A Panegyric on the Author of “Absalom and Achitophel”

Occasioned by His Former Writing of an Elegy in Praise of Oliver Cromwell, Lately Reprinted

When old philosophers wrote the world's birth
And from wild chaos brought great nature forth,
The selfsame atoms as they different ran
Clubbed to a lion, monkey, bear, or man;
From such thin sires such solid offspring grew,
So, divine wit, like the first matter, thou:
Thy subtle sparks do such strange products make
That thou just nothing, yet all forms canst take.
So justly thou hast deserved they long-worn bays.
That, as a trophy to thy endless praise,
Let that great poem its long silence break,
The worthiest of thy vast creation speak.
 Methinks I fancy how bold Mucius' dart
Was leveled at Porsena's royal heart,
And in defeated rage I see him doom
His erring hand t' its flaming martyrdom.
Let his poor deeds in dull oblivion die;
Thy vengeance with a surer aim lets fly:
In keen iambics 'gainst thy sov'reign lord,
Thy pen was more successful than his sword.
So vast a pile thy lofty numbers raise,
Those Babel-builders to great Moloch's praise,
A pile which to thy honor will surpass
E'en thy own Corah's monumental brass.
 Thou writ'st with so much flame, flame so refined,
That poetry's the fever of thy mind;
And fever-like in those bleak days of yore,
When loyalty was naked left and poor,
Thy anguished veins chilled at a starving door.
But burning high thy active spirits run
At prosperous rebellion's warmer sun.
When Phaeton misled the day, and hurled
His scattered fires around the scorching world,
How would his glories in thy meter chime,
The groans of worlds thus softened into rhyme?
Or when great Nero set his Rome on fire,
And tuned its ruin to his jocund lyre,
How with his music would thy notes agree,
A song, great bard, fit to be set by thee.
Such wonders have thy pow'rful raptures shown,
Pythagoras' transmigration thou'st outdone.
His souls of heroes and great chiefs expired
Down into birds and noble beasts retired;
But thou to savages and monsters dire
Canst infuse sparks e'en of celestial fire;
Make treason glory, murd'rers heroes live,
And e'en to regicides canst godheads give.
Thus in thy songs the yet warm bloody dart,
Fresh reeking in a martyred monarch's heart,
Burnished by verse and polished by thy lines,
The rubies in imperial crowns outshines,
Whilst in applause to that sad day's success,
So black a theme in so divine a dress;
Thy soaring heights Prometheus' thefts excel,
Whilst thou steal'st fire from Heav'n t'enlighten Hell.
 But stay, my Muse, here change thy gaudy strain,
And show a new, no less prodigious scene.
That laureled head, whose sweet melodious tongue
To Curse ye Meroz Io Paean sung,
A bagpipe drone to the old priestcraft cant,
Who once did consecrated daggers chant,
And England's great Ravaillac sung before,
Now tunes his pipe to David's righteous lore,
In Scaevola's stump the convert pen he brings,
And his burnt hand now writes the praise of kings.
 Thus bold, thus great, and all in the extreme,
His panegyrics are like Daniel's dream;
This tribute now to David's glory pay,
A head of gold to his old feet of clay.
Now wonder then so feelingly he tells
Of Corahs, Shimeis, and Achitophels.
Such characters he may well gild so fine
Who has their rich ore from his own native mine.
How vast an orb has a poetic soul!
Grasps all from east to west, and pole to pole.
Its warbling voice right, wrong, truth, falsehood sings,
Tuned to all states, religions, gods, or kings.
O wit, how wide, is thy circumference
Where thy attractive center's bread and pence!
Pence did I say? O they have charming skill
To rouse the gall of an heroic quill!
Is there not mighty sound and mighty sense
In great Iscariot's thirty chinking pence!
By this Lucina hast thou borne with pain
The num'rous offspring of thy teeming brain:
More various issues in Nile's slimy bed
Not thy own patron Phoebus ever bred.
Thy pregnant heats, like Israel's wanton lust,
First mold thy golden calves, then pound ‘em into dust.
 Write on, and more than winds or frenzy range,
Keep still thy old prerogative to change;
'Tis poor humanity that's kept in bound
Whilst pow'r unlimited is godlike found.
Then thy great self, thou wondrous poet, show:
Honor and principles disdain, for know
Thy mercury's too proud to fix so low.
All laws and bounds let thy wild Muse despise,
And reign the Prince o'th' Air in which it flies.
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