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- Si quis tamen hæc quoque, fi quis “ Captus amore leget-"
N the year 1680 Mr Dryden undertook the poem
of Absalom and Achitophel, upon the desire of king Charles the second. 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 with
“ Next these, a troop of busy spirits' press," and ending with
“ To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee.” containing near two hundred verses, were entirely Mr. Dryden's composition, besides fome touches in other places. The preceding lines, upwards of three hundred in number, were written by Mr. Tate. The poem is here printed compleat.
ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHE L. SINCE
INCE men like beasts each other's prey were made,
Since trade began, and priesthood grew a trade,
Since realms were form’d, none sure to curst as those
That madly their own happiness oppose ;
There heaven itself, and god-like kings, in vain
Shower down the manna of a gentle reign;
While pamper'd crowds to mad sedition run,
And monarchs by indulgence are undone.
Thus David's clemency was
While wealthy fa&tion aw'd the wanting throne.
For now their sovereign's orders to contemn
Was held the charter of Jerusalem,
His rights t’invade, his tributes to refuse,
A privilege peculiar to the Jews ;
As if from heavenly call this licence fell,
And Jacob's seed were chosen to rehel !
Achitophel with triumph sees his crimes
Thus suited to the madness of the times ;
And Absalom, to make his hopes 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 prelling 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 ferene command Seems half the blessing of our promis'd land. Whose only grievance is exceis of ease; Freedom our pain, and plenty our difease ! 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 flanders load : That 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 th' 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 ev’n in thought, The best of queens, and most obedient wife, Impeach'd of curst designs on David's life ! His life, the theme of her eternal prayer, 'Tis scarce so much his guardian angels care. Not summer morns such mildness can disclose, The Hermon lily, nor 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 fometimes' to bless the world below.
Where, cherish'd by her bounty's plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile, and orphans fing.
Oh! when rebellious Israel's crimes at height,
Are threaten'd with her Lord's approaching fate,
The piety of Michal then remain
In heaven's remembrance, and prolong his reign!
Less desolation did the peft pursue,
That from Dan's limits to Beerfheba siew,
Less fatal the repeated wars of Tyre,
And less Jerusalem's avenging fire.
With gentler terror these our state o'er-ran,
Than fince our evidencing days began !
On every cheek a pale confusion fat,
Continued fear beyond the worst of fate!
Trust was no more, art, science, useless made,
All occupations loft but Corah's trade.
Mean while 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 :
Ev'n vice in him was virtue-what fad 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 !
T' have told his knowledge of th' intrigue in grofs,
Had been, alas, to our deponent's lots :
The travel'd Levite had th' 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;
Not 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 impos’d-on by their fear,
But more for interest fake believe and swear :
Ev'n 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
Th' original rebels wiles, revenge, and spight.
These raise the plot to have the scandal thrown
Upon the bright successor of the crown,
Whose virtue with such wrongs they had pursued,
As seem'd all hope of pardon to exclude.
Thus, while on private ends their zeal is built,
The cheated crowd applaud and share their guilt.
Such practices as these, too gross to lie
Long unobserv'd by each discerning eye,
The more judicious Ifraelites unspellid,
Though still the charm the giddy rabble held,