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Ev'n Abfalom amidst the dazzling beams
Of empire, and ambition's flattering dreams,
Perceives the plot, too foul to be excus'd,
To aid defigns, no lefs pernicious, us'd.
And, filial fenfe yet ftriving in his breast,
Thus to Achitophel his doubts expreft.
Why are my thoughts upon a crown employ'd, Which once obtain'd can be but half enjoy'd? Not fo when virtue did my arms require, And to my father's wars I flew intire. My regal power how will my foes refent, When I myself have scarce my own confent! Give me a fon's unblemish'd truth again, Or quench the sparks of duty that remain. How flight to force a throne that legions guard The task to me; to prove unjust, how hard! And if th' imagin'd guilt thus wound my thought, What will it when the tragic scene is wrought? Dire war must first be conjur'd from below, The realm we'd rule we first muft overthrow; And when the civil furies are on wing That blind and undistinguish'd flaughters fling, Who knows what impious chance may reach the king? Oh! rather let me perish in the strife,
Than have my crown the price of David's life!
Or, if the tempeft of the war he stand,
In peace, fome vile officious villain's hand
His foul's anointed temple may invade,
Or, preft by clamorous crowds, myself be made
His murtherer; rebellious crowds, whofe guilt
Shall dread his vengeance till his blood be spilt.
Which if my filial tenderness oppose,
Since to the empire by their arms I rofe,
Those very arms on me fhall be employ'd,
A new ufurper crown'd, and I destroy'd :
The fame pretence of public good will hold,
And new Achitophels be found as bold
urge the needful change, perhaps the old.
He faid. The statesman with a fmile replies,
A fmile that did his rifing spleen disguise,
My thoughts prefum'd our labours at an end,
And are we ftill with confcience to contend?
Whose want in kings, as needful is allow'd,
As 'tis for them to find it in the crowd.
Far in the doubtful paffage you are gone,
And only can be fafe by preffing on.
The crown's true heir, a prince fevere and wife,
Has view'd your motions long with jealous eyes:
Your perfon's charms, your more prevailing arts,
And mark'd your progrefs in the people's hearts,
Whose patience is th' effect of stinted power,
But treasures vengeance for the fatal hour,
And if remote the peril he can bring,
Your prefent danger's greater from the king.
Let not a parent's name deceive your fense,
Nor trust the father in a jealous prince!
Your trivial faults if he could fo refent,
To doom you little lefs than banishment,
What rage muft your prefumption fince inspire!
Against his orders you return from Tyre.
Nor only fo, but with a pomp more high,
And open court of popularity,
The factious tribes-And this reproof from thee?
The prince replies, O ftatefman's winding skill!
They first condemn, that first advis'd the ill !
Illuftrious youth, return'd Achitophel,
Mifconftrue not the words that mean you well.
The course you steer I worthy blame conclude,
But 'tis because you leave it unpursued.
A monarch's crown with fate furrounded lies,
Who reach, lay hold on death that miss the prize.
Did you for this expose yourself to show,
And to the crowd bow popularly low!
For this your glorious progress next ordain,
With chariots, horsemen, and a numerous train.
With fame before you like the morning star,
And shouts of joy faluting from afar ?
Oh from the heights you 've reach'd but take a view,
Scarce leading Lucifer could fall like you!
And must I here my shipwreck'd arts bemoan?
Have I for this so oft made Ifrael groan?
Your fingle interest with the nation weigh'd,
And turn'd the scale where your defires were laid!
Ev'n when at helm a course fo dangerous mov'd
To land your hopes as my removal prov'd.
I not difpute, the royal youth replies,
The known perfection of your policies,
Nor in Achitophel yet grudge or blame,
The privilege that statesmen ever claim ;
Who private intereft never yet pursued,
But still pretended 'twas for others' good:
What politician yet e'er fcap'd his fate,
Who faving his own neck not fav'd the state?
From hence on every humorous wind that veer'd,
With fhifted fails a feveral course you fteer'd.
What from a fway did David e'er pursue,
That seem'd like abfolute, but fprung from you?
Who at your inftance quash'd each penal law,
That kept diffenting factious Jews in awe ;
And who fufpends fixt laws, may abrogate,
That done, form new, and fo enflave the state.
Ev'n property, whose champion now you stand,
And feem for this the idol of the land,
Did ne'er fuftain fuch violence before,
As when your counfel fhut the royal store
Advice, that ruin to whole tribes procur'd,
But fecret kept till your own banks fecur'd.
Recount with this the triple covenant broke,
And Ifrael fitted for a foreign yoke;
Nor here your counfels fatal progress staid,
But fent our levied powers to Pharaoh's aid.
Hence Tyre and Ifrael, low in ruins laid,
And Egypt, once their fcorn, their common terror made,
Ev'n yet of fuch a feafon can we dream,
When royal rights you made your darling theme.
For power unlimited could reafons draw,
And place prerogative above the law;
Which on your fall from office grew unjust,
The laws made king, the king a flave in trust :
Whom with state-craft, to intereft only true,
You now accufe of ills contriv'd by you.
To this hell's agent-Royal youth, fix here,
Let interest be the ftar by which you fteer,
Hence to repose your trust in me was wife,
Whofe interest moft in your advancement lies.
A tye fo firm as always will avail,
When friendship, nature, and religion, fail;
On our's the fafety of the crowd depends,
Secure the crowd, and we obtain our ends,
Whom I will caufe fo far our guilt to share,
Till they are made our champions by their fear,
What oppofition can your rival bring,
While fanhedrims are jealous of the king?
His ftrength as yet in David's friendship lies,
And what can David's felf without fupplies?
Who with exclufive bilis muft now difpente,
Debar the heir, or ftarve in his defence,
Conditions which our elders ne'er will quit,
And David's juftice never can admit.
Or forc'd by wants his brother to betray,
your ambition next he clears the way;
For if fucceffion once to nought they bring,
Their next advance removes the prefent king:
Perfifting elfe his fenates to diffolve,
In equal hazard fhall his reign involve.
Our tribes, whom Pharaoh's power fo much alarms,
Shall rife without their prince t' oppofe his arms;
Nor boots it on what caufe at first they join,
Their troops once up, are tools for our defign.