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Who by just rule and elevated skill
Prescrib'd the dubious bounds of good and ill ?
Whose golden sayings, and immortal wit,
On large phylacteries expressive writ,
Were to the forehead of the rabbins tied,
Our youth's instruction, and our age's pride ? .
Could not the wise his wild desires restrain;
Then was our hearing, and his preaching vain!
What from his life and letters were we taught,
But that his knowledge aggravates his fault?
In lighter mood, the humorous and the gay
(As crown'd with roses at their feasts they lay)
Sent the full goblet, charg'd with Abra's name,
And charms superior to their master's fame.
Laughing, some praise the King, who let them see
How aptly luxe and empire might agree :
Some gloss’d, how love and wisdom were at strife,
And brought my Proverbs to confront my life.
However, friend, here's to the King,' one cries : * To him who was the King,' the friend replies. * The King, for Judah's and for wisdom's curse, To Abra yields : could I or thou do worse? Our looser lives let chance or folly steer, If thus the prudent and determin'd err. Let Dinah bind with flowers her flowing hair, And touch the lute and sound the wanton air ; Let us the bliss without the sting receive, Free as we will, or to enjoy or leave. Pleasures on levity's smooth surface flow; Thought brings the weight that sinks the soul to Now be this maxim to the King convey’d, (woe. And added to the thousand he has made.'
Sadly, O Reason, is thy power express'd, Thou gloomy tyrant of the frighted breast !
And harsh the rules which we from thee receive,
If for our wisdom we our pleasure give,
And more to think be only more to grieve:
If Judah's king, at thy tribunal tried,
Forsakes his joy to vindicate his pride;
And, changing sorrows, I am only found
Loos'd from the chains of love, in thine more
But do I call thee tyrant, or complain
How hard thy laws, how absolute thy reign?
While thou, alas ! art but an empty name,
To no two men, whoe'er discours'd, the same;
The idle product of a troubled thought,
In borrow'd shapes and airy colours wrought;
A fancied line, and a reflected shade ;
A chain which man to fetter man has made,
By artifice impos'd, by fear obey'd.
Yet, wretched name, or arbitrary thing,
Whence-ever I thy cruel essence bring,
I own thy influence, for I feel thy sting:
Reluctant, I perceive thee in my soul,
Form’d to command, and destin'd to control,
Yes, thy insulting dictates shall be heard ;
Virtue for once shall be her own reward:
Yes, rebel Israel, this unhappy maid
Shall be dismiss'd; the crowd shall be obey'd:
The King his passion and his rule shall leave,
No longer Abra's, but the people's slave :
My coward soul shall bear its wayward fate;
I will, alas ! be wretched to be great,
And sigh in royalty, and grieve in state.
I said, resolv'd to plunge into my grief
At once so far as to expect relief
From my despair alone
I chose to write the thing I durst not speak
To her I lov'd, to her I must forsake.
The harsh epistle labour'd much to prove
How inconsistent majesty and love.
I always should (it said) esteem her well,
But never see her more: it bid her feel
No future pain for me; but instant wed
A lover more proportion'd to her bed,
And quiet dedicate her remnant life
To the just duties of an humble wife.'
She read, and forth to me she wildly ran,
To me, the ease of all her former pain.
She kneel’d, entreated, struggled, threaten'd, cried,
And with alternate passion liv'd and died;
Till now denied the liberty to mourn, .
And by rude fury from my presence torn,
This only object of my real care,
Cut off from hope, abandon'd to despair,
In some few posting fatal hours is hurld [world.
From wealth, from power, from love, and from the
Here tell me, if thou dar'st, my conscious soul, What different sorrows did within thee roll? What pangs, what fires, what racks, didst thou sus. What sad vicissitudes of smarting pain? (tain ? How oft from pomp and state did I remove, To feed despair, and cherish hopeless love? How oft, all day, recall’d I Abra's charms, Her beauties press'd, and panting in my arms? How oft, with sighs, view'd every female face Where mimic fancy might her likeness trace ? How oft desir'd to fly from Israel's throne, And live in shades with her and Love alone ? How oft, all night, pursued her in my dreams, O'er flowery vallies and through crystal streams,
And, waking, view'd with grief the rising sun,
And fondly mourn’d the dear delusion gone?
When thus the gather'd storms of wretched love
In my swoll'n bosom with long war had strove,
At length they broke their bounds; at length their
force Bore down whatever met its stronger course; Laid all the civil bonds of manhood waste, And scatter'd ruin as the torrent past.. So from the hills, whose hollow caves contain a The congregated snow and swelling rain, Till the full stores their ancient bounds disdain; S Precipitate the furious torrent flows: In vain would speed avoid, or strength oppose: Towns, forests, herds, and men promiscuous
drown'd, With one great death deform the dreary ground; The echo'd woes from distant rocks resound. And now what impious ways my wishes took, How they the monarch and the man forsook, And how I follow'd an abandon'd will, Through crooked paths and sad retreats of ill; How Judah's daughters now, now foreign slaves, By turns my prostituted bed receives; Through tribes of women how I loosely rang'd, Impatient, lik'd to-night, to-morrow chang'd, And by the instinct of capricious lust Enjoy'd, disdain’d, was grateful or unjust; 0, be these scenes from human eyes conceal'd, In clouds of decent silence justly veil'd! O, be the wanton images convey'd To black oblivion and eternal shade! Or let their sad epitome alone, And outward lines, to future age be known,
Enough to propagate the sure belief
That vice engenders shame, and folly broods o'er
Buried in sloth and lost in ease I lay ; [grief.
The night I revell’d, and I slept the day:
New heaps of fuel damp'd my kindling fires,
And daily change extinguish'd young desires.
By its own force destroy’d, fruition ceas'd;
And always wearied, I was never pleas'd.
No longer now does my neglected mind
Its wonted stores and old ideas find.
Fix'd judgment there no longer does abide,
To take the true or set the false aside,
No longer does swift memory trace the cells
Where springing wit, or young invention dwells.
Frequent debauch to habitude prevails ;
Patience of toil and love of virtue fails.
By sad degrees impair'd, my vigour dies,
Till I command no longer e'en in vice.
The women on my dotage build their sway :
They ask; I grant: they threaten; I obey.
In regal garments now I gravely stride,
Aw'd by the Persian damsels' haughty pride :
Now with the looser Syrian dance and sing,
In robes tuck'd up, opprobrious to the king.
Charm'd by their eyes, their manners I acquire,
And shape my foolishness to their desire;
Seduc'd and aw'd by the Philistine dame,
At Dagon's shrine I kindle impious fame.
With the Chaldean's charms her rites prevail,
And curling frankincense ascends to Baal.
To each new harlot I new altars dress,
And serve her god whose person I caress.
Where, my deluded sense, was reason flown? Where the high majesty of David's throne ?