« VorigeDoorgaan »
For close designs and crooked counsels fit, Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit; Restless, unfix'd in principles and place, In power unpleas'd, impatient of disgrace; A fiery soul, which, working out its way, Fretted the pigmy body to decay, And o’er-inform’d the tenement of clay. A daring pilot in extremity; Pleas'd 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 honour blest, 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 unfeather'd, 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, Resolv'd 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 seiz'd with fear, yet still affecting fame, Usurp'd a patriot's all-atoning name: So easy still it proves, in factious times, With public zeal to cancel private crimes. How safe is treason, and how sacred ill, Where none can sin against the people's will ? Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known, Since in another's guilt they find their own?
Yet fame deserv'd, no enemy can grudge ;
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean;
Unbrib'd, unsought, the wretched to redress,
Swift of dispatch, 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 oppress'd the noble seed;
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,
Disdain'd the golden fruit to gather free,
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.
Now manifest of crimes contriv'd long since,
He stood at bold defiance with his prince';
Held up the buckler of the people's cause
Against the Crown, and sculk'd behind the laws.
The wish'd occasion of the plot he takes,
Some circumstances finds, but more he makes;
By buzzing emissaries fills the ears
Of listening crowds with jealousies and fears,
Or 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:
For governd by the moon, the giddy Jews
Tread the same track when she the prime renews;
And once in twenty years, their scribes record,
By natural instinct they change their lord.
Achitophel still wants a chief, and none
Was found so fit as warlike Absalom :
Not that he wish'd his greatness to create,
(For politicians neither love nor hate)
But, for he knew his title not allow'd
Would keep him still depending on the crowd ;
That kingly power, thus ebbing out, might be
Drawn to the dregs of a democracy.
Him he attempts, with studied arts, to please,
And sheds his venom in such words as these ;
Auspicious Prince, at whose nativity
Some royal planet ruld the southern sky,
Thy longing country's darling and desire,
Their cloudy pillar, and their guardian fire ;
Their second Moses, whose extended wand
Divides the seas, and shows the Promis'd land;
Whose dawning day, in every
Has exercis'd the sacred prophet's rage:
The people's prayer, the glad diviner's theme,
The young men's vision, and the old men's dream!
Thee, Saviour, thee the nation's vows confess,
And never satisfied with seeing, bless :
Swift, unbespoken pomps, thy steps proclaim,
And stammering babes are taught to lisp thy naine :
How long wilt thou the general joy detain,
Starve, and defraud the people of thy reign;
Content ingloriously to pass thy days
Like one of Virtue's fools, that feed on praise ;
Till thy fresh glories, which now shine so bright,
Grow stale, and tarnish with our daily sight?
Believe me, royal youth, thy fruit must be
Or gather'd ripe, or rot upon the tree:
Heaven has to all allotted, soon or late.
Some lucky revolution of their fate;
Whose motions, if we watch and guide with skill,
(For human good depends on human will,)
Our fortune rolls as from a smooth descent,
And from the first impression takes the bent;
But if unseiz'd, she glides away like wind,
And leaves repenting folly far behind.
Now, now she meets you with a glorious prize,
And spreads her locks before you as she flies.
Had thus old David, from whose loins you spring,
Not dar'd, when Fortune call’d him to be king,
At Gath an exile he might still remain,
And Heaven's anointing oil had been in vain.
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 vapours rise.
He is not now. as when, on Jordan's sand,
The joyful people throng'd to see him land,
Covering the beach, and blackening all the
But, like the prince of angels, from his height,
Comes tumbling downward with diminish'd light;
Betray'd by one poor plot to public scorn,
(Our only blessing since his curs'd return,)
Those heaps of people which one sheaff did bind,
Blown off and scatter'd by a puff of wind.
What strength can he to your designs oppose,
Naked of friends, and round beset with foes ?
If Pharaoh's doubtful succour he should use,
A foreign aid would more incense the Jews :
Proud Egypt would dissembled friendship bring,
Foment the war, but not support the King:
Nor would the royal party e'er unite
With Pharaoh's arms to assist the Jebusite;
Or if they should, their interest soon would break,
And, with such odious aid, make David weak.
All sorts of men, by my successful arts,
Abhorring kings, estrange their alter'd hearts
From David's rule: and 'tis their general cry,
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 applause
Might such a general gain by such a cause?
Not barren praise alone, that gaudy flow'r,
Fair only to the sight, but solid pow'r;
And nobler is a limited command,
Giv'n by the love of all your native land,
Than a successive title, long and dark,
Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's ark,"
What cannot praise effect in mighty minds,
When Flattery soothes, and when Ambition 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,
Unwarily was led from Virtue's ways,
Made drunk with honour, and debauch'd with praise :
Half loth and half consenting to the ill,
(For royal blood within him struggled still)
He thus replied:-“And what pretence have I
To take up arms for public liberty?
My father governs with unquestion'd right,
The Faith's defender, and mankind's delight;
Good, gracious, just, observant of the laws,
And Heaven by wonders has espous'd his cause.