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He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit,
Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit.
Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide;
Else why should he, with wealth and honour
Refuse his age the needful hours of rest?
Punish a body which he could not please;
Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease?
And all to leave what with his toil he won,
To that unfeather’d, two legged thing, a son ;
Got while his soul did huddled notions try,
And born a shapeless lump, like Anarchy.
In friendship false, implacable in hate,
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state.
To compass this the triple bond he broke,
The pillars of the public safety shook,
And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke;
Then seized with fear, yet still affecting fame,
Usurped a patriot's all-atoning name :
So easy still it proves, in factious times,
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's will!
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known,
Since in another's guilt they find their own!
Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge;
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
With more discerning eyes or hands more clean;
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress,
Swift of dispatch, and easy of access.
Oh! had he been content to serve the Crown
With virtues only proper to the gown;
Or had the rankness of the soil been freed
From cockle that oppress'd the noble seed;
David for him his tuneful harp had strung,
And Heaven had wanted one immortal song.
But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand,
And Fortune's ice prefers to Virtue's land.
"Achitophel, grown weary to possess
A lawful fame and lazy happiness,
Disdain'd the golden fruit to gather free,
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.
Now manifest of crimes contrived long since,
He stood at bold defiance with his prince;
Held up the buckler of the people's cause
Against the Crown, and skulk'd behind the laws.
SOME of their chiefs were princes of the land:
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand ;
A man so various, that he seem'd to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome;
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong ;
Was every thing by starts, and nothing long ;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon :
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Bless'd madman! who could every hour employ
With something new to wish or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes,
And both (to show his judgment) in extremes;
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was god or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert:
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late;
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laugh'd himself from court; then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief:
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom and wise Achitophel:
Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left.
Now stop your noses, readers, all and some,
For here's a tun of midnight work to come,
Og from a treason tavern rolling home.
Round as a globe, and liquor'd every chink,
Goodly and great, he sails behind his link;
With all this bulk there's nothing lost in Og,
For every inch that is not fool is rogue :
A monstrous mass of foul corrupted matter,
As all the devils had spew'd to make the batter.
When wine has given him courage to blaspheme,
He curses God; but God before cursed him:
And if man could have reason, none has more,
That made his paunch so rich and him so poor.
With wealth he was not trusted, for Heaven knew
What 'twas of old to pamper up a Jew;
To what would he on quail and pheasant swell,
That e'en on tripe and carrion could rebel?
But though Heaven made him poor, with reverence
speaking, He never was a poet of God's making ; The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull, With this prophetic blessing— Be thou dull; Drink, swear, and roar, forbear no lewd delight Fit for thy bulk; do any thing but write: Thou art of lasting make, like thoughtless men; A strong nativity—but for the pen! Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink, Still thou mayst live, avoiding pen and ink.' I see, I see 'tis counsel given in vain, For treason botch'd in rhyme will be thy bane; Rhyme is the rock on which thou art to' wreck ; 'Tis fatal to thy fame, and to thy neck. Why should thy metre good King David blast ? A psalm of his will surely be thy last. Darest thou presume in verse to meet thy foes, Thou, whom the Penny Pamphlet foil'd in prose ? Doeg, wbom God for mankind's mirth has made, O'ertops thy talent in thy very trade : Doeg to thee, thy paintings are so coarse, A poet is, though he's the poet's horse. A double noose thou on thy neck dost pull, For writing treason, and for writing dull: To die for faction is a common evil, But to be hang'd for nonsense is the devil. Hadst thou the glories of thy king express’d, Thy praises had been satire at the best; But thou, in clumsy verse, unlickd, unpointed, Hast shamefully defied the Lord's anointed. I will not rake the dunghill of thy crimes, For who would read thy life that reads thy rhymes ?
But of King David's foes be this the doom,
May all be like the young man Absalom;
And for my foes, may this their blessing be,
To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee.
All human things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey.
This Flecnoe found, who, like Augustus, young
Was eall'd to empire, and had govern'd long;
In prose and verse was own’d, without dispute,
Through all the realms of Nonsense, absolute.
This aged prince, now flourishing in peace,
And bless'd with issue of a large increase,
Worn out with business, did at length debate
To settle the succession of the state ;
And, pondering which of all his sons was fit
To reign and wage immortal war with Wit,
Cried—'Tis resolved; for Nature pleads that he
Should only rule who most resembles me.
Shadwell alone my perfect image bears,
Mature in dulness from his tender years;
Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he
Who stands confirm'd in full stupidity :
The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
But Shadwell never deviates into sense.
Some beams of wit on other souls may fall,
Strike through, and make a lucid interval;