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For while he mifchief means to all mankind,
Himfelf alone the ill effects does find:
And fo like witches juftly fuffers shame,
Whofe harmless malice is fo much the fame.
Falfe are his words, affected is his wit;
So often he does aim, fo feldom hit;
To every face he cringes while he speaks,
But when the back is turn'd the head he breaks :
Mean in each action, lewd in every limb,
Manners themfelves are mifchievous in him:
A proof that chance alone makes every creature,
A very Killigrew without good-nature.
For what a Beffus has he always liv'd,
And his own kickings notably contriv'd?
For, there's the folly that's ftill mixt with fear,
Cowards more blows than any hero bear;
Of fighting sparks fome may their pleasures say,
But 'tis a bolder thing to run away:
The world may well forgive him all his ill,
For every fault does prove his penance ftill
Falfely he falls into fome dangerous noose,
And then as meanly labours to get loofe;
A life fo infamous is better quitting,
Spent in bafe injury and low fubmitting.
I'd like to have left out his poetry;
Forgot by all almost as well as me.
Sometimes he has fome humour, never wit,
And if it rarely, very rarely, hit,
'Tis under fo much nafty rubbish laid,
To find it out's the cinderwoman's trade;
Who for the wretched remnants of a fire,
Muft toil all day in afhes and in mire.
So lewdly dull his idle works appear,
The wretched texts deserve no comments here;
Where one poor thought fometimes, left all alone,
For a whole page of dulness must atone.
How vain a thing is man, and how unwife ;
Ev'n he, who would himself the most despise !
I, who fo wife and humble feem to be,
Now my own vanity and pride can't see.
While the world's nonfenfe is fo fharply fhewn,
We pull down others but to raise our own;
That we may angels feem, we paint them elves,
And are but fatires to fet up ourselves.
I, who have all this while been finding fault,
Ev'n with my mafter, who firk fatire taught;
And did by that defcribe the task so hard,
It seems ftupendous and above reward;
Now labour with unequal force to climb
That lofty hill, unreach'd by former time:
"Tis juft that I fhould to the bottom fail,
Learn to write well, or not to write at all.
IT Tis not my intention to make an apology for my poem fome will think it needs no excufe, and others will receive none. The defign I am fure is honeft but he who draws his pen for one party, must expect to make enemies of the other. For wit and fool are confequents of Whig and Tory; and every man is a knave or an afs to the contrary fide. There is a treasury of merits in the Fanatic church, as well as in the Popish; and a pennyworth to be had of faintship, honesty, and poetry, for the lewd, the factious, and the blockheads: but the longest chapter in Deu→ teronomy has not curfes enough for an Anti-Bromingham. My comfort is, their manifest prejudice to my cause will render their judgment of lefs authority against Yet if a poem have genius, it will force its own reception in the world. For there is a sweetness in good verfe, which tickles even while it hurts and no man can be heartily angry with him who pleases him against his will. The commendation of adverfaries is the greatest triumph of a writer, because it never
comes unless extorted. But I can be fatisfied on
more easy terms: if I happen to please the more mo-
derate fort, I fhall be fure of an honest party, and, in
all probability, of the best judges: for the leaft con-
cerned are commonly the least corrupt. And I con-
fess I have laid in for those, by rebating the fatire,
where justice would allow it, from carrying too fharp
an edge. They who can criticife fo weakly, as to
imagine I have done my worft, may be convinced at
their own cost that I can write feverely, with more
cafe than I can gently. I have but laughed at
fome men's follies, when I could have declaimed against
their vices and other men's virtues I have commend-
ed, as freely as I have taxed their crimes.
if you are a malicious reader, I expect you should re-
turn upon me that I affect to be thought more impar-
tial than I am but if men are not to be judged by
their profeffions, God forgive you commonwealth's-
men for profeffing fo plaufibly for the government.
You cannot be fo unconscionable as to charge me for
not fubfcribing my name; for that would refle& too
grolly upon your own party, who never dare, though
they have the advantage of a jury to fecure them. If
you like not my poem, the fault may pcffibly be in my
writing; though it is hard for an author to judge
against himself. But more probably it is in your mo-
rals, which cannot bear the truth of it. The violent
on both fides will condemn the character of Abfalom,
as either too favourably or too hardly drawn. But
they are not the violent whom I defire to please. The
fault on the right hand is to extenuate, palliate, and
indulge; and to confefs freely, I have endeavoured to commit it. Befides the refpect 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 fince the moft excellent natures are always the most eafy, and, as being fuch, are the fooneft perverted by ill counfels, efpecially when baited with fame and glory; it is no more a wonder that he withstood not the temptations of Achitophel, than it was for Adam not to have refifted the two devils, the ferpent and the woman. The conclufion of the ftory I purpofely forbore to profecute, because I could not obtain from myfelf to shew Abfalom unfortunate. The frame of it was cut out but for a picture to the waift; and if the draught be fo far true, it is as much as I defigned.
Were I the inventor, who am only the hiftorian, I fhould certainly conclude the piece, with the reconcilement of Abfalom to David. And who knows but this may come to pass? Things were not brought to an extremity where I left the story: there seems yet to be room left for a compofure; hereafter there may be only for pity. I have not fo much as an uncharitable wish against Achitophel; but am content to be accused of a good-natured error, and to hope with Origen, that the devil himself may at laft be saved. For which reafon, in this poem, he is neither brought to fet his houfe in order, nor to dispose of his perfon afterwards as he in wifdom fhall think fit. God is infinitely merciful; and his vicegerent is only not so, because he is not infinite. The