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Oft his wise care did the king's rage suspend;
His own life's danger shelter'd oft his friend;
Which he exposed a sacrifice to fall
By the undiscerning rage of furious Saul.
Nor was young David's active virtue grown
Strong and triumphant in one sex alone;
Imperious Beauty too it durst invade,
And deeper prints in the soft breast it made:
For there, to’Esteem and Friendship’s graver name,
Passion was pour’d, like oil into the flame.
Like two bright eyes in a fair body placed,
Saul's royal house two beauteous daughters graced;
Merab the first, Michal the younger, named;
Both equally for different glories famed.
Merab with spacious beauty fill’d the sight,
But too much awe chastised the bold delight:
Like a calm sea, which to the’ enlarged view
Gives pleasure, but gives fear and reverence too.
Michal's sweet looks clear and free joys did move,
And no less strong, though much more gentle,
Like virtuous kings, whom men rejoice to’ obey
(Tyrants themselves less absolute than they).
Merab appear'd like some fair princely tower;
Michal, some virgin-queen's delicious bower.
All Beauty's stores in little and in great ;
But the contracted beams shot fiercest heat,
A clean and lively brown was Merab's dye,
Such as the prouder colours might envy:
skin shone with such taintless white, As scatter'd the weak rays of human sight; Her lips and cheeks a nobler red did show, Than e'er on fruits or flowers heaven's pencil drew;
From Merab's eyes fierce and quick lightnings
came, From Michals, the sun's mild, yet active, flame: Merab's long hair was glossy chesnut brown; Tresses of palest gold did Michal crown. Such was their outward form; and one might find A difference not unlike it in the mind. Merab with comely majesty and state Bore high the' advantage of her worth and fate; Such humble sweetness did soft Michal show, That none who reach so high e'er stoop'd so low. Merab rejoiced in her wrack'd lovers' pain, And fortify'd her virtue with disdain : The griefs she caused, gave gentle Michal grief (She wish'd her beauties less, for their relief); Even to her captives civil; yet the’ excess Of naked virtue guarded her no less. (vex; Business and power Merab's large thoughts did Her wit disdain'd the fetters of her sex: Michal no less disdain’d affairs and noise, Yet did it not from ignorance, but choice. In brief, both copies were more sweetly drawn; Merab of Saul, Michal of Jonathan.
“ The day that David great Goliah slew, Not great Goliah's sword was more his due Than Merab; by Saul's public promise she Was sold then, and betroth’d to Victory; But haughty she did this just match despise (Her pride debauch'd her judgment and her eyes). An unknown youth, ne'er seen at court before, Who shepherd's staff, and shepherd's habit, bore, The seventh-born son of no rich house-were still The’unpleasant forms which her high thoughts did
And much aversion in her stubborn mind
Was bred by being promised and design'd.
Long had the patient Adriel humbly borne
The roughest shocks of her imperious scorn:
Adriel the rich; but riches were in vain,
And could not set him free, nor her enchain.
Long lived they thus ;—but, as the hunted deer,
Closely pursued, quits all her wonted fear,
And takes the nearest waves; which from the shore
She oft with horror had beheld before:
So, whilst the violent maid from David fled,
She leap'd to Adriel's long-avoided bed;
The match was named, agreed, and finish'd straight;
(So soon comply'd Saul's envy with her hate!)
But Michal, in whose breast all virtues move,
That hatch the pregnant seeds of sacred love,
With juster eyes the noble object meets,
And turns all Merab's poison into sweets :
She saw, and wonder’d how a youth unknown
Should make all fame to come so soon his own :
She saw, and wonder'd how a shepherd's crook
Despised that sword at which the sceptre shook ;
Though he seventh-born, and though his house
She knew it noble was, and would be more.
Oft had she heard, and fancy'd oft the sight,
With what a generous calm he march'd to fight;
In the great danger how exempt from fear,
And after it from pride, he did appear.
Greatness and goodness, and an air divine,
She saw through all his words and actions shine ;
She heard his eloquent tongue, and charming lyre,
Whose artful sounds did violent love inspire,
Though used all other passions to relieve:
She weigh'd all this; and well we may conceive
When those strong thoughts attack'd her doubtful
His beauty no less active than the rest.
The fire thus kindled soon grew fierce and great,
When David's breast reflected back its heat.
Soon she perceived (scarce can Love hidden lie
From any sight, much less the loving eye)
She conqueror was, as well as overcome,
And gain'd no less abroad than lost at home.
Even the first hour they met (for such a pair,
Who in all mankind else so matchless were,
Yet their own equals, Nature's self does wed)
A mutual warmth through both their bosoms
gave the signal; both at once began The gentle race, and with just pace they ran. Even so, methinks, when two fair tapers come From several doors, entering at once the room, With a swift flight, that leaves the eye behind, Their amorous lights into one light are join’d. Nature herself, were she to judge the case, Knew not which first began the kind embrace. Michal her modest flames sought to conceal, But love even the art to hide it does reveal : Her soft unpractised eyes betray'd the theft, Love pass'd through them, and there such foot
[spoke; She blush'd when he approach'd, and when he And suddenly her wandering answers broke At his name's sound; and, when she heard him praised,
[raised. With concern’d haste her thoughtful looks she
Uncall’d-for sighs oft from her bosom flew,
And Adriel's active friend she' abruptly grew.
Oft, when the Court's gay youth stood waiting by,
She strove to act a cold indifferency;
In vain she acted so constrain'd a part,
For thousand nameless things disclosed her heart.
On the other side, David with silent pain
Did in respectful bounds his fires contain:
His humble fear to' offend, and trembling awe,
Imposed on him a no less rigorous law
Than modesty on her; and, though he strove
To make her see 't, he durst not tell his love.
To tell it first, the timorous youth made choice
Of music's bolder and more active voice;
And thus, beneath her widow, did he touch
His faithful lyre; the words and numbers such
As did well worth my memory appear,
And may perhaps deserve your princely ear:
“ AWAKE, awake, my Lyre ! And tell thy silent master's humble tale,
In sounds that may prevail ; Sounds that gentle thoughts inspire:
Though so exalted she,
And I so lowly be, Tell her, such different notes make all thy harmony.
“ Hark! how the strings awake: And, though the moving hand approach not near,
Themselves with awful fear,
A kind of numerous trembling make.
Now all thy forces try,
Now all thy charms apply, Revenge upon her ear the conquests of her eye.