by William Alexander
An heroicke Poeme intended.
With Ammons King, griev'd Iabesh did agree,
If not reliev'd, their right eyes lost, to live;
From this disgrace Saul fights to make them free,
And God to him, the victory doth give,
Those, who their King (with successe crown'd) did see;
Them who him first had scorn'd, to kill did strive:
The peoples errour, Samuel makes them know,
Then what he was, what all should be, doth show.
Mvse sound true valour, all perfections parts,
The force of friendship, and th'effects of faith,
To kindle courage in those generous hearts,
Which strive by vertue to triumph o're death,
Whil'st honours height the wage of worth imparts,
What hence is hop'd, or whil'st we here draw breath:
Loe, found, not fain'd, how men accomplish'd prove,
Both prais'd below, and glorifi'd above.
O thou, from whom all what we praise doth streame,
Lift up my soule, my sprite with power inspire;
That straying wits who fayn'd Ideas dreame,
May magnanimity in men admire,
Who sought thy glory, not affecting fame,
And yet what courage courts did all acquire;
The truth not wrong'd, to please Lord pardon me,
In method, time, and circumstances free.
Sterne Ammons armes when Iabesh was enclos'd,
In her defenders did such feare infuse,
That breached walles (all naked) were expos'd,
As weake, else worse, the owners to accuse;
Who on defence no further then repos'd,
But last, for hope, a wretched helpe did use,
To fawne on foes, and seeke (they thus appeas'd)
What safety those who sought their ruine, pleas'd.
Then Nahas who could not his pride suppresse,
(As empty bladders blowne up with the winde)
Did dreame what way to double their distresse,
That still their shame might basely be design'd,
And to this bargaine proudly did them presse,
That they (without right eys) should live half blinde:
A plaguy pardon which did lose, when spare,
"Of wicked men the mercies cruell are.
But the besieg'd all in a desp'rate state,
"(The present feare breeds greatest horrour still)
Sought first that they by messengers might treat,
With other Hebrews to prevent their ill,
And if not so soone help'd, short was the date,
When they should render resting on his will:
Who thus some comfort or excuse might claime,
All Israell so made partners of their shame.
To this requeste he quickly did consent,
All strength else scorn'd, who trusted in his owne,
For, if the rest, that succour crav'd, not lent,
He judg'd them straight as with that town o're-thrown;
His raving thoughts for new designes were bent,
As this for certaine, all the world had knowne;
"Loe, thus large counts proud fooles for long time make,
"Though death still treads each foot-step at their backe.
As wing'd with feares to haste the hop'd reliefe,
At Gibea he arriv'd whom Iabesh sent,
Whil'st groanes and teares (as in commission chiefe)
More prompt for woe would needs the tongue prevent,
They first usurp'd the place, as sent from griefe,
While as the count'nance did the minde comment:
Yet from their weaknesse gathering some more strength,
Sighs ushering words, this wrestled out at length.
Your wretched brethren who in Gilead dwell,
Of Gods choice people (Abrahams heires) a part,
By Ammons bands whose breasts with pride do swell,
Have suffred harmes which might make rocks to smart,
Indignities which I disdaine to tell,
Such shame my face, and horrour fills my heart:
By putting out one eye, some covet peace:
Though great the losse, yet greater the disgrace.
With this condition, Iabesh did compose,
If in seven dayes we succour not receive,
More happy they who both their eyes doe lose,
Then who for object such a tyrant have,
Who even o're God seekes to insult in those,
Whom from his Altars he doth bragge to reave:
The losse of light (if this not griev'd) were light,
Though all our dayes (when blinde) prov'd but one night.
His pow'r too much esteem'd, ours not at all,
He, till we gather, doth of purpose stay,
That (as he dreames) all quickly kill'd, or thrall,
Fame flow'd from many springs exhaust he may;
As Egypts foyle, and many nations fall,
All for his glory had prepar'd the way:
This victory must by all those be grac'd,
Gods captiv'd wonders in his triumph plac'd.
Oft when men scorn'd, God did regard our grones,
And from great troubles did us free before,
Who pow'rfull, just, and mercifull at once,
Peace to his people when he would restore,
As Reeds, crush'd Scepters, breaking brittle thrones,
And by meane meanes to be admir'd the more,
What man not mock'd at Midians scornfull flight?
How oft did one against a number fight?
Then (Sir) it seemes that who guards Iacobs seed,
To honour you doth this occasion move,
That at this time you (eminent) may breed,
In strangers terrour, in your people love,
For if this battell (as we hope) succeed,
It your election highly would approve:
And that conceit which at the first one gaines,
It fix'd for ever in the minde remaines.
Since come to urge great haste I must be short,
That soone their hopes may grow, or else be spent,
Whom if you now doe by your power support,
You free from danger, and your owne prevent,
Else in worse time, us'd after in like sort,
Your owne next fear'd, you must our losse repent.
"And courage, which, now free, might praise procure,
"Necessity when forc'd, will quite obscure.
Thinke that you heare our Citizens in vaine,
With wasted words a tyrants rigour ply;
The dead to envy forc'd, whil'st they remaine
Of victors vile the bitter taunts to try,
The faces beauty once, but then the staine,
On bloudy cheekes whilst ugly eyes doe lye;
Thinke Nahas scorning them, and bragging you,
And that one moment lost, breeds danger now.
The man then dumb, griefe did againe engage,
By speaking passions further to prevaile;
The common woe nought could at first asswage,
Till angers strength made pitties weakenesse faile:
Kinde Ionathan smoak'd griefe, and flam'd forth rage,
But yet for haste to venge, staid not to waile:
He wish'd for wings to flye, where Ammon stay'd,
Yet first attended what his father said.
That God (said Saul) whom none enough can praise,
His troupes when vex'd, still by some one protects;
And me (of many least) at last doth raise
To fight those battels which his will directs;
Oft (that he thus the world may more amaze)
Weake instruments worke wonderfull effects:
That, due to him, none may usurpe one thought,
Nor from his glory derogate in ought.
All my ambition is to serve this state;
For which effect, forc'd from my low repose,
The Lord was pleas'd (not my desires) of late,
This charge on me (as all know) to impose;
And by effects, God grant I may prove great,
Not, but in shew, as pompous Ethnickes glose;
That God, this State who made me to embrace,
May grace his choice, and fit me for the place.
I all your troubles travell to appease,
And place my treasure onely in your hearts:
Farre be delight from me, and what may please,
Whil'st in this kingdome any City smarts,
And I could wish I might (if for your ease)
To watch over all, even part my selfe in parts:
This kingdome now it must my body prove,
And I the soule by which it all should move.
But lest that words time (due to deeds) should wast,
Goe, get you backe, and unto Iabesh tell,
That, ere the time which they design'd, be past,
I shall be there, that tyrant to expell;
Then whil'st they wondred, as quite chang'd at last,
Saul did them all, yea, and himselfe excell:
A kingly courage kindled had his minde,
And from his face, majesticke greatnesse shin'd.
He whom they had despis'd, as base before,
Of the least Tribes lest family, but borne,
Who sought stray'd beasts, heard of his fathers store,
Whom with disdaine they (when first rais'd) did scorn;
Afraid to be with him familiar more,
A reverend awe had proud contempt out-worne:
And troupes did him attend (all well appeas'd)
Imperiously appointing what he pleas'd.
Two Oxen then he did in pieces share,
Which he through Israell did with terrour send,
And vow'd solemnly, who did not repaire,
Where Saul and Samuel did their forces bend,
That as those beasts had been dismembred there,
They, like from him (when victor) might attend;
But in their hearts, God such obedience wrought,
That all to doe his will, were quickly brought.
O what huge troupes their native homes did leave!
Of populous Israell, there did armed stand,
Three hundred thousand, thirty Iuda gave,
When by God bless'd, so fertile was that land:
Yet they by this did no high hopes conceive,
Though swarming forth in number as the sand:
As who oft spy'd, confirm'd by the effects,
The God of battels, victory directs.
No mercenary mindes base gaine did move,
(As whom when sold, a price to perill drives)
Bright zeale, true honour, and their Countries love,
Did to all dangers consecrate their lives:
None needed them to presse, but to approve,
Arm'd for their Altars, children, goods and wives,
When forc'd to fight for liberty and lands,
Each one (a Captaine) all his power commands.
When open force had banish'd private feares,
All were (though sad) bent what they lov'd to quite,
Babes flatt'ring smiles, wives wounding sighes, and tears,
Of pleasures past endeer'd the left delight;
Yet from all else the Trumpets challeng'd eares:
They part behov'd, where honour did invite,
Which made their breasts such gallant guests embrace,
Soft passions soon gave active courage place.
That sadnesse past, which partings had contracted,
All fed their fancies with Ideall shewes,
And carelesse what they did, as quite distracted,
All (breathing battell) talk'd but of ore-throwes;
And what they thought, their earnest gesture acted;
Each mouth with brags, each hand seem'd big with blowes:
Each souldier (swoln with hopes) as straight grown great,
With count'nance stern, look'd high, and step'd in state.
All eyes attendance, Ionathan procur'd,
Whose march majesticke highly was extoll'd,
Not arrogant, no, no, but yet assur'd,
It some men's folly, others feares controld:
His looke imperious, forc'd, yet milde, allur'd,
The proud to bow, the humble to be bold:
What fit, reforming, marking every place;
His gallant carriage, all the rest did grace.
Clouds made the world (all light below expell'd)
A driry lodging for a drowsie lord,
Yet still (as big with light) heavens bosome swell'd,
And for one great, did many small afford:
In shadowes wrapt, a silent horrour held
All sorts of guests with which the earth was stor'd:
The world seem'd dumb, where nought save breath did move,
As, what seem'd dead, it still alive would prove.
Yet all the hoast to Nature did refuse,
That tribute due by every mortals eye,
Of matters high whil'st haughty thoughts did muse,
Sleeps leaden bands straight travell did unty;
Heaven in their mindes such vigour did infuse,
They (as it selfe) the type of death did flye:
"To doe great things, when generous minds devise,
"Paine pleasure gives, things difficult entice.
But (clouds dispers'd) the ayre more pure appear'd,
Light blushing (as late rais'd) the depths did leave,
Whil'st flaming shields some trembling glances clear'd,
What night had reft from them, th'eyes back did reave,
And sprites (though dull) a naturall musicke chear'd,
Which many divers sounds consorted gave:
Thus light from darknesse, Day from Night forth springs,
Type of that Chaos first whence flow'd all things.
Ere that dayes journey Phœbus had begun,
The Armies, neere were drawn unto an end;
And those return'd, who first before had runne,
To try abroad that which they might attend:
They told how they (by the occasion wonne)
To Ammons Tents did resolutely tend,
Whose silence seem'd them (in suspense) to call,
Some watch'd neere Iabesh, elsewhere none at all.
They by faint flashes of exhausted fires,
There spyde a Camp, as if from danger farre,
Well serv'd with all to which rich Peace aspires,
As if for pleasure com'd, to sport with warre,
They softly lay (as at adorn'd retires)
Where (all commodious) nought their rest might marre:
Mars onely seem'd to court his mistresse there,
Charg'd with superfluous, of things needfull, bare.
Here sleep press'd him, there wine had buried one,
(Death kissed so as straight imbrac'd to be)
Boords still were charg'd, whence guests had falne, not gone,
Cups crown'd with wine, triumph'd, as victors, free,
Late musicks conducts bruis'd (when touch'd) did grone,
Games relicts left, were of all sorts to see;
Thus souldiers seem'd, voluptuous tokens trac'd,
Not in a campe, but at some wedding plac'd.
Two in one tent (whil'st we without did hold)
As tyr'd of sleep, the time with words did wast,
The truth I hope, (though not so meant when told)
Said, of their toyles, this night would be the last.
Then, that this day the Hebrews render would,
And at their feet themselves (scorn'd captives) cast:
Th'one long'd to laugh, when spying them halfe blinde,
His mate to kill, as more to ruth inclin'd.
No doubt we might (if willing) where we went,
Have soon kill'd some, and hardly kept hands pure,
But would not so your enterprise prevent,
By making them suspect who lay secure;
Our thoughts for private praise were not so bent,
A publicke danger fondly to procure;
Then (brought from thence to prove their speeches true)
A helmet one, a sword the other shew.
Thus what they learn'd, each circumstance declar'd,
In every breast a thirst of battell bred,
With Abner and his sonne, Saul equall shar'd,
The glistring squadrons which no danger dread,
Of which both resolute, and well prepar'd,
Each one a hundred and ten thousand led:
The chiefes then met, who straight to fight did crave,
Saul needlesse spurres thus to franke courage gave.
Whil'st all events (as doubtfull) ballanc'd be,
The souldiers mindes their earnest Emperour cheares;
But what I should give you, ye give to me,
Whose resolution at an height appeares;
A courage, yea, a confidence I see,
Through lookes which lightning every count'nance cleares:
So that I should (if bent to move you more)
Cast water in the Sea, sand on the shore.
And O! what wonder though ye all be bold,
Your ancestors victorious steps to trace,
Which oft triumph'd o're mighty States of old,
Whil'st God the glory, they did purchase peace:
Heavens register, by sacred pennes enrold
Their worth eternall, which each age must grace:
Who high exploits securely might effect,
When God himselfe as Captaine did direct.
With God at peace, what can appall that band,
Whom so to help (when need requires such ayd)
Seas part, rocks rend, food rains, walls fall, flouds stand,
One may chase thousands, thousands quake dismay'd,
Whose hearts when God, men may the rest command,
As bound, delivered, yet by none betray'd:
The wonder-workers power more plaine to make,
Whil'st one moe captives kept, then ten could take?
A prey made sure ye onely go to seise,
(As spyes report) which may even dead be thought,
Since spoyl'd by pleasure, buried in their ease,
To grace our labours not come here, but brought;
This hoast of ours the Lord of hoasts doth please,
Whose help, I doubt not, but ye all have sought:
Loe, Samuel here, and Saul; let this content,
A Prophet, and a Prince, by God both sent.
But though not difficult this conquest seemes,
Great is the glory which doth it attend;
From bragg'd disgrace our Brethren it redeemes,
Which (if not worse) would toward us extend,
And then by it the world that state esteemes,
Which oft ye urg'd, and have procur'd in th'end:
For, as this first, with fame now credit gaines,
Your course disprov'd, or still approv'd, remaines.
Nor speake I this, as who of ought do doubt,
Since rather reines then spurres your courage needs,
Be providently brave, not rash, though stout,
Let your Commanders words direct your deeds,
And thinke ye see me still to marke about,
Whose gallant carriage greatest glory breeds:
No valour thus in vaine shall be set forth,
One shall both witnesse, and reward your worth.
But why do I our victory delay,
And force your fury idlie thus to burne?
Go, go, wound, kill, take, spoyle, and leade away,
That straight in triumph we may all returne;
I see in flouds of bloud dead bodies stray,
I heare you shout for joy, for griefe them mourne:
And whil'st scorn'd ransomes have your hands not stai'd,
All sacrifice at last, as first ye pray'd.
Then godly Samuel fortifi'd them more,
By spirituall pow'r, then all their weapons else,
He pray'd with faith, and did with zeale adore,
Which, more then offrings, wrath for sinne expels,
Then, all religious rites perform'd before,
Which might draw help from heaven, stay harm from hels,
He by his blessing more confirm'd their mindes,
Then all could do, though joyn'd from Thule to Indes.
This mighty Army did it selfe divide,
And by three wayes all forward went one way,
The dust, which in a cloud them seem'd to hide,
Even it, by covering, did them first betray;
When carelesse Ammon numbrous Israel spy'd,
Though dull amazement mindes a space did stay,
All with confusion sundry things advis'd,
Rise, runne, haste, arme, ranke, march, we are surpris'd.
Three Armies view'd, each from a severall part,
Come not, and Iabesh as they did expect,
Who promis'd had (to sooth them so with Art)
That they that day would further hopes neglect,
And this with terrour toss'd the strongest heart;
None knew what way their forces to direct;
The world conjur'd, seem'd all against them arm'd,
Whil'st glistring squadrons from each corner swarm'd.
Yet with great haste, what might be, was perform'd,
And nothing requisite was left undone;
The first confusion bravely was reform'd,
And the tumultuous bands all settled soone;
Then haughty Nahas, who extreamely storm'd,
Though griefe, and rage, his accents did mistoone;
He, to his troups, ere enemies could them reach,
With desp'rate courage did roare forth this speech.
Hath dastard Iabesh thus with us disguis'd?
Or must their shame be witness'd by those bands?
Then, let us prove (though by our foes despis'd)
As Seas in power, since they, in number, sands,
So shall they finde (though thinking us surpris'd)
That they in ours, we fall not in their hands:
They now to fight are altogether brought,
Whom else when sever'd, we with toyle had sought.
We must be great, or not be, in short space,
For, though so sought, no safety flight attends,
But what base breast can such vile thoughts imbrace?
"Shame, even then death, a step more low descends;
Losse now not onely threatens us'd disgrace,
But what to Iabesh ye, to you portends:
This hoast as earst not now for glory strives,
But (mans last hope) we fight to save our lives.
It seemes, that Fortune, curious of our fame,
For some great end hath brought us to those straits,
Where we, when victors, all the praise may claime,
And leave (if dead) the burden on the fates;
The greatest deeds adorning any name,
Were done by men, when in most desp'rat states:
High resolution desp'rat valour brings,
Who hope for nothing, may contemne all things.
My hands, and not my tongue, must make you stout,
Which bloudy paths, where you may tread, shall leave;
If mix'd with theirs, what though our bloud gush out?
Strive to revenge our death, not life to save,
And let our falls presse downe their bands about,
Which by our ruine, ruine may receive;
So may they rue our losse, as too deare bought:
Who live, still something, but the dead waile nought.
The Trumpets' sound drown'd the last words in th'ayre,
Whose brasen breath (as animating steele)
Made metall march, a moving creature there,
Though wanting sense, yet to make others feele;
The driry drummes both Camps with horrours square,
Did equall once, whil'st feare made neither reele:
Each bounds rebounds the sounds of brasse, and breath,
A martiall Musicke, courage tun'd for death.
The winged weapons with a threatning flight,
(Sharpe messengers of death) first bloud did reave;
Black clouds of darts (a deadly storme at height,
Death rain'd in many drops) red flouds did leave,
An arch of Arrows darkned all their sight,
That where to fight, they so a shade might have;
But griev'd to lose their blows, whil'st whose not known,
Each one rush'd forward to avouch his own.
O! with what fury both together runne,
Whose violence did vent it selfe in smokes!
When, ere they joyn'd, the battell was begun,
With bragging gestures, and outragious looks;
Some red with rage, sought that which some did shunne,
Whom feare made pale, whil'st passing crimson brooks:
How mindes are sway'd a danger clearly tels,
Whil'st feare sinks downe, or courage higher swels.
But when they once did swords in bloud imbrue,
The en'mies challeng'd, changing blows, or breath,
All irritated then, more earnest grew,
The publike wrong enlarg'd by private wrath;
Who felt their wounds, and did, who gave them view,
They no revenge allow'd, till seal'd by death;
All (save their foes, no object else in sight,
Nor heaven, nor earth) seem'd in the ayre to fight.
Weake words in vaine would pow'rfull deeds forth set:
The Trumpets sounds my daring lines abate;
All there concurr'd what generous thoughts could whet,
Bright glory angling hearts with honours baite;
Franke courage then with desp'rat furie met,
Pride with contempt, and with old wrongs new hate:
Then, Fame was spy'd attending with a pen,
To register the Acts of worthie men.
They others bodies fiercely did pursue,
And theirs expos'd to all, as not theirs, loe,
Them from themselves a generous ardour drew,
What suffering carelesse, onely bent to do,
A way for foes enforc'd, armes, as untrue,
Seem'd (red with bloud) to blush, though wounded too;
Some swords, through armour, forc'd a passage quite;
Some beaten backe did burst, and breake for spite.
Though many brave men grac'd the Hebrew band,
Saul (as a Sunne amidst lesse lights who shin'd)
First (as for state) for valour, striv'd to stand,
Of body high, but yet more high in minde,
And (eminent) there where he did command,
Made friends, and foes, both cause to marke him, finde,
Till his example strange effects did breed,
Which some would second, others would exceed.
Brave Ionathan, proud Ammon to abate,
When his fierce squadron was imbark'd in bloud,
A godly anger, and a holy hate,
(No ill effects come from a cause so good)
Of many lives did cleare the doubtfull date,
Which flow'd in th'ayre amidst a crimson flood:
And what his looks, or words, did most perswade,
His hands in action demonstration made.
Shafts severall roomes (by conquest) now did gaine,
Which were of late all in one lodging pent,
For Quivers, quivering bodies, them containe;
The bow as barren then, the off-spring spent,
Whil'st breaking strings (as sighing) seem'd to plaine,
And burst at last, in vaine loath to be bent,
Or as an abject tree to be throwne downe,
Which interest had in Ionathans renowne.
Though arrows first, made, by commission, warre,
And what hands bragg'd, seem'd through the ayre to breathe,
Straight forward courage scorn'd to fight afarre,
By blows, at hazard, trafficking with death;
He with a Tree more strong did squadrons marre;
The speare, a Gyant, darts, were dwarffs of wrath;
It, even when crush'd, a number did confound;
To venge the whole, each splinter gave a wound.
That which true worth most honour hath to use,
When this great Hebrews hand to tosse began,
Which onely cuts, where other weapons bruise,
Of Armes the glory, ornament of man;
A storme of stroaks, in foes did feare infuse,
Which there wrought wonders, Fame for ever wanne:
His face seem'd clad with flames, th'eyes lightned so,
Starres to his owne, and Comets to his foe.
Couragious Abner courted glories love,
No rash director, but to action swift,
That even his place pale envy did approve,
As his desert, and not his Soveraignes gift;
It seem'd a thousand hands his sword did move,
His minde so high a generous rage did lift:
At heart, or eye, which should the first arrive,
The lightning glance, and thundring blow did strive.
Like Autumns spoyls a publike prey which fall,
When low stretch'd out lay Ammons loftie brood,
It did their King amaze, but not appall,
Though in their wounds acknowledging his blood,
Yet he (whose strength was lessened in them all)
A while relenting (as distracted) stood:
But when weake passions urg'd the us'd releefe,
Rage in their fountains dry'd the streames of griefe.
The foaming Tyrant, swolne with high disdaine,
(What had cool'd some, him further did enflame
To bound at once, state, fortune, life, and raigne;
Not victory, no, vengeance was his ayme:
A glorious life not hoping more to gaine,
He thought by death to frustrate threatned shame,
But, of foes kill'd, would first a mount have made,
Where (as in triumph) he might lye, when dead.
I know not if more bent to give, or take,
That which (well weigh'd) is an indifferent thing,
The raging Pagan, thus his people spake,
What poore life can not, liberall death doth bring,
And you (though Subjects) may my equals make,
Loe, without treason you may match your King:
Crowne, Throne, or Scepter, fates no more allow,
And by the sword all may be Soveraignes now.
As two great Torrents striving for one way,
Raise mounts of Sands, raze heights, spoile Tree and Town,
And (that th'ones name the other swallow may)
What ever doth resist, beare thence, or drowne;
So, of their fury what the course did stay,
Sauls matchlesse sonne, and Ammons lord beat downe,
Th'eyes earnest gave, whil'st they at distance stay'd,
That, by their hands, the rest should straight be pay'd.
When Israels gallant had beheld a space,
The fierce Barbarian opening up the throng,
He cry'd to all aloud, give place, give place,
Let none usurpe what doth to me belong;
This man my life, and I his death must grace,
Who marre the match would but to both do wrong:
A vulgar hand must not his end procure,
He stands too glorious to fall downe obscure.
Some drawn by feare, and some by reverence mov'd,
The distance twixt them vanish'd soone away;
Like rivall Bulls which had one Heifer lov'd,
And through the flocks with brandish'd hornes did stray,
Whil'st th'one resolv'd, and th'other desp'rate prov'd,
Both with great fury did enforce their way,
Whose troups enflam'd by hearing their high words,
Did in their action emulate their Lords.
Those two transported, did together rinne,
As if both hoasts did onely in them fight,
They with short processe, ground did lose and winne,
Vrg'd, shunn'd, forc'd, fayn'd, bow'd, rais'd, hand, leg, left, right,
Advanc'd, retir'd, rebated, and gave in,
With reason fury, courage joyn'd with slight:
So earnest mindes and bended bodies press'd,
That, then the blowes, the ayming more distress'd.
To sell his life the Ethnicke onely sought,
But valu'd it so much, though but in vaine,
That clouds of darts, and swords too few were thought
To force the fortresse where it did remaine,
So that, (by one to last extreames thus brought,)
His fury was converted to disdaine;
Shame joyning with despaire, death did impose,
Ere more, then Crowne or life, he liv'd to lose.
By blowes redoubled charging every way,
Whil'st he but wish'd who did him kill, to kill,
Bloud leaving him, his danger did betray,
Which rage in vaine, would have dissembled still,
And th'other storm'd so long with one to stay,
Who might elsewhere, fields with dead bodies fill;
Iust indignation all his strength did bend,
The heart conjuring hands to make an end.
The Hebrew us'd at once both strength and Art;
Th'one hand did ward, a blow the other gave,
Which hit his head (the marke of many a dart)
Whose batt'red temples fearefull sense did leave;
The treacherous helmet tooke the strongest part,
And bruis'd those braines which it was set to save;
Yet dying striking, last he th'earth did wound,
Whose fall (as some great Oakes) made it rebound.
His eyes againe began to gather light,
And Ionathan (when victor) to relent,
But straight just hate presented, as in sight,
His barbarous actions, and abhorr'd intent;
How (vainely vaunting of a victors right)
That all his thoughts to cruelty were bent:
Whose raging minde, on Captives strangely strict,
Then bondage, spoyle, or death would more inflict.
Thou tyrant, thou (said he) who did'st devise,
Else farre from fame, for ill to be renown'd,
Those halfe-blinde Hebrews whom thou did'st despise,
They vengeance urge, they, they, give thee this wound;
With that, by his right eye (who striv'd to rise,)
The flaming sword amidst his braynes he drown'd:
Whose guilty ghost, where shadowes never end,
With indignation, grudging did descend.
As if hells furies had thy sprite inspir'd,
Prodigious creature, monster inhumane,
Loe, what have all thy cruelties acquir'd,
Which thus with interest Time returnes againe,
But hell, when hence, and here, whence now retir'd,
That thy remembrance odious may remaine:
Yet with this comfort, thou abandon'st breath,
The hand of Ionathan adorn'd thy death.
As some fierce Lyon raging through the fields,
(Which of beasts kill'd, contemnes the tasted bloud)
Doth hunt another, when another yeelds,
Yet, wanton, riots, as for sport, not food;
So Iacobs gallant (breaching many shields)
Bent for more prey, with him no longer stood,
And till their chiefe, his followers follow'd too,
Nought did seeme done, whil'st ought remain'd to do.
All Israels squadrons circling Ammon in,
Straight at his center, threatning were to meet,
Which poynt (the last man kill'd) all march to winne,
Where halfe-dead bodies made a breathing street,
All striv'd to end, as lately to begin,
Whil'st dust did dry what bloud and sweat made weet;
Mars courting courage, first shin'd bright about,
But then with horrour turn'd his inside out.
Saul as ov'r bodies then did raigne in hearts,
O how farre chang'd from what he first had been!
And by plaine valour, scorning usuall Arts,
The emulous Abner, eminent was seene;
These three, at first which charg'd from divers parts,
Seem'd foes oppos'd, their foes, as chanc'd between:
Whom (from encountring, that them nought might stay)
They but beat downe, to make a patent way.
When hopes on doubts no longer did depend,
Whil'st Israels colours, victory did beare,
Some seem'd to grieve that warre so soone would end,
And striv'd in time, what trophees they might reare;
Whil'st flattring glory, lofty thoughts to bend,
In gorgeous robes, did whisper in each eare,
What brave man now my beauties will embrace,
To breed (Fames minions) an immortall race?
When through the Camp, their Soveraigns death was known,
A sad confusion seaz'd on Ammons brood,
Then Lords of none, no, no, nor yet their owne,
As strangers stray'd, they all distracted stood,
And ere by foes, ev'n by themselves o're-thrown,
An ycie coldnesse did congeale their bloud:
"None fully vanquish'd are, till first they yeeld,
"And, till first left, doe never lose the field.
Hopes (though once high) then faln down in their feet,
No way was left for a secure retreat;
To flye was shamefull, yet to live, was sweet,
And they themselves more lov'd, then foes did hate;
Them death (still sterne) where ever turn'd, did meet:
Each swords bright glance, seem'd summons from their fate:
O how base feare doth make some sprights to faile,
Heart faint, hands weake, eyes dimme, the face grows pale.
Of broken bands the trouble was extreme,
Who felt ils worst, and yet imagin'd more:
Spoile, danger, bondage, feare, reproach and shame,
Did still encroach beside, behinde, before;
And yet their hearts (if hearts they had) did dreame,
Those in one masse, and all confusions store:
They, wishing death, although they fear'd to dye,
First from themselves, then from all else did flye.
The slaughter then all measure did surpasse;
Whil'st victors rag'd, bloud from each hand did raine;
The liquid Rubies dropping downe the grasse,
With scarlet streames the fatall fields did staine;
Till they, with dust congeal'd (a horrid masse)
(By bodies stop'd) a marrish did remaine,
Through which who waded, wounded did appeare,
And loath'd that bloud which once was held so deare.
They who, when strong, their neighbours did deride,
And (then of ruine, dreaming nothing lesse)
Would warre with God, and in the height of pride,
His chosen people labour to oppresse;
They now, all kill'd, else scattered on each side,
Felt what they threatned, bondage and distresse:
"Thus oft they fall, who others doe pursue,
"Men drinke the dregs of all the ils they brew.
Though Israell thus had Ammon quite o're-throwne,
Saul, nor his sonne, did not insult the more;
No pompe through Iabesh past with trumpets blowne,
The pointed Captives fettred them before,
So, first when victors, eminently showne,
That their new state a triumph might decore,
Whil'st two-fold glory, just applauses claym'd,
A King and Conquerour both at once proclaim'd.
No, no, their breasts such fancies fond not bred,
As if themselves had their delivery wrought;
By piety, not by ambition led,
Farre from vaine praise, they Israels safety sought;
Charg'd by Gods hand, they knew that Ammon fled,
And from his favour derogating nought,
Where tumid Gentiles would have bragg'd abroad,
Their glory was to glorifie their God.
Whil'st joyfull Iabesh opened up her Ports,
Sweet freedomes treasure did enrich their eyes;
Men, women, children, people of all sorts,
With voyces, as distracted, pierc'd the skyes;
O how each one of them the rest exhorts,
To sound his praise who pittied had their cryes!
And (as wrong founded,) any joy was griefe,
Save for Gods glory more then their reliefe.
Wives forth with haste did to their husbands rinne,
Who told to them (describing dangers past,)
Hence Saul first charg'd, there Abner entred in,
Here we about them did a compasse cast;
There Ionathan with Nahas did beginne,
And kill'd him here, where, loe, he lyes at last:
But forward kindnesse this discourse doth stay,
Th'ones lips must point that which anothers say.
Troups call'd alow'd (mov'd by this battell much)
Where are they now who ask'd if Saul should raigne?
Let swords (yet smoking) purge the Land of such,
Who from base envy bursted out disdaine;
Yet them milde Saul would suffer none to touch,
But said, no cloud so cleare a day should staine:
And since the Lord all Israel had releev'd,
None should be kill'd for him, no, nor yet griev'd.
Ere flames yet hot, extinguish'd were againe,
The Lords great Prophet will'd them all to go
To Gilgall straight, there to confirme his raigne,
In that new state grown fearfull to each foe;
Where sacred offrings liberally were slaine,
The late delivery to acknowledge so:
As bloud from beasts, praise flow'd from gratefull minds,
Each one himselfe for further service binds.
By sacrifice the kingdomes right renu'd,
This speech to Israel, matchlesse Samuel made,
Loe, granted is all that for which you su'd,
There stands the King, who should your squadrons leade:
My Sonnes are here, Time hath my strength subdu'd;
Age crown'd with white, triumphs upon my head;
Eyes dimme, legges weake, (infirmities growne rife)
Death hath besieg'd the lodging of my life.
Though all my dayes in charge, I challenge you,
Let each man speake (as he hath reason) free,
Before the Lord, and his anointed now;
No crimes conceale, I come accus'd to be,
What bragge, or bribe, hath made my judgement bow?
Whose Oxe, or Asse, hath taken beene by me?
Whom have I harm'd, or wrong'd, in goods, or fame?
I stand to satisfie who ever claime.
The people straight (applauding) did reply,
With heart, and hands still pure, thou did'st the best;
For witnesses, then, both, who loud did cry,
With his Lievtenant, did great God attest:
O happy Iudge, who well did live, and dye,
Still prais'd on th'earth! in heaven with glory rest;
At that great day, whom all with Christ shall see,
To judge those Iudges who not follow'd thee.
Then (said the Prophet) since by all approv'd,
I must with you, before that God contend,
Who from Caldea, Israels Syre remov'd,
And highly honour'd, as his speciall friend;
Who sav'd milde Isaac, holy Iacob lov'd,
And in all countries did him still attend:
(A Covenant contriv'd, with all his race)
Who multiply'd them much, in little space.
From rigorous Ægypts more then burthenous yoke,
When taught by wonders to admire his might,
He led them forth, free from each stumbling block,
In deserts wilde, him to contemplate right;
And did give laws, as of that state the stock,
A rare republike, at perfections height;
The Lord (great generall of those chosen bands)
Took Townes, gain'd battels, and did conquer lands.
But when he once had stablish'd well their state,
(All those great works remembred then no more)
Your Fathers, false, apostates, and ingrate,
(Abhomination) Idols did adore,
So that (incens'd with indignation great)
Their jealous God would them protect no more;
Who, that they so might humbled be againe,
To bondage base abandon'd did remaine.
With hearts brought low, and souls rais'd up aloft,
When godly griefe dissolv'd it selfe in groans,
The Lord, first mov'd with sighs, with teares made soft,
Charm'd with the Musicke of their pretious moans,
For their delivery sent great Captaines oft,
Who, did their state restore, bruis'd strangers Thrones:
Till successe did to all the world make knowne,
That, save by sinne, they could not be o're-throwne.
Gainst Aram, Moab, and Canaan, foes,
Proud Midians, Ammons, and Philistines Lands,
Brave Othniel, Ehud, and Debora rose,
Then Iphte, Gideon, Sampson, strong of hands,
Whil'st God the Generall, his Lievtenants those,
Oft (few in number) thundred downe great bands;
And by weake meanes oft thousands fled from one,
A cake, an oxen goad, an Asses bone.
From dangers oft, though wonderfully sav'd,
Whil'st Israels Scepter God did onely sway,
Yet (as stray'd fancies fondly had conceiv'd)
When Ammons Ensignes Nahas did display,
Straight, as without a Lord, a King you crav'd,
As th'abject Gentiles, basely to obey:
With trust in Princes, and in mortall strength,
Which lodg'd in Nostrils, must dislodge at length.
Yet if your King, and you, do serve him right,
The Lord, of both will highly blesse the State;
And, if prophanely walking in his sight,
Will visit both in wrath, with vengeance great,
And that you may behold your sinne, his might,
Too haughty minds by terrour to abate:
You shall (though of such change no signe there be),
Straight clad with Clouds, heavens indignation see.
Heavens, must'ring horrour in a dreadfull forme,
His beams drawn back, pale Phœbus did retyre;
As the worlds funerals threatning to performe,
Some flames flash'd forth, not lights, but sparks of yre,
And in ambushment layd behinde a storme,
Colds interchoaking, did grosse engines fire
To batter th'earth, which planted there by wrath,
From Clouds vast concaves thund'red bolts of death.
This signe so full of terrour thus procur'd,
A generall feare each minde with griefe did sting,
Till all cry'd out that they had beene obdur'd,
And highly sinn'd in seeking of a King;
The Lord, they said (his light from heaven obscur'd)
Might for their o're-throw Armies justly bring;
Then Samuel urg'd to mediate their peace,
Avoyding vengeance, and entreating grace.
The holy man who view'd them thus to smart,
Did aggravate how farre they first did faile,
Yet them assur'd, when flowing from the heart,
That true repentance would with God prevaile;
From whom he wish'd that they would not depart,
To trust in trifles which could not availe:
Since he, when pleas'd, in mercies did abound,
And with a frowne might all the world confound.
The Lord (he said) who did them first affect
Them (from his Law if they did not remove)
By hoasts of heaven, and wonders would protect,
By promise bound, and by his boundlesse love,
Lest strangers spoyling whom he did elect,
Weake, or inconstant, he might seeme to prove.
Then he to God for them did, earnest, call,
And with their King, when blest, dismist them all.
Saul thus when seiz'd of Israels regall seat,
Whom God chose, Samuel did anoint, all serve,
From private thoughts estrang'd, in all growne great,
Though first elected, studied to deserve;
His owne no more, since sacred to the State,
He sought how it to free, to rule, preserve:
For which, retyr'd, what course was fit, he dream'd,
Save when in action, as of sight asham'd.
Last updated January 14, 2019