Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHARACTER OF SHAFTESBURY.

Or these the false Achitophel was first,
A name to all succeeding ages cursed;
For close designs and crooked counsels fit;
Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit;
Restless, unfix'd in principles and place;
In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace;
A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
Fretted the pigmy body to decay,
And o'er inform d the tenement of clay.
A daring pilot in extremity;
Pleased with the danger when the waves went high,
He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit,
Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit.
Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide;
Else why should he, with wealth and honour bless'd,
Refuse his age the needful hours of rest?
Punish a body which he could not please ;
Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease ;
And all to leave what with his toil he won,
To that unfeather'd two-legg'd thing, a son ;
Got while his soul did huddled notions try,
And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy.
In friendship false, implacable in hate;
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state.
To compass this the triple bond he broke,
The pillars of the public safety shook,
And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke;
Then seized with fear, yet still affecting fame,
Usurp'd a patriot's all-atoning name.
So easy still it proves in factious times,
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's will!

Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known,
Since in another's guilt they find their own!
Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge ;
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean,
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress;
Swift of despatch, and easy of access.
Oh! had he been content to serve the crown,
With virtues only proper to the gown;
Or had the rankness of the soil been freed
From cockle, that oppress'd the noble seed;
David for him his tuneful harp had strung,
And heaven had wanted one immortal song.
But wild ambition loves to slide, not stand,
And fortune's ice prefers to virtue's land.
Achitophel, grown weary to possess
A lawful fame and lazy happiness,
Disdain'd the golden fruit to gather free,
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.

CHARACTER OF ZIMRI.

SOME of their chiefs were princes of the land;
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand :
A man so various, that he seem'd to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon:
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Bless'd madman, who could every hour employ
With something new to wish, or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes,
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes ;

[ocr errors]

So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was God or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late ;
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laugh'd himself from court, then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief;
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom, and wise Achitophel :
Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left no faction, but of that was left.

DESORIPTION OF LYOURGUS KING OF THRACE, AND OF EME

TRIUS KING OF INDE.
· A HUNDRED knights with Palamon there came,
- Approved in fight, and men of mighty name;
Their arms were several, as their nations were,
But furnish'd all alike with sword and spear.
Some wore coat armour, imitating scale ;
And next their skins were stubborn shirts of mail.
Some wore a breastplate and a light juppon,
Their horses clothed with rich caparison :
Some for defence would leathern bucklers use
Of folded hides; and others shields of spruce.
One hung a pole-axe at his saddle-bow,
And one a heavy mace to shun the foe;
One for his legs and knees provided well,
With jambeux arm’d, and double plates of steel:
This on his helmet wore a lady's glove,
And that a sleeve embroider'd by his love.
With Palamon above the rest in place,
Lycurgus came, the surly King of Thrace;
Black was his beard, and manly was his face ;
The balls of his broad eyes roli'd in his head,
And glared betwixt a yellow and a red ;

VOL. I.-Q

He look'd a lion with a gloomy stare,
And o'er his eyebrows hung his matted hair :
Big-boned, and large of limbs, with sinews strong,
Broad-shoulder'd, and his arms were round and long.
Four milk-white bulls (the Thracian use of old)
Were yoked to draw his car of burnish'd gold.
Upright he stood, and bore aloft his shield,
Conspicuous from afar, and overlook'd the field.
His surcoat was a bearskin on his back;
His hair hung long behind, and glossy raven black.
His ample forehead bore a coronet
With sparkling diamonds and with rubies set:
Ten brace and more of greyhounds, snowy fair,
And tall as stags, ran loose, and coursed around his

chair,
A match for pards in flight, in grappling for the bear:
With golden muzzles all their mouths were bound,
And collars of the same their necks surround.
Thus through the fields Lycurgus took his way;
His hundred knights attend in pomp and proud array.
To match this monarch, with strong Arcite came
Emetrius king of Inde, a mighty name,
On a bay courser, goodly to behold
The trappings of his horse adorn'd with barbarous

gold. Not Mars bestrode a steed with greater grace; His surcoat o'er his arms was cloth of Thrace, Adorn'd with pearls, all orient, round, and great ; His saddle was of gold, with emerald set. His shoulders large a mantle did attire, With rubies thick, and sparkling as the fire : His amber-colour'd locks in ringlets run, With graceful negligence, and shone against the sun : His nose was aquiline, his eyes were blue, Ruddy his lips, and fresh and fair his hue; Some sprinkled freckles on his face were seen, Whose dusk set off the whiteness of the skin: His awful presence did the crowd surprise, Nor durst the rash spectator meet his eyes

Eyes that confess'd him born for kingly sway,
So fierce, they flash'd intolerable day.
His age in Nature's youthful prime appear'd,
And just began to bloom his yellow beard.
Whene'er he spoke, his voice was heard around,
Loud as a trumpet, with a silver sound.
A laurel wreathed his temples, fresh and green;
And myrtle sprigs, the marks of love, were mix'd
Upon his fist he bore, for his delight, [between.
An eagle well reclaim'd, and lily white.

His hundred knights attend him to the war,
All arm'd for battle ; save their heads were bare.
Words and devices blazed on every shield,
And pleasing was the terror of the field.
For kings, and dukes, and barons you might see,
Like sparling stars, though different in degree,
All for th' increase of arms and love of chivalry.
Before the king tame leopards led the way,
"And troops of lions innocently play.
So Bacchus through the conquer'd Indies rode,
And beasts in gambols frisk'd before the honest god

FROM CYMON AND IPHIGENIA.

In that sweet isle where Venus keeps her court,
And every grace and all the loves resort;
Where either sex is form'd of softer earth,
And takes the bent of pleasure from her birth,
There lived a Cyprian lord, above the rest
Wise, wealthy, with a numerous issue bless'd.

But, as no gift of fortune is sincere,
Was only wanting in a worthy heir ;
His eldest born, a goodly youth to view,
Excell’d the rest in shape and outward shew,
Fair, tall, his limbs with due proportion join'd,
But of a heavy, dull, degenerate mind.

« PreviousContinue »