« PreviousContinue »
Jotham of piercing wit, and pregnant thought;
Endued by nature, and by learning taught,
To move affemblies, who but only try'd
The worfe a-while, then chose the better fide:
Nor chofe alone, but turn'd the balance too;
So much the weight of one brave man can do.
Hushai, the friend of David in distress;
In public storms of manly ftedfastness :
By foreign treaties he inform'd his youth,
And join'd experience to his native truth.
His frugal care fupply'd the wanting throne;
Frugal for that, but bounteous of his own :
'Tis eafy conduct when exchequers flow;
But hard the task to manage well the low :
For fovereign power is too depress'd or high,
When kings are forc'd to fell, or crowds to buy.
Indulge one labour more, my weary Mufe,
For Amiel who can Amiel's praite refufe?
Of ancient race by birth, but nobler yet
In his own worth, and without title great:
The fanhedrim long time as chief he rul'd,
Their reafon guided, and their paîion cool'd:
So dextrous was he in the crown's defence,
So form'd to speak a loyal nation's fenfe,
That, as their band was Ifrael's tribes in fmall,
So fit was he to reprefent them all.
Now rafher charioteers the feat afcend,
Whofe loofe careers his fteady fkill commend:
They, like th' unequal ruler of the day,
Milguide the feafons, and mistake the way;
While he withdrawn at their mad labours fmiles,
And safe enjoys the fabbath of his toils.
These were the chief, a small but faithful band
Of worthies, in the breach who dar'd to stand,
And tempt th' united fury of the land,
With grief they view'd fuch powerful engines bent,
To batter down the lawful government.
A numerous faction, with pretended frights,
In fanhedrims to plume the regal rights;
The true fucceffor from the court remov'd;
The plot, by hireling witneffes, improv'd.
Thefe ills they faw, and, as their duty bound,
They fhew'd the king the danger of the wound;
That no conceffions from the throne would please,
But lenitives fomented the disease :
That Abfalom, ambitious of the crown,
Was made the lure to draw the people down:
That falfe Achitophel's pernicious hate
Had turn'd the plot to ruin church and state :
The council violent, the rabble worse :
That Shimei taught Jerufalem to curse.
With all thefe loads of injuries oppreft,
And long revolving in his careful breast
Th' event of things, at last his patience tir'd,
Thus, from his royal throne, by heaven inspir'd,
The god-like David spoke; with awful fear
His train their Maker in their master hear.
Thus long have I, by native mercy fway'd, My wrongs diffembled, my revenge delay'd:
So willing to forgive th' offending age;
So much the father did the king affuage.
But now fo far my clemency they flight,
Th' offenders queftion my forgiving right,
That one was made for many, they contend;
But 'tis to rule; for that's a monarch's end.
They call my tenderness of blood, my fear;
Though manly tempers can the longest bear.
Yet, fince they will divert my native course,
'Tis time to fhew I am not good by force.
Thofe heap'd affronts that haughty fubjects bring,
Are burdens for a camel, not a king.
Kings are the public pillars of the state,
Born to sustain and prop the nation's weight:
If my young Samfon will pretend a call
To shake the column, let him share the fall;
But oh, that yet he would repent and live !
How eafy 'tis for parents to forgive!
With how few tears a pardon might be won
From nature, pleading for a darling son !
Poor, pitied youth, by my paternal care,
Rais'd up to all the height his frame could bear!
Had God ordain'd his fate for empire born,
He would have given his foul another turn:
Gull'd with a patriot's name, whofe modern sense
Is one that would by law fupplant his prince;
The people's brave, the politician's tool;
Never was patriot yet, but was a fool.
Whence comes it, that religion and the laws
Should more be Abfalom's than David's caufe?
His old inftructor ere he loft his place,
Was never thought indued with fo much grace..
Good heavens, how faction can a patriot paint!
My rebel ever proves my people's faint.
Would they impose an heir upon the throne,
Let fanhedrims be taught to give their own.
A king's at least a part of government :
And mine as requifite as their confent :
Without my leave a future king to chufe,
Infers a right the prefent to depose.
True, they petition me t' approve their choice:
But Efau's hands fuit ill with Jacob's voice.
My pious fubjects for my fafety pray ;
Which to fecure, they take my power away.
From plots and treasons heaven preserve my years,
But fave me moft from my petitioners.
Unfatiate as the barren womb or grave;
God cannot grant fo much as they can crave.
What then is left, but with a jealous eye
To guard the small remains of royalty?
The law fhall ftill direct my peaceful sway,
And the fame law teach rebels to obey :
Votes fhall no more establish'd power controul,
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 god-like kings their care express,
Still to defend their fervants in diftrefs.
Oh, that my power to faving were confin'd!
Why am I forc'd, like heaven, against my mind,
To make examples of another kind?
Muft I at length the sword of justice draw?
Oh curft effects of neceffary law !
How ill my fear they by my mercy fcan!
Beware the fury of a patient man.
Law they require, let law then fhew 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,
Thofe dire artificers of death fhall bleed.
Against themselves their witneffes will fwear,
Till, viper-like, their mother plot they tear;
And fuck 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 fhall do me right.
Nor doubt th' event: for factious crowds engage,
In their firft onfet, all their brutal rage.
Then let them take an unrefifted courfe
Retire, and traverse, and delude their force :
But when they stand all breathless, urge the fight,
And rife upon them with redoubled might:
For lawful power is ftill fuperior found;
When long driven back, at length it ftands the ground.
He said: Th' Almighty nodding gave consent;
And peals of thunder fhook the firmament.
Henceforth a series of new time began,
The mighty years in long proceffion ran:
Once more the god-like David was restor'd,
And willing nations knew their lawful lord.