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Do thou but threat, loud storms shall make reply,
prove, Before their sun twice more be gone about, I and my faithful snakes would drive it out. By me, Cain offer'd
his brother's gore,
Hither (ye know) almost alive he came
She spoke ; all stared at first, and made a pause;
grown To act her part, thrice bow'd, and thence she fled; The snakes all hiss'd, the fiends all murmured.
It was the time when silent night began To'enchain with sleep the busy spirits of man; And Saul himself, though in his troubled breast The weight of empire lay, took gentle rest : So did not Envy; but with haste arose ; And, as through Israel's stately towns she goes, She frowns, and shakes her head; “Shine on," says
she, “ Ruins ere long shall your sole monuments be.” The silver moon with terror paler grew, And neighbouring Hermon sweated flowery dew; Swift Jordan started, and straight backward fled, Hiding among thick reeds his aged head: Lo, at her entrance Saul's strong palace shook; And nimbly there the reverend shape she took Of Father Benjamin ; so long her beard, So large her limbs, so grave her looks, appear'd, ,
Just like his statue, which bestrid Saul's gate,
“ Arise, lost king of Israel! canst thou lie
my full loins discharged this numerous race, This luckless tribe, even crown’d to their disgrace! Ah, Saul! thy servant’s vassal must thou live? Place to his harp must thy dread sceptre give? What wants he now but that? canst thou forget (If thou be’st man thou canst not) how they met The youth with songs? alas! poor monarch! you Your thousand only, he ten thousand, slew ! Him Israelloves, him neighbouring countries fear; You but the name and empty title bear. And yet the traitor lives, lives in thy court; The court thus must be his; where he shall sport Himself with all thy concubines, thy gold, Thy costly robes, thy crown. Wert thou not told This by proud Samuel, when at Gilgal he With bold false threats from God affronted thee?
The dotard lied; God said it not, I know;
dear son! and credit what I tell; I've seen thy royal stars, and know them well. Hence, fears and dull delays! is not thy breast (Yes, Saul, it is) with noble thoughts possess'd ? May they beget like acts !” With that she takes One of her worst, her best-beloved snakes :
Softly, dear worm! soft and unseen,” said she, “ Into his bosom steal, and in it be My viceroy.” At that word she took her flight, And her loose shape dissolved into the night.
The’ infected king leap'd from his bed amazed, Scarce knew himself at first, but round him gazed ; And started back at pieced-up shapes, which fear And his distracted fancy painted there: Terror froze
up his hair, and on his face Showers of cold sweat rollid trembling down apace. Then knocking with his angry hands his breast, Earth with his feet, he cries, “ Oh! 'tis confess’d; I've been a pious fool, a woman-king; Wrong'd by a seer, a boy, every thing. Eight hundred years of death is not so deep, So unconcern'd, as my lethargic sleep. My patience even a sacrilege becomes, Disturbs the dead, and opes their sacred tombs. Ah! Benjamin, kind father! who for me This cursed world endurest again to see! All thou hast said, great vision! is so true, That all which thou command'st, and more, I'll do: Kill him! yes, mighty ghost! the wretch shall die, Though every star in heaven should it deny; Nor mock the’ assault of our just wrath again, Had he ten times his famed ten thousand slain. Should that bold popular madman, whose design Is to revenge his own disgrace by mine, Should my ungrateful son oppose the intent, Should mine own heart grow scrupulous and relent, Curse me, just Heaven! (by which this truth I If I that seer, my son, or self, do spare. [swear) No, gentle ghost! return to thy still home; Thither, this day, mine and thy foe shall come. If that curst object longer vex my sight, It must have learn’d to appear as thou to-night.”
Whilst thus his wrath with threats the tyrant fed, The threaten'd youth slept fearless on his bed;