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wide as his command, Scattered his Maker's image through the land.



Of all this numerous progeny was none
So beautiful, so brave, as Absalon.




Early in foreign fields he won renown With kings and states allied to Israel's crown;


peace the thoughts of war he could remove,


And seemed as he were only born for love.

Whate'er he did was done with so much ease,


In him alone 'twas natural to please;
His motions all accompanied with grace,
And Paradise was opened in his face.
With secret joy indulgent David viewed
His youthful image in his son renewed;
To all his wishes nothing he denied,
And made the charming Annabel his

What faults he had (for who from faults is free?)


His father could not, or he would not see. Some warm excesses, which the law forbore,

Were construed youth that purged by boiling o'er;

And Amnon's murder by a specious name Was called a just revenge for injured fame. Thus praised and loved, the noble youth remained,


While David undisturbed in Sion reigned. But life can never be sincerely blest; Heaven punishes the bad, and proves the best.

The Jews, a headstrong, moody, murmuring race


As ever tried the extent and stretch of grace;

God's pampered people, whom, debauched with ease,

No king could govern nor no God could please;

Gods they had tried of every shape and size

That godsmiths could produce or priests devise;


These Adam-wits, too fortunately free,
Began to dream they wanted liberty;
And when no rule, no precedent, was

Of men by laws less circumscribed and bound,

They led their wild desires to woods and caves,


And thought that all but savages were slaves.

They who, when Saul was dead, without a blow

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Submit they must to David's government: Impoverished and deprived of all command,

Their taxes doubled as they lost their land; And, what was harder yet to flesh and blood, 96 Their gods disgraced, and burnt like common wood.

This set the heathen priesthood in a flame,
For priests of all religions are the same.
Of whatsoe'er descent their godhead be,
Stock, stone, or other homely pedigree, 101
In his defense his servants are as bold,
As if he had been born of beaten gold.
The Jewish rabbins, though their enemies,
In this conclude them honest men and


For 'twas their duty, all the learned think, To espouse his cause by whom they eat and drink.

From hence began that Plot, the nation's


Bad in itself, but represented worse,

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mon sense,

Had yet a deep and dangerous conse



For as, when raging fevers boil the blood, The standing lake soon floats into a flood, And every hostile humor which before Slept quiet in its channels bubbles o'er; So several factions from this first ferment Work up to foam and threat the govern



Some by their friends, more by themselves thought wise, Opposed the power to which they could not rise.

Some had in courts been great and, thrown from thence,

Like fiends were hardened in impenitence. Some, by their Monarch's fatal mercy grown 146 From pardoned rebels kinsmen to the throne,

Were raised in power and public office high;

Strong bands, if bands ungrateful men could tie.

Of these the false Achitophel was first,150 A name to all succeeding ages curst: For close designs and crooked counsels fit; Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit; Restless, unfixed in principles and place; In power unpleased, impatient of dis



A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
Fretted the pigmy body to decay,
And o'er-informed the tenement of clay.
A daring pilot in extremity;

Pleased with the danger when the waves went high,


He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit, Would steer too nigh the sands, to boast his wit.

Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide; Else why should he, with wealth and honor blest, 165 Refuse his age the needful hours of rest? Punish a body which he could not please, Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease? And all to leave what with his toil he won To that unfeathered two-legg'd thing, a


son, Got, while his soul did huddled notions try,

And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy.
In friendship false, implacable in hate,
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state;
To compass this the triple bond he broke,
The pillars of the public safety shook,
And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke;
Then, seized with fear, yet still affecting


Usurped a patriot's all-atoning name.
So easy still it proves in factious times 180
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's


Where crowds can wink and no offence be known,

Since in another's guilt they find their own! 185 Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge; The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.

In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abbethdin With more discerning eyes or hands more clean,

Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress,


Swift of despatch and easy of access.
Oh! had he been content to serve the crown
With virtues only proper to the gown,
Or had the rankness of the soil been freed
From cockle that oppressed the noble


David for him his tuneful harp had strung

And Heaven had wanted one immortal song.

But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand,


And Fortune's ice prefers to Virtue's land.
Achitophel, grown weary to possess
A lawful fame and lazy happiness,
Disdained the golden fruit to gather

And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.

Now, manifest1 of crimes contrived long since,

He stood at bold defiance with his prince, Held up the buckler of the people's



Against the crown, and skulked behind the laws. The wished occasion of the plot he takes; Some circumstances finds, but more he makes;

By buzzing emissaries fills the ears 210 Of listening crowds with jealousies and fears

Of arbitrary counsels brought to light, And proves the king himself a Jebusite. Weak arguments! which yet he knew full well

Were strong with people easy to rebel. 215 For, governed by the moon, the giddy Jews

Tread the same track when she the prime


1 evidently guilty.

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And stammering babes are taught to lisp thy name.

How long wilt thou the general joy detain, Starve and defraud the people of thy reign?


He is not now as when on Jordan's sand 270
The joyful people thronged to see him

Covering the beach and blackening all the

All sorts of men, by my successful arts
Abhorring kings, estrange their altered
From David's rule; and 'tis the general


'Religion, commonwealth, and liberty.'
If you, as champion of the public good,
Add to their arms a chief of royal blood,
What may not Israel hope, and what ap-


Might such a general gain by such a

Not barren praise alone, that gaudy

Fair only to the sight, but solid power;
And nobler is a limited1 command,
Given by the love of all your native land,
Than a successive title, long and dark, 301
Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's

What cannot praise effect in mighty

When flattery soothes, and when ambi-
tion blinds?


Desire of power, on earth a vicious weed,
Yet sprung from high is of celestial seed;
In God 'tis glory, and when men aspire,
'Tis but a spark too much of heavenly fire.
The ambitious youth, too covetous of fame,
Too full of angels' metal in his frame, 310
Unwarily was led from virtue's ways,
Made drunk with honor, and debauched

with praise.

Half loth, and half consenting to the ill,
(For loyal blood within him struggled still,)
He thus replied: "And what pretence
have I

Had thus old David, from whose loins you



Not dared, when Fortune called him to be To take up arms for public liberty?
My father governs with unquestioned
The faith's defender, and mankind's de-
Good, gracious, just, observant of the

At Gath an exile he might still remain,
And Heaven's anointing oil had been in
Let his successful youth your hopes engage,
But shun the example of declining age.
Behold him setting in his western skies,
The shadows lengthening as the vapors

And Heaven by wonders has espoused his




1 appointed.

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Whom has he wronged in all his peaceful To my large soul not all her treasure lent,

And then betrayed it to a mean descent!
I find, I find my mounting spirits bold,
And David's part disdains my mother's


Who sues for justice to his throne in vain? What millions has he pardoned of his foes, Whom just revenge did to his wrath expose?


Mild, easy, humble, studious of our good, Inclined to mercy and averse from blood. If mildness ill with stubborn Israel suit, His crime is God's beloved attribute.

Why then should I, encouraging the bad, Turn rebel and run popularly mad? 336 Were he a tyrant, who by lawless might Oppressed the Jews and raised the Jebusite,

Well might I mourn; but nature's holy bands

Would curb my spirit and restrain my hands; 340 The people might assert their liberty, But what was right in them were crime in


His favor leaves me nothing to require, Prevents my wishes, and outruns desire; What more can I expect while David lives? All but his kingly diadem he gives: 346 And that"-But here he paused, then sighing said,

"Is justly destined for a worthier head; For when my father from his toils shall rest,


And late augment the number of the blest, His lawful issue shall the throne ascend, Or the collateral line, where that shall end.

Yet dauntless and secure of native right, Of every royal virtue stands possessed, 355 Still dear to all the bravest and the best. His courage goes, his friends his truth proclaim,

His loyalty the King, the world his fame. His mercy even the offending crowd will find,

For sure he comes of a forgiving kind. 360 Why should I then repine at Heaven's decree,

Why am I scanted by a niggard birth? 369 My soul disdains the kindred of her earth, And, made for empire, whispers me within, 'Desire of greatness is a god-like sin." Him staggering so when Hell's dire agent found,


Which gives me no pretence to royalty? Yet oh that Fate, propitiously inclined, Had raised my birth, or had debased my mind;


While fainting virtue scarce maintained her ground,


He pours fresh forces in, and thus replies: "The eternal God, supremely good and wise,

Commit a pleasing rape upon the crown.

His brother, though oppressed with vulgar❘ Secure his person to secure your cause: 475 They who possess the Prince possess the laws."


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He said, and this advice above the rest With Absalom's mild nature suited best; Unblamed of life (ambition set aside,) Not stained with cruelty nor puffed with pride, 480

How happy had he been if Destiny
Had higher placed his birth or not so high!
His kingly virtues might have claimed a

And blessed all other countries but his


But charming greatness since so few refuse, 485 'Tis juster to lament him than accuse.

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