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To the Right Honourable

HENRY WRIOTHESLY,

Earl of Southampton, and Baron of Tichfield.

Right Honourable,

The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a fuperfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your honourable difpofition, not the worth of my untutor'd lines, makes it affured of acceptance. What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in all I have devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty fhould thew greater: mean time, as it is, it is bound to your lordship: to whom I with long life, ftill lengthened with all happiness.

Your Lordship's in all duty,

1

Will. Shakespear.

The ARGUMENT.

Lucius Tarquinius (for his exceflive pride furnamed Superbus) after he had caused his father-inlaw, Servius Tullius, to be cruelly murdered, and contrary to the Roman laws and cuftoms, not requiring or ftaying for the people's fuffrages, had poffeffed himfelf of the kingdom; went, accompanied with his fons, and other noblemen of Rome, to befiege Ardea. During which fiege, the principal men of the army meeting one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the king's fon, in their discourses after fupper, every one commended the virtues of his own wife; among whom Colatinus extolled the incomparable chaftity of his wife Lucrece. In that pleafant humour they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their fecret and fudden arrival, to make trial of that which every one had before avouched only Colatinus finds his wife (though it were late in the night) spinning amongst her maids, the other ladies were found all dancing and revelling, or in feveral difports. Whereupon the noblemen yielded Colatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time, Sextus Tarquinius being inflamed with Lucrece's beauty, yet smothering his paffion for the present, departed with the reft back to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was (according to his ftate) royally entertained, and lodged by Lucrece at Colatium. The fame night, he treacherously ftealing into her chamber, violently ravished her; and early in the morning speeded away. Lucrece, in

this lamentable plight, haftily dispatcheth meffengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the camp for Colatine. They came, the one accompanied with Junius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius and finding Lucrece attired in a mourning habit, demanded the cause of her forrow. She firft

taking an oath of them for her revenge, revealed the actor, and whole matter of his dealing, and withal fuddenly ftabbed herself. Which done, with one confent, they all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins: and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the people with the doer, and manner of the vile deed; with a bitter invective against the tyranny of the king: wherewith the people were fo moved, that with one confent, and a general acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state-government changed, from kings to confuls.

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From the befieg'd Ardea all in poft,

Borne by the truftlefs wings of falfe defire,
Luft-breathing Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Colatium bears the lightless fire,
Which in pale embers hid, lurks to afpire,
And girdle, with imbracing flames, the wafte
Of Colatine's fair love, Lucrece the chafte.

Haply that name of chafte, unhaply set
This baitlefs edge on his keen appetite :
When Colatine unwifely did not let,

To praise the clear unmatched red and white,
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight;

Where mortal ftar, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state:
What prizeless wealth the heavens had him lent,
In the poffeffion of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at fo high a rate,

That kings might be efpoused to more fame,
But king nor prince to fuch a peerless dame.

O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And if poffefs'd, as foon decay'd and done!
As is the morning's filver melting dew,
Against the golden fplendor of the fun ;
A date expir'd and cancel'd ere begun.

Honour and beauty in the owner's arms,
Are weakly fortreft from a world of harms.

Beauty itself doth of itself perfuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needed then apologies be made,
To fet forth that which is fo fingular?
Or why is Colatine the publifher

Of that rich jewel he fhould keep unknown
From thievifh cares, because it is his own?

Perchance his boast of Lucrece' fov'reignty
Suggested this proud iffue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be.
Perchance, that envy of fo rich a thing
Braving compare, difdainfully did fting

[vant His high-pitcht thoughts, that meaner men fhould The golden-hap, which their superiors want.

But fome untimely thought did inftigate
His all too timeless fpeed, if none of those.
His honour, his affairs, his friends, his state,
Neglected all, with fwift intent he goes
To quench the coal, which in his liver glows.
O`rash false heat wrapt in repentant cold!
Thy hafty spring ftill blafts, and ne'er grows old.

When at Colatium this falfe lord arriv'd,
Well was he welcom'd by the Roman dame,
Within whofe face beauty and virtue ftriv'd,
Which of them both fhould underprop her fame.
When virtue brag'd, beauty would blush for shame;
When beauty boafted blufhes, in defpight,
Virtue would ftain that o'er with filver white.

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