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Enter SADoc, ABIATHAR, AHIMAAs, and Jon ATHAN. SA. God save lord Cusay, and direct his zeal To purchase David's conquest 'gainst his son. ABI. What secrets hast thouglean'd from Absalon? CU. These, sacred priests, that bear the ark of God: Achitophel advis'd him in the night To let him choose twelve thousand fighting men, And he would come on David at unwares, While he was weary with his violent toil: But I advis'd to get a greater host, And gather men from Dan to Bersabe, To come upon him strongly in the fields. Then send Ahimaas and Jonathan To signify these secrets to the king, And will him not to stay this night abroad; But get him over Jordan presently, Lest he and all his people kiss the sword. SA. Then go, Ahimaas, and Jonathan, And straight convey this message to the king. AHI. Father, we will, if Absalon's chief spies Prevent not this device, and stay us here. [Exeunt. SEMEI solus. The man of Israel, that hath rul’d as king, Or rather, as the tyrant of the land, Bolstering his hateful head upon the throne, That God unworthily hath bless'd him with, Shall now, I hope, lay it as low as hell, And be depos'd from his detested chair.
O, that my bosom could by nature bear
A sea of poison, to be pour'd upon
His cursed head that sacred balm hath grac'd,
And consecrated king of Israel !
Or, would my breath were made the smoke of hell,
Infected with the sighs of damned souls,
Or with the reeking of that serpent's gorge,
That feeds on adders, toads, and venomous roots,
That, as I open'd my revenging lips
To curse the shepherd for his tyranny,
My words might cast rank poison to his pores,
And make his swoln and rankling sinews crack,
Like to the combat blows that break the clouds,
When Jove's stout champions fight with fire.
See where he cometh, that my soul abhors: *
I have prepar'd my pocket full of stones
To cast at him, mingled with earth and dust,
Which, bursting with disdain, I greet him with.
DAVID, JoAB, ABIs A1, ITHAY, with others.
Come forth, thou murderer, and wicked man :
The lord hath brought upon thy cursed head
The guiltless blood of Saul and all his sons,
Whose royal throne thy baseness hath usurp'd;
And, to revenge it deeply on thy soul,
The Lord hath given the kingdom to thy son,
And he shall wreak the traitorous wrongs of Saul: !
Even as thy sin hath still importun'd heaven, o
So shall thy murders and adultery
Be punish'd in the sight of Israel,
As thou deserv'st, with blood, with death, and hell.
Hence, murderer, hence. [throws at him.” ABIs. Why doth this dead dog curse my lord the king?
Let me alone to take away his head.
DAv. Why meddleth thus the son of Zeruia
To interrupt the action of our God?
Semei useth me with this reproach,
Because the Lord hath sent him to reprove
The sins of David, printed in his brows
With blood, that blusheth for his conscience’ guilt;
Who dares then ask him, why he curseth me?
SEM. If then thy conscience tell thee thou hast
sinn'd, - -
And that thy life is odious to the world,
Command thy followers to shun thy face;
And by thyself here make away thy soul,
That I may stand and glory in thy shame.
DAv. I am not desperate, Semei, like thyself,
But trust unto the covenant of my God,
Founded on mercy with repentance built,
And finish'd with the glory of my soul.
SEM. A murderer, and hope for mercy in thy end
Hate and destruction sit upon thy brows,
To watch the issue of thy damned ghost,
Which with thy latest gasp they'll take and tear,
Hurling in every pain of hell a piece.
* throws at him] In the old copy, this stage direction and the
Hence, murderer, thou shame to Israel,
Foul lecher, drunkard, plague to heaven and earth.
[He throws at him.
JoAB. What, is it piety in David's thoughts,
So to abhor from laws of policy
In this extremity of his distress,
To give his subjects cause of carelessness!
Send hence the dog with sorrow to his grave.
DAv. Why should the sons of Zeruia seek to check
His spirit, which the Lord hath thus inspir'd?
Behold, my son which issued from my flesh,
With equal fury seeks to take my life:
How much more then the son of Jemini,
Chiefly, since he doth nought but God's command 2
It may be, he will look on me this day
With gracious eyes, and for his cursing bless
The heart of David in his bitterness.
SEM. What, dost thou fret my soul with sufferance?
O, that the souls of Isboseth and Abner,
Which thou sent'st swimming to their graves in blood,
With wounds fresh bleeding, gasping for revenge,
Were here to execute my burning hate!
But I will hunt thy foot with curses still ;
Hence, monster, murderer, mirror of contempt.
[He throws dust again.
Enter AHIMAAs and Jo NATHAN.
AH1. Long life to David, to his enemies death ! DAv. Welcome, Ahimaas, and Jonathan : What news sends Cusay to thy lord the king 2
* / AH1. Cusay would wish my lord the king, To pass the river Jordan presently, Lest he and all his people perish here; For wise Achitophel hath counsell'd Absalon To take advantage of your weary arms, And come this night upon you in the fields. But yet the Lord hath made his counsel scorn, And Cusay's policy with praise preferr'd ; Which was to number every Israelite, And so assault you in their pride of strength. Jon ATH. Abiathar besides entreats the king To send his men of war against his son, And hazard not his person in the field. DAv. Thanks to Abiathar, and to you both, And to my Cusay, whom the Lord requite; But ten times treble thanks to his soft hand, Whose pleasant touch hath made my heart to dance, And play him praises in my zealous breast, That turn'd the counsel of Achitophel After the prayers of his servant's lips. Now will we pass the river all this night, And in the morning sound the voice of war, The voice of bloody and unkindly war. JoAB. Then tell us how thou wilt divide thy men, And who shall have the special charge herein. DAv. Joab, thyself shall for thy charge conduct The first third part of all my valiant men; The second shall Abisai's valour lead ; The third fair Ithay, which I most should grace,