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The onset, and irregular. At length
One eminent above the rest, for strength;
For stratagem, or courage, or for all,
Was chosen leader : him they serv'd in war,
And him in peace, for fake of warlike deeds
Rev'renc'd no less. Who could with him compare ?
Or who fo worthy to controul themselves
As he whose prowess had subdu'd their foes ?
Thus war affording field for the display
Of virtue, made one chief, whom times of peace,
Which have their exigencies too, and call
For skill in government, at length made king.
King was a name too proud for man to wear
With modesty and meekness; and the crown,
So dazzling in their eyes who set it on,
Was sure t'intoxicate the brows it bound.
It is the abject property of most,
That being parcel of the common mass,
And destitute of means to raise themselves;
They sink and settle lower than they need.
They know not what it is to feel within,
A comprehensive faculty, that grasps
Great purposes with ease, that turns and wields,
Almost without an effort, plans too vast
For their conception, which they cannot move.
Conscious of impotence, they foon grow drunk
With gazing, when they see an able man
Step forth to notice; and befotted thus,
Build him a pedeftal, and say, Stand there,
And be our admiration and our praise.
They roll themselves before him in the dust,
Then most deserving in their own account
When most extravagant in his applause,
As if exaiting him they rais'd themselves.
Thus by degrees, felf-cheated of their found
And sober judgment, that he is but man,
They demi-deify and fume him so,
That in due season he forgets it too.
Inflated and astrut with self-conceit,
He gulps the windy diet, and ere long,
Adopting their mistake, profoundly thinks
The world was made in vain, if not for him.
Thenceforth they are his cattle: drudges, born
To bear his burdens; drawing in his
And sweating in his service, his caprice
Becomes the soul that animates them all.
He deems a thousand, or ten thousand lives;
Spent in the purchase of renown for him,
An easy reck’ning, and they think the same.
Thus kings were first inventedy and thus kings
Were burnish'd into heroes, and became
The arbiters of this terraqueous swamp,
Storks among frogs, that have but croak’d and died.
Strange, that such folly as lifts bloated man
To eminence fit only for a god,
Should ever drivel out of human lips,
Ev'n in the cradled weakness of the world!
Still stranger much, that when at length mankind
Had reach'd the finewy firmness of their youth,
And could discriminate and argue well
On subjects more mysterious, they were yet
Babes in the cause of freedom, and should fear
And quake before the gods themselves had made.
But above measure ftrange, that neither proof
Of fad experience, nor examples fet
By some whose patriot virtue has prevaild,
Can even now, when they are grown mature
In wisdom, and with philosophic deeps
Familiar, serve t'emancipate the rest !
Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone
To rev'rence what is ancient, and can plead
A course of long observance for its use,
That even servitude, the worst of ills,
Because deliver'd down from fire to son,
Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing.
But is it fit, or can it bear the shock
Of rational discussion, that a man,
Compounded and made
like other men Of elements tumultuous, in whom luft And folly in as ample measure meet
As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules,
Should be a despot absolute, and boast
Himself the only freeman of his land?
Should, when he pleases, and on whom he will
Wage war, with any or with no pretence
Of provocation giv'n or wrong sustain'd,
And force the beggarly last doit, by means
That his own humour dictates, from the clutch :-
Of poverty, that thus he may procure
His thousands, weary of penurious life,
A splendid opportunity to die?
Say ye, who (with less prudence than of old
Jotham ascrib'd to his assembled trees
In politic convention) put your trust
l'th shadow of a bramble, and reclin'd
In fancied peace beneath his dang'rous branch,
Rejoice in him, and celebrate his sway,
Where find ye passive fortitude ? Whence springs
Your felf-denying zeal, that holds it good
To stroke the prickly grievance, and to hang