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surveys his flight. The reader will see at once the perfection of the picture.
“ Look how a bright star shooteth from the sky,
So glides he in the night from Venus' eye.
Which after him she darts, as one on shore
Gazing upon a late embarked friend,
Till the wild waves will have him seen no more,
Whose ridges with the meeting clouds contend :
So did the merciless and pitchy night
Fold in the object, that did feed her sight.
Whereat amaz’d, as one that unaware
Hath dropt a precious jewel in the flood;
Or 'stonish'd, as night wanderers often are,
Their light blown out in some mistrustful wood:
Even so confounded in the dark she lay,
Having lost the fair discovery of her way."
But we must come to a conclusion. The story ends, as is well known, with the death of Adonis. He is killed by the tusked boar; and the following is his queen’s lament.
“ Alas! poor World, what treasure hast thou lost!
What face remains alive that's worth the viewing ?
Whose tongue is music now? what canst thou boast
Of things long since, or any thing ensuing ?
The flowers are sweet, their colours fresh and trim,
But true sweet Beauty liv’d, and dy'd in him.
Bonnet, or veil, henceforth no creature wear;
Nor sun, nor wind, will ever strive to kiss you :
Having no fair to lose, you need not fear;
The sun doth scorn you, and the wind doth hiss you.
But when Adonis lio'd, sun and sharp air
Lurk’d, like two thieves, to rob him of his fair.
And therefore would he put his bonnet on,
Under whose brim the gaudy sun would peep;
The wind would blow it off, and being gone,
Play with his locks, then would Adonis weep :
And strait, in pity of his tender years,
They both would strive who first should dry his tears.”
This has more than enough of conceit, it must be admitted. What follows is of sterner stuff, and full of passion. It is now, indeed, that the Queen of Paphos speaks, the amorous and vindictive beauty, foiled in love (by Death) and resolute to inflict on the many, the pains and penalties which were incurred by one offender. Let the reader admire a lady's justice. We are ourselves inveterate admirers of “ the sex:"nevertheless, we do not wish that these fair creatures should be troubled either with the balance or the sword.
“ Since thou art dead, lo! here I prophecy,
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend;
It shall be waited on with jealousy,
Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end,
Ne'er settled equally, too high or low:
That all love's pleasures shall not match his woe.
It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud,
And shall be blasted in a breathing while,
The bottom poison, and the top o'erstraw'd
With sweets that shall the sharpest sight beguile.
The strongest body shall it make most weak,
Strike the wise dumb, and teach the fool to speak.
It shall be sparing, and the fool of riot,
Teaching decrepid age to tread the measures;
The staring ruffian shall it keep in quiet,
Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures;
It shall be raging mad, and silly mild,
Make the young old, the old become a child.
It shall suspect, where is no cause of fear;
It shall not fear, where it should most mistrust;
It shall be merciful, and too severe,
And most deceiving when it seems most just:
Perverse it shall be, when it seems most toward,
Put fear to valour, courage to the coward.
It shall be cause of war and dire events,
And set dissension 'twixt the son and sire;
Subject and servile to all discontents,
As dry combustious matter is to fire.
Sith in his prime, death doth my love destroy,
They that love best, their love shall not enjoy.
Thus weary of the world away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves, by whose swift aid
Their mistress mounted, through the empty skies
In her light chariot quickly is conveyed,
Holding their course to Paphos”where, we are told, she means to immure herself, to bewail the death of the slain Adonis.
We have quoted so largely from this first poem of Shakespeare, that we are unable to give much extract from the second, The Rape of Lucrece. The story needs no detail ; and the poem, though highly passionate, and (as a fine earnest production) superior to the Venus and Adonis, cannot be shewn to advantage by any extracts that we could afford. It is the true tale of Tarquin, who “ softly prest the rushes,” and committed himself to one infamous adventure, by which he eventually lost his crown and life. It opens with the arrival of the “ false lord” at Collatium, where he is welcomed by the Roman lady Lucretia. The time is midnight.
« Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes ;
No comfortable star did lend his light,
No noise but owls and wolves' death-boding cries
Now serves the season”-
And the compunction of Tarquin is awakened, and he communes thus.
“ Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
To darken her, whose light excelleth thine :
And die, unhallow'd thoughts, before you blot
With your uncleanness, that which is divine.
Offer pure incense to so pure a shrine:
Let fair Humanity abhor the deed,
That spots and stains Love's modest snow-white weed.
O shame to knighthood, and to shining arms!
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
() impious act, including all foul harms,
A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!
True valour still a true respect should have.”
The debate, however, between honour and his lust, is brief. He goes burning to his purpose, and the ruin of Lucrece and his own eternal disgrace are accomplished. The victim's pleading is very touching. • “She conjures him by high almighty Jove;
By knighthood, gentry, and sweet friendship’s oath; }
By her untimely tears, her husband's love;
By holy human law, and common troth;
By heaven and earth, and all the power of both;
That to his borrow'd bed he make retire,
And stoop to honour, not to foul desire.
In Tarquin's likeness I did entertain thee,
Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
To all the host of heaven I complain me;
Thou wrong'st his honour, wound'st his princely name:
Thou art not what thou seem'st; and, if the same,
Thou seem'st not what thou art, a god, a king;
For kings, like gods, should govern every thing.
To thee, to thee, my heav'd up hands appeal,
Not to seducing lust thy rash relier;
I sue for exil'd majesty's repeal,
Let him return, and flattering thoughts retire.
His true respect will prison false desire,
· And wipe the dim mist from thy doting eyne,
That thou shalt see thy state, and pity mine.”
But, as we have said, her pleading is vain. The force of Tarquin prevails, and the white fame of Lucretia is stained for ever. The “ Lord of Rome” departs, and the wife of Collatinus remains—"a hopeless cast-away.” She utters her frenzy to the winds, and curses the hateful night.
“Since thou art guilty of my cureless crime,” she says, and then she prays that the day may never behold
“ Make me not object to the tell-tale day;
The light will shew character'd in my brow,
The story of sweet Chastity's decay,
The impious breach of holy wedlock’s vow.
Yea, the illiterate, that know not how
To cypher what is writ in learned books,
Will quote my loathsome trespass in my looks.”
There is something to us very fearful in her curse, contrasted as it is with the ordinary imprecations of hate (where a swift vengeance is the only thing invoked), and her own gentle and immaculate nature. Her despair is profound, and so is her invocation.
“ Let him have time to tear his curled hair ;
Let him have time against himself to rave;
Let him have time of time's help to despair ;
Let him have time to live a loathed slave;
Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave,
And time to see one, that by alms doth live,
Disdain to him disdained scraps to give.
Let him have time to see his friends his foes,
And merry fools, to mock at him resort:
Let him have time to mark how slow time goes,
In time of sorrow; and how swift and short
His time of folly, and his time of sport:
And ever let his unrecalling crime
Have time to wail th' abusing of his time.”
This, however, yields in time to tearful sorrow, and she turns from such fierce wishes to gentler complaint.
“ Come, Philomel, that sing’st of ravishment,
Make thy sad grove in my disheveld hair :
As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment,
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear,
And with deep groans the diapason bear.
For burden-wise I'll hum on Tarquin still,
While thou on Tereus descant'st better skill.
And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
As shaming any eye should thee behold;
Some dark deep desert seated from the way,
That knows not parching heat, nor freezing cold,
Will we find out; and there we will unfold
To creatures stern, sad tunes to change their kinds,
Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds."
At last, she writes to her husband, 'requesting his presence. He accordingly comes, and finds his Lucrece “ clad in mourning black," and in exceeding grief. He inquires why she is “ thus attired in discontent."
“And now this pale swan, in her wat’ry nest,
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.
Few words,' quoth she, shall fit the trespass best,
Where no excuse can give the fault amending;
In me more woes than words are now depending: