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Thus, in alternate course,
The tyrant passions, hope and fear,
Returns, and wins upon the shore;
The watery herd, affrighted at the roar,
And cries, a king must fall, or kingdoms change their sway.
Such were our counter-tides at land, and so
In their prodigious ebb and flow.
The royal soul, that, like the labouring moon,
A strong distemper, and a weak relief,
Hurls up the scaly ooze, and makes the scaly brood
Leap madding to the land affrighted from the flood;
Poly-Albion, Song VII.
* To engage upon liking, (an image rather too familiar for the occasion,) is to take a temporary trial of a service, or business, with licence to quit it at pleasure.
The sons of art all med'cines tried,
But, like a fortress on a rock,
The impregnable disease their vain attempts did mock;
They mined it near, they battered from afar
Twas beyond parley when the siege was laid.
Beneath whate'er their pious rigour could invent.
Against the worst of rebels could decree,
No racks could make the stubborn malady confess.
And he who most performed, and promised less,
Even Short* himself, forsook the unequal strife. Death and despair was in their looks,
No longer they consult their memories or books; Like helpless friends, who view from shore
* Note IV.
The labouring ship, and hear the tempest roar;
The inevitable loss.
Death was denounced; that frightful sound
He looked as when he conquered and forgave.
As if some angel had been sent
Nor shrunk nor stept aside for death;
When he resigned the throne.
Oh truly good, and truly great,
For glorious as he rose, benignly so he set!
All that on earth he held most dear,
The right had given,
And his own love bequeathed supreme command:
Which could, in peace, secure his reign;
That king, who lived to God's own heart,
For schoolmen, with laborious art,
Well, for so great a trust, he chose
A prince, who never disobeyed;
Not when the most severe commands were laid; Nor want, nor exile, with his duty weighed:† A prince on whom, if heaven its eyes could close, The welfare of the world it safely might repose.
To save from cruelty:
Those, for whom love could no excuses frame,
* Note V.
+ Alluding to the Duke's banishment to Flanders. See note on "Absalom and Achitophel," Vol. IX. p. 384.
The testament of king David, by which he bequeathed to his son the charge of executing vengeance on those enemies whom he had spared during his life, has been much canvassed by divines. I indulge myself in a tribute to a most venerable character, when I state, that the most ingenious discourses I ever heard from the pulpit, were upon this and other parts of David's conduct, in a series of lectures by the late Reverend Dr John Erskine, one of the ministers of the Old Greyfriars church in Edinburgh.
Thus far my muse, though rudely, has designed
Like painters, when their heightening arts are
The type of him above,
Of clemency and love,
And asked that pardon which he ne'er refused;
Of godless men, and of rebellious times;
When his ungrateful country sent
And forced their sovereign's act, they could not his
Oh how much rather had that injured chief
Which yet the brother and the friend so plenteously confest.