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THE FIRST BOOK
I sing the man who Judahs scepter bore,
In that right hand which held the crook before.
Who from best poet, best of kings did grow,
The two chief gifts heav’n could on Man bestow.
Much danger first, much toil did he sustain, 5
Whilst Saul and Hell crost his strong fate in vain.
Nor did his crown less painful work afford,
Less exercise his patience or his sword,
So long her conque’ror Fortunes spight pursu’ed,
Till with unwearied virtue he subdue’d 10
All homebred malice, and all foreign boasts.
Their strength was armies, his the Lord of Hosts.
Thou who didst Davids royal stem adorn,
And gav’st him birth from whom Thyself was’t born,
Who didst in triumph at Deaths court appear, 15
And slew’st him with Thy nails, Thy cross and spear,
While Hells black tyrant trembled to behold
The glorious light he forfeited of old,
Who, heav’ens glad burden now, and justest pride,
Sits high enthron’ed next Thy great Fathers side, 20
(Where hallowed flames help to adorn that head
Which once the blushing thorns invironed,
Till crimson drops of pretious blood hung down
Like rubies to enrich Thine humble crown).
Ev’en Thou my breast with such blest rage inspire, 25
Guid my bold steps with Thine old trav’elling flame,
In these untrodden paths to sacred fame.
Lo, with pure hands Thy heav’enly fires to take,
My well-chang’d Muse I a chaste vestal make!
From earths vain joys and loves soft witchcraft free, 30
I consecrate my Magdalene to Thee.
Lo, this great work, a temple to thy praise, proof
On polisht pillars of strong verse I raise!
A temple, where if Thou vouchsafe to dwell,
It Solomons and Herods shall excel. 35
Too long the Muses lands have heathen bin,
Their gods too long were dev’ils, and vertues sin.
But Thou, eternal Word, hast call’ed forth mee,
Th’ apostle, to convert that world to Thee,
T’ unbind the charms that in slight fables lie, 40
And teach that truth is truest poesie.
The malice now of jealous Saul grew less,
Orecome by constant virtue and success.
He grew at last more weary to command
New dangers, then young David to withstand 45
Or conquer them. He fear’d his mastring fate,
And envy’ed him a kings unpowerful hate.
Well did he know how palms by oppression speed,
Victorious, and the victors sacred meed.
The burden lifts them higher. Well did he know 50
How a tame stream does wild and dangerous grow
By unjust force. He now with wanton play
Kisses the smiling banks, and glides away,
But his known channel stopt, begins to roare,
And swell with rage, and buffet the dull shore. 55
His mutinous waters hurry to the war,
And troops of waves come rolling from afar.
Then scorns he such weak stops to his free source,
And overruns the neighboring fields with violent course.
This knew the tyrant, and this useful thought 60
His wounded mind to health and temper brought.
His old kind vows to David did renew,
Swore constancy, and meant his oath for true.
A general joy at this glad news appear’d,
For David all men lov’d, and Saul they fear’d. 65
Angels and men did peace and David love,
But Hell did neither him nor that approve.
From Mans aggreement fierce alarms they take,
And quiet here does there new business make.
Beneath the silent chambers of the earth, 70
Where the suns fruitful beams give metals birth,
Where he the growth of fatal gold does see,
Gold which above more influence has than hee.
Beneath the dens where unstretcht tempests lye,
And infant winds their tender voyces try, 75
Beneath the might oceans wealthy caves,
Beneath th’ aeternal fountain of all waves,
Where their vast court the mother-waters keeps,
And, undisturb’d by moons, in silence sleep,
There is a place deep, wondrous deep below, 80
Which genuine night and horror does o’reflow.
No bound controls th’ unwearied space but Hell,
Endless as those dire pains that in it dwell.
Here no dear glimpse of the suns lovely face
Strikes through the solid darkness of the place. 85
No dawning morn does her kind reds display,
One slight weak beam would here be throught the day.
No gentle stars with their fair gems of light
Offend the tyrannous and unquestion’d night.
Here Lucifer, the mighty captive, reigns, 90
Proud midst his woes, and tyrant in his chains,
Once general of a guilded host of springs,
Like Hesper, leading forth the spangled nights.
But down like lightning, which him strook, he came,
And roard at his first plunge into the flame. 95
Myriads of spirits fell wounded round him there,
With dropping lights thick shone the singed aire.
Since when the dismal solace of their wo
Has onely been weak mankind to undo.
Themselves at first against themselves they excite 100
(Their dearest conquest, and most proud delight),
And if those mines of secret treason fail,
With open force Mans vertue they assail.
Unable to corrupt, seek to destroy,
And where their poysons miss, the sword employ. 105
Thus sought the tyrant fiend young Davids fall,
And ’gainst him arm’d the pow’rful rage of Saul.
He saw the beauties of his shape and face,
His female sweetness, and his manly grace.
He saw the nobler wonders of his mind, 110
Great gifts, which for great works he knew design’d.
He saw (t’ashame the strength of Man and Hell)
How by’s young hands their Gathite champion fell. (Goliath
He saw the reverend prophet boldly shed
The royal drops around his enlarged head, 115
And well new knew what legacy did place
The sacred scepter in blest Judahs race,
From which th’ aeternal Shilo was to spring,
A knowledge which new Hells to Hell did bring!
And though no less he knew himself too weak 120
The smallest link of strong-wrought Fate to break,
Yet would he rage and struggle with the chain,
Loved to rebel, though sure that ’twas in vain.
And now it broke his form’d design to find
The gentle change of Sauls recov’ring mind. 125
He trusted much in Saul, and raged and griev’d
(The great Deceiver) to be himself deceiv’d.
Thrice did he knock his iron teeth, thrice howl,
And into frowns his wrathful forehead rowl.
His eyes dart forth red flames which scare the night, 130
And with worse fires the trembling ghosts affright.
A troop of gastly fiends compass him round,
And greedily catch at lips fear’d sound.
“Are we such nothings then (said he), our will
Crost by a shepherds boy? And you yet still 135
Play with your idle serpents here? Dares none
Attempt what becomes Furies? Are ye grown
Benumb’d with fear, or vertues springtless cold,
You who were once (I’m sure) so brave and bold?
Oh my ill-chang’d condition! Oh my fate! 140
Did I lose heav’n for this?”
With that, with his long tail he lasht his brest,
And horribly spoke out in looks the rest.
The quaking pow’rs of night stood in amaze,
And at each other first could onely gaze. 145
A dreadful silence fill’d the hollow place,
Doubling the native terror of Hells face.
Rivers of flaming brimstone, which before
So loudly rag’d, crept softly by the shore.
No hiss of snakes, no clanck of chains was knowne, 150
The souls amindst their tortures durst not groane.
Envy at last crawls forth from that dire throng,
Of all the direfulst. Her black locks hung long,
Attir’d with curling serpents. Her pale skin
Was almost dropt from the sharp bones within, 155
And at her breast stuck vipers, which did prey
Upon her panting heart both night and day,
Sucking black blood from thence, which to repaire
Both night and day they left fresh poysons there.
Her garments were deep stain’d in humane gore, 160
And torn by her own hands, in which she bore
A knotted whip and bowl, that to the brim
Did with green gall and juice of wormwood swim.
With which when she was drunk, she furious grew,
And lasht herself. Thus from th’ accursed crew 165
Envy, the worst of fiends, herself presents,
Envy, good onely when she herself torments.
“Spend not, great king, thy pretious rage (said she)
Upon so poor a cause. Shall mighty we
The glory of our wrath to him afford? 170
Are we not Furies still, and you our lord?
At thy dread anger the fixt world shall shake,
And frighted Nature her own laws forsake.
Do thou but threat, loud storms shall make reply,
And thunder eccho it to the trembling sky, 175
Whilst raging seas swell to so bold an height
As shall the fires proud element affright.
Th’ old drudging sun from his long-beaten way
Shall at thy voyce start, and misguid the day.
The jocond orbs shall break theair measur’d pace, 180
And stubborn poles change their allotted place.
Heav’n guilded troops shall flutter here and there,
Leaving their boasting songs tun’d to a sphere.
Nay, ther God too — for fear He did, when we
Took noble arms against Hs tyrannie, 185
So noble arms, and in a cause so great,
That triumphs they deserve for their defeat.
There was a day! Oh might I see ’t again,
Though he had worser flames to thrust us in!
And can such pow’rs be by a child withstood? 190
Will slings, alas, or peebles do him good?
What th’ untam’d lyon, whet with hunger too,
And gyants could not, that my word shall do.
I’ll soon dissolve this peace. Where Sauls new love
(But Saul we know) great as my hate shall prove, 195
Before their sun twice more be gone about,
I and my faithful snakes would drive it out.
By me Cain offer’d up his brothers gore,
A sacrifice far worse then that before.
I saw him sling the stone, as if he meant 200
At once his murder and his monument,
And laught to see (for ’twas a goodly show)
The earth by her first tiller fatned so.
I drove proud Pharaoh to the parted sea,
He and his host drank up cold death by me. 205
By me rebellious arms fierce Corah took,
And Moses (curse upon that name!) forsook.
Hither (ye know) almost alive he came
Through the cleft earth. Ours was his funeral flame.
By me — but I lose time, methinks, and should 210
Perform new acts whilst I relate the old.
David’s the next our fury must enjoy.
’Tis not thy God Himself shall save thee, boy.
No, if he do, may the world have peace,
May all ill actions, all ill fortune cease, 215
And banisht from this potent court below,
May I a ragged, contemn’d vertue grow.”
She spoke. All star’d at first and made a pause,
But straight the general murmur of applause
Ran through deaths courts. She frown’d still, and begun 220
To envy at the praise herself had won.
Great Bezlebub starts from his burning throne
T’ embrace the fiend, but she, now furious grown
To act her part, thrice bow’d, and thence she fled.
The snakes all hist, the fiends all murmured. 225
It was the time when silent night began
T’ enchain with sleep the busie spirits of Man.
And Saul himself, though in his troubled brest
The weight of empire lay, took gentle rest.
So did not Envy, but with haste arose, 230
And as through Israel’s stately towns she goes,
She frowns and shakes her head. “Thine own (says she)
Ruines ere long shall your sole mon’ments be.”
The silver moon with terrour paler grew,
And neighb’ring Hermon sweated flow’ry dew. 235
Swift Jordan started, and straight backward fled,
Hiding among thick reeds his aged head.
Lo, at her entrance Sauls strong palace shook,
And nimbly there the reverend shape she took
Of Father Benjamen. So long her beard, 240
So larger her limbs, so grave her looks appear’d,
Just like his statue which bestrid Sauls gate,
And seem’d to guard the race it did create.
In this known form she approacht the tyrants side,
And thus her words the sacred form bely’d. 245
“Arise, lost King of Israel. Can’st thou lie
Dead in this sleep, and yet thy last so nigh?
If King thou be’est, if Jesses race as yit
Sit not on Israels throne! And shall he sit?
Did ye for this from fruitful Egypt fly, 250
From this the mild brickhils nobler slavery?
For this did seas your pow’rful rod obey?
Did wonders guide and feed you on your way?
Could ye not there great Pharaohs bondage beare,
You who can serve a boy and minstrel here? 255
Forbid it, God, if Thou be’st just. This shame
Cast not on Sauls, on mine, and Israels name.
Why was I else from Canaans famine lead?
Happy, thrice happy had there been dead
Ere my full loyns discharg’d this num’rous race, 260
This luckless tribe, ev’n crown’d to their disgrace!
Ah Saul, thy servants vassal must thou live?
Place to his harp must thy dread scepter give?
What wants he now but that? Can’st thou forget
(If thou be’st man, thou can’st not) how they met 265
The youth with songs? Alas, poor monarch, you
Your thousand onely, he ten thousand slew.
Him Israel loves, him neighb’ring countreys fear,
You but the name and empty title bear.
And yet the traytor lives, lives in thy court, 270
The court that must be his, where he shall sport
Himself with all thy concubines, thy gold,
Thy costly robes, thy crown. Wert thou not told
This by proud Samuel, when at Gilgal he
With bold false threats from God affronted thee? 275
The dotard ly’d. God said it not, I know,
Not Baal or Moloch would have us’d thee so.
Was not the choice his own? Did not thy worth
Exact the royal lot, and call it forth?
Hast thou not since (my best and greatest sonne) 280
To him and to his perishing nation done
Such lasting benefits as may justly claime
A scepter as aeternal as thy fame?
Poor prince, whom madmen, priests, and boys invade!
By thine own flesh, thy ingrateful son, betray’d! 285
Unnat’ral fool, who can thus cheated be
By friendships name against a crown and thee!
Betray not too thyself, take courage, call
Thy enchanted vertues forth, and be whole Saul.
Lo, this great cause makes thy dead fathers rise, 290
Break the firm seals of their clos’d tombs and eyes.
Nor can their jealous ashes, whilst this boy
Survives, the priv’ledge of their graves enjoy.
Rise quickly, Saul, and take that rebels breath
Which troubles thus thy live, and ev’n our death. 295
Kill him, and thou’rt secure. ’Tis onely hee
That’s boldly interpos’d ’twixt God and thee,
As earths low globe robs the high noon of light.
When this eclypse is past, thy fate’s all bright.
Trust me, dear son, and credit what I tell. 300
I’ve seen thy royal stars and know them well.
Hence fears and dull delays! Is not thy brest
(Yes, Saul, it is) with noble thoughts possest?
May they beget like acts!” With that she takes
One of her worst, her best beloved snakes. 305
“Softly, dear worm, soft and unseen (said she)
Into his bosom steal, and in it be
My vice-roy.” At that word she took her flight,
And her loose shape dissolv’d into the night.
The infected King leapt from his bed amaz’d, 310
Scarce knew himself at first, but round him gaz’d,
And started back at piec’d-up shapes, which feare
And his distracted fancy painted there.
Terror froze up his hair, and on his face
Show’rs of cold sweat roll’d trembling down apace. 315
Then, knocking with his angry hands his brest,
Earth with his feet, he cries, “Oh ’tis confest,
I’ve been a pious fool, a woman-king,
Wrong’d by a seer, a boy, everything.
Eight hundred years of death is not so deep, 320
So unconcern’d as my lethargick sleep.
My patience ev’n a sacriledge becomes,
Disturbs the dead, and opes their sacred tombs.
Ah Benjamin, kind father! Who for me
This cursed world endur’st again to see! 325
All thou hast said, great vision, is so true,
That all which though comand’st and more I’ll do.
Kill him? Yes, mighty ghost, the wretch shall dy,
Though every star in heav’n should it deny,
Nor mock th’ assault of our just wrath again, 330
Had he ten times his fam’d ten thousand slain.
Should that bold popular madman, whose design
Is to revenge his own disgrace by mine,
Should my ingrateful son oppose th’ intent,
Should mine own heart grow scrup’lous and relent, 335
Curse me, just heaven (by which this truth I sweare),
If I that seer, my son, or self do spare.
No gentle ghost, return to thy still home.
Thither this day mine, and my foe shall come.
If that curst object longer vex my sight, 340
It must have learnt to appear as thou tonight.”
Whilst thus his wrath with threats the tyrant fed,
The threatned youth slept fearless on his bed.
Sleep on, rest quiet as thy conscience take,
For though thou sleep’st thyself, thy God’s awake. 345
Above the subtle foldings of the sky,
Above the well-set orbs soft harmony,
Above those petty lamps that guild the night,
There is a place o’reflown with hallowed light,
Where heaven, as if it left itself behind, 350
Is stretcht out far, nor its own bounds can find.
Here peaceful flames swell up the sacred place,
Nor can the glory contain itself in th’ endless space.
For there no twilight of the suns dull ray
Glimmers upon the pure and native day. 355
No pale-fac’d moon does in stoln beams appeare,
Or with dim taper scatters darkness there.
On no smooth sphear the restless seasons slide,
No circling motion doth swift time divide.
Nothing is there to come, and nothing past, 360
But an eternal Now does always last.
There sits th’ Almighty, first of all and end,
Whom nothing but Himself can comprehend,
Who with His Word commanded all to bee,
And all obey’d him, for that Word was Hee. 365
Onely He spoke, and everything that is
From out the womb of fertile Nothing ris.
Oh who shall tell, who shall describe thy throne,
Thou great Three-one?
There Thou Thyself dost in full presence show, 370
Not absent from these meaner worlds below.
No, if Thou wert, the elements league would cease,
And all Thy creatures break thy Natures peace.
The sun would stop his course, or gallop back,
The stars drop out, the poles themselves would crack. 375
Earths strong foundations would be torn in twain,
And this vast work all ravel out again
To its first Nothing. For His spirit contains
The well-knit mass, from Him each creature gains
Being and motion, which He still bestows, 380
And from him th’ effect of our weak action flows.
Round Him vast armies of swift angels stand,
Which seven triumphant generals command.
They sing loud anthemes of His endless praise,
And with fixt eyes drink in immortal rayes. 385
Of these He call’d out one. All heav’n did shake,
And silence kept while its Creator spake.
“Are we forgotten, then, so soon? Can he
Look on his crown and not remember Me
That gave it? Can he think We did not hear 390
(Fond man!) his threats? And have We made the ear
To be accounted deaf? No, Saul We heard,
And it will cost thee dear. The ills thou’st fear’d,
Practis’d, or thought on, I’ll all double send.
Have We not spoke it, and dares Man contend? 395
Alas, poor dust! Did’st thou but know the day
When thou must lie in blood at Gilboa,
Thou and thy sons, thou would’st not threaten still,
Thy trembling tongue would stop against thy will.
Then shall thine head fixt in curst temples bee, 400
And all their foolish gods shall laugh at thee.
That hand which now on Davids life would prey
Shall then turn just, and its own master slay.
He whom thou hat’st on thy lov’d throne shall sit,
And expiate the disgrace thou do’st to it. 405
Hast then. Tell David what his King has sworn,
Tell him whose blood must paint this rising morn.
Yet bid him go securely when he sends.
’Tis Saul that is his foe, and We his friends.
The man who has his God no ayd can lack, 410
And We Who bid him go will bring him back.”
He spoke. The heavens seem’d decently to bow,
With all their bright inhabitants. And now
The jocond sphaeres began again to play,
Again each spirit sung Halleluia. 415
Onely that angel was strait gon. Ev’n soe
(But not so swift) the morning glories flow
At once from the bright sun and strike the ground.
So winged lightning the soft ayr does wound,
Slow time admires, and knows not what to call 420
The motion, having no account so small.
So flew this angel, till to Davids bed
He came, and thus his sacred message said.
“Awake, young man, hear what thy King has sworn.
He swore thy blood should paint this rising morn. 425
Yet to him go securely when he sends,’
This Saul that is your Foe, and God your friends.
The man who has his God no aid can lack,
And He who bids thee go will bring thee back.”
Up leapt Jessides, and did round him stare, 430
But could see nought, for nought was left but aire.
Whilst this great vision labours in his thought,
Lo, the short prophesie t’ effect is brought.
In treacherous haste he’s sent for to the King,
And with him bid his charmful lyre to bring. 435
The King, they say, lies raging in a fit,
Which does no cure but sacred tunes admit.
And true it was, soft musick did appease
Th’ obscure fantastick rage of Sauls disease.
Tell me, o Muse (for thou or none can’st tell 440
The mystick pow’rs that in best numbers dwell,
Thou their great naure know’st, nor is it fit
This noble gem of thine own crown t’ omit).
Tell me from whence these heav’nly charms arise,
Teach the dull world t’ admire what they despise. 445
At first a various unform’d hint we find
Rise in some god-like poets fertile mind,
Till all the parts and words their places take,
And with just marches verse and musick make.
Such was Gods poem, this worlds new essay, 450
So wild and rude in its first draught it lay.
Th’ ungovern’d parts no correspondence knew,
An artless war from thwarting motions grew,
Till they to number and fixt rules were brought
By the aeternal Minds poetick thought. 455
Water and air He for the tenor chose,
Earth made the base, the treble flame arose.
To th’ active moon a quick brisk stroke he gave,
To Saturns string a touch more soft and grave.
The motions straight and round, and swift and slow, 460
And short and long, were mixt and woven so,
Did in such artful figures smoothly fall,
As made this decent measur’d dance of all.
And this is musick, sounds that charm our ears,
Is but one dressing that rich science wears. 465
Though no man hear’t, though man it reherse,
Yet will there still be musick in my verse.
In this great world so much of it we see,
The lesser, Man, is all o’re harmonie.
Storehouse of all proporitons! Single quire! 470
Which first Gods breath did tunefully inspire!
From hence blest musicks heav’nly charms arise,
From sympathy which them and Man allies.
Thus they our souls, thus they our bodies win,
Not by their force, but party that’s within. 475
Thus the strange cure on our spilt blood apply’d,
Sympathy to the distant wound does guid.
Thus when too brethren strings are set alike,
To move them both but one of them we strike.
Thus Davids lyre did Sauls wild rage controul, 480
And tun’d the harsh disorders of his soul.
When Israel was from bondage led,
Led by th’ Almighties hand
From out a foreign land,
The great sea beheld and fled. 485
As men pursu’d, when that fear past they find,
Stop on some higher ground to look behind,
So whilst through wondrous ways
The sacred army went,
The waves afar stood up to gaze, 490
And their own rocks did represent,
Solid as waters are above the firmament.
Old Jordans waters to their spring
Start back with sudden fright.
The spring amaz’d at sight, 495
Asks what news from sea they bring.
The mountains shook, and to the mountains side
The little hills leapt round themselves to hide,
As young affrighted lambs
When they ought dreadful spy, 500
Run trembling to their helpless dams,
The mighty sea and river by
Were glad for their excuse to see the hills to fly.
What ail’d the mighty sea to flee?
Or why did Jordans tide 505
Back to his fountain glide?
Jordans tide, what ailed thee?
Why leapt the hills? Why did the mountains shake?
What ail’d them their fixt natures to forsake?
Fly where thou wilt, o sea, 510
And Jordans currant cease!
Jordan, there is no need for thee,
For at Gods word, whene’re He please,
The rocks shall weep new waters forth instead of these.
Thus sung the great musician to his lyre, 515
And Sauls black rage grew softly to retire.
But Envys serpent still with him remain’d,
And the wise charmers healthful voyce disdain’d.
Th’ unthankful King, cur’d truly of his fit,
Seems to lie drown’d and buried still in it. 520
From his past madness draws this wicked use,
To sin disguis’d, and murder with excuse.
For whilst the fearless youth his cure pursues,
And the soft medicine with kind art renews,
The barb’rous patient casts at him his spear 525
(The usual scepter that rough hand did bear),
Casts it with violent strength. But into th’ roome
An arm more strong and sure then his was come,
An angel whose unseen and easie might
Put by the weapon, and misled it right. 530
How vain Mans pw’r is! Unless God command,
The weapon disobeys his masters hand!
Happy was now the error of the blow,
At Gilboa it will not serve him so.
One would have thought Sauls sudden rage t’ have seen, 535
He had himself by David wounded been.
He scorn’d to leave what he did ill begin,
And thought honor now engag’d ’ th’ sin.
A bloody troop of his own guards he sends
(Slaves to his will and falsly call’d his friends) 540
To mend his error by a surer blow.
So ordain’d, but God ordain’d not so.
Home flies the prince, and to his trembling wife
Relates the new-past hazard of his life,
Which she with decent passion hears him tell, 545
For not her own fair eyes she lov’d so well.
Upon their palace top beneath a row
Of lemon trees which there did proudly grow,
And with bright stores of golden fruit repay
The light they drank from the suns neighb’ring ray 550
(A small but artful paradise) they walk’d,
And hand in hand sad gentle things they talk’d.
Here Michol first an armed troop espied
(So faithful and so quick are loving eyes),
Which marcht, and often glister’d through a wood 555
That on right hand of her fair palace stood.
She saw them and cry’d out, “They’re come to kill
My dearest lord. Sauls spear pursues thee still.
Behold his wicked guards. Haste quickly, fly,
For heavens sake haste. My dear lord, do not dy. 560
Ah, cruel Father, whose ill-natur’d rage
Neither thy worth nor marriage can asswage!
Will he part those he joyn’d so late before?
Were the two-hundred foreskins worth no more?
He shall not part us. (Then she wept between.) 565
At yonder window thou maist scape unseen.
This hand shall let thee down. Stay not, but hast,
’Tis not mu use to send thee hence so fast.”
“Best of all women — ” he replies. And this
Scarce spoke, she stops his answer with a kiss. 570
“Throw not away (said she) thy precious breath,
Thou stay’st too long within the reach of death.”
Timely he obeys her wise advice, and streit
To unjust force she opposes just deceit.
Shee meets the murd’rers with a vertuous lye, 575
And good dissembling tears.“May he not dy
In quiet then? (said she) Will they not give
That freedom who so fear least he should live?
Even fate does with your cruelty conspire,
And spares your guilt, yet does what you desire. 580
Must he not live? For that ye need not sin.
My much-wrong’d husband speechless lies within,
And has too little left of vital breath
To know his murdersrs, or to feel his death.
One hour will do your work — ” 585
Here her well-govern’d tears dropt down apace.
Beauty and sorrow mingled in one face
Hath such resistless charms that they believe,
And an unwilling aptness find to grieve
At what they came for. A pale statues head, 590
In linnen wrapt, appear’d on Davids bed.
Two servants mournful stand and silent by,
And on the table med’cinal reliques ly.
In the close room a wel-plac’d tapers light
Adds a becoming horror to the sight. 595
And for th’ impression God prepar’d their sence,
They saw, beleiv’d all this, and parted thence.
How vain attempts Sauls unblest anger tryes,
By his own hands deceiv’d, and servants eyes!
“It cannot be (said he). No, can it? Shall 600
Our great ten thousand slayer idlely fall?
The silly rout thinks God protects him still,
But God, alas, guards not the bad from ill.
Oh may he guard him! May his members be
In as full strength and well-set harmonie 605
As the fresh body of the first made Man
Ere sin or sins just meed disease began.
He will be else too small for our vast hate,
And we must share in our revenge with Fate.
No, let us have him whole. We else may seem 610
To have snatcht away but some few days from him
And cut that thread which would have dropt in two.
Will our great anger learn to stoop so low?
I know it cannot, will not. Him we prize
Of our just wrath the solemn sacrifize 615
That must not blemisht be. Let him remain
Secure, and grow up to our stroke again.
’Twill be some pleasure then to take his breath,
When he shall strive and wrestle with his death.
Go, let him live — and yet — shall I then stay 620
So long? Good and great actions hate delay.
Some foolish piety, perhaps, or he
That has been still mine honors enemie,
Samuel, may change or cross my just intent,
And I this formal pitty soon repent. 625
Besides, Fate gives him me, and whispers this,
That he can fly no more if we should miss.
Miss? Can we miss again? Go, bring him straight,
Though gasping out his soul. If the wisht date
Of his accursed life be almost past, 630
Some joy ’twill be to see him breath his last.”
The troop return’d, of their short virtue asham’d,
Sauls courage prais’d, and their own weakness blam’d.
But when the pious fraud they understood,
Scarce the respect due to Sauls sacred blood, 635
Due to the sacred beauty in it reign’d,
From Michols murder their wild rage restrain’d.
She alleag’d the holiest chains that bind a wife,
Duty and love. She alleag’d that her own life,
Had she refus’d that safety to her lord, 640
Would have incurr’d just danger from his sword.
Now was Sauls wrath full grown, he takes no rest.
A violent flame rolls in his troubled brest,
And in fierce ligntning from his eye does break.
Not his own fav’rites and best friends dare speak 645
Or look on him, but, mute and trembling all,
Fear where this cloud will burst, and thunder fall.
So when the pride and terrour of the wood,
A lyon prickt with rage and want of food,
Espies out from afar some well-fed beast 650
And brustles up preparing for his feast,
If that by swiftness scape his gaping jaws,
His bloody eyes he hurls round, his sharp paws
Tear up the ground. Then runs he wild about,
Lashing his angry tail and roaring out. 655
Beasts creep into their dens and tremble there,
Trees, though no wind be stirring, shake with feare.
Silence and horror fill the place around,
Eccho itself dares scarce repeat the sound.
Midst a large wood that joyns fair Ramahs town 660
(The neighbourhood fair Rama’s chief renown)
A Colledge stands, where at great prophets feet
The prophets sons with silent dilig’nce met,
By Samuel built, and mod’rately endow’d,
Yet more to his lib’ral tongue then hands they ow’d. 665
There himself taught, and his blest voyce to heare
Teachers themselves lay proud beneath him there.
The house was a large square, but plain and low,
Wise Natures use art strove not to outgo.
An inqard square by well-rang’d trees was made, 670
And midst the friendly covert of their shade
A pure, well-tasted, wholesome fountain rose,
Which no vain cost of marble did enclose.
Nor through carv’d shapes did the forc’d waters pass,
Shapes gazing on themselves i’ th’ liquid glass. 675
Yet the chaste stream that ’mong loose peebles fell
For cleanness, thirst, religion serv’d as well.
The schollars, Doctors and Companions here
Lodg’d all apart in neat small chambers were.
Well-furnished chambers, for in each there stood 680
A narrow couch, table and chair of wood.
More is but clog where use does bound delight,
And those are rich whose wealth’s proportioned right
To their lifes form. More goods would but becom
A burden to the man contracts his room. 685
A second court more sacred stood behind,
Built fairer, and to nobler use design’d.
The Hall and Schools one side of it possest,
The Library and Synagogue the rest.
Tables of plain-cut firre adorn’d the Hall, 690
And with beasts skins the beds were cov’red all.
The reverend Doctors take their seats on high,
Th’ elect Companions in their bosoms ly.
The schollars far below upon the ground
On fresh-strew’d rushes place themselves around. 695
With more respect the wise and ancient lay,
But eat not choicer herbs or bread then they,
Nor purer waters drank, their constant feast,
But by great days and sacrifice encreast.
The Schools, built round and higher, at the end 700
With their fair circle did this side extend.
To which their Synagogue on th’ other side,
And to the Hall their Library replide.
The midst tow’rds their large gardens open lay,
To admit the joys of spring and early day. 705
I’ th’ Library a few choice authors stood,
Yet ’twas well stor’d, for that small store was good.
Writing, Mans spir’tual physick, was not then
Itself, as now, grown a disease of men.
Learning (young virgin) but few suitors knew, 710
The common prostitute she lately grew,
And with her spurious brood loads now the press,
Laborious effects of idleness!
Here all the various forms one might behold,
How letters sav’d themselves from death of old. 715
Some painfully engrav’d in thin wrought plates,
Some cut in wood, some lightlier trac’d on slate,
Some drawn on fair palm leaves with short-liv’d toyl,
Had not their friend the cedar lent his oyl,
Some wrought in silks, some writ in tender barks, 720
Some the sharp stile in waxen tables marks,
Some in beasts skins, and some in biblos reed,
Both new rude arts, which age and growth did need.
The Schools were painted well with usefull skill,
Stars, maps, and stories the learn’d wall did fill. 725
Wise wholesome proverbs mixt about the roome,
Some writ, and in Egyptian figures some.
Here all the noblest wits of men inspir’d
From earths slight joys and worthless toils retir’d,
Whom Samuels fame and bounty thither lead, 730
Each day by turns their solid knowledge read.
The course and power of stars great Nathan taught,
And home to Man those distant wonders brought:
How toward both poles the suns fixt journey bends,
And how the year his crooked walk attends, 735
By what just steps the wandring lights advance,
And what aeternal measures guid their dance.
Himself a prophet, but his lectures shew’d
How little of that art to them he owed.
Mahol th’ inferior worlds fantastick face 740
Through all the turns of matters maze did trace,
Great Natures well-set clock in pieces took,
On all the springs and smallest wheels did look
Of life and motion, and with equal art
Made up again the whole of ev’ry part. 745
The prophet Gad in learned dust designes
Th’ immortal solid rules of fancied lines.
Of numbers too th’ unnumbered wealth he showes,
And with them far their endless journey goes.
Numbers which still encrease more high and wide, 750
From One, the root of their turn’d pyramide.
Of men and ages past Seraiah read,
Embalm’d in long-liv’d history of the dead.
Show’d the steep falls, and slow ascent of states,
What wisdom and what follies make their fates. 755
Samuel himself did Gods rich Law display,
Taught doubting men with judgement to obay.
And oft his ravisht soul with sudden flight
Soar’d above present times and humane sight.
These arts but welcome strangers might appear, 760
Musick and verse seem’d born and bred up here.
Scarce the blest heav’n that rights with angels voyce
Does with more constant harmony rejoyce.
The sacred Muse does here each brest inspire,
Heman and sweet-mouth’d Asaph rule their quire, 765
Both charming poets, and all strains they paid
By artful breath or nimble fingers made.
The Synagogue was drest with care and cost
(The onely place where that they esteem’d not lost).
The glittering roof with gold did daze the view, 770
The sides refresh’t with silks of sacred blew.
Here thrice each day they read their perfect Law,
Thrice pray’rs from willing heav’n a blessing draw,
Thrice in glad hymns swell’d with the Great Ones praise.
The plyant voyce on her sev’n steps they raise, 775
Whilst all th’ enlivened instruments around
To the just feet with various concord sound.
Such things were Muses then, contemn’d low earth,
Decently proud, and mindful of their birth.
’Twas God Himself that here tun’d every toung, 780
And gratefully of Him alone they sung.
They sung how God spoke out the worlds vast ball
From Nothing, and from Nowhere call’d forth All.
No Nature yet, or place for’t to possess,
But an unbottom’d gulf of emptiness. 785
Full of Himself, th’ Almighty sat, His own
Palace, and without solitude alone.
But he was Goodness whole, and all things will’d,
Which ere they were, His active Word fulfill’d,
And their astonisht heads o’ th’ sudden rear’d. 790
An unshap’d kind of Something first appear’d,
Confessing its new being, and undrest
As if it stept in haste before the rest.
Yet buried in this matters darksome womb
Lay the rich seeds of ev’rything to com. 795
From hence the chearful flame leapt up so high,
Close at its heels the nimble air did fly.
Dull earth with his own weight did downwards pierce
To the fixt navel of the universe,
And was quite lost in waters till God said 800
To the proud sea, “shrink in your insolent head.
See how the gaping earth has made you place.”
That durst not murmure, but shrunk in apace.
Since when his bounds are set, at which in vain
He foams, and rages, and turns back again. 805
With richer stuff He bad heav’ns fabrick shine,
And from Him a quick spring of light divine
Swel’d up the sun, from whence his cher’shing flame
Fills the whole world, like Him from Whom it came.
He smooth’d the rough-cast moons imperfect mold, 810
And comb’d her beamy locks with sacred gold.
“Be thou (He said) queen of the mournful night,”
And as He spoke she arose clad o’re in light,
With thousand stars attending on her train.
With her they rise, with her they set again. 815
Then herbs peep’d forth, new trees admiring stood,
And smelling flow’rs painted the infant wood.
Then flocks of birds through the glad ayr did flee,
Joyful and safe before Mans luxurie,
Teaching their Maker in their untaught lays. 820
Nay the mute fish witness no less His praise,
For those He made, and cloath’d with silver scales,
From minoes to those living islands, whales.
Beasts too were His command: what could He more?
Yes, Man he could, the bond of all before. 825
In him He all things with strange order hurl’d
In him, that full abridgement of the world.
This and much more of Gods great works they told,
His mercies, and some judgements too of old:
How when all earth was deeply stain’d in sin, 830
With an impetuous noyse the waves came rushing in
Where birds erewhile dwelt, and securely sung.
There fish (an unknown net) entangled hung.
The face of shipwrackt Nature naked lay,
The sun peep’d forth, and beheld nought but sea. 835
This men forgot, and burnt in lust again
Till show’rs, strange as their sin, of fiery rain
And scalding brimstone dropt on Sodoms head.
Alive they felt those flames they fry in dead.
No better end rash Pharaohs pride befel 840
When wind and sea wag’d war for Israel.
In his gilt chariots amaz’d fishes sat,
And grew with corps of wretched princes fat.
The waves and rocks half-eaten bodies stain,
Nor was it since call’d the Red Sea in vain. 845
Much too they told of faithful Abrams fame,
To whose blest passage they owe still their name.
Of Moses much, and the great seed of Nun,
What wonders they perform’d, what lands they won,
How many kings they slew or captive brought. 850
They held the swords, but God and angels fought.
Thus gain’d they the wise spending of their days,
And their whole life was their dear Makers praise.
No minutes rest, no swiftest thought they sold
To that beloved plague of mankind, gold. 855
Gold for which all mankind with greater pains
Labour towards Hell, then those who dig its vains.
Their wealth was the contempt of it, which more
They valu’d then rich fools the shining ore.
The silk-worm’s pretious death they scorn’d to wear, 860
And Tyrian dy appear’d but sordid there.
Honor, which since the price of souls became,
Seem’d to these great ones a low idle name.
Instead of down, hard beds they chose to have,
Such as might bid them not forget their grave. 865
Their board dispeopled no full element,
Free Natures bounty thriftily they spent
And spar’d the stock, nor could their bodies say
“We owe this crudeness t’ excess yesterday.”
Thus souls live cleanly, and no soiling fear, 870
But entertain their welcome Maker there.
The senses perform nimbly what they’re bid,
And honestly, nor are by reason chid.
And when the down of sleep does softly fall,
Their dreams are heavenly then, and mystical. 875
With hasty wings time present they outfly,
And tread the doubtful maze of destiny.
There walk and sport among the years to come,
And with quick eye pierce ev’ry causes wombe.
Thus these wise saints enjoy’d their little all, 880
Free from the spight of much-mistaken Saul.
For if Mans life we in just ballance weigh,
David deserv’d his envy less then they.
Of this retreat the hunted prince makes choice,
Adds to their quire his nobler lyre and voyce. 885
But long unknown even here could not lye,
So bright his lustre, so quick envies eye!
Th’ offended troop, whom he escap’d before,
Pursue him here, and fear mistakes no more.
Belov’d revenge fresh rage to them affords, 890
Some part of him all promise to their swords.
They came, but a new spirit their hearts possest,
Scatt’ring a sacred calm through every brest.
The furrows of their brow, so rough erewhile,
Sink down into the dimples of a smile. 895
Their cooler veins swell with a peaceful tide,
And the chaste streams with every current glide.
A sudden day breaks gently through their eyes,
And morning-blushes in their cheeks arise.
The thoughts of war, of blood and murther cease, 900
In peaceful tunes they adored the God of peace.
New messengers twice more the tyrant sent,
And was twice more mockt with the same event.
His heigntned rage no longer brooks delay,
It sends him there himself. But on the way 905
His foolish anger a wise fury grew,
And blessings from his mouth unbidden flew.
His kingly robes he laid at Naioth down,
Began to understand and scorn his crown,
Employ’d his mounting thoughts on nobler things, 910
And felt more solid joys then empire brings.
Embrac’d his wondring son, and on his head
The balm of all past wounds, kind tears he shed.
So cov’tous Balam, with a fond intent
Of cursing the blest seed, to Moab went. 915
But as he went his fatal tongue so fell,
His ass taught him to speak, God to speak well.
“How comely are thy tents, oh Israel!
(Thus he began) What conquests they fortel!
Less fair are orchards in their autumn pride, 920
Adorn’d with trees on some fair rivers side.
Less fair are valleys, their green mantles spread,
Or mountains with tall cedars on their head.
’Twas God Himself (thy God who must not fear?)
Brought thee from bondage to be master here. 930
Slaughter shall wear out these, new weapons get,
And death in triumph on thy darts shall sit.
When Judahs lyon starts up to his prey,
The beasts shall hang their ears and creep away.
When he lies down, the woods shall silence keep, 935
And dreadful tygers tremble at his sleep.
Thy cursers, Jacob, shall twice cursed bee,
And he shall bless himself that blesses Thee.”