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Already labouring with a mighty fate,
In charming numbers; so that as men grew She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow, Pleas'd with the'r poems, they grew wiser too. And seems to have renew'd her charter's date, Satire has always shone among the rest, Which Heaven will to the death of Time allow. And is the boldest way, if not the best,
To tell men freely of their foulest faults; More great than human now, and more august, To laugh at their vain deeds, and vainer thoughts. Now deifv'd she from her fires does rise:
In satire too the wise took different ways, ller widening streets on new foundations trust, To each deserving its peculiar praise. And opening into larger parts she flies.
Some did all folly with just sharpness blame,
Whilst others laugh’d, and scom'd them into shame, Before she like some shepherdess did show, But of these two, the last succeeded best, Who sat to bathe her by a river's side;
As men aim rightest when they shoot in jest. Not answering to her fame, but rude and low, Yet, if we may presume to blame our guides, Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride. And censure those who censure all besides,
In other things they justly are preferrd : Now like a maiden queen she will behold,
In this alone methinks the ancients err'd; From her high turrets, hourly suitors come; Against the grossest follies they declaim; The East with incense, and the West with gold, Hard they pursue, but hunt ignoble game. Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom. Nothing is easier than such blots to bit,
And 'tis the talent of each vulgar wit: The silver Thames, her own domestic food, Besides 'tis labour lost ; for who would preach
Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train; Morals to Armstrong, or dull Aston teach? And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
'Tis being devout at play, wise at a ball,' With longing eyes to meet her face again, Or bringing wit and friendship to Whitehall.
But with sharp eyes those nicer faults to find, The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rbine, Which lje obscurely in the wisest mind;
The glory of their towns no more shall boast, That little speck which all the rest does spoil,
Or the fore'd scenes of our declining stage;
Will be so glad to see the greater hit;
In such a satire all would seek a share, Our powerful navy shall no longer meet,
And every foul will fancy he is there. The wealth of France or Holland to invade; Old story-tellers too must pine and die, The beauty of this town withont a fleet,
To see their antiquated wit laid by; From all the world shall vindicate her trade. Like her, who miss'd her name in a lampoon,
And griev'd to find herself decay'd so soon. And while this fam'd emporium we prepare, No common coxcomb must be mention'd here :
The British ocean shall such triumphs boast, Not the dull train of dancing sparks appear; That those, who now disdain our trade to share, Nor fluttering officers who never fight; Shall rob like pirates on our wealthy coast. Of such a wretched rabble who would write?
Much less half wits: that 's more against our Already we have conquer'd half the war,
As dull as Monmouth, rather than sir Carr?
The cunning courtier should be slighted too, Thus to the eastern wealth through storms we go, Who with dull knavery makes so much ado;
But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more; Till the shrewd fool, by thriving too, too fast, A constant trade-wind will securely blow,
Like Esop's fox becomes a prey at last.
Nor shall the royal mistresses be nam'd,
Yet sauntering Charles, between his beastly brace,
Meets with dissembling still in either place,
Affected humour, or a painted face.
How one has jilted him, the other sold him:
How that affects to laugh, how this to weep; Is man, who yet would lord it o'er the rest ! But who can rail so long as he can sleep? Philosophers and poets vainly strove
Was ever prince by two at once misled, In every age the lumpish mass to move :
False, foolish, old, ill-natur'd, and ill-bred ? But those were pedants, when compar'd with these, Earnley and Aylesbury, with all that race Who know not only to instruct, but please. Of busy blockheads, shall have here no place; Poets alone found the delightful way,
At council set as foils on Dorset's score, Mysterious morals gently to convey
To make that great false jewel shine the more;
Who all that while was thought exceeding wise, As boys on holidays let loose to play,
Lay waggish traps for girls that pass that way; But there 's no meddling with such nauseous men; Then shout to see in diit and deep distress Their very names have tir'd my lazy pen:
Some silly cit in her flower'd foolish dress: 'Tis time to quit their company, and choose So have I mighty satisfaction found, Some fitter subject for a sharper Muse.
To see his tinsel reason on the ground: First, let 's behold the merriest man alive To see the florid fool despis'd, and know it, Against his careless genius vairly strive ;
By some who scarce have words enough to show it: Quit his dear ease, some deep design to lay, For sense sits silent, and condemns for weaker 'Gainst a set time, and then forget the day : The sinner, nay sometimes the wittiest speaker: Yet he will laugh at bis best friends, and be But 'tis prodigious so much eloquence Just as good company as Nokes and Lee.
Should be acquired by such little sense ; But when he aims at reason or at rule,
For words and wit did anciently agree, He turns himself the best to ridicule.
And Tully was no fool, though this man be: Let him at business ne'er so earnest sit,
At bar abusive, on the bench unable, Show him but mirth, and bait that mirth with wit; Knave on the woolsack, fop at council-table. That shadow of a jest shall be enjoyd,
These are the grievances of such fools as would Though he left all mankind to be destroy'd. Be rather wise than honest, great than good. Su cat transform'd sat gravely and demure,
Some other kind of wits must be made kdoen, Till mouse appear'd, and thought himself secure; Whose harmless errours hurt themselves alone; But soon the lady had him in her eye,
Excess of luxury they think can please, And from her friend did just as oddly fly.
And laziness call loving of their ease: Reaching above our nature does no good;
To live dissolv'd in pleasures still they feign, We must fall back to our old flesh and blood; Though their whole life's but intermitting pain: As by our little Machiavel we find
So much of surfeits, head-aches, claps are seen, That nimblest crcature of the busy kind,
We scarce perceive the little time between: His limbs are crippled, and his body shakes; Well-meaning men, who make this gross mistake, Yet his hard mind, which all this bustle makes, And pleasure lose only for pleasure's sake; No pity of its poor companion takes.
Each pleasure has its price, and when we pay What gravity can hold from laughing out,
Too much of pain, we squander life away. To see him drag his feeble legs about,
Thus, Dorset, purring like a thoughtful cat, Like hounds ill-coupled? Jowler lugs him still Marry'd, but wiser puss ne'er thought of that: Through hedges, ditches, and through all that's ill. And first he worried her with railing rhyme, "T'were crime in any man but him alone
Like Pembroke's mastives at his kindest time; To use a body so, though 'tis one's own :
Then for one night sold all his slavish life,
Till Fortune, blindly kind as well as he,
Had fam'd for dullness in malicious rhymes. Yet loses all soft days and sensual nights,
Mulgrave had much ado to scape the spare, Kind Nature checks, and kinder Fortune slights; Though learn'd in all those arts that cheat the fair: Striving against his quiet all he can,
For after all his valgar marriage-mocks, For the fine notion of a busy man.
With beauty dazzled, Numps was in the stocks; And what is that at best, but one, whose mind Deluded parents dry'd their weeping eyes, Is macie to tire himself and all mankind ?
To see him catch his tartar for his prize: For Ireland he would go; faith, let him reign; Th' impatient town waited the wish'd-for change, For if some odd fantastic lord would fain
And cuckolds smil'd in hopes of sweet revenge; Carry in trunks, and all my drudgery do,
Till Petworth plot made us with sorrow see,
Him no soft thoughts, no gratitude could more; Who his own harm so wittingly contrives?
To gold he fled from beauty and from love; Will any dog, that has his teeth and stones, Yet failing there he keeps his freedom still, Refinedly leave his bitches and his bones,
Forc'd to live happily against his will: 'To turn a wheel, and bark to be employ'd,
”T'is not his fault, if too much wealth and power While Venus is by rival dogs enjoyd ?
Break not his boasted quiet every hour.
Though satire, nicely writ, no humour stings Though all his thoughts on wine and women fall,
His meat and mistresses are kept too long; Who was too much despisid to be accus'd,
But sure we all mistake this pious man, And therefore scarce deserves to be abus'd; Who mortifics his person all he can: Rais'd only by his mercenary tongue,
What we uncharitably take for sin, For railing smoothly, and for reasoning wrong, Are only rules of this odd capuchin;
For nerer hermit ander grave pretence,
ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL.
......... Si propiùs stes Which from all stink can with peculiar art
Te capiet magis.
TO THE READER
It is not my intention to make an apology for my Though thought to have a tail and cloven feet; poem: some will think it needs no excuse, and For while he mischief means to all mankind, others will receive none. The design I am sure is Himself alone the ill effects does find:
honest : hut he who draws his pen for one party, And so like witches justly suffers shame,
must expect to make eneinies of the other. For Whose harmless malice is so much the same. wit and fool are consequents of Whig and Tory ; False are his words, affected is his wit;
and every man is a knave or an ass to the conSo often he does aim, so seldom hit;
trary side. There is a treasury of merits in the To every face he cringes while he speaks,
fanatic church, as well as in the popish: and a But when the back is turn'd the head he breaks: pennyworth to be had of saintship, honesty, and Mean in each action, lewd in every limb,
poetry, for the lewd, the factious, and the blockManners themselves are mischievous in him : heads: but the longest chapter in Deuteronomy A proof that chance alone makes every creature, has not curses enough for an Anti-Bromingham. A very Killigrew without good-nature.
My comfort is, their manifest prejudice to my For what a Bessus has he always liv'd,
cause will render their judgment of less authority And his own kickings notably contrivid?
against me. Yet if a poem have genius, it will For, there 's the folly that is still mixt with fear, force its own reception in the world. For there is Cowards more blows than any hero bear;
a sweetness in good verse, which tickles even while Of fighting sparks some may their pleasures say, it hurts: and no man can be heartily angry with But 'tis a bolder thing to run away:
him who pleases him against his will. The comThe world may well forgive bim all his ill,
mendation of adversaries is the greatest triumph of For every fault does prove his penance still : a writer, because it never comes unless extorted. Falsely he falls into some dangerous noose,
But I can be satisfied on more easy terms: if I And then as meanly labours to get loose;
happen to please the more moderate sort, I shall A life so infamous is better quitting,
be sure of an honest party, and, in all probability, Spent in base injury and low submitting.
of the best judges: for the least concerned are I'd like to have left out his poetry;
commonly the least corrupt. And I confess I have Forgot by all almost as well as me.
laid in for those, by rebating the satire, where jusSometimes he has some humour, never wit,
tice would allow it, from carrying too sharp an And if it rarely, very rarely, hit,
edge. They who can criticise so weakly, as to 'Tis under so much nasty rubbish Jaid,
imagine 1 bave done my worst, may be convinced To find it out 's the cinderwoman's trade:
at their owu cost, that I can write severely, with Who for the wretched remnants of a fire,
more ease than I can gently. I have but langhed Must toil all day in ashes and in mire.
at some men's follies, when I could have declaimed So lewdly dull his idle works appear,
against their vices; and other men's virtues I have The wretched texts deserve no comments here; commended, as freely as I have taxed their crimes. Where one poor thought sometimes, left all alone, And now, if you are a malicious reader, I expect For a whole page of dulness must atone.
you should return upon me, that I affect to be How vain a thing is man, and how unwise; thought more impartial than I am: but if men Ev'n he, who would himself the most despise ! are not to be judged by their professions, God forI, who so wise and humble seem to be,
give you commonwealth’s-men for professing so Now my own vanity and pride can't see.
plausibly for the government. You cannot be so While the world's nonsense is so sharply shown, unconscionable as to charge me for not subscribing We pull down others but to raise our own; my name; for that would reflect too grossly upon That we may angels seem, we paint them elves, your own party, who never dare, though they bave And are but satires to set up ourselves.
the advantage of a jury to secure them. If you ), who have all this while been finding fault, like not my poem, the fault may possibly be in my Ev'n with my master who first satire taught; writing; though it is hard for an author to judge And did by that describe the task so hard,
against himself. But more probably it is in your It seems stupendous and above reward;
morals, which cannot bear the truth of it. The Now labour with unequal force to climb
violent on both sides will condemn the character of That lofty bill, unreach'd by former time:
Absalom, as either too favourably or too hardly "Tis just that I should to the bottom fall,
drawn. But they are not the violent whom I deLearu to write well, or not to write at all.
sire to please. The fault on the right hand is to extenuate, palliate, and indulge; and to confess freely, I have endeavoured to commit it. Besides the respect which I owe his birth, I have a greater
for his heroic virtues; and David himself could not be more tender of the young man's life, than I would be of his reputation. But since the most excellent natures are always the most easy, and, Whate'er he did was done with so much ease, as being such, are the soonest perverted by ill In him alone 'twas natural to please: counsels, especially when baited with fame and His motions all accompany'd with grace; glory; it is no more a wonder that he withstood | And Paradise was open'd in his face. not the temptations of Achitophel, than it was for With secret joy indulgent David viewd Adam not to have resisted the two devils, tlie ser- His youthful image in his son renewid : pent and the woman. The conclusion of the story | To all his wishes nothing be denyd; I purposely forbore to prosecute, because I could And made the charming Annabel his bride. not obtain from myself to show Absalom unfor- What faults he had, for who from faults is free? tunate. The frame of it was cut out but for a His father could not, or he would not see. picture to the waist; and if the draught be so far Some warm excesses, which the law forbore, true, it is as much as I designed.
Were construed youth, that purged by boiling o'er; Were I the inventor, who am only the historian, And Amnon's murder, by a specious name, I should certainly conclude the piece with the Was call'd a just revenge for injur'd fame. reconcilement of Absalom to David. And who Thus prais'd and lov'd, the noble youth remain'd, knows but this may come to pass ? Things were While David undisturb'd in Sion reign'd. not brought to an extremity where I left the story: But life can never be sincerely blest : there seems yet to be room left for a composure; Heaven punishes the bad, and proces the best. hereafter there may be only for pity. I have not The Jews, a headstrong, moody, murmuring race, so much as an uncharitable wish against Achito- As ever try'd th' extent and stretch of grace; phel; but am content to be accused of a good-God's pamper'd people, whom, debauch'd with natured errour, and to hope with Origen, that the
ease, Devil himself may at last be saved. For which No king could govern, nor no God could please; reason, in this poem, he is neither brought to set Gods they had try'd of every shape and size, his house in order, nor to dispose of his person That godsmiths could produce, or priests devise: afterwards, as he in wisdom shall think fit. God is These Adam-wits, too fortunately free, infinitely merciful; and his vicegerent is only not Began to dream they wanted liberty; so, because he is not infinite.
And when no rule, no precedent was found, The true end of satire is the amendment of vices Of men, by laws less circumscrib'd and bound, by correction. And he, who writes honestly, is no They led their wild desires to woods and caves, more an enemy to the offender, than the physician And thought that all but savages were slaves. to the patient, when he prescribes harsh remedies They who, when Saul was dead, without a blos, to an inveterate disease; for those are only in order Made foolish Ishbosheth the crown forego; to prevent the chirurgeon's work of an ense rescin- Who banish'd David did from Hebron bring, dendum, which I wish not to my very enemies. And with a general shout proclaim'd him king: To conclude all ; if the body politic have any ana- Those very Jews, who at their very best Jogy to the natural, in my weak judgment, an act Their humour more than loyalty exprest, of oblivion were as necessary in a hot distempered Now wonder'd why so long they had obey'd state, as an opiate would be in a raging fever. An idol monarch, which their hands had made;
Thought they might ruin him they could create,
But these were random bolts; no form'd design,
Nor interest made the factious crowd to join:
The sober part of Israel, free from stain, In pious times ere priestcraft did begin,
Well knew the value of a peaceful reigu; Before ygamy was made a sin;
And, looking backward with a wise affright, When man on many multiply'd his kind,
Saw seams of wounds dishonest to the sight: Ere one to one was cursedly confin'd;
In contemplation of whose ugly scars, When Nature prompted, and no law deny'd They curst the memory of civil wars. Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;
The moderate sort of men thus qualify'd, Then Israel's monarch, after Heaven's own heart, Inclin'd the balance to the better side; His vigorous warmth did variously impart
And David's mildness manag'd it so well, To wives and slaves : and, wide as his command, The bad found no occasion to rebel. Scatter'd his Maker's image through the land. But when to sin our biass'd nature leans, Michal, of royal blood, the crown did wear ; The careful Devil is still at hand with means, A soil ungrateful to the tiller's care:
And providently pimps for ill desires : Not so the rest; for several mothers bore
The good old cause reviv'd a plot requires. To godlike David several sons before.
Plots true or false are necessary things, But since like slaves his bed they did ascend, To raise up commonwealths, and ruin kings. No true succession could their seed attend.
Th' inhabitants of old Jerusalem Of all the numerous progeny was none
Were Jebusites; the town so call'd from them: So beautiful, so brave, as Absalom :
And theirs the native right Whether, inspir'd by some diviner lust,
But when the chosen people grew more strong, His father got him with a greater gust;
The rightful cause at length became the wrong; Or that his conscious destiny made way,
And every loss the men of Jebus bore, By manly beauty, to imperial sway;
They still were thought God's enemies the more. Early in foreign fields he won renown,
Thus worn or weaken'd, well or ill content, With kings and states ally'd to Israel's crown: Submit they must to David's government: In peace the thoughts of war he could remove, Impoverish'd and depriv'd of all command, And seem'd as he were only born for love.
Their taxes doubled as they lost their land;
And what was harder yet to flesh and blood, Great wits are sure to madness near ally'd,
Refuse his age the needful hours of rest?
Punish a body which he could not please ; Stock, stone, or other homely pedigree,
Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease? In his defence his servants are as bold,
And all to leave what with his toil he won, As if he had been born of beaten gold.
To that unfeather'd two-legg'd thing, a son ; The Jewish rabbins, though their enemies, Got, while his soul did huddled notions try; In this conclude them honest men and wise: And born a shapeless Jump, like anarchy. For 'twas their duty, all the learned think, In friendship false, implacable in hate; T'espouse his cause, by whom they eat and drink. Resolv'd to ruin, or to rule the state. From hence began that plot, the nation's curse, To compass this the triple bond be broke; Bad in itself, but represented worse;
The pillars of the public safety shook; Rais'd in extremes, and in extremes decry'd; And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke: With oaths affirm'd, with dying vows deny'd; Then, seiz'd with fear, yet still affecting fame, Not weigh'd nor winnow'd by the multitude, Usurp'd a patriot's all-atoning name. But swallow'd in the mass, unchew'd and crude. So easy still it proves in factious times, Some truth there was, but dash'd and brew'd with With public zeal to cancel private crimes. lies,
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill, To please the fools, and puzzle all the wise. Where none can sin against the people's will! Succeeding times did equal folly call,
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known, Believing nothing, or believing all.
Since in another's guilt they find their own? Th’ Egyptian rites the Jebusites embrac'd, Yet fame deserv'd no enemy can grudge; Where gods were recommended by their taste. The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge. Such savoury deities must needs be good,
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin As serv'd at once for worship and for food.
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean, By force they could not introduce these gods; Unbrib'd, unsought, the wretched to redress; For ten to one in former days was odds.
Swift of dispatch, and easy of access. So fraud was us'd, the sacrificer's trade:
Oh! had he been content to serve the crown, Fools are more hard to conquer than persuade. With virtues only proper to the gown; Their busy teachers mingled with the Jews, Or had the rankness of the soil been freed And rak'd for converts ev’n the court and stews : From cockle, that oppress'd the noble seed; Which Hebrew priests the more unkindly took, David for him his tuneful harp had strung, Because the fleece accompanies the flock.
And Heaven had wanted one immortal song. Some thought they God's anointed meant to slay But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand, By guns, invented since full many a day: And Fortune's ice prefers to Virtue's land. Our author swears it not; but who can know Achitophel, grown weary to possess How far the Devil and Jebusites may go?
A lawful fame, and lazy happiness, This plot, which fail'd for want of common sense, D'sdain'd the golden fruit to gather free, Had yet a deep and dangerous consequence : And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree. For as, when raging fevers boil the blood,
Now, manifest of crimes contriv'd long since, The standing lake soon floats into a flood,
He stood at bold defiance with his prince; And every hostile humour, which before
Held up the buckler of the people's cause Slept quiet in its channels, bubbles o'er;
Against the crown, and sculk'd behind the laws. So several factions from this first ferment,
The wish'd occasion of the plot he takes;
Of listening crowds with jealousies and fears
Weak arguments ! which yet, he knew full well,
news; Strong bands, if bands ungrateful men could tie. And once in twenty years their scribes record, Of these the false Achitophel was first;
By natural instinct they change their lord. A name to all succeeding ages curst:
Achitophel still wants a chief, and none For close designs, and crooked counsels fit; Was found so fit as warlike Absalom. Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit;
Not that he wish'd his greatness to create, Restless, unfix'd in principles and place;
For politicians neither love nor hate : In power uppleas'd, impatent of disgrace: But, for he knew his title, not allow'd, A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
Would keep him still depending on the crowd: Fretted the pigmy body to decay,
That kingly power, thus ebbing out, might be And o'er-inform'd the tenement of clay.
Drawn to the dregs of a democracy. A daring pilot in extremity;
Him he attempts with studied arts to please, Pleas'd with the danger when the waves went high, And sheds his venom in such words as these. He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit, “ Auspicions prince, at whose nativity Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. Some royal planet ruld the southern sky;