghte, and we shul se.'
Tarquynyus answerde, ' That lyketh me.'
To Rome they be come, and faste hem dighte
To Colatynes house, and doune they lyghte,
Tarquynyus, and eke this Colatyne.
The housbonde knywe the efters wel and fyne,
And ful prevely into the house they goon,
For at the gate porter was there noon:

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.
On morwe, whanne the brid began to synge,
Unto the sege he cometh ful pryvely,
And by himselfe he walketh sobrely,
The ymage of hire recordyng alwey newe;
Thus lay hire heer, and thus fressh was hire hewe,
Thus sate, thus spak, thus spanne, this was hire

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,
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.*

ShakspeabeRape o/Lucreee. Annot. Ed., p. 96.

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