Page images

A thousand lamentable objects there,
In scorn of Nature, Art gave lifeless life:
Many a dry drop seem'd a weeping tear,
Shed for the slaughter'd husband by the wife:
The red blood reek'd to shew the painter's strife ;

And dying eyes gleam'd forth their ashy lights,

Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights. There might you see the labouring pioneer Begrim'd with sweat, and smeared all with dust; And from the towers of Troy there would appear The very eyes of men through loop-holes thrust, Gazing upon the Greeks with little last :

Such sweet observance in this work was had,

That one might see those far-off eyes look sad.
In great commanders grace and majesty
You might behold, triumphing in their faces;
In youth, quick bearing and dexterity;
And here and there the painter interlaces
Pale cowards, marching on with trembling paces;

Which heartless peasants did so well resemble,

That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble. In Ajax and Ulysses, O what art Of physiognomy might one behold! The face of either 'cipher'd either's heart; Their face their manners most expressly told: In Ajax'eyes blunt rage and rigour rolld;

But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent,

Shew'd deep regard and smiling government.
There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand,
As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight;
Making such sober action with his band,
That it beguild attention, charm’d the sight:
In speech, it seem’d, his beard, all silver white,

Wagg'd up and down, and from his lips did fly

Thin winding breath, which porld up to the sky.
About him were a press of gaping faces,
Which seem'd to swallow up his sound advice ;
All jointly listening, but with several graces,
As if some mermaid did their ears entice;
Some high, some low, the painter was so nice ;

The scalps of many, almost hid bebind,
To jump up higher seem'd, to moek the mind.

Here one man's hand lean'd on another's head,
His nose being shadow'd by his neighbour's ear;
Here one being throng'd bears back, all blown and red;
Another, smother'd, seems to pelt and swear;
And in their rage such sigos of rage their bear,

As, but for loss of Nestor's golden words,

It seem'd they would debate with angry swords.
For much imaginary work was there ;
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear,
Grip'd in an armed hand; himself, behind,
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind :

A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head,

Stood for the whole to be imagined. And from the walls of strong-besieged Troy, When their brave hope, bold Hector, march'd to field, Stood many Trojan mothers, sharing joy To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield ; And to their hope they such odd action yield,

That, through their light joy, seemed to appear

(Like bright things stain'd) a kind of heavy fear.
And, from the strond of Dardan where they fought,
To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran,
Whose waves to imitate the battle sought
With swelling ridges; and their ranks began
To break upon the galled shore, and then

Retire again, till meeting greater ranks

They join, and shoot their foam at Simois' banks.
To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come,
To find a face where all distress is steld.
Many she sees, where cares have carved some,
But none where all distress and dolour dwellid,
Till she despairing Hecuba beheld,

Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,

Which bleeding under Pyrrhus' proud foot lies.
In her the painter had anatomiz'd
Time's ruin, beauty's wreck, and grim care's reigo;
Her cheeks with chaps and wrinkles were disguis'd;
Of what she was, no semblance did remain:
Her blue blood chang'd to black in every vein,

Wanting the spring that those shrunk pipes had sed,
Show'd life imprison'd in a body dead.

On this sad shadow Lacrece spends her eyes,
And shapes her sorrow to the beldame's woes,
Who nothing wants to answer her but cries,
And bitter words to ban her cruel foes :
The painter was no God to lend her those ;

And therefore Lucrece swears he did her wrong,

To give her so much grief, and not a tongue.
Poor instrument, quoth she, without a sound,
I'll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue:
And drop sweet balm in Priam's painted wound,
And rail on Pyrrhus that hath done bim wrong,
And with my tears quench Troy that burns so long;

And with my knife scratch out the angry eyes

Of all the Greeks that are thine enemies.
Shew me the strumpet that began this stir,
That with my nails her beauty I may tear.
Thy heat of lust, fond Paris, did incur
This load of wrath that burning Troy doth bear;
Thy eye kindled the fire that barneth here:

And here in Troy, for trespass of thine eye,

The sire, the son, the dame, and daughter, die.
Why should the private pleasure of some one
Become the public plague of many moe?
Let sin, alone committed, light alone
Upon his head that bath transgressed so.
Let guiltless souls be freed from guilty woe:

For one's offence why should so many fall,

To plague a private sin in general !
Lo here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies,
Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus swounds;
Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies,
And friend to friend gives onadvised wounds,
And one man's last these many lives confounds:

Had doting Priam check'd his son's desire,

Troy had been bright with fame, and not with fire.
Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes:
For sorrow, like a heavy-hanging bell,
Once set on ringing, with bis own weight goes;
Then little strength rings out the doleful knell:
So Lucrece set a-work, sad tales doth tell

To pencill'd pensiveness and colour'd sorrow;
Sbe lends them words, and she their looks doth borrow.
She throws her eyes about the painting, round,
And whom she finds forlorn, she doth lament:
At last she sees a wretched image bound,
That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent;
His face, though full of cares, yet shew'd content:

Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,

So mild, that Patience seem'd to scorn his woes.
In him the painter labour'd with his skill
To hide deceit, and give the barmless show
An humble gait, calm looks, eyes wailing still,
A brow unbent, that seem'd to welcome woe;
Cheeks, neither red por pale, but mingled so

That blushing red no guilty instance gave,

Nor ashy pale the fear that false hearts bave.
But, like a constant and confirmed devil,
He entertain'd a show so seeming just,
And therein so en$conc'd his secret evil,
That jealousy itself could not mistrust
False-creeping craft and perjury should thrust

Into so bright a day such black-fac'd storms,
Or blot with hell-born sin sucb saint-like forms.

The well-skill'd workman this mild image drew
For perjur'd Sinon, whose enchanting story
The credulous old Priam after slew;
Whose words, like wild-fire, burnt the shining glory
Of rich-built Ilion, that the skies were sorry,

And little stars shot from their fixed places,

When their glass fell wherein they vicw'd their faces. This picture she advisedly perus’d, And chid the painter for bis wond'rous skill; Saying, some shape in Sinon's was abus'd, So fair a form lovg'd not a mind so ill; And still on bim she gaz'd, and gazing still,

Such signs of truth in his plain face she spy'd

That she concludes the picture was bely'd.
It cannot be, quoth she, that so much guile
(Sbe would bave said) can lurk in such a look ;
But Tarquin's shape came in her mind the while,
And from her tongue, can lurk from cannot took;
It cannot be sbe in that sense forsook,

And turn'd it thus: “It cannot be, I find,
But such a face should bear a wicked mind:

For even as subtle Sinon here is painted,
So sober-sad, so weary, and so mild,
(As if with grief or travail he had fainted)
To me came Tarquin armed ; so beguild
With outward honesty, but yet defild

With inward vice: as Priam him did cherish,

So did I Tarquin ; so my 'Troy did perish.
Look, look, how listening Priam wets bis eyes,
To see those borrow'd tears that Sinon sheds.
Priam, why art thou old, and yet not wise?
For every tear be falls, a Trojan bleeds ;
His eye drops fire, no water thence proceeds:

Those round clear pearls of his that move thy pity

Are balls of quenchless fire to burn thy city.
Such devils steal effects from lightless hell;
For Sinon in bis fire doth quake with cold,
And in that cold, hot-burning fire doth dwell;
These contraries such unity do hold,
Oply to flatter fools, and make them bold:

So Priam's trust false Sinon's tears doth flatter,

That he finds means to burn bis Troy with water." Here, all enrag'd, such passion her assails, That patience is quite beaten from her breast. She tears the senseless Sinon with ber nails, Comparing him to that unhappy guest Whose deed bath made herself berself detest:

At last she smilingly with this gives o'er;

Fool! fool! quoth she, bis wounds will not be sore: Thus ebbs and flows the current of her sorrow, And time doth weary time with her complaining. She looks for night, and then she longs for morrow, And both she thinks too long with her remaining: Short time seems long in sorrow's sharp sustaining.

Though woe be heavy, yet it seldom sleeps;

And they that watch, see time how slow it creeps.
Which all this time hath overslipp'd her thought,
That she with painted images hath spent;
Being from the feeling of her own grief brought
By deep surmise of others' detriment;
Losing her woes in shows of discontent.

It easeth some, though none it ever cured,
To think their dolour others have endur'd.

« PreviousContinue »