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comes unless extorted. But I can be satisfied on more easy terms : if I happen to please the more moderate fort, I shall be sure of an honeft party, and, in all probability, of the best judges : for the least concerned are commonly the least corrupt. And I confess I have laid in for those, by rebating the satire, where justice would allow it, from carrying too sharp an 'edge. They who can criticise so weakly, as to . imagine I have done my worst, may be convinced at their own cost that I can write severely, with more ease than I can gently. I have but laughed at fome men's follies, when I could have declaimed against their vices : and other men's virtues I have commend. ed, as freely as I have taxed their crimes. And now, if you are a malicious reader, I expect you should return upon me that I affect to be thought more impartial than I am: but if men are not to be judged by

their professions, God forgive you commonwealth’s- men for profeffing so plauibly for the government.

You cannot be so unconscionable as to charge me for not subscribing my name; for that would reflect too grolly upon your own party, who never dare, though they have the advantage of a jury to secure them. If you like not my poem, the fault may posibly be in my writing; though it is hard for an author to judge against himself. But more probably it is in your morals, which cannot bear the truth of it. The violent on both sides will condemn the charalier of Absalom, as either too favourably or too hardly drawn. But they are not the violent whom I desire to please. The fault on the right hand is to extenuate, palliate, and

indulge;

indulge; and to confess freely, I have endeavoured to commit it. Besides the respect which I owe his birth, I have a greater for his heroic virtues; and David himself could not be more tender of the young man's life, than I would be of his reputation. But since the most excellent natures are always the most easy, and, as being such, are the soonest perverted by ill counsels, especially when baited with fame and glory; it is no more a wonder that he withstood not the temptations of Achitophel, than it was for Adam not to have refifted the two devils, the serpent and the woman. The conclusion of the story I purposely forbore to prosecute, because I could not obtain from myself to thew Absalom unfortunate. The frame of it was cut out but for a picture to the waist; and if the draught be so far true, it is as much as I designed.

Were I the inventor, who am only the historian, I should certainly conclude the piece, with the reconcilement of Absalom to David. And who knows but this may come to pass ? Things were not brought to an extremity where I left the story: there seems yet to be room left for a composure; hereafter there may be only for pity. I have not so much as an uncharitable with against Achitophel ; but am content to he accused of a good-natured error, and to hope with Origen, that the devil himself may at last be saved.

For which reason, in this poem, he is neither brought to let his house in order, nor to dispose of his person afterwards as he in wildom thall think fit.

God is infinitely merciful; and his vicegerent is only not so, becaule he is not infinite.

The

The true end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction. And he, who writes honestly, is no more an enemy to the offender, than the physician to the patient, when he prescribes harsh remedies to an inveterate disease ; for those are only in order to prevent the chirurgeon's work of an Ense rescindendum, which I with not to my very enemies. To conclude all ; if the body politic have any analogy to the natural, in my weak judgment, an act of oblivion were as necefsary in a hot distempered state, as an opiate would be in a raging fever.

ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHE L.

I
N pious times ere priestcraft did begin,

Before polygamy was made a sin;
When man on many multiply'd his kind,
Ere one to one was cursedly confin'd;
When nature prompted, and no law deny’d
Promiscuous use of concubine and bride ;
Then Ifrael's monarch after heaven's own heart
His vigorous warmth did variously impart
To wives and flaves; and wide as his command,
Scatter'd his Maker's image through the land.
Michal, of royal blood, the crown did wear ;
A foil ungrateful to the tiller's care :
Not so the rest; for several mothers bore
To god-like David several fons before.
But since like llaves his bed they did ascend,
No truc fuccellion could their feed attend.

Of

Of all the numerous progeny was none
So beautiful, fo brave, as Absalom :
Whether inspir’d by some diviner luft,
His father got him with a greater gust :
Or that his conscious destiny made way,
By manly beauty to imperial fway.
Early in foreign fields he won renown,
With kings and states ally'd to Ifrael's crown :
In

peace the thoughts of war he could remove,
And seem’d 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 accompany'd with grace ;
And paradise was open'd in his face.
With secret joy indulgent David view'd
His youthful image in his son renew'd :
To all his wishes nothing he deny'd ;
And made the charming Annabel his bride.
What faults he had, for who from faults is free?
His father could not, or he would not fee.
Some warm exceffes which the law forbore,
Were construed youth that purg'd by boiling o'er ;
And Amnon's murder by a specious name,
Was call'd a just revenge for injur'd fame.
Thus prais'd and lov'd, the noble youth remain'd,
While David undisturb’d in Sion reign'd.
But life can never be sincerely bleft:
Heaven punishes the bad, and proves the best.
The Jews, a headstrong, moody, murmuring race,
As ever try'd th' extent and stretch of grace;

God's

God's pamper'd people, whom debauch'd with ease,
No king could govern, nor no God could please ;
Gods they had try'd 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 found,
Of men, by laws less circumscrib'd and bound;
They led their wild desires to woods and caves,
And thought that all but favages were slaves.
They who, when Saul was dead, without a blow,
Made foolish Ishbosheth the crown forego;
Who banishid David did from Hebron bring,
And with a general shout proclaim'd him king :
Those very Jews, who at their

very

best
Their humour more than loyalty exprest,
Now wonder'd why so long they had obey'd
An idol monarch, which their hands had made ;
Thought they might ruin him they could create,
Or melt him to that golden calf a state.
But these were random bolts: no form’d design,
Nor interest made the factious crowd to join :
The sober part of Israel, free from stain,
Well knew the value of a peaceful reign ;
And, looking backward with a wise affright,
Saw seams of wounds dishonest to the light :
In contemplation of whose ugly scars,
They curft the memory of civil wars.
The moderate fort of men thus qualify'd,
Inclin'd the balance to the better fide;

And

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