« PreviousContinue »
Si quis tamen hæc quoque, fi quis
Captus amore leget-"
Το THE READER.
N the year 1680 Mr Dryden undertook the of Abfalom and Achitophel, upon the defire of king Charles the fecond. The performance was applauded by every one; and feveral perfons preffing him to write a fecond 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 thefe, a troop of bufy fpirits prefs," and ending with
"To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee." containing near two hundred verses, were entirely Mr. Dryden's compofition, befides 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 ACHITOPHEL.
INCE men like beafts each other's prey were made, Since trade began, and priesthood grew a trade, Since realms were form'd, none fure fo curft as those That madly their own happinefs oppofe;
There heaven itself, and god-like kings, in vain
Shower down the manna of a gentle reign;
While pamper'd crowds to mad fedition run,
And monarchs by indulgence are undone.
Thus David's clemency was fatal grown,
While wealthy faction aw'd the wanting throne.
For now their fovereign's orders to contemn
Was held the charter of Jerufalem,
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 feed were chofen to rebel!
Achitophel with triumph fees his crimes.
Thus fuited to the madness of the times;
And Abfalom, to make his hopes fucceed,
Of flattering charms no longer stands in need;
While, fond of change, though ne'er fo dearly bought,
Our tribes outstrip the youth's ambitious thought;
His swifteft hopes with fwifter homage meet,
And crowd their fervile necks beneath his feet.
Thus to his aid while preffing tides repair,
He mounts and spreads his ftreamers in the air.
The charms of empire might his youth mislead,
But what can our befotted Ifrael plead ?
Sway'd by a monarch, whose ferene command
Seems half the bleffing of our promis'd land.
Whose only grievance is excels of ease;
Freedom our pain, and plenty our disease!
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 felf with flanders load:
That arts of foreign sway he did affect,
And guilty Jebufites from law protect,
Whofe very chiefs, convict, were never freed,
Nay we have seen their facrificers bleed!
Accufers' infamy is urg'd in vain,
While in the bounds of sense they did contain,
But foon 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 penfion'd evidence ;
Mere truth was dull, nor fuited 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 curft defigns on David's life!
His life, the theme of her eternal prayer,
'Tis fcarce fo much his guardian angels care.
Not summer morns fuch mildness can disclose,
The Hermon lily, nor the Sharon rose.
Neglecting each vain pomp of majesty,
Tranfported 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 fmile, and orphans fing.
Oh! when rebellious Ifrael'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 pest pursue,
That from Dan's limits to Beersheba flew,
Lefs fatal the repeated wars of Tyre,
And lefs Jerufalem's avenging fire.
With gentler terror these our state o'er-ran,
Than since our evidencing days began!
On every cheek a pale confusion sat,
Continued fear beyond the worst of fate
Truft was no more, art, fcience, ufelefs 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 flave,
› And lord it o'er the tribes which he could fave:
Ev'n vice in him was virtue-what fad fate
But for his honefty had feiz'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 loss :
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 wife reserves fecur'd his pension still;
Not quite of future power himself bereft,
But limbos large for unbelievers left.
And now his writ fuch reverence had got,
'Twas worse than plotting to fufpect his plot.
Some were fo well convinc'd, they made no doubt
Themselves to help the founder'd swearers out.
Some had their fenfe impos'd-on by their fear,
But more for intereft fake believe and fwear :
Ev'n to that height with fome 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 fucceffor of the crown,
Whose virtue with fuch wrongs they had pursued,
As feem'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 unobferv'd by each discerning eye,
The more judicious Ifraelites unfpell'd,
Though ftill the charm the giddy rabble held,