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The Poor Man's Lamb: OR, Nathan's Parable to David after the Murder of Uriah, and his Marriage with Bathsheba.

Turn'd into Verse and Paraphras'd.

1 NOW spent the alter'd King, in am'rous Cares,
2 The Hours of sacred Hymns and solemn Pray'rs:
3 In vain the Altar waits his slow returns,
4 Where unattended Incense faintly burns:
5 In vain the whisp'ring Priests their Fears express,
6 And of the Change a thousand Causes guess.
7 Heedless of all their Censures He retires,
8 And in his Palace feeds his secret Fires;
9 Impatient, till from Rabbah Tydings tell,
10 That near those Walls the poor Uriah fell,
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11 Led to the Onset by a Chosen Few,
12 Who at the treacherous Signal, soon withdrew,
13 Nor to his Rescue e'er return'd again,
14 Till by fierce Ammon's Sword they saw the Victim slain.
15 'Tis pass'd, 'tis done! the holy Marriage-Knot,
16 Too strong to be unty'd, at last is cut.
17 And now to Bathsheba the King declares,
18 That with his Heart, the Kingdom too is hers;
19 That Israel's Throne, and longing Monarch's Arms
20 Are to be fill'd but with her widow'd Charms.
21 Nor must the Days of formal Tears exceed,
22 To cross the Living, and abuse the Dead.
23 This she denies; and signs of Grief are worn;
24 But mourns no more than may her Face adorn,
25 Give to those Eyes, which Love and Empire fir'd,
26 A melting Softness more to be desir'd;
27 Till the fixt Time, tho' hard to be endur'd,
28 Was pass'd, and a sad Consort's Name procur'd:
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29 When, with the Pomp that suits a Prince's Thought,
30 By Passion sway'd, and glorious Woman taught,
31 A Queen she's made, than Michal seated higher,
32 Whilst light unusual Airs prophane the hallow'd Lyre.
33 Where art thou Nathan? where's that Spirit now,
34 Giv'n to brave Vice, tho' on a Prince's Brow?
35 In what low Cave, or on what Desert Coast,
36 Now Virtue wants it, is thy Presence lost?
37 But lo! he comes, the Rev'rend Bard appears,
38 Defil'd with Dust his awful silver Hairs,
39 And his rough Garment, wet with falling Tears.
40 The King this mark'd, and conscious wou'd have fled,
41 The healing Balm which for his Wounds was shed:
42 Till the more wary Priest the Serpents Art,
43 Join'd to the Dove-like Temper of his Heart,
44 And thus retards the Prince just ready now to part.
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45 Hear me, the Cause betwixt two Neighbours hear,
46 Thou, who for Justice dost the Sceptre bear:
47 Help the Opprest, nor let me weep alone
48 For him, that calls for Succour from the Throne.
49 Good Princes for Protection are Ador'd,
50 And Greater by the Shield, than by the Sword.
51 This clears the Doubt, and now no more he fears
52 The Cause his Own, and therefore stays and hears:
53 When thus the Prophet:
53 In a flow'ry Plain
54 A King-like Man does in full Plenty reign;
55 Casts round his Eyes, in vain, to reach the Bound,
56 Which Jordan's Flood sets to his fertile Ground:
57 Countless his Flocks, whilst Lebanon contains
58 A Herd as large, kept by his numerous Swains,
59 That fill with morning Bellowings the cool Air,
60 And to the Cedar's shade at scorching Noon repair.
61 Near to this Wood a lowly Cottage stands,
62 Built by the humble Owner's painful Hands;
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63 Fenc'd by a Stubble-roof, from Rain and Heat,
64 Secur'd without, within all Plain and Neat.
65 A Field of small Extent surrounds the Place,
66 In which One single Ewe did sport and graze:
67 This his whole Stock, till in full time there came,
68 To bless his utmost Hopes, a snowy Lamb;
69 Which, lest the Season yet too Cold might prove,
70 And Northern Blasts annoy it from the Grove,
71 Or tow'ring Fowl on the weak Prey might sieze,
72 (For with his Store his Fears must too increase)
73 He brings it Home, and lays it by his Side,
74 At once his Wealth, his Pleasure and his Pride;
75 Still bars the Door, by Labour call'd away,
76 And, when returning at the Close of Day,
77 With One small Mess himself, and that sustains,
78 And half his Dish it shares, and half his slender Gains.
79 When to the great Man's Table now there comes
80 A Lord as great, follow'd by hungry Grooms:
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81 For these must be provided sundry Meats,
82 The Best for Some, for Others coarser Cates.
83 One Servant, diligent above the rest
84 To help his Master to contrive the Feast,
85 Extols the Lamb was nourish'd with such Care,
86 So fed, so lodg'd, it must be Princely Fare;
87 And having this, my Lord his own may spare.
88 In haste he sends, led by no Law, but Will,
89 Not to entreat, or purchase, but to Kill.
90 The Messenger's arriv'd; the harmless Spoil,
91 Unus'd to fly, runs Bleating to the Toil:
92 Whilst for the Innocent the Owner fear'd,
93 And, sure wou'd move, cou'd Poverty be heard.
94 Oh spare (he cries) the Product of my Cares,
95 My Stock's Encrease, the Blessing on my Pray'rs;
96 My growing Hope, and Treasure of my Life!
97 More was he speaking, when the murd'ring Knife
98 Shew'd him, his Suit, tho' just, must be deny'd,
99 And the white Fleece in its own Scarlet dy'd;
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100 Whilst the poor helpless Wretch stands weeping by,
101 And lifts his Hands for Justice to the Sky.
102 Which he shall find, th' incensed King replies,
103 When for the proud Offence th' Oppressor dies.
104 O Nathan! by the Holy Name I swear,
105 Our Land such Wrongs unpunish'd shall not bear
106 If, with the Fault, th' Offender thou declare.
107 To whom the Prophet, closing with the Time,
108 Thou art the Man replies, and thine th' ill-natur'd Crime.
109 Nor think, against thy Place, or State, I err;
110 A Pow'r above thee does this Charge prefer;
111 Urg'd by whose Spirit, hither am I brought
112 T' expostulate his Goodness, and thy Fault;
113 To lead thee back to those forgotten Years,
114 In Labour spent, and lowly Rustick Cares,
115 When in the Wilderness thy Flocks but few,
116 Thou didst the Shepherd's simple Art pursue
117 Thro' crusting Frosts, and penetrating Dew:
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118 Till wondring Jesse saw six Brothers past,
119 And Thou Elected, Thou the Least and Last;
120 A Sceptre to thy Rural Hand convey'd,
121 And in thy Bosom Royal Beauties laid;
122 A lovely Princess made thy Prize that Day,
123 When on the shaken Ground the Giant lay
124 Stupid in Death, beyond the Reach of Cries
125 That bore thy shouted Fame to list'ning Skies,
126 And drove the flying Foe as fast away,
127 As Winds, of old, Locusts to Egypt's Sea.
128 Thy Heart with Love, thy Temples with Renown,
129 Th' All-giving Hand of Heav'n did largely crown,
130 Whilst yet thy Cheek was spread with youthful Down.
131 What more cou'd craving Man of God implore?
132 Or what for favour'd Man cou'd God do more?
133 Yet cou'd not These, nor Israel's Throne, suffice
134 Intemp'rate Wishes, drawn thro' wand'ring Eyes.
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135 One Beauty (not thy own) and seen by chance,
136 Melts down the Work of Grace with an alluring Glance;
137 Chases the Spirit, fed by sacred Art,
138 And blots the Title AFTER GOD's OWN HEART;
139 Black Murder breeds to level at his Head,
140 Who boasts so fair a Part'ner of his Bed,
141 Nor longer must possess those envy'd Charms,
142 The single Treasure of his House, and Arms:
143 Giving, by this thy Fall, cause to Blaspheme
144 To all the Heathen the Almighty Name.
145 For which the Sword shall still thy Race pursue,
146 And, in revolted Israel's scornful View,
147 Thy captiv'd Wives shall be in Triumph led
148 Unto a bold Usurper's shameful Bed;
149 Who from thy Bowels sprung shall seize thy Throne,
150 And scourge thee by a Sin beyond thy own.
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151 Thou hast thy Fault in secret Darkness done;
152 But this the World shall see before the Noonday's Sun.
153 Enough! the King, enough! the Saint replies,
154 And pours his swift Repentance from his Eyes;
155 Falls on the Ground, and tears the Nuptial Vest,
156 By which his Crime's Completion was exprest:
157 Then with a Sigh blasting to Carnal Love,
158 Drawn deep as Hell, and piercing Heaven, above
159 Let Me (he cries) let Me attend his Rod,
160 For I have sinn'd, for I have lost my God.
161 Hold! (says the Prophet) of that Speech beware,
162 God ne'er was lost, unless by Man's Despair.
163 The Wound that is thus willingly reveal'd,
164 Th' Almighty is as willing shou'd be heal'd.
165 Thus wash'd in Tears, thy Soul as fair does show
166 As the first Fleece, which on the Lamb does grow,
167 Or on the Mountain's top the lately fallen Snow.
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168 Yet to the World that Justice may appear
169 Acting her Part impartial, and severe,
170 The Offspring of thy Sin shall soon resign
171 That Life, for which thou must not once repine;
172 But with submissive Grief his Fate deplore,
173 And bless the Hand, that does inflict no more.
174 Shall I then pay but Part, and owe the Whole?
175 My Body's Fruit, for my offending Soul?
176 Shall I no more endure (the King demands)
177 And 'scape thus lightly his offended Hands?
178 Oh! let him All resume, my Crown, my Fame;
179 Reduce me to the Nothing, whence I came;
180 Call back his Favours, faster than he gave;
181 And, if but Pardon'd, strip me to my Grave:
182 Since (tho' he seems to Lose) He surely Wins,
183 Who gives but earthly Comforts for his Sins.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): The Poor Man's Lamb: OR, Nathan's Parable to David after the Murder of Uriah, and his Marriage with Bathsheba. Turn'd into Verse and Paraphras'd.
Themes: God; religion; virtue; vice
Genres: heroic couplet
References: DMI 36203

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Source edition

Miscellany poems, on several occasions: Written by the Right Honble Anne, Countess of Winchilsea. London: printed for J. B. and sold by Benj. Tooke, William Taylor, and James Round, 1713, pp. 73-83. [8],390p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T94539; Foxon pp. 274-5; OTA K076314.000)

Editorial principles

The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Anne Finch (née Kingsmill), countess of Winchilsea