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Neglecting each vain pomp of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high.
She lives with angels, and, as angels do,
Quits heaven sometimes to bless the world below.
Where, cherish'd by her bounty's plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile, and orphans sing.
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 New,
Less fatal the repeated wars of Tyre,
And less Jerusalem's avenging fire.
With gentler terror these our state o'er-ran,
Than since our evidencing days began !
On every cheek a pale confusion fat,
Continued fear beyond the worst of fate !
Trust was no more, art, science, useless 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 slave,
And lord it o'er the tribes which he could save :
Ev’n vice in him was virtue-what fad fate
But for his honesty had seiz'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 gross,
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 wise reserves secur'd his pension ftill;
Not quite of future power himself bereft,
But limbos large for unbelievers left.
And now his writ such reverence had got,
'Twas worse than plotting to suspect his plot.
Some were so well convinc'd, they made no doubt
Themselves to help the founder'd swearers out.
Some had their sense impos’d-on by their fear,
But more for interest fake believe and swear :
Ev'n to that height with some 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
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 successor of the crown,
Whose virtue with such wrongs they had pursued,
As seem'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 unobserv'd by each discerning eye,
The more judicious Ifraelites unspellid,
Though still the charm the giddy rabble held,
Ev'n Absalom amidst the dazzling beams
Of empire, and ambition's flattering dreams,
Perceives the plot, too foul to be excus’d,
To aid designs, no less pernicious, us’d.
And, filial sense yet striving in his breast,
Thus to Achitophel his doubts exprest.
Why are my thoughts upon a crown employ'd,
Which once obtain'd can be but half enjoy'd ?
Not so when virtue did my arms require,
And to my father's wars I flew intire.
My regal power how will my foes resent,
When I myself have scarce my own consent !
Give me a son's unblemish'd truth again,
Or quench the sparks of duty that remain.
How slight 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 froin below,
The realm we'd rule we first must overthrow;
And when the civil furies are on wing
That blind and undistinguish'd slaughters 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 tempest of the war he stand,
In peace, some vile officious villain's hand
His foul's anointed temple may invade,
Or, prest by clamorous crowds, myself be inade
His murtherer ; rebellious crowds, whose guilt
Shall dread his vengeance till his blood be spilt.
Which if my filial tenderness oppose,
Since to the empire by their arms I rose,
Those very arms on me shall be employ'd,
A new usurper crown'd, and I destroy’d:
The same pretence of public good will hold,
And new Achitophels be found as bold
To urge the needful change, perhaps the old.
He said. The statesman with a smile replies,
A smile that did his rising spleen disguise,
My thoughts presum'd our labours at an end,
And are we still with conscience 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 passage you are gone,
And only can be safe by pressing on.
The crown's true heir, a prince severe and wise,
Has view'd your motions long with jealous eyes :
Your person's charms, your more prevailing arts,
And mark'd your progress 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 present danger 's greater from the king.
Let not a parent's name deceive your sense,
Nor trust the father in a jealous prince !
Your trivial faults if he could so resent,
To doom you little less than banishment,
What rage must your presumption since inspire !
Against his orders you return from Tyre.
Nor only so, but with a pomp more high,
And open court of popularity,
The factious tribes-And this reproof from thee?
The prince replies, O ftatesman's winding skill!
They first condemn, that first advis'd the ill !
Illustrious youth, return’d Achitophel,
Misconstrue 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 surrounded 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 single interest with the nation weigh’d,
And turn’d the scale where your desires were laid !
Ev’n when at helm a course so dangerous mov'd
To land your hopes as my removal prov’d.
I not dispute, the royal youth replies,
The known perfection of your policies,
Nor in Achitopel yet grudge or blame,
The privilege that tatesmen ever claim ;