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O time, cease thou thy course, and last no longer,
Then live sweet Lucrece, live again, and see
By this starts Collatine as from a dream,
Till manly shame bids him possess his breath,
The deep vexation of his inward soul
9 O time, cease thou thy course, and last no longer,] Thus the quarto. The octaro 1616 reads :
“ haste no longer " which has been followed by all the modern editions. MALONE.
' And bids Lucretius GIVE HIS SORROW PLACE ;] So, Queen Margaret, in King Richard III. :
“ And let my griefs frown on the upper hand.” Steevens. 2 And then in Key-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream-] This epithet is frequently used by our author and his contemporaries. So, in King Kichard III. :
“ Poor key-cold figure of a holy king." Malone. 3 – the PALE Fear in his face,] So, in King Richard II.: “ And with pale beggar-fear impeach my height.”
Yet sometime Tarquin was pronounced plain,
Then son and father weep with equal strife,
The one doth call her his, the other his, : :
He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
O, quoth Lucretius, I did give that life,
Again, inuking Jobsion of
3 At last it rains, and busy winDS GIVB O'ER :) So, in Macbeth:
- That tears shall drown the wind." Steevens. Again, in Troilus ånd Cressida:
“ Where are my tears ?-rain, rain, to lay this wind." . Again, in King Henry VI. Part III. :
“ Would'st have me weep? why now thou hast thy will : “ For raging wind blows up incessant showers,
“ And where the rage allays, the rain begins." Again, in King John:
" But this effusion of such manly drops,
Malone. 4 O, quoth Lucretius, I did give that life,
Which she TOO EARLY and too late hath spilld.) The same conceit occurs in the third part of King Henry VI. :
“ O boy, thy father gave thee life too soon,
“ And hath bereft thee of thy life too late!” Steevens. “ Which she too early and too late hath spill'd." "Too late here means too recently. So, in King Richard III.:
“ Too late he died, that might have kept that title,
“ Which by his death hath lost much majesty." MALONE. VOL. xx.
I ow'd her, and 'tis mine that she hath kill'd,
The dispers'd air, who holding Lucrece' life,
Answer'd their cries, my daughter and my wife.
As silly-jeering ideots are with kings,
But now he throws that shallow habit by,
Let my unsounded self, suppos’d a fool,
Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe?
Thy wretched wife mistook the matter so,
Courageous Roman, do not steep thy heart -
• Why, Collatine, is woe the cure for woe ?] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
“ Peace, ho, for shame! confusion's cure lives not
To rouse our Roman gods with invocations,
Now by the Capitol that we adore,
store, By all our country rights in Rome maintain'd, And by chaste Lucrece' soul, that late complain'd
Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife, We will revenge the death of this true wife. This said, he struck his hand upon his breast, And kiss'd the fatal knife, to end his vow; And to his protestation urg'd the rest, Who wondering at him, did his words allow?: Then jointly to the ground their knees they bow;
And that deep vow which Brutus made before, He doth again repeat, and that they swore.
When they had sworn to this advised doom, They did conclude to bear dead Lucrece thence; To show her bleeding body thorough Rome,
s That they will suffer these abominations, &c.] The construction is—that they will suffer these abominations to be chased, &c. MALONE. 6 And by chaste Lucrece' soul, that late COMPLAIN'D
Her wrongs to us —] To complain was anciently used in an active sense, without an article subjoined to it. So, in Fairfax's translation of Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, 1600:
“ Pale death our valiant leader hath oppress'd;
Malone. ; Who wondering at him, did his words Allow :] Did approve of what he said. So, in King Lear:
“ if your sweet sway
And so to publish Tarquin's foul offence :
To Tarquin's everlasting banishment'.
8 The Romans PLAUSIBLY -] That is, with acclamations. To express the same meaning, we should now say, plausively : but the other was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age. So, in Stowe's Chronicle, p. 1426, edit. 1605 : “ This change was very plausible or well pleasing to the nobility and gentry."
Bullokar in his English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, interprets plausible thus : “ That which greatly pleaseth, or rejoiceth.” .
MALONE. Plausibly may mean, with crpressions of applause. Plausibilis, Lat. Thus, in the Argument prefixed to this poem : “ — wherewith the people were so moved, that with one consent, and a general acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled."
STEBVENS. 9 To Tarquin's everlasting banishment.] In examining this and the preceding poem, we should do Shakspeare injustice, were we to try them by a comparison with more modern and polished productions, or with our present idea of poetical excellence.
It has been observed, that few authors rise much above the age in which they live. If their performances reach the standard of perfection established in their own time, or surpass somewhat the productions of their contemporaries, they seldom aim further ; for if their readers are satisfied, it is not probable that they should be discontented. The poems of Venus and Adonis, and The Rape of Lucrece, whatever opinion may be now entertained of them, were certainly much admired in Shakspeare's life-time. In thirteen years after their first appearance, six impressions of each of them were printed, while in nearly the same period his Romeo and Juliet (one of his most popular plays) passed only twice through the press. They appear to me superior to any pieces of the same kind produced by Daniel or Drayton, the most celebrated writers in this species of narrative poetry that were then known. The applause bestowed on the Rosamond of the former author, which was published in 1592, gave birth, I imagine, to the present poem. The stanza is the same in both.
No compositions were in that age oftener quoted, or more honourably mentioned, than these two of Shakspeare. In the preliminary and concluding notes on Venus and Adonis, various proofs of the truth of this assertion may be found. Among others, Drayton, in the first edition of his Matilda, has provounced the following eulogium on the preceding poem :