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The worst is but denial, and reproving:
My will is strong, past reason's weak removing.
Who fears a sentence or an old man's saw
Shall by a painted cloth a be kept in awe.”
Thus, graceless, holds he disputation
'Tween frozen conscience and hot-burning will,
And with good thoughts makes dispensation,
Urging the worser sense for vantage still;
Which in a moment doth confound and kill
All pure effects, and doth so far proceed,
That what is vile shows like a virtuous deed.
Quoth he, "She took me kindly by the hand,
And gaz’d for tidings in my eager eyes,
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band
Where her beloved Collatinus lies.
O how her fear did make her colour rise!
First red as roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the roses took away.b
“ And how her hand, in my hand being lock’d,
Forc'd it to tremble with her loyal fear;
Which struck her sad, and then it faster rock'd.
Until her husband's welfare she did hear;
Whereat she smiled with so sweet a cheer,
That had Narcissus seen her as she stood,
Self-love had never drown'd him in the flood.
Why hunt I then for colour or excuses ?
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses;
Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth:
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth ;
some airy monitor." Surely the poet only meant to express that contest of thouglits which goes forward in a mind distracted between reason and passion; and which the dramatic poet can only represent by soliloquy, as it is here represented.
a See “ As You Like It,' Illustrations of Act III. b Took away-being taken away.
And when his gaudy banner is display'd,
The coward fights, and will not be dismay'd.
“ Then, childish fear, avaunt! debating, die!
Respecto and reason wait on wrinkled age!
My heart shall never countermand mine eye:
Sad pause and deep regard beseem the sage;
My part is youth, and beats these from the stage:
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies ?”
As corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost chok'd by unresisted lust.
Away he steals with open listening car,
Full of foul hope, and full of fond mistrust;
Both which, as servitors to the unjust,
So cross him with their opposite persuasion,
That now he vows a league, and now invasion.
Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
And in the selfsame seat sits Collatine:
which looks on her confounds his wits;
which him beholds, as more divine, Unto a view so false will not incline;
But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart,
Which once corrupted takes the worser part;
And therein heartens up his servile powers,
Who, flatter'd by their leader's jocund show,
his lust, as minutes fill up hours; And as their captain, so their pride doth grow,
, Paying more slavish tribute than they owe.
By reprobate desire thus madly led,
The Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed.
The locks between her chamber and his will,
Each one by him enforc'd, retires his ward;
* Respect-prudence,-in the sense of the original Latin, looking again.
But as they open they all rate his ill,
Which drives the creeping thief to some regard ;
The threshold grates the door to have him heard ;
Night-wand'ring weasels shriek to see him there;
They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear.
As each unwilling portal yields him way,
Through little vents and crannies of the place
The wind wars with his torch, to make him stay,
And blows the smoke of it into his face,
Extinguishing his conducta in this case;
But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch,
Puffs forth another wind that fires the torch :
And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks;
He takes it from the rushes where it lies.
And griping it, the neeld b his finger pricks:
As who should say, this glove to wanton tricks
Is not inur'd; return again in haste;
Thou seest our mistress' ornaments are chaste.
But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him;
He in the worst sense construes their denial:
The doors, the wind, the glove that did delay him,
He takes for accidental things of trial;
Or as those bars which stop the hourly dial,
Who with a lingering stay his course doth let,
Till every minute pays the hour his debt.
“ So, so," quoth he, “these lets attend the time,
Like little frosts that sometime threat the spring,
To add a more rejoicing to the prime,
And give the sneapedd birds more cause to sing.
Pain pays the income of each precious thing;
· Let-obstruct. d Sneaped-checked. So in ‘Love's Labour 's Lost,' Act I., Scene 1:
“ Biron is like an envious sneaping frost,
That bites the first-born infants of the spring."
Huge rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves and sands, The merchant fears, ere rich at home he lands."
Now is he come unto the chamber door
That shuts him from the heaven of his thought,
Which with a yielding latch, and with no more,
Hath barr’d him from the blessed thing he sought.
So from himself impiety hath wrought,
That for his prey to pray he doth begin,
As if the heaven should countenance his sin.
But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
Having solicited the eternal power,
That his foul thoughts might compass his fair fair,
That they would stand auspicious to the hour,
Even there he starts :-quoth he, “I must deflower;
The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact,
How can they then assist me in the act ?
“ Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide!
My will is back’d with resolution :
Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried,
The blackest sin is clear'd with absolution;
Against love's fire fear's frost hath dissolution.
The eye of heaven is out, and misty night
Covers the shame that follows sweet delight."
This said, his guilty hand pluck'd up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide:
The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch;
Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.
Who sees the lurking serpent steps aside;
But she, sound sleeping, fearing no such thing,
Lies at the mercy of his mortal sting.
Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.
* Stalks. Malone says, “ That the poet meant by the word stalk to convey the Vol. XII.
The curtains being close, about he walks,
Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head :
By their high treason is his heart misled;
Which gives the watchword to his hand full soon,
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
Look, as the fair and fiery-pointed sun,
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
To wink, being blinded with a greater light:
Whether it is that she reflects so bright,
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed;
But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
O, had they in that darksome prison died,
Then had they seen the period of their ill!
Then Collatine again by Lucrece' side
In his clear bed might have reposed still :
But they must ope, this blessed league to kill;
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss;
Who therefore angry, seems to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his bliss;
Between whose hills her head entombed is :
Where, like a virtuous monument, she lies,
To be admir'd of lewd unhallow'd eyes.
notion, not of a boisterous, but quiet movement, appears from a subsequent pas sage:
• For in the dreadful dark of deep midnight
With shining falchion in my chamber came
A creeping creature.'' Malone appears from a subsequent part of his note to confound stalk with stride. He says, “ A person apprehensive of being discovered naturally takes long steps, the sooner to arrive at his point.” But long steps are noisy steps ; and therefore · Tarquin's ravishing strices" cannot be the true reading of the famous passage in ‘Macbeth.' But stalk, on the contrary, literally means, to go warily or softly. It is the Anglo-Saxon stælcan-pedetentim ire. The fowler who creeps upon the birds stalks, and his stalking-horse derives its name from the character of the fowler's movement.