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Votes shall no more establish'd power control,
Such votes as make a part exceed the whole.
No groundless clamours shall my friends remove,
Nor crowds have power to punish ere they prove;
For gods and godlike kings their care express,
Still to defend their servants in distress.
Oh, that my power to saving were confin'd!
Why am I forc'd, like Heaven, against my mind,
To make examples of another kind?
Must I at length the sword of justice draw?
Oh, curs'd effects of necessary law!
How ill my fear they by my mercy scan!
Beware the fury of a patient man.
Law they require, let Law then show her face;
They could not be content to look on Grace
Her hinder parts, but with a daring eye
To tempt the terror of her front, and die.
By their own arts, 'tis righteously decreed,
Those dire artificers of death shall bleed,
Against themselves their witnesses will swear,
Till, viper-like, their mother-plot they tear,
And such for nutriment that bloody gore,
Which was their principle of life before:
Their Belial with their Beelzebub will fight;
Thus on my foes my foes shall do me right.
Nor doubt the' event; for factious crowds engage,
In their first onset, all their brutal rage.
Then let 'em take an unresisted course :
Retire, and traverse, and delude their force :
But when they stand all breathless, urge the fight,
And rise upon 'em with redoubled might:
For lawful power is still superior found;
When long driv'n back, at length it stands the ground."
He said: the' Almighty nodding gave consent,
And peals of thunder shook the firmament.
Henceforth a series of new time began,
The mighty years in long procession ran;
Once more the godlike David was restor❜d,
And willing nations knew their lawful lord.
-Si quis tamen hæc quoque, si quis
Captus amore leget.
SINCE men like beasts each other's prey were made, Since trade began, and priesthood grew a trade; Since realms were form'd, none sure so curst as those
That madly their own happiness oppose;
There Heaven itself, and godlike kings, in vain
Shower down the manna of a gentle reign,
*In the year 1680 Mr. Dryden undertook the Poem of Absalom and Achitophel, upon the desire of King Charles II. The performance was applauded by every one; and several persons pressing him to write a second Part, he, upon declining it himself, spoke to Mr. Tate to write one, and gave him his advice in the direction of it; and that part, beginning
'Next these a troop of busy spirits press.'
'To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee-'
containing near two hundred verses, were entirely Mr. Dryden's composition, besides some touches in other places. The preceding lines, upwards of 300 in number, were wrote by Mr. Tate. The Poem is here printed entire: and Dryden's portion of it enclosed in brackets.
While pamper'd crowds to mad ambition run,
And monarchs by indulgence are undone :
Thus David's clemency was fatal grown,
While wealthy Faction aw'd the wanting Throne.
For now their Sovereign's orders to contemn
Was held the charter of Jerusalem;
His rights to' invade, his tribute to refuse,
A privilege peculiar to the Jews;
As if from heavenly call this licence fell,
And Jacob's seed were chosen to rebel!
Achitophel with triumph sees his crimes Thus suited to the madness of the times; And Absalom, to make his hope succeed, Of flattering charms no longer stands in need; While fond of change, though ne'er so dearly bought, Our tribes outstrip the youth's ambitious thought; His swiftest hopes with swifter homage meet, And crowd their servile necks beneath his feet. Thus to his aid, while pressing tides repair, He mounts and spreads his streamers in the air. The charms of empire might his youth mislead, But what can our besotted Israel plead? Sway'd by a monarch whose serene command Seems half the blessing of our Promis'd Land; Whose only grievance is excess of ease, Freedom our pain, and plenty our disease! Yet as all folly would lay claim to sense, And wickedness ne'er wanted a pretence, With arguments they'd make their treason good, And righteous David's self with slanders load: What arts of foreign sway he did affect, And guilty Jebusites from law protect, Whose very chiefs, convict, were never freed, Nay we have seen their sacrificers bleed!
Accusers' infamy is urg'd in vain,
While in the bounds of sense they did contain,
But soon they launch'd into the unfathom'd tide,
And in the depths they knew, disdain'd to ride :
For probable discoveries to dispense
Was thought below a pension❜d evidence;
Mere truth was dull, nor suited with the port
Of pamper'd Corah when advanc'd to court.
No less than wonders now they will impose,
And projects void of grace or sense disclose.
Such was the change on pious Michal brought,
Michal, that ne'er was cruel e'en in thought,
The best of queens, and most obedient wife,
Impeach'd of curs'd designs on David's life!
His life, the theme of her eternal prayer,
'Tis scarce so much his guardian-angel's care.
Not summer-morns such mildness can disclose,
The Hermon lily, no the Sharon rose.
Neglecting each vain pomp of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high;
She lives with angels, and, as angels do,
Quits Heaven sometimes to bless the world below;
Where, cherish'd by her bounty's plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile, and orphans sing.
Oh! when rebellious Israel's crimes at height,
Are threaten'd with her Lord's approaching fate,
The pieties of Michal then remain
In Heaven's remembrance, and prolong his reign.
Less desolation did the pest pursue,
That from Dan's limits to Beersheba slew;
Less fatal the repeated wars of Tyre,
And less Jerusalem's avenging fire:
With gentler terror these our state o'er-ran,
Than since our Evidencing days began!
On every cheek a pale confusion sate,
Continued fear beyond the worst of fate!
Trust was no more; art, science, useless made;
All occupations lost, but Corah's trade.
Meanwhile a guard on modest Corah wait;
If not for safety, needful yet for state.
Well might he deem each peer and prince his slave,
And lord it o'er the tribes which he could save:
E'en vice in him was virtue-what sad fate,
But for his honesty, had seiz'd our state?
And with what tyranny had we been curst,
Had Corah never prov'd a villain first?
To' have told his knowledge of the intrigue in gross
Had been, alas! to our deponent's loss:
The travell'd Levite had the experience got
To husband well, and make the best of's plot;
And therefore, like an evidence of skill,
With wise reserves secur'd his pension still;
Nor quite of future power himself bereft,
But limbos large for unbelievers left.
And now his writ such reverence had got,
'Twas worse than plotting to suspect his plot.
Some were so well convinc'd, they made no doubt
Themselves to help the founder'd swearers out;
Some had their sense imposed on by their fear,
But more, for interest's sake, believe and swear:
E'en to that height with some the frenzy grew,
They rag'd to find their danger not prove true.
Yet than all these a viler crew remain,
Who with Achitophel the cry maintain;
Not urg'd by fear, nor through misguided sense;
Blind zeal and starving need had some pretence;
But for the good old cause, that did excite
The original rebels' wiles, revenge and spite.