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Which well the noblest objects knew to choose,
The fighting warrior, and recording muse.
His bed could once a fruitful issue boast;
Now more than half a father's name is lost.
His eldest hope, with every grace adorn’d,
By me (so Heaven will have it) always mourn’d,
And always honour'd; snatch'd in manhood's prime
By' unequal fates, and Providence's crime;
Yet not before the goal of honour won,
All parts fulfill'd of subject and of son;
Swift was the race, but short the time to run.
Oh, narrow circle, but of power divine,
Scanted in space, but perfect in thy line !
By sea, by land, thy matchless worth was known,
Arms thy delight, and war was all thy own:
Thy force infus'd, the fainting Tyrians prop'd,
And haughty Pharaoh found his fortune stop'd.
Oh, ancient honour! oh, unconquer'd hand!
Whom foes unpunish'd never could withstand !
But Israel was unworthy of his name;
Short is the date of all immoderate fame.
It looks as Heaven our ruin had design'd,
And durst not trust thy fortune and thy mind.
Now, free from earth, thy disencumber'd soul
Mounts up, and leaves behind the clouds and starry
From thence thy kindred legions may'st thou bring,
To aid the guardian-angel of thy king.
Here stop, my Muse, here cease thy painful flight,
No pinions can pursue immortal height:
Tell good Barzillai thou canst sing no more,
And tell thy soul she should have fled before :
Or Aled she with his life, and left this verse
To hang on her departed patron's hearse ;
Now take thy steepy flight from Heaven, and see
If thou canst find on earth another he :
Another, he would be too hard to find;
See then whom thou can’st see not far behind.
Zadoc the priest, whom, shunning power and place,
His lowly mind advanc'd to David's grace;
With him the Sagan of Jerusalem,
Of hospitable soul and noble stem;
Him of the western dome, whose weighty sense
Flows in fit words and heavenly eloquence.
The Prophets' sons, by such example led,
To learning and to loyalty were bred;
For colleges on bounteous king's depend,
And never rebel was to arts a friend.
To these succeed the pillars of the laws,
Who best could plead, and best can judge a cause.
Next them a train of loyal peers ascend;
Sharp-judging Adriel, the Muses' friend,
Himself a muse ; in Sanhedrims' debate *
True to his prince, but not a slave of state;
Whom David's love with honours did adorn,
That from his disobedient son were torn:
Jotham, of piercing wit and pregnant thought,
Endued by Nature, and by Learning taught,
To move assemblies, who but only tried
The worse awhile, then chose the better side :
Nor chose alone, but turn'd the balance too;
So much the weight of one brave man can do,
Hushai, the friend of David in distress,
In public storms of manly stedfastness;
By foreign treaties he inform’d his youth,
And join'd experience to his native truth :
His frugal care supplied the wanting throne,
Frugal for that, but bounteous of his own;
'Tis easy conduct when Exchequers flow,
But hard the task to manage well the low;
For sovereign power is too depress'd or high,
When kings are forc'd to sell, or crowds to buy.
Indulge one labour more, my weary Muse,
For Amiel; who can Amiel's praise refuse?
Of ancient race by birth, but nobler yet
In his own worth, and without title great.
The Sanhedrim long time as chief he rul'd,
Their reason guided, and their passion cool'd:
So dextrous was he in the Crown's defence,
So form'd to speak a loyal nation's sense,
That, as their band was Israel's tribes in small,
So fit was he to represent them all.
Now rasher charioteers the seat ascend,
Whose loose careers his steady skill commend :-
They, like the unequal ruler of the day,
Misguide the seasons, and mistake the way;
While he, withdrawn, at their mad labour smiles,
And safe enjoys the Sabbath of his toils.
These were the chief; a small but faithful band) Of worthies, in the breach who daralto stand, And tempt the united fury of the land. With grief they view'd such powerful engines bent To batter down the lawful government. A numerous faction, with pretended frights, In Sanhedrims to plume the regal rights; The true successor from the Court remov'd. The plot, by hireling witnesses, improv'd. These ills they saw, and, as their duty bound, They show'd the King the danger of the wound;
That no concessions from the throne would please,
But lenitives fomented the disease:
That Absalom, ambitious of the crown,
Was made the lure to draw the people down:
That false Achitophel's pernicious hate
Had turn’d the plot to ruin church and state :
The council violent, the rabble worse;
'That Shimei taught Jerusalem to curse.
With all these loads of injuries opprest,
And long revolving in his careful breast
The event of things; at last, his patience tird,
Thus, from his royal throne, by Heaven inspir'd,
The godlike David spoke; with awful fear
His train their Maker in their master hear.
“ Thus long have I, by native mercy sway'd, My wrongs dissembled, my revenge delay'd: So willing to forgive the offending age, So much the father did the king assuage. But now so far my clemency they slight, The offenders question my forgiving right. That one was made for many they contend; But 'tis to rule; for that's a monarch's end. They call mytenderness of blood my fear; Though manly tempers can the longest bear. Yet, since they will divert my native course, 'Tis time to show I am not good by force. Those heap'd affronts that haughty subjects bring, Are burdens for a camel, not a king. Kings are the public pillars of the state, Born to sustain and prop the nation's weight; If my young Samson will pretend a call To shake the column, let him share the fall : But, oh, that yet he would repent and live! How easy 'tis for parents to forgive!
With how few tears a pardon might be won From Nature, pleading for a darling son! Poor, pitied youth, by my paternal care Rais'd up to all the height his frame could bear! Had God ordain'd his fate for empire born, He would have given his soul another turn: Gull'd with a patriot's name, whose modern sense Is one that would by law supplant his prince; The people's brave, the politician's tool; Never was patriot yet, but was a fool. Whence comes it that religion and the laws Should more be Absalom's than David's cause? His old instructor, ere he lost his place, Was never thought endued with so much grace. Good heavens, how faction can a patriot paint! My rebel ever proves my people's saint. Would they impose an heir upon the throne, Let Sanhedrims be taught to give their own. A king's at least a part of government, And mine as requisite as their consent: Without my leave a future king to choose, Infers a right the present to depose. True, they petition me to' approve their choice; But Esau's hands suit ill with Jacob's voice. My pious subjects for my safety pray, Which to secure they take my power away: From plots and treasons Heaven preserve my years, But save me most from my petitioners. Unsatiate as the barren womb or grave, God cannot grant so much, as they can crave. What then is left, but with a jealous eye To guard the small remains of royalty? The law shall still direct my peaceful sway, And the same law teach rebels to obey;