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Yet ever to obtain his will resolving,
Though weak-built hopes persuade him to abstaining: 180
Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining,

And when great treasure is the meed proposed,
Though death be adjunct, there's no death sup-


Those that much covet are with gain so fond
That what they have not, that which they possess,
They scatter and unloose it from their bond,
And so, by hoping more, they have but less;
Or, gaining more, the profit of excess

Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain,
That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain. 140

The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honour, wealth and ease, in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife
That one for all or all for one we gage;
As life for honour in fell battle's rage;

Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
The death of all, and all together lost.

133 Though death be adjunct] Cf. K. John, III, iii, 57: "Though that my

death were adjunct to my act." 134–136 Those that much covet ... bond] Thus the first edition. Some

unconvincing changes have been suggested. The meaning seems to be, “People who are very rapacious are made so foolish by greed that they scatter and unloose from their grasp everything, both that which

they try to obtain but fail to get, and that which they actually possess.” 144 gage] stake.


So that in venturing ill we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect;
And this ambitious foul infirmity,
In having much, torments us with defect
Of that we have: so then we do neglect

The thing we have, and, all for want of wit,
Make something nothing by augmenting it.

Such hazard now must doting Tarquin make,
Pawning his honour to obtain his lust;
And for himself himself he must forsake:
Then where is truth, if there be no self-trust?
When shall he think to find a stranger just,

When he himself himself confounds, betrays
To slanderous tongues and wretched hateful days?


Now stole upon the time the dead of night,
When heavy sleep had closed up mortal eyes:
No comfortable star did lend his light,

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148 in venturing ill we leave to be] in venturing on evil courses we cease

to be. 154 Make something augmenting it] Cf. Macb., II, I, 26–27: "So I

lose none [sc. honour] In seeking to augment it," and the Sonnets
appended to Alcilia by J. C. (1595), stanza xxv:

The things we have, we most of all neglect;
And that we have not, greedily we crave.
The things we may have, little we respect;
And still we covet, that we cannot have.
Yet, howsoe'er in our conceit, we prize them.

No sooner gotten, but we straight despise them."
160 confounds] destroys.
164 comfortable] comforting, cheering.

No noise but owls' and wolves' death-boding cries;
Now serves the season that they may surprise

The silly lambs: pure thoughts are dead and still,
While lust and murder wakes to stain and kill.


And now this lustful lord leap'd from his bed,
Throwing his mantle rudely o'er his arm;
Is madly toss'd between desire and dread;
Thone sweetly flatters, th' other feareth harm;
But honest fear, bewitch'd with lust's foul charm,

Doth too too oft betake him to retire,
Beaten away by brain-sick rude desire.

His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth,
That from the cold stone sparks of fire do fly;
Whereat a waxen torch forth with he lighteth,
Which must be lode-star to his lustful eye;
And to the flame thus speaks advisedly:

As from this cold Aint I enforced this fire,
So Lucrece must I force to my desire."


Here pale with fear he doth premeditate The dangers of his loathsome enterprise, And in his inward mind he doth debate What following sorrow may on this arise: Then looking scornfully he doth despise 174 retire] retreat, flight. 187–188 he doth despise . . . lust) he despises his inability to withstand

lust, against which his armour or equipment is defenceless. Stillslaughter'd lust " implies that lust is ever being killed, but is ever returning to life.

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His naked armour of still-slaughter'd lust,

And justly thus controls his thoughts unjust:
“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



“O shame to knighthood and to shining arms !
O foul dishonour to my household's grave!
O impious act, including all foul harms !
A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!
True valour still a true respect should have;

Then my digression is so vile, so base,
That it will live


in “Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive, And be an eye-sore in my golden coat;

my face.

190–191 burn out thy light ... light] “Light” is similarly used in the

double sense of flame and of life) in Othello, V, ii, 7: “Put out the

light, and then put out the light." 196 weed) dress. 198 my household's grave) my family monument, or mausoleum engraved

with the scutcheons of my family. 200 soft fancy's slave] slave of effeminate love. 201 true respect] respect for truth. 202 digression) transgression. 205 golden coat] splendid coat-of-arms.

Some loathsome dash the herald will contrive,
To cipher me how fondly I did dote;
That my posterity, shamed with the note,

Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
To wish that I their father had not bin.


“What win I, if I gain the thing I seek ?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy ?

Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?


If Collatinus dream of my intent,
Will he not wake, and in a desperate rage
Post hither, this vile purpose to prevent ?
This siege that hath engirt his marriage,
This blur to youth, this sorrow to the sage,

This dying virtue, this surviving shame,
Whose crime will bear an ever-during blame.

206–207 Some loathsome dash ... I did dote] A recurrence of the heraldic

terminology of lines 57 seq. Heralds were wont to deface with a blot or mark of disgrace, technically called "an abatement," the shields of those who committed dishonourable offences like seduction or desertion in battle. Such “abatements” are described in Guillim's Display of Heraldry, 1610. “To cipher” means “To signify” “To

denote.” 213 Who buys . . . to wail a week] Cf. Rich. III, IV, i, 97: “And each hour's joy wrecked with a week of teen."

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