Imágenes de páginas
PDF

Th" accurs'd Philistian, rous'd with this bold
blow,
All the proud marks of enrag’d power does show;
Raises a vast, well-arm'd, and glittering host:
If human strength might authorize a boast,
Their threats had reason here ; for ne'er did we
Ourselves so weak, or foe so potent, see.
Here we vast bodies of their foot espy,
The rear out-reaches farth' extended eye;
Like fields of corn their armed squadrons stand;
As thick and numberless they hide the land.
Here with sharp neighs the warlike horses sound,
And with proud prancings beat the putrid ground;
Here with worse noise three thousand chariots

pass, with plates of iron bound, or louder brass; About it forks, axes, and scythes, and spears, whole magazines of death each chariot bears; Where it breaks in, there a whole troop it mows, And with lopp'd panting limbs the field bestrows: Alike, the valiant and the cowards die; Neither can they resist, nor can these fly. In this proud equipage, at Macmas they, Saul in much different state at Gilgal, lay; His forces seem'd no army, but a crowd, Heartless, unarm’d, disorderly, and loud. The quick contagion, Fear, ran swift through all, And into trembling fits the infected fall, Saul and his son (for no such faint disease Could on their strong complexion'd valour seize) In vain all parts of virtuous conduct show'd, And on deaf Terrour generous words bestow'd : Thousands from thence fly scatter'd every day, Thick as the leaves that shake and drop away, when they th’ approach of stormy winter find, The noble tree all bare expos'd to th' wind. Some to sad Jordan fly, and swim 't for haste, And from his farther bank look back at last : Some into woods and caves their cattle drive; There with their beasts on equal terms they live, Nor deserve better: some in rocks on high, The old retreats of storks and ravens, lie ; And, were they wing'd like them, scarce would they dare To stay, or trust their frighted safety there. As th’ host with fear, so Saul disturb’d with care, To avert these ills by sacrifice and prayer, And God's blest will to inquire, for Samuel sends; Whom he six days with troubled haste attends; But, ere the seventh unlucky day (the last By Samuel set for this great work) was past, saut (alarm'd hourly from the neighbouring foe; Impatient, ere God's time, God's mind to know; Sham'd and enrag'd to see his troops decay; Jealous of an affront in Samuel's stay; 8:orning that any's presence should appear Needful besides, when he himself was there; And, with a pride too natural, thinking Heaven Had given him all, because much power 't had given) Himself the sacrifice and offerings made ; Himself did the high selected charge invade: Himself inquir'd of God; who then spake nought; But Samuel straight his dreadful answer brought: For straight he came, and, with a virtue bold As was Saul’s sin, the fatal message told ; His foul ingratitude to Heaven he chid, To pluck that fruit, which was alone forbid

To kingly power, in all that plentcous land,
Where all things else submit to his command.
* And, as fair Eden's violatcd tree
To immortal man brought in mortality:
So shall that crown, which God eternal meant,
From thee,"said he, and thy great house he tent;
Thy crime shall death to all thine honours send,
And give thy immortal royalty an end.
Thus spoke the prophet; but kind Heaven, we

ope, (Whose threats and anger know no other scope, But man's amendment) does long since relent, And, with repentant Saul, itself repent. Howe'er (though none more pray for this than we, Whose wrongs and sufferings might some colourbe To do it less) this speech we sadly find Still extant, and still active in his mind; But then a worse effect of it appeard— Our army, which before modestly fear'd, Which did by stealth and by degrees decay, Disbanded now, and fled in troops away: Base fear so bold and impudent does grow, When an excuse and colour it can show ! Six hundred only (scarcea princely train) Of all his host with distress'd Saul remain; Of his whole host six hundred; and ev'n those (So did wise Heaven for mighty ends dispose! Nor would that useless multitudes should share In that great gift it did for one prepare) Arm'd not like soldiers marching in a war, But country-hinds alarmed from afar By wolves' loud hunger, when the well-known sound Raises th' affrighted villages around. Some goads, flails, plow-shares, forks, or axes, bore, Made for life's use and better ends before; Some knotted clubs, and darts, or arrows dry'd I' th' fire, the first rude arts that Malice try’d Ere man the sins of too much knowledge knew, And Death by long experience witty grew. Such were the numbers, such the arms, which we Had by Tate left us for a victory O'er well-arm'd millions; nor will this appear Useful itself when Jonathan was there. “'Twas just the time when the new ebb of night Did the moist world unvail to human sight; The prince, who all that night the field had beat With a small party and no enemy met, (So proud and so secure the enemy lay, And drench'd in sleep th' excesses of the day !) With joy this good occasion did embrace, With better leisure, and at nearer space, The strength and order of their camp to view: Abdon alone his geneious purpose knew; Abdon, a bold, a brave, and comely youth, Well-born, well-bred, with honour fill'd and truth ; Abdon, his faithful squire, whom much he lov'd, And oft with grief his worth in dangers provid; Abdon, whose love to his master did exceed What Nature's law, or Passion's power, could Abdon alone did on him now attend, [breed; His humblest servant, and his dearest friend. “They went, but sacred fury, as they went, Chang'd swiftly, and exalted his intent. ‘What inay this be!" (the Prince breaks forth)'s find God, or some powerful spirit, invad s my mind.

From aughtbut Heaven can neversure be brought
So high, so glorious, and so vast a thought;
Nor would Ill fate, that meant me to surprise,
Come cloth'd in so unlikely a disguise.
Yonhost, which its proud fishes spreads so wide
O'er the whole land, like some swoln river's tide;
Which terrible and numberless appears,
As the thickwaves which their rough ocean bears;
Which lies so strongly encamped, that one would
say,
The hill might be remov’d as soon as they ;
We two alone must fight with and defeat:
Thou'rt strook, and startest at a sound so great!
Yet we must do ’t ; God our weak hands has
chose
T'ashame the boasted numbers of our foes;
Which to his strength no more proportion be,
Than millions are of hours to his etermity.
If, when their careless guards espy us here,
With sportful scorn they call t” us to come near,
We'll boldly climb the hill, and charge them all;
Not they, but Israel’s angel, gives the call.”
He spoke, and as he spoke, a light divine
Did from his eyes, and round his temples, shine;
Louder his voice, larger his limbs, appear'd;
Less seem'd the numerous army to be fear'd.
This saw, and heard with joy, the brave esquire,
As he with God's, fill'd with his master's fire:
“Forbid it, Heaven,” said he, “I should decline,
Or wish, sir, not to make your danger mine;
The great example which I daily see
Of your high worth is not so lost on me ;
If wonder-strook I at your words appear,
My wonder yet is innocent of fear :
Th’ honour which does your princely breast in-
flame, -
Warms mine too, and joins there with duty's
name.
If in this act Ill fate our tempter be,
May all the ill it means be aim'd at me !
But sure, I think, God leads; nor could you
bring
So high thoughts from a less-exalted spring.
Bright signs through all your words and looks are
spread,
A rising victory dawns around your head.”
With such discourse blowing their sacred flame,
Lo, to the fatal place, and work they came.
“Strongly encamp'd on a steep hill's large head,
Like some vast wood the mighty host was spread;
Th' only access on neighbouring Gabaa's side,
An hard and marrow way, which did divide
Two cliffy rocks, Boses and Senes nam’d,
Much for themselves, and their big strange-
ness fam'd;
More for their fortune and this stranger day.
On both their points Philistian-out guards lay,
From whence the two bold spies they first espy'd;
And, lo! the Hebrews' proud Elcanor cry'd,
From Semes' top; lo! from their hungry caves,
A quicker fate here sends them to their graves.
“Come up' (aloud he cries to them below)
‘Ye Egyptian slaves, and to our mercy owe
The rebel-lives long since to our justice due.”
Scarce from his lips the fatal omen flew,
When th’ inspir’d prince did nimbly understand
God, and his God-like virtues' high command.
It call'd him up, and up the steep ascent
With pain, and labour, haste and joy, they went.

Elcanor laugh'd to see them climb, and thought
His mighty, words th’ affrighted suppliants
brought; .
Did new affronts to the great Hebrew Name,
(The barbarous !) in his wanton fancy frame.
Short was his sport; for, swift as thunder's stroke
Rives the frail trunk of some heaven-threatening
oak,
The prince's sword did his proud head divide;
The parted skull hung down on either side:
Just as he fell, his vengeful steel he drew
Half-way, (no more the trembling joints could
do)
Which Abdon snatch'd, and dy'd it in the blood
Of an amazed wretch that next him stood.
Some close to earth, shaking and groveling, lie,
Like larks when they the tyrant hobby spy;
Some, wonder-strook, stand fix’d; some fly; some
Wildly, at th' unintelligible alarm. arm
Like the main channel of an high-swolm flood,
In vain by dikes and broken words withstood;
So Jonathan, once climb'd th' opposing hill,
Does all around with noise and ruin fill ;
Like some large arm of which, another way
Abdon o'erflows; him too no bank can stay,
With cries th’ affrighted country flies before,
Behind the following waters loudly roar,
Twenty, at least, slain on this outguard lie,
Toth' adjoin'd camp, the rest distracted fly;
And ill-mix'd wonders tell, and into 't bear
Blind Terror, deaf Disorder, helpless Fear.
The conquerors too press boldly in behind,
Doubling the wild confusions which they find.
Hamgar at first, the prince of Ashdod town,
Chief'mongst the five in riches and renown,
And general then by course, oppos'd their way,
Till drown'd in death at Jonathan's feet he lay,
And curs'd the heavens for rage, and bit the
- ground;
His life, for ever spilt, stain’d all the grass
around.
His brother too, who virtuous haste did make
His fortune to revenge, or to partake,
Falls groveling o'er his trunk, on mother Earth;
Death mix'd no less their bloods than did their
birth.
Meanwhile the well-pleased Abdon's restless
sword
Dispatch'd the following traint'attend their lord.
On still, o'er panting corpse, great Jonathan led;
Hundreds before him fell, and thousands fled.
Prodigious prince' which does most wondrous
show,
Thy attempt, or thy success thy fate or thou ?
Who durst alone that dreadful host assail,
With purpose not to die, but to prevail :
Infinite numbers thce no more affright,
Than God, whose unity is infinite.
If Heaven to men such mighty thoughts would

give, What breast but thine capacious to receive The vast infusion ? or what soul but thine Durst have believ'd that thought to be divine? Thou follow'dst Heaven in the design, and we Find in the act ’twas Heaven that follow'd thee. Thou led'st on angels, and that sacred band (The Deity's great lieutenant!) didst command, 'Tis true, sir, and no figure, when I say Angels themselves fought under him that day.

Clouds, with ripe thunder charg'd, some thither

drew, And some the dire materials brought for new. Hot drops of southern showers (the sweats of death) [breath; The voice of storms, and winged whirlwinds' The flames shot forth from fighting dragons' eyes; The smokes that from scorch’d fevers' ovens rise; The reddest fires with which sad comets grow ; And Sodom's neighbouring lake, did spirits bestow Of finest sulphur; amongst which they put Wrath, fury, horrour, and all mingled shut Into a cold moist cloud, t' inflame it more, And make the enraged prisoner louder roar. Th' assembled clouds burst o'er their army's head ; [spread. Noise, darkness, dismal lightnings, round them Another spirit, with a more potent wand Than that which Nature fear'd in Moses' hand, And went the way that pleas'd, the mountain strook; The mountain felt it; the vast mountain shook. Through the wide air another angel flew About their host, and thick amongst them threw Discord, despair, confusion, fear, mistake, And all th’ ingredients that swift ruin make. The fertile glebe requires no time to breed; It quickens, and receives at once the seed. One would have thought, this dismal day to have seen, That Nature's self in her death-pangs had been. Such will the face of that great hour appear; Such the distracted sinner's conscious fear. In vain some few strive the wild flight to stay; In vain they threaten, and in vain they pray; Unheard, unheeded, trodden down, they lie, Beneath the wretched feet of crowds that fly. O'er their own foot trampled the violent horse; The guideless chariots with impetuous course Cut wide through both ; and, all their bloody way, Horses and men, torn, bruis'd, and mangled, lay. Some from the rocks cast themselves down headlong ; The faint, weak passion grows so bold and strong ! To almost certain present death they fly, From a remote and causeless fear to die. Much different errour did some troops possess; And madness, that look'd better, though no less : Their fellow-troops for th' enter'd foe they take; And Israel's war with mutual slaughter make. Meanwhile the king from Gabaa's hill did view, And hear, the thickening tumult, as it grew Still great and loud; and, though he knows not why They fled, no more than they themselves that fly. Yet, by the storms and terrours of the air, ‘suesses some vengeful spirit's working there; Obeys the loud occasion’s sacred call, And fiercely on the trembling host does fall. At the saine time their slaves and prisoners rise; Nor does their much-wish’d liberty suffice Without revenge; the scatter'd arms they seize, And their proud vengeance with the memory please Of who so lately bore them. All about, fron rocks and caves, the Ilebrews issue out

At the glad noise; joy'd that their foeshad shown
A fear that drowns the scandal of their own.
Still did the prince 'midst all this storm appear,
Still scatter'd death and terrours every where;
Still did he break, still blunt, his wearied swords;
Still slaughter new supplies to his hand affords.
Where troops yet stood, there still he hotly flew,
And, till at last all fled, scorn'd to pursue.
All fled at last, but many in vain; for still
Th’ insatiate conqueror was more swift to kill
Than they to save their lives. Till, lo! at last,
Nature, whose power he had so long surpass'd,
Would yield no more, but to him stronger foes,
Drought, faintness, and fierce hunger, did oppose,
Reeking all o'er in dust, and blood, and sweat,
Burnt with the Sun's and violent action's heat,
'Gainst an old oak his trembling limbs he staid,
For some short ease; Fate in the old oak had
laid
Provisions up for his relief; and lo!
The hollow trunk did with bright honey flow.
With timely food his decay’d spirits recruit,
Strong he returns, and fresh, to the pursuit;
His strength and spirits the honey did restore;
But, oh the bitter-sweet strange poison bore!
Behold, sir, and mark well the treacherous fate,
That does so close on human glories wait!
Behold the strong, and yet fantastic net,
To ensnare triumphant Virtue darkly set!
Could it before (scarce can it since) be thought,
The prince—who had alone that morning fought
A duel with an host, had th’ host o'erthrown,
And threescore thousand hands disarm'd with

one ; Wash'd-off his country's shame, and doubly dy'd In blood and blushes the Philistian pride; Had sav'd and six’d his father's tottering crown, And the bright gold new burnish'd with renown, Should be ere night, by 's king and father's breath, Without a fault, vow’d and condemn'd to death? Destin'd the bloody sacrifice to be Of thanks, himself, for his own victory Alone, with various fate, like to become, Fighting, an host; dying, an hecatomb 2 Yet such, sir, was his case ; For Saul, who fear'd lest the full plenty might (In the abandon'd camp expos'd to fight) His hungry men from the pursuit dissuade, A rash, but solemn vow to Heaven had made— * Curs'd be the wretch, thrice cursed let him be, Who shall touch food this busy day,” said he, “Whilst the blest Sun does with his favouring light Assist our vengeful swords against their flight: Be he thrice curst' and, if his life we spare, On us those curses fail that he should bear !' Such was the king’s rash vow ; who little thought How near to him Fate th’ application brought. The two-edged oath wounds deep, perform'd or broke; Ev’n perjury its least and bluntest stroke. 'Twas his ownson, whom God and mankind lov’d, His own victorious son, that he devov'd, On whose bright head the baleful curses light : But Providence, his helmet in the fight, Forbids their entrance or their settling there; They with brute sound dissolv’d into the air. Him what religion, or what vow, could bind, Unknown, unheard-of, till he his life did find

Entangled in 't whilst wonders he did do,
Must he die now for not being prophet too 2
To all but him this oath was meant and said ;,
He, afar off, the ends for which 'twas made
Was acting then, till, faint and out of breath,
He grew half-dead with toil of giving death.
What could his crime in this condition be,
Fxcus’d by ignorance and necessity ?
Yet the remorseless king—who did disdain
That man should hear him swear or threatin vain,
Though 'gainst himself; or Fate a way should see
By which attack’d and conquer'd he might be ;
Who thought compassion female weakness here,
And equity injustice would appear
In his own cause; who falsely fear'd, beside,
The solemn curse on Jonathan did abide,
And, the infected limb not cut away,
Would like a gangrene o'er all Israel stray —
Prepar'd this god-like sacrifice to kill,
And his rash vow more rashly to fulfil.
What tongue can th” horrour and amazement tell
Which on all Israel that sad moment fell !
Tamer had been their grief, fewer their tears,
Had the Philistian fate that day been theirs.
Not Saul's proud heart could master his swoln

eye; The prince alone stood mild and patient by ;

A

So bright his sufferings, so triumphant show'd,
Less to the best than worst of fates he ow’d.
A victory now he o'er himself might boast;
He conquer'd now that conqueror of an host.
It charm'd though tears the sad spectator's
sight,
Did reverence, love, and gratitude, excite,
And pious rage; with which inspir'd, they now
Oppose to Saul's a better public vow.
They all consent all Israel ought to be
Accurs'd and kill'd themselves, rather than he.
Thus with kind force they the glad king with-
stood,
And sav'd their wondrous
blood ''
Thus David spoke; and much did yet remain
Behind, th’ attentive prince to entertain;
Edom and Zoba's war—for what befel
In that of Moab, was known there too well:
The boundless quarrel with curs’d Amalek's
land;
Where Heaven itself did cruelty command,
And practis'd on Saul's mercy, nor did ere
More punish innocent blood, than pity there.
But lo! they arriv'd now at th' appointed place;
Well-chosen and well-furnish'd for the chase.

saviour's sacred

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

therefore by no means could be omitted here) the vast multitude of spectators made up, as it uses to do, no small part of the spectacle itself. But yet, I know not how, the whole was so managed, that, methought, it somewhat represented the life of him for whom it was made ; much noise, much tumult, much expense, much magnificence, much vainglory; briefly, a great show, and yet, after all this, but an ill sight. At last (for it seemed long to me, and like his short reign too, very tedious) the whole scene passed by; and I retired back to my chamber, weary, and I think more melancholy than any of the mourners; where Ibegan to reflect on the whole life ofthis prodigious man:and sometimes I was filled with horrour and detestation of his actions, and sometimes I inclined a little to reverence and admiration of his courage, conduct, and success; till, by these different motions and agitations of mind, rocked as it were asleep, I fell at last into this vision; or if you please to call it but a dream, I shall not take it ill, because the father of poets tells us, even dreams, too, are from God. But sure it was no dream; for I was suddenly transported afar off (whether in the body, or out of the body, like St. Paul, I know not) and found myself on the top of that famous hill in the island Mona, which has the prospect of three great, and not-long-since most happy, kingdoms. As soon as ever I looked on them, the “not-long-since” struck upon my memory, and called forth the sad representation of all the sins, and all the miseries, that had overwhelmed them these twenty years. And I wept bitterly for two or threehours; and, when my present stock of moisture was all wasted, I fell a sighing for an hour more; and, as soon as I recovered from my passion the use of speech and reason, I broke forth as I remember (looking upon England) into this complaint: Ah, happy Isle, how art thou chang'd and curs'd, Since I was born and knew thee first ' When Peace, which had forsook the world around, (Frighted with noise, and the shrill trumpet's sound) Thee for a private place of rest, And a secure retirement, chose Wherein to build her halcyon nest; No wind durst stir abroad, the air to discompose:

When all the riches of the globe beside
Flow’d in to thee with every tide;

When all, that Nature did thy soil deny,

The growth was of thy fruitful industry;
When all the proud and dreadful sea,
And all his tributary streams,
A constant tribute paid to thee;

When all the liquid world was one extended

Thames:

When Plenty in each village did appear,
And Bounty was its steward there,

When Gold walk'd free about in open view,

Ere it one conquering party's prisoner grew;
When the Religion of our state
Had face and substance with her voice,
Ere she by her foolish loves of late,

Like Echo (once a nymph) turn'd only into

noise :

When men to men, respect and friendship bore, And God with reverence did adore,

When upon Earth no kingdom could have shown
A happier monarch to us, than our own:
And yet his subjects by him were
(Which is a truth will hardly be
Receiv'd by any vulgar ear, -
A secret known to few) made happier ev'n than
he.

Thou dosta chaos, and confusion, now,
A Babel, and a Bedlam, grow, -

And like a frantic person, thou dost tear [wear,

The ornaments and clothes which thou should'st
And cut thy limbs; and, if we
(Just as thy barbarous Britons did)
Thy body with hypocrisy

Painted all o'er, thou think'st thy naked shame is

hid.

The nations, which envied thee erewhile,
Now laugh, (too little 'tis to smile)

They laugh, and would have pitied thee, alas !

But that thy faults all pity do surpass.
Art thou the country, which didst hate
And mock the French inconstancy?
And have we, have we seen of late

Less change of habits there, than governments in

thee *

Unhappy Isle ! no ship of thine at sea,
Was ever tostand torn like thee.

Thy naked hulk loose on the waves does beat,

The rocks and banks around her ruin threat;
What did thy foolish pilots ail,
To lay the compass quite aside?
Without a law or rule to sail,

And rather take the winds, than heavens, to be

their guide'

Yet, mighty God! yet, yet, we humbly crave, This floating isle from shipwreck save; And though, to wash that blood which does it stain, It well deserve to sink into the main; Yet, for the royal martyr's prayer (The royal martyr prays, we know) This guilty, perishing vessel spare; Hear but his soul above, and not his blood below' I think I should have gone on,but that I was interrupted bya strange and terrible apparition; for there appeared to me (arising out of the earth, as I conceived) the figure of a man, taller than a giant; or indeed than the shadow of any giant in the evening. His body was naked; but that nakedness-adorned, or rather deformed, all over, with several figures, after the manner of the ancient Britons, painted upon it; and I perceived that most of them were the representation the late battles in our civil wars, and (if I be not much mistaken) it was the battle of Naseby that was drawn upon his breast. His eyes were like burning brass; and there were three crowns of the same metal, (as I guessed) and that looked as red-hot too, upon his head. He held in his right-hand a sword that was yet bloody, and nevertheless the motto of it was, Pax quaritur bello; and in his left hand a thick book, upon the back of which was written in letters of gold, Acts, Ordinances, Protestations, Covenants, Engagements, Declarations, Remoustrances, &c.

« AnteriorContinuar »