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For comfort he hath done to David's woes;
And I myself will follow in the midst.
ITH. That let not David; for, though we should fly,
Ten thousand of us were not half so much
Esteem'd with David's enemies, as himself:
Thy people, loving thee, deny thee this.
DAv. What seems them best, then that will David
But now, my lords, and captains, hear his voice,
That never yet pierc'd piteous heaven in vain;
Then let it not slip lightly through your ears;
For my sake spare the young man Absalon.
Joab, thyself didst once use friendly words
To reconcile my heart incens'd to him;
If then thy love be to thy kinsman sound,
And thou wilt prove a perfect Israelite,
Friend him with deeds, and touch no hair of him,
Not that fair hair with which the wanton winds
Delight to play, and love” to make it curl,
Wherein the nightingales would build their nests,
And make sweet bowers in every golden tress,
To sing their lover every night asleep.
O, spoil not, Joab, Jove's fair ornaments,
Which he hath sent to solace David's soul :
The best, ye see, my lords, are swift to sin;
To sin our feet are wash'd with milk of roes,
And dried again with coals of lightening.
O Lord, thou see'st the proudest sin's poor slave,
* love] Old copy “loves.”

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And with his bridle pull'st him to the grave
For my sake then, spare lovely Absalon.
ITH. We will, my lord, for thy sake favour him.
AcHITOPHEL solus, with a halter.
AcH. Now hath Achitophel order'd his house,
And taken leave of every pleasure there;
Hereon depend” Achitophel's delights,
And in this circle must his life be clos'd.
The wise Achitophel, whose counsel prov'd
Ever as sound for fortunate success,
As if men ask'd the oracle of God,
Is now us’d like the fool of Israel:
Then set thy angry soul upon her wings,
And let her fly into the shade of death;
And for my death let heaven for ever weep,
Making huge floods upon the land I leave,
To ravish them, and all their fairest fruits.
Let all the sighs I breath'd for this disgrace,
Hang on my hedges like eternal mists,
As mourning garments for their master's death.
Ope, earth, and take thy miserable son
Into the bowels of thy cursed womb;
Once in a surfeit thou didst spew him forth,
Now for fell hunger suck him in again;
And be his body poison to thy veins:
And now, thou hellish instrument of heaven,
Once execute th’ arrest of Jove's just doom,
And stop his breatht that curseth Israel. [Erit.

* depend] Old copy “depends.” + breath] Old copy “breast.”

Enter ABSALON, AMASA, with all his train. ABs. Now for the crown and throne of Israel, To be confirm'd with virtue of my sword, And writ with David's blood upon the blade; Now, Jove, let forth the golden firmament, And look on him with all thy fiery eyes, Which thou hast made to give their glories light: To show thou lov'st the virtue of thy hand, Let fall a wreath of stars upon my head, Whose influence may govern Israel, With state exceeding all her other kings. Fight, lords, and captains, that your sovereign's face May shine in honour brighter than the sun; And with the virtue of my beauteous rays Make this fair land as fruitful as the fields, That with sweet milk and honey overflow'd. God, in the whizzing of a pleasant wind, Shall march upon the tops of mulberry trees, To cool all breasts that burn with any griefs, As whilom he was good to Moyses' men. By day the lord shall sit within a cloud, To guide your footsteps to the fields of joy; And in the night a pillar, bright as fire, Shall go before you, like a second sun, Wherein the essence of his godhead is; That day and night you may be brought to peace, And never swerve from that delightsome path, That leads your souls to perfect happiness. This shall he do for joy when I am king.

Then fight, brave captains, that these joys may fly, Into your bosoms with sweet victory. [Ereunt.

The battle, and ABSALON hangs by the hair.

ABs. What angry angel, sitting in these shades, Hath laid his cruel hands upon my hair, And holds my body thus 'twixt heaven and earth? Hath Absalon no soldier near his hand That may untwine me this unpleasant curl, Or wound this tree that ravisheth his lord 2 O God, behold the glory of thy hand, And choicest fruit of nature's workmanship, Hang like a rotten branch, upon this tree, Fit for the axe, and ready for the fire! Since thou withhold'st all ordinary help, To loose my body from this bond of death, O let my beauty fill these senseless plants With sense and power to loose me from this plague, And work some wonder to prevent his death, Whose life thou mad'st a special miracle !

JoAB, with another Soldier.

Sold. My lord, I saw the young prince Absalon Hang by the hair upon a shady oak, And could by no means get himself unloos'd.

JoAB. Why slew'st thou not the wicked Absalon, That rebel to his father and to heaven, That so I might have given thee for thy pains Ten silver shekels" and a golden waist.t

* shekels] Old copy “sickles.” + waist] i. e. girdle: old copy “wast.”

Sold. Not for a thousand shekels would I slay The son of David, whom, his father charg'd Nor thou, Abisai, nor the son of Gath, Should touch with stroke of deadly violence. The charge was given in hearing of us all; And, had I done it, then, I know, thyself, Before thou wouldst abide the king's rebuke, Wouldst have accus'd me as a man of death. JoAB. I must not now stand trifling here with thee. ABs. Help, Joab, help, O, help thy Absalon Let not thy angry thoughts be laid in blood, In blood of him, that sometimes nourish'd thee, And soften’d thy sweet heart with friendly love : O, give me once again my father's sight, My dearest father, and my princely sovereign That, shedding tears of blood before his face, The ground may witness, and the heavens record, My last submission sound and full of ruth. JoAB. Rebel to nature, hate to heaven and earth, Shall I give help to him that thirsts the soul Of his dear father, and my sovereign lords Now see, the Lord hath tangled in a tree The health and glory of thy stubborn heart, And made thy pride curb'd with a senseless plant; Now, Absalon, how doth the Lord regard, The beauty, whereupon thy hope was built, And which thou thought'st his grace did glory in 2 Find'st thou not now with fear of instant death, That God affects not any painted shape, Or goodly personage, when the virtuous soul . Is stuff'd with nought but pride and stubbornness 2

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