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Him he attempts with studied arts to please, All sorts of men by my successful arts,
From David's rule ; and 'tis their general cry, Some royal planet rul’d the southern sky;
Religion, commonwealth, and liberty. Thy longing country's darling and desire ;
If you, as champion of the public good, Their cloudy pillar and their guardian fire:
Add to their arms a chief of royal blood, Their second Moses, whose extended wand
What may not Israel hope, and what applause Divides the seas, and shews the promis'd land: Might such a general gain by such a cause ? Whose dawning day, in every distant age,
Not barren praise alone, that gaudy flower
Fair only to the sight, but solid power:
Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's ark.
What cannot praise effect in mighty minds, And stammering babes are taught to lisp thy
When flattery sooths, and when ambition blinds ?
Desire of power on earth a vicious weed, How long wilt thou the general joy detain,
Yet sprung from high is of celestial seed: Starve and defraud the people of thy reign;
In God 'tis glory; and when men aspire, Content ingloriously to pass thy days,
”Tis but a spark too much of heavenly fire. Like one of virtue's fools that feed on praise;
Th' ambitious youth, too covetous of fame, Till thy fresh glories, which now shine so bright,
Too full of angel's metal in his frame, Grow stale, and tarnish with our daily sight?
Unwarily was led from virtue's
ways, Believe me, royal youth, thy fruit must be
Made drunk with honour, and debauch'd with Or gather'd ripe, or rot upon the tree.
Half loath, and half consenting to the ill, (praise. Heaven has to all allotted, soon or late,
For royal blood within him struggled still, Some lucky revolution of their fate :
He thus replied.-And what pretence have 1 Whose motions if we watch and guide with skill, To take up arms for public liberty ? For human good depends on human will,
My father governs with unquestion'd right; Our fortune rolls as from a smooth descent,
The faith's defender, and mankind's delight; And from the first impression takes the bent; Good, gracious, just, observant of the laws; But if unseiz'd, she glides away like wind,
And Heaven by wonders has espous'd his cause. And leaves repenting folly far behind.
Whom has he wrong'd in all his peaceful reign ? Now, now she meets you with a glorious prize, Who sues for justice to his throne in vain? And spreads her locks before you as she dies. What millions has he pardon'd of his foes, Had thus old David, from whose loins you spring,
Whom just revenge did to his wrath expose ! Not dar'd when fortune call’d him to be king, Mild, easy, humble, studious of our good; At Gath an exile he might still remain,
Inclin'd to mercy, and averse from blood. And Heaven's anointing oil had been in vain.
If mildness ill with stubborn Israel suit, Let his successful youth your hopes engage;
His crime is God's beloved attribute. But shun th' example of declining age:
What could he gain his people to betray, Behold him setting in his western skies,
Or change his right for arbitrary sway? The shadows lengthening as the vapours rise.
Let haughty Pharaoh curse with such a reign He is not now, as when on Jordan's sand
His fruitful Nile, and yoke a servile train, The joyful people throng'd to see him land, If David's rule Jerusalem displease, Covering the beach, and blackening all the strand; The dog-star heats their brains to this disease. But like the prince of angels, from his height Why then should I, encouraging the bad, Comes tumbling downward with diminish'd light: Turn rebel, and run popularly mad? Betray'd by one poor plot to public scorn:
Were he a tyrant, who by lawless might Our only blessing since his curst return:
Oppress'd the Jews, and rais'd the Jebusite, Those heaps of people which one sheaf did bind, Well might I mourn; but nature's holy bands Blown off and scatter'd by a puff of wind.
Would curb my spirits and restrain my hands : What strength can he to your designs oppose,
The people might assert their liberty; Naked of friends, and round beset with foes ? But what was right in them were crime in me. If Pharaoh's doubtful succour he should use, His favour leaves me nothing to require, A foreign aid would more incense the Jews: Prevents my wishes, and out-runs desire. Proud Egypt would dissembled friendship bring ; What more can I expect while David lives? Foment the war, but not support the king:
All but his kingly diadem he gives: Nor would the royal party e'er unite
And that --But here he paus’d; then,sighing, said-With Pharaoh's arms t' assist the Jebusite;
Is justly destin'd for a worthier head. Or if they should, their interest soon would break, For when my father from his toils shall rest, And with such odious aid make David weak. And late augment the number of the blest,
His lawful issue shall the throne ascend,
Succession, for the general good design'd, Or the collateral line, where that shall end.
In its own wrong a nation cannot bind : His brother, though oppress'd with vulgar spite, If altering that the people can relieve, Yet dauntless, and secure of native right,
Better one suffer than a nation grieve. [chose, Of every royal virtue stands possest;
The Jews well know their power: ere Saul they Still dear to all the bravest and the best.
God was their king, and God they durst depose.
A father's right, and fear of future fame.
To which ev’n Heaven submitted, answers all. Why should I then repine at Heaven's decree, Nor let his love enchant your generous mind; Which gives me no pretence to royalty ?
'Tis nature's trick to propagate her kind. Yet oh that fate, propitiously inclin'd,
Our fond begetters, who would never die,
Or let his kindness by th' effects be try'd,
Or let him lay his vain pretence aside. I find, I find my mounting spirits bold,
God said, he lov’d your father; could he bring And David's part disdains my mother's mould. A better proof, than to anoint him king? Why am I scanted by a niggard birth ?
It surely shew'd he lov'd the shepherd well, My soul disclaims the kindred of her earth;
Who gave so fair a flock as Israel. And made for empire whispers me within,
Would David have you thought his darling son, Desire of greatness is a god-like sin.
What means he then to alienate the crown? Him staggering so when hell's dire agent found, The name of godly he may blush to bear: While fainting virtue scarce maintain'd her ground, Is't after God's own heart to cheat his heir? He pours fresh forces in, and thus replies:
He to his brother gives supreme command, Th' eternal God, supremely good and wise,
To you a legacy of barren land; Imparts not these prodigious gifts in vain :
Perhaps th' old harp, on which he thrums his lays, What wonders are reserv'd to bless your reign ! Or some dull Hebrew ballad in your praise. Against your will your arguments have shown, Then the next heir, a prince severe and wise, Such virtue's only given to guide a throne.
Already looks on you with jealous eyes; Not that your father's mildness I contemn;
Sees through the thin disguises of your arts, But manly force becomes the diadem.
And marks your progress in the people's hearts ; 'Tis true he grants the people all they crave; Though now his mighty soul its grief contains : And more perhaps than subjects ought to have: He meditates revenge who least complains : For lavish grants suppose a monarch tame,
And like a lion, slumbering in the way, And more his goodness than his wit proclaim. Or sleep dissembling, while he waits his prey, But when should people strive their bonds to break, His fearless foes within his distance draws, If not when kings are negligent or weak?
Constrains his roaring, and contracts his paws; Let him give on till he can give no more,
Till at the last, his time for fury found, The thrifty Sanhedrim shall keep him poor; He shoots with sudden vengeance from the ground; And every shekel, which he can receive,
The prostrate vulgar passes o'er and spares, Shall cost a limb of his prerogative.
But with a lordly rage his hunters tears. To ply him with new plots shall be my care ; Your case no tame expedients will afford : Or plunge him deep in some expensive war; Resolve on death, or conquest by the sword, Which when his treasure can no more supply, Which for no less a stake than life you draw; He must, with the remains of kingship, buy
And self-defence is nature's eldest law. His faithful friends, our jealousies and fears
Leave the warm people no considering time: Call Jebusites, and Pharaoh's pensioners;
For then rebellion may be thought a crime.
But try your title while your father lives :
And that your arms may have a fair pretence, My arts have made obnoxious to the state ;
Proclaim you take them in the king's defence; Turn'd all his virtues to his overthrow,
Whose sacred life each minute would expose And gain'd our elders to pronounce a foe.
To plots, from seeming friends, and secret foes. His right, for sums of necessary gold,
And who can sound the depth of David's soul? Shall first be pawn'd, and afterwards be sold; Perhaps his fear his kindness may controul. Till time shall ever-wanting David draw,
He fears his brother, though he loves his son, To pass your doubtful title into law;
For plighted vows too late to be undone.
If so, by force he wishes to be gain’d:
Doubt not: but, when he most affects the frown, Which, when resum'd, can be no longer just. Commit a pleasing rape upon the crown.
Secure his person to secure your cause :
And by the same blind benefit of fate, They who possess the prince possess the laws. The devil and the Jebusite did hate : He said; and this advice above the rest,
Born to be sav'd ev’n in their own despite, With Absalom's mild nature suited best;
Because they could not help believing right. Unblam'd of life, ambition set aside,
Such were the tools: but a whole Hydra more Not stain'd with cruelty, nor puft with pride; Remains of sprouting heads too long to score. How happy had he been, if destiny
Some of their chiefs were princes of the land; Had higher plac'd his birth, or not so high!
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand: His kingly virtues might have claim'd a throne, A man so various, that he seem'd to be And blest all other countries but his own.
Not one, but all mankind's epitome : But charming greatness since so few refuse, Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong ; 'Tis juster to lament bim than accuse.
Was every thing by starts, and nothing long; Strong were his hopes a rival to remove,
But, in the course of one revolving moon, With blandishments to gain the public love: Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon: To head the faction while their zeal was hot, Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking, And popularly prosecute the plot.
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking. To further this, Achitophel unites
Blest madman, who could every hour employ, The malcontents of all the Israelites :
With something new to wish, or to enjoy! Whose differing parties he could wisely join, Railing and praising were his usual themes; For several ends, to serve the same design.
And both, to shew his judgment, in extremes: The best, and of the princes some were such, So over violent, or over civil, Who thought the power of monarchy too much; That every man with him was God or Devil. Mistaken men, and patriots in their hearts ; In squandering wealth was his peculiar art: Not wicked, but seduc'd by impious arts.
Nothing went unrewarded but desert. By these the springs of property were bent, Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late; And wound so high, they crack'd the government. He had his jest, and they had his estate. The next for interest sought to embroil the state, He laugh’d himself from court; then sought relief To sell their duty at a dearer rate ;
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief: And make their Jewish markets of the throne; For spite of him the weight of business fell Pretending public good to serve their own.
On Absalom, and wise Achitophel:
He left not faction, but of that was left.
Titles and names 'twere tedious to rehearse On principles of pure good husbandry.
Of lords, below the dignity of verse. With them join'd all th' haranguers of the throng, Wits, warriors, commonwealths-men, were the best : That thought to get preferment by the tongue. Kind husbands, and mere nobles, all the rest. Who follow next a double danger bring,
And therefore, in the name of dulness, be Not only hating David, but the king ;
The well-hung Balaam, and cold Caleb, free: The Solymæan rout, well vers'd of old,
And canting Nadab let oblivion damn, In goodly faction, and in treason bold;
Who made new porridge for the paschal lamb. Cowring and quaking at a conqueror's sword, Let friendship’s holy band some names assure ; But lofty to a lawful prince restor'd ;
Some their own worth, and some let scorn secure. Saw with disdain an Ethnic plot begun,
Nor shall the rascal rabble here have place, And scorn'd by Jebusites to be outdone.
Whom kings no title gave, and God no grace: Hot Levites headed these; who pull'd before Not bull-fac'd Jonas, who could statutes draw From th’ark, which in the judges days they bore, To mean rebellion, and make treason law. Resum'd their cant, and with a zealous cry, But he, though bad, is follow'd by a worse, Pursued their old belov'd theocracy:
The wretch who Heaven's anointed dar'd to curse; Where sanhedrim and priest enslav'd the nation, Shimei, whose youth did early promise bring And justify'd their spoils by inspiration :
Of zeal to God, and hatred to his king; For who so fit to reign as Aaron's race,
Did wisely from expensive sins refrain, If once dominion they could found in grace ? And never broke the sabbath but for gain : These led the pack; though not of surest scent, Nor ever was he known an oath to vent, Yet deepest-mouth'd against the government. Or curse unless against the government. A numerous host of dreaming saints succeed, Thus heaping wealth, by the most ready way Of the true old enthusiastic breed :
Among the Jews, which was to cheat and pray; 'Gainst form and order they their power employ, The city, to reward his pious hate Nothing to build, and all things to destroy.
Against his master, chose him magistrate. But far more numerous was the herd of such, His hand a vase of justice did uphold; Who think too little, and who talk too much, His neck was loaded with a chain of gold. These out of mere instinct, they knew not why, During his office treason was no crime; Ador'd their fathers' God and property;
The sons of Belial had a glorious time:
For Shimei, though not prodigal of pelf,
Which piec'd his wondrous evidence so well, Yet lov'd his wicked neighbour as himself.
And suited to the temper of the times, When two or three were gather'd to declaim Then groaning under Jebusitic crimes. Against the monarch of Jerusalem,
Let Israel's foes suspect his heavenly call, Shimei was always in the midst of them:
And rashly judge his writ apocryphal; And if they curs'd the king when he was by, Our laws for such affronts have forfeits made: Would rather curse than break good company.' He takes his life, who takes away his trade. If any durst his factious friends accuse,
Were I myself in witness Corah's place, He pack'd a jury of dissenting Jews;
The wretch who did me such a dire disgrace Whose fellow-feeling in the godly cause
Should whet my memory, though once forgot, Would free the suffering saint from human laws. To make him an appendix of my plot. For laws are only made to punish those
His zeal to Heaven made him his prince despise, Who serve the king, and to protect his foes. And load his person with indignities. If any leisure time he had from power,
But zeal peculiar privilege affords, Because 'tis sin to misemploy an hour:
Indulging latitude to deeds and words: His business was, by writing to persuade,
And Corah might for Agag's murder call, That kings were useless and a clog to trade:
In terms as coarse as Samuel us'd to Saul.
What others in his evidence did join,
For witness is a common name to all.
Surrounded thus with friends of every sort, Cool was his kitchen, though his brains were hot. Deluded Absalom forsakes the court: Such frugal virtue malice may accuse,
Impatient of high hopes, urg'd with renown, But sure 'twas necessary to the Jews:
And fir'd with near possession of a crown.
And on his goodly person feed their eyes.
His looks, his gestures, and his words he frames, For forty days of fasting in the mount.
And with familiar ease repeats their names. To speak the rest, who better are forgot,
Thus form’d by nature, furnish'd out with arts, Would tire a well-breath'd witness of the plot. He glides unfelt into their secret hearts. Yet, Corah, thou shalt from oblivion pass ;
Then with a kind compassionating look, Erect thyself, thou monumental brass,
And sighs, bespeaking pity ere he spoke, High as the serpent of thy metal made,
Few words he said ; but easy those and fit, While nations stand secure beneath thy shade. More slow than Hybla-drops, and far more sweet. What though his birth were base, yet comets rise I mourn, my countrymen, your lost estate ; From earthly vapours ere they shine in skies. Though far unable to prevent your fate. Prodigious actions may as well be done
Behold a banish'd man for your dear cause By weaver's issue, as by prince's son.
Expos'd a prey to arbitrary laws ! This arch-attestor for the public good
Yet oh! that I alone could be undone, By that one deed ennobles all his blood.
Cut off from empire, and no more a son ! Who ever ask'd the witness's high race,
Now all your liberties a spoil are made; Whose oath with martyrdom did Stephen grace ? Egypt and Tyrus intercept your trade, Ours was a Levite, and as times went then,
And Jebusites your sacred rites invade. His tribe were God Almighty's gentlemen.
My father, whom with reverence yet I name, Sank were his eyes, his voice was harsh and loud, Charm'd into ease, is careless of his fame; Sure signs he neither choleric was, nor proud: And, brib'd with petty sums of foreign gold, His long chin prov'd his wit; his saint-like grace Is grown in Bathsheba's embraces old; A church vermilion, and a Moses' face.
Exalts his enemies, his friends destroys; His memory, miraculously great,
And all his power against himself employs. Could plots, exceeding man's belief, repeat; He gives, and let him give, my right away: Which therefore cannot be accounted lies,
But why should he his own and yours betray ? For human wit could never such devise.
He, only he, can make the nation bleed, Some future truths are mingled in his book ; And he alone from my revenge is freed. But where the witness fail'd the prophet spoke: Take then my tears, with that he wip'd his eyes, Some things like visionary flight appear;
'Tis all the aid my present power supplies : The spirit caught him up the Lord knows where, No court-informer can these arms accuse ; And gave him his rabbinical degree,
These arms may sons against their fathers use : Unknown to foreign university.
And 'tis my wish, the next successor's reign His judgment yet his memory did excel ;
May make no other Israelite complain.
Youth, beauty, graceful action, seldom fail; What standard is there in a fickle rout, But common interest always will prevail :
Which, flowing to the mark, runs faster out ? And pity never ceases to be shewn
Nor only crowds but sanhedrims may be
If they may give and take whene'er they please,
But government itself at length must fall And, like the sun, the promis'd land surveys. To nature's state, where all have right to all. Fame runs before him as the morning star,
Yet, grant our lords the people kings can make, And shouts of joy salute him from afar:
What prudent men a settled throne would shake? Each house receives him as a guardian god,
For whatsoe'er their sufferings were before, And consecrates the place of his abode.
That change they covet makes them suffer more. But hospitable treats did most commend
All other errors but disturb a state ; Wise Issachar, his wealthy western friend.
But innovation is the blow of fate. This moving court, that caught the people's eyes, If ancient fabrics nod, and threat to fall, And seem'd but pomp, did other ends disguise ; To patch their flaws, and buttress up the wall, Achitophel had form'd it, with intent
Thus far 'tis duty: but here fix the mark; To sound the depths, and fathom where it went, For all beyond it is to touch the ark. The people's hearts, distinguish friends from foes, To change foundations, cast the frame anew, And try their strength before they came to blows. Is work for rebels, who base ends pursue ; Yet all was colour'd with a smooth pretence
At once divine and human laws controul, Of specious love, and duty to their prince.
And mend the parts by ruin of the whole. Religion, and redress of grievances,
The tampering world is subject to this curse, Two names that always cheat, and always please, To physic their disease into a worse. Are often urg'd; and good king David's life
Now what relief can righteous David bring? Endander'd by a brother and a wife.
How fatal 'tis to be too good a king ! Thus in a pageant shew a plot is made,
Friends he has few, so high the madness grows; And peace itself is war in masquerade.
Who dare be such must be the people's foes. Oh foolish Israel! never warn’d by ill!
Yet some there were, ev’n in the worst of days; Still the same bait, and circumvented still!
Some let me name, and naming is to praise. Did ever men forsake their present ease,
In this short file Berzillai first appears ; In midst of health imagine a disease ;
Berzillai, crown'd with honour and with years. Take pains contingent mischiefs to foresee,
Long since, the rising rebels he withstood Make heirs for monarchs, and for God decree ? In regions waste beyond the Jordan's flood: What shall we think? Can people give away,
Unfortunately brave to buoy the state ; Both for themselves and sons, their native sway? But sinking underneath his master's fate: Then they are left defenceless to the sword
In exile with his godlike prince he mourn'd; Of each unbounded, arbitrary lord !
For him he suffer'd, and with him return'd. And laws are vain, by which we right enjoy, The court he practis'd, uot the courtier's art: If kings unquestion'd can those laws destroy. Large was his wealth, but larger was his heart; Yet if the crowd be judge of fit and just,
Which well the noblest objects knew to choose, And kings are only officers in trust,
The fighting warrior, and recording Muse. Then this resuming covenant was declar'd
His bed could once a fruitful issue boast; When kings were made, or is for ever barr’d. Now more than half a father's name is lost. If those who gave the sceptre could not tie
His eldest hope, with every grace adorn’d; By their own deed their own posterity,
By me, so heaven will have it, always mourn'd,
All parts fulfill'd of subject and of son:
Scanted in space, but perfect in thy line !
By sea, by land, thy matchless worth was known, For who can be secure of private right,
Arms thy delight, and war was all thy own: If sovereign sway may be dissolved by might? Thy force infus’d, the fainting Tyrians prop'd: Nor is the people's judgment always true:
And haughty Pharaoh found his fortune stop'd. The most may err as grossly as the few;
Oh ancient honour! Oh unconquer'd hand, And faultless kings run down by common cry,
Whom foes unpunish'd never could withstand! For vice, oppression, and for tyranny.
But Israel was unworthy of his name: