The pitied youth with sceptres in his sight,
(So have their cruel politics decreed)
Must by that crew that made him guilty, bleed!
For could their pride brook any prince's sway.
Whom but mild David would they choose to' obey?
Who once at such a gentle reign repine,
The fall of monarchy itself design ;
From hate to that their reformations spring,
And David not their grievance, but the King.
Seiz'd now with panic fear the faction lies.
Lest this clear truth strike Absalom's charm'd eyes ;
Lest he perceive, from long enchantment free,
What all beside the shatter'd vouth must see.
72 ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. Part i,\
But whate'er doubts his troubled bosom swell,
Fair carriage still became Acliitophel,
Who now an envious festival installs,
And to survey their strength the faction calls,
Which fraud, religious worship too, must gild :
But oh, how weakly does Sedition build!
For, lo ! the royal mandate issues forth.
Dashing at once their treason, zeal, and mirth !
So have I seen disastrous Chance invade,
Where careful emmets had their forage laid.
Whether fierce Vulcan's rage the furzy plain
Had seiz'd, engendei-'d by some careless swain.
Or swelling Neptune lawless inroads made.
And to their cell of store his flood convey'd;
The commonwealth, broke up, distracted go.
And in wild haste their loaded mates o'erthrow :
E'en so our scatter'd guests confus'dly meet.
With boil'd, bak'd, roast, all justling in the street.
Dejecting all, and ruefully dismay'd.
For shekel, without treat or treason paid.
Sedition's dark eclipse now fainter shows,
More bright each hour the royal planet grows.
Of force the clouds of envy to disperse,
In kind conjunction of assisting stars.
Here, labouring Muse, those glorious chiefs relate
That turn'd the doubtful scale of David's fate j
The rest of that illustrious band rehearse,
Immortaliz'd in laiirel'd Asaph's verse :
Hard task! yet will not I thy flight recal^
View Heaven, and then enjoy thy glorious fall.
First write Bezaliel, whose illustrious name
Forestals our praise, and gives his poet fame;
The Kenitc's' rocky province his command,
A barren limb of fertile Canaan's land,
Part ^2. ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. 73
Which, for its generous natives, yet could be
Held worthy such a president as he !
Bezaliel, with each grace and virtue fraught,
Serene his looks, serene his life and thought.
On whom so largely Nature heap'd her store,
There scarce remain'd for arts to give him more!
To aid the crown and state his greatest zeal,
His second care, that service to conceal ;
Of dues observant, firm to every trust.
And to the needy always more than just ;
Who truth from specious falsehood can divide,
Has all the gownsmen's skill without their pride ;
Thus crown'd with worth, from heights of honour
Sees all his glories copied in his son, [won,
Whose forward fame should every Muse engage,
Whose youth boasts skill denied to others' age ;
Men, manners, language, books of noblest kind,
Already are the conquest of his mind ;
Whose loyalty, before its date, was prime.
Nor waited the dull course of rolling time :
The monster Faction early he dismay d,
And David's cause long since confess'd his aid.
Brave Abdael o'er the prophets' school was plac'd,
Abdael, with all his father's virtue grac'd ;
A hero who, while stars look'd wondering down,
Without one Hebrew's blood restor'd the crown.
That praise was his : what therefore did remain
For following chiefs, but boldly to maintain
That crown restor'd ? and in this rank of fame
Brave Abdael, with the first, a place must claim.
Proceed, illustrious, happy Chief! proceed,
Foreseize the garlands for thy brow decreed ;
While the' inspir'd tribe attend with noblest strain,
To register the glories thou shalt gain ;
74 ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. Part 2.
For sure the dew shall Gilboah's hills forsake,
And Jordan mix his stream with Sodom's lake,
Or seas retir'd, their secret stores disclose.
And to the sun their scaly brood expose;
Or, swell'd above tlie cliffs, their billows raise,
Before the Muses leave their patron's praise.
Eliab our next labour does invite.
And hard the task to do Eliab right :
Long with the Royal wanderer he rov'd,
And finn in all the turns of fortune prov'd!
Such ancient service, and desert so large,
Well claim'd the royal household for his charge.
His age with only one mild heiress blest.
In all the bloom of smiling Nature drest ;
And blest again, to see his flower allied
To David's stock, and made young Othniel's bride ?
The bright restorer of his fatlier's youth,
Devoted to a son's and subject's truth ;
Resolv'd to bear that prize of duty home,
So bravely sought, while sought by Absalom.
Ah, prince ! the' illustrious planet of thy birth,
And thy more powerful virtue, guard thy worth,
That no Achitophel thy ruin boast ;
Israel too much in one such wreck has lost.
E'en envy must consent to Helon's worth.
Whose soul, though Egypt glories in his birth,
Could for our captive ark its zeal retain.
And Pharaoh's altars in their pomp disdain :
To slight his gods was small ; with nobler pride
He all the' allurements of his court defied ;
Whom profit nor example could betray,
But Israel's friend, and true to David's sway :
What acts of favour in his province fall,
On merit he confers, and freely all.
Part â– ^I. ABSALOM AND ACHITOPIIEL. 75
Our list of nobles next let Amri grace,
Whose merits claim'd the Abethdins' high phice j
Who with a loyalty that did excel,
Brought all the' endowments of Achitophel.
Sincere was Amri, and not only knew,
But Israel's sanctions into practice drew ;
Our laws, that did a boundless ocean seem,
Were coasted all, and fathom'd all by him :
No Kabbin speaks like him their mystic sense
So just, and with such charms of eloquence ;
To whom the double blessing does belong,
With Moses' inspiration, Aaron's tongue.
Than Sheva none more loyal zeal have shown,
Wakeful as Judah's Lion for the crown ;
Who for that cause still combats in his age.
For which his youth with danger did engage.
In vain our factious priests the cant revive,
In vain seditious scribes with libel strive
To'enflame the crowd, while he, with watchful eye^
Observes, and shoots their treasons as they fly ;
Their weekly frauds his keen replies detect ;
He undeceives more fast than they infect.
So Moses, when the pest on legions prey'd,
Advanc'd his signal, and the plague was stay'd.
Once more, my fainting Muse, thy pinions try,
And strength's exhausted store let love supply.
What tribute, Asaph, shall we render thee ?
We'll crown thee with a wreath from thy own tree !
Thy laurel grove no envy's flash can blast ;
The song of Asaph shall for ever last.
With wonder late posterity shall dwell
On Absalom and false Achitophel ;
Thy strains shall be our slumbering prophets' dream,
And when our Sion-virgins sing their theme,
76 ABSALOM A\D ACHITOPHEL. Pwt 2.
Our jubilees shall with thy verse be grac'd ;
The song of Asaph shall for ever last. [tame !
How fierce his satire, loos'd! restrain'd, how
How tender of the' olfending young man's fame !
How well his worth, and brave adventures stil'd,
Just to his virtues, to his error mild.
No page of thine that fears the strictest view.
But teems with just reproof, or praise, as due ;
Not Eden could a fairer prospect yield,
AH Paradise without one barren field;
Whose wit the censure of his foes has past ;
The song of Asaph shall for ever last.
What praise for such rich strains shall we allow ?
What just rewards the grateful Crown bestow?
"While bees in flowers rejoice, and flowers in dew,
W^liile stars and fountains to tbeir course are true ;
While Judah's throne aud Sion's rock stand fast,
The song of Asaph, and the fame, shall last.
Still Hebron's honour'd, happy soil, retains
Our Royal hero's beauteous dear remains,
Who now sails off, with winds nor wishes slack,
To bring his sufferings' bright companion back ;
But ere such transport can our sense employ,
A bitter grief must poison half our joy ;
Nor can our coasts restor'd those blessings see.
Without a bribe to envious Destiny !
Curs'd Sodom's doom for ever fix the tide
Where, by inglorious chance, the valiant died.
Give not insulting Askalon to know.
Nor let Oath's daughters triumph in our woe !
No sailor with the news swell Egypt s pride,
By what inglorious fate our valiant died !
Weep, Arnon! Jordan, weep thy fountains dry.
While Ziou's rock dissolves for a supply.
Pari 2. ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. 7T
Calm ^vere the elements, Night's silence deep,
The waves scarce murmuring, and the winds asleep ;
Yet Fate for ruin takes so still an liour,
And treacherous sands the princely bark dfivour ;
Then Death unworthy seiz'd a generous race,
To virtue's scandal, and the stars' disgrace !
Oh! had the' indulgent powers vouchsafd to yield,
Instead of faithless shelves, a listed field,
A listed field of Heaven's and David's foes.
Fierce as the troops that did his youth oppose,
Each life had on his slaughter'd heap retir'd,
Not tamely, and unconquering, thus expir'd ;
But Destiny is now their only foe,
And dying, e'en o'er that they triumph too ;
With loud last breaths their master's'scape applaud,
Of whom kind Force could scarce theFates defraud ;
Who for such followers lost, O matchless mind !
At his own safety now almost repin'd ! â€”
Say, Royal Sir, by all your fame in arms.
Your praise in peace, and by Urania's charms,
If all your sufferings past so nearly prest,
Or pierc'd with half so painful grief, your breast?
Thus some diviner Muse her hero forms,
Not sooth'd with soft delights, but toss'd in storms;
Nor stretch'd on roses in the myrtle-grove,
Nor crowns liis days with mirth,his nights with love;
But far remov'd, in thundering camps is found,
His slumbers short, his bed the herbless ground ;
In tasks of danger always seen the first,
Feeds from the hedge, and
Long must his patience strive with Fortune's rage,
And long opposing gods themselves engage ;
Must see his country flame, his friends destroy'd,
Before the promis'd empire be enjoy'd :
78 ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. Part 2.
Such toil of fate must build a man of fame,
And such, to Israel's crown, the godlike David
What sudden beams dispel the clouds so fast,
Whose drenching rains laid all our vineyards waste?
The Spring, so far behind her course delay'd,
On the' instant is in all her bloom array'd ;
The winds breathe low, the element serene,
Yet mark what motion in the waves is seen !
Thronging and busy as Hyblcean swarms,
Or straggled soldiers summon'd to their arms.
See where the princely bark in loosest pride,
With all her guardian fleet, adorns the tide :
High on her deck the Royal lovers stand.
Our crimes to pardon e'er they touch'd our land.
Welcome to Israel and to David's breast!
Here all your toils, here all your sufferings, rest.
This year did Ziloah rule Jerusalem,
And boldly all Sedition's syrtes stem,
Howe'er incumber'd with a viler pair
Than Ziph or Shimei, to assist the chair :
Yet Ziloah's loyal labours so prevail'd.
That Faction at the next election fail'd ;
When e'en the common cry did Justice sound,
And Merit by the multitude was crown'd :
With David then was Israel's peace restor'd,
Crowds moum'd their error, and obey'd their lord.
a Satire againgit ^enttiott,
EPISTLE TO THE WHIGS.
For to whom can I dedicate this Poem with so
much justice as to you ? It is the representation of
your own hero ; it is the picture drawn at length,
which you admire and prize so much in little'.
None of your ornaments are wanting ; neither the
landscape of the Tower, nor the Rising Sun ; nor
the anno domini of your new sovereign's corona-
tion. This must needs be a grateful undertaking
to your whole party, especially to those who have
not been so happy as to purchase the original. I
hear the graver has made a good market of it : all
his kings are bought up already ; or the value of
the remainder so enhanced, that many a poor
Polander^, who would be glad to worship the
1 On the Jury's refusing to find a bill against Lord Shaftes-
bury for high-treason, in Nov. 168I, a medal was struck to
commemorate the event, which gave occasion to Dryden's
satire. A " picture in little," means a miniature. See
2 Shaftesbury was said to entertain hopes that he should
be elected King of Poland.
â‚¬0 EPISTLE TO THE WHIGS.
image, is not able to go to the cost of him, but
must be content to see him here. I must confess
I am no great artist ; but sign-post painting will
serve the turn to remember a friend by, especially
when better is not to be had : yet, for your com-
fort, the lineaments are true ; and though he sat
not five times to me, as he did to B.^ yet I have
consulted history, as the Italian painters do, when
they would draw a Nero or a Caligula ; though
they have not seen the man, they can help their
imagination by a statue of him, and find out the
colouring from Suetonius and Tacitus. Truth is,
you might have spared one side of your Medal :
the head would be seen to more advantage if it
were placed on a spike of the Tower, a little
nearer to the sun, which would then break out to
You tell us, in your Preface to the No-pro testant
Plot^, that you shall be forced hereafter to leave
off your modesty. I suppose you mean that little
which is left you ; for it was worn to rags when
you put out this Medal. Never was there prac-
tised such a piece of notorious impudence in the
face of an established government. I believe,
when he is dead, you will wear him in thumb-
rings, as the Turks did Scanderbeg; as if there
were virtue in his bones to preserve you against
monarchy. Yet all this while you pretend not
only zeal for the public good, but a due veneration
for the person of the King. But all men, who
can see an inch before them, may easily detect
" George Bower, a medallic engraver.
< A tnut in three parts, printed in l68?.
EPISTLE TO THE WHIGS. Â«1
those gross fallacies. That it is necessary for men
in your circumstances to pretend both, is granted
you ; for without them there could be no ground
to raise a faction. But I would ask you one civil
question, What right has any man among you, or
any association of men, (to come nearer to you)
who out of parliament cannot be considered in a
public capacity, to meet, as you daily do, in fac-
tious clubs, to vilify the government in your dis-
courses, and to libel it in all your w ritings ? Who
made you judges in Israel ? or how is it consistent
with your zeal for the public welfare to promote
sedition ? Does your definition of loyal, which is
to serve the King according to the laws, allow you
the licence of traducing the executive power with
which you own he is invested ? You complain that
his Majesty has lost the love and confidence of his
people ; and, by your very urging it, you endea-
vour what in you lies to make him lose them. All
good subjects abhor the thought of arbitrary
power, whether it be in one or many : if you were
the patriots you would seem, you would not, at
this rate, incense the multitude to assume it ; for
no sober man can fear it, either from the King's
disposition or his practice, or even, where you
w ould odiously lay it, from his ministers. Give us
leave to enjoy the government, and benefit of laws
under which we were born, and which we desire
to transmit to our posterity. You are not the
trustees of the public liberty ; and, if you have
not right to petition in a crowd, much less have
you to intermeddle in the management of affaiis,
or to arraign what you do not like ; which, in
effect, is every thing that is done by the King and
8'i EPISTLE TO THE WHIGS.
council. Can you imagine that any reasonable
man will believe you respect the person of his
Majesty, when it is apparent that your seditious
pamphlets are stuffed with particular reflections on
him? If you have the confidence to deny this, it
is easy to be evinced from a thousand passages,
which I only forbear to quote, because I desire
they should die and be forgotten. I have perused
many of your papers ; and to show you that I
have, the third part of your " No-protestant Plot"
is much of it stolen from your dead author's pam-
phlet, called "The Growth of Popery'"'; as mani-
festly as Milton's "Defence of the English People"
is from Buchanan, " DeJureRegni apud Scotos;" or
j'our first Covenant, and New Association, from
the Holy League of the French Guisards. Any
one who reads Davila, may trace your practices
all along. There were the same pretences for
reformation and loyalty, the same aspersions of
the King, and the same grounds of a rebellion. I
know not whether you will take the historian's
word, who says it was reported that Poltrot, a
huguenot, murdered Francis Duke of Guise, by the
instigations of Theodore Beza; or that it was a
huguenot minister, otherwise called a presbyterian
(for our church abhors so devilish a tenet), who
first writ a treatise of the lawfulness of deposing
and murdering kings of a different persuasion in
religion. But I am able to prove, from the doc-
trine of Calvin, and principles of Buchanan, that
they set the people above the magistrate ; which,
if I mistake not, is your own fundamental; and
5 Written by .Ajidiew Marvel, and published in ifi'S.
EPISTLE TO THE WHIGS. 83
which carries your loyalty no farther than your
liking. When a vote of the House of Commons
goes on your side, you are-as ready to observe it
as if it were passed into a law; but when you are
pinched with any former and yet unrepealed act
of parliament, you declare that, in some cases, you
will not be obliged by it. The passage is in the
same third part of the "No-pFotestant Plot," and
is too plain to be denied. The late copy of your
intended Association you neither wholly justify
nor condemn ; but as the Papists, when they are
unopposed, fly out into all the pageantries of wor-
ship, but, in times of war, when they are hard-
pressed by arguments, lie close intrenched behind
the council of Trent ; so now, when your affairs
are in a low condition, you dare not pretend that
to be a legal combination ; but whensoever you
are afloat, I doubt not but it will be maintained
and justified to purpose : for indeed there is
nothing to defend it but the sword. 'Tis the
proper time to say any thing, when men have all
things in their power.
In the mean time you would fain be nibbling at
a parallel betwixt this Association and that in the
time of Queen Elizabeth'': but there is this small
difference betwixt them, that the ends of the one
are directly opposite to the other ; one with the
Queen's approbation and conjunction, as head of
it, the other without either the consent or know-
ledge of the King, against whose authority it is
manifestly designed. Therefore you do well to
have recourse to your last evasion, that it was
Â« In 1584. See Camden's History of Elizabeth.
81 EPISTLE TO THE AVHIGS.
contrived by your enemies, and shuffled into the
papers tliat were seized ; which yet yon sec the
nation is not so easy to believe as your own jury.
But the matter is not difficult, to find twelve men
in Newgate who would acquit a malefactor.
I have one only favour to desire of you at part-
ing ; that, when you think of answering this Poem,
you would employ the same pens against it who
have combated, with so much success, against
" Absalom and Achitophel ;" for then you may
assure yourselves of a clear victory, without the
least reply. Rail at me abundantly; and, not to
break a custom, do it without wit : by this method
you will gain a considerable point, which is, wholly
to wave the answer of my arguments. Never own
the bottom of your principles, for fear they should
be treason. Fall severely on the miscarriages of
government; for if scandal be not allowed, you
are no free-born subjects. If God has not blessed
you with the talent of rhyming, make use of my
poor stock, and welcome ; let your verses run upon
my feet ; and, for the utmost refuge of notorious
blockheads, reduced to the last extremity of sense,
turn my own lines upon me, and, in utter despair
of your own satire, make me satirize myself. Some
of you have been driven to this bay already: but,
above all the rest, commend me to the non-con-
formist parson who writ the "Whip and Key."
I am afraid it is not read so much as the piece
deserves, because the bookseller is every week
crying help, at the end of his Gazette, to get it
oft". You see I am cliaritable enough to do him a
kindness, that it may be published as well as
printed ; and that so much skill in Hebrew dcri-
EPISTLE TO THE ^YHIG3. 8J
vations may not lie for waste-paper in the shop.
Yet, I half suspect he went no farther for his
learning, than the index of Hebrew names and
etymologies, which is printed at the end of some
English Bibles. If AchitopheF signify the * Bro-
ther of a Fool,' the author of that poem will pass
with his readers for the next of kin ; and, perhaps,
it is the relation that makes the kindness. What-
ever the verses are, buy them up, I beseech you,
out of pity : for I hear the Conventicle is shut up,
and the brother of Achitophel out of service.
Now footmen, you know, have the generosity
to make a purse for a member of their society
who has had his livery pulled over his ears ; and
even Protestant socks are bought up among you,
out of veneration to the name. A dissenter in
poetry from sense and English, will make as good
a Protestant-rhymer, as a dissenter from the church
of England a Protestant-parson : besides, if you
encourage a young beginner, who knows but he
may elevate his style a little above the vulgar
epithets of " Profane and Saucy Jack," and
" Atheistic Scribbler," with which he treats me,
when the fit of enthusiasm is strong upon him ?
by which well-mannered and charitable expres-
sions, I was certain of his sect before I knew his
name. What would you have more of a man ?
He has damned me in your cause from Genesis to
the Revelations ; and has half the texts of both
the Testaments against me, if you will be so civil
to yourselves as to take him for your interpreter,
7 The anonymous author of two scunilons poems, calle*!
" A Whip," and " A Key,'* thus expounded the derivation of
Achitophel: Achi, my brother; and tophcl, a fool.
VOL. II, G
86 EPISTLE TO THE WHIGS.
and not to take them for Irish witnesses. After
all, perhaps yon will tell me that you retained
him only for the opeiling of your cause, and that
your main lawyer is yet behind : now, if it so
happen he meet with no more reply than his pre-
decessors, you may either conclude that I trust to
the goodness of my cause, or fear my adversary,
or disdain him, or what you please ; for the short
on't is, it is indifferent to your humble servant,
whatever your party says or thinks of him.
a Satire against ^enttion.
Per Giaium popiilos, mediaeque per Elidis urbem,
Ibat ovaiis, Divumque sibi poscebat houorein.
Of all our antic sights and pageantry,
Which English idiots run in crowds to see,
The Polish Medal * bears the prize alone, "^
A monster, more the favourite of the Town ^
Than either fairs or theatres have shown. )
Never did Art so well with Nature strive,
Nor ever idol seem'd so much alive ;
So like the man, so golden to the sight,
So base within, so counterfeit and light:
One side is fill'd with title and with face;
And, lest the king should want a regal place,
On the reverse a Tower the town surveys.
O'er which our mounting sun his beams displays.
The word, pronounc'd aloud by shrieval voice,
Lcetamurj which, in Polish, is Rejoice.
The day, month, year, to the great act are join'd,
And a new canting holiday design'd.
Five days he sat, for every cast and look.
Four more than God to finish Adam took :
1 Mr. Malone describes this medal as bearing on one side
the head of Shaftesbury ; on the reverse, a view of the city
of London with a rising sun ; and in the exergue the word
Latamur, with the date 24 Nov. 168I. Mr. Scott, in his
edition of Dryden's Works, has inserted an engraved repre-
sentation of the Medal.
88 THE MEDAL.
But who can tell \vhat essence angels arc,
Or how long Heaven was making Lucifer?
Oh, could the style that copied every grace,
And plough'd such furrows for an eunuch-face.
Could it have fomi'd his ever-changing will,
The various piece had tir'd the graver's skill I
A martial hero first, with early care.
Blown, like a pigmy by the winds, to warj
A beardless chief, a rebel ere a man,
So young his hatred to his prince began.