Absalom and Achitophel: The Second Part

Original Text: 
John Dryden, Poetry, Prose, and Plays, ed. Douglas Grant (Reynard Library edition: Hart-Davis, 1952). PR 3412 G7 1952 ROBA. The base text is Nahum Tate, The Second Part of Absalom and Achitophel (1682), containing parts by John Dryden.
458For here's a tun of midnight-work to come,
459Og from a treason tavern rolling home.
460Round as a globe, and liquor'd ev'ry chink,
462With all this bulk there's nothing lost in Og,
463For ev'ry inch that is not fool is rogue:
465As all the devils had spew'd to make the batter.
466When wine has given him courage to blaspheme,
467He curses God, but God before curst him;
468And if man could have reason none has more,
469That made his paunch so rich and him so poor.
470With wealth he was not trusted, for Heav'n knew
471What 'twas of old to pamper up a Jew:
472To what would he on quail and pheasant swell,
473That ev'n on tripe and carrion could rebel?
474But though Heav'n made him poor, (with rev'rence speaking,)
475He never was a poet of God's making;
476The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull,
477With this prophetic blessing-- Be thou dull ;
478Drink, swear and roar, forbear no lewd delight
479Fit for thy bulk, do anything but write:
480Thou art of lasting make, like thoughtless men,
483Still thou mayst live avoiding pen and ink.
484I see, I see, 'tis counsel given in vain,
485For treason botch'd in rhyme will be thy bane;
486Rhyme is the rock on which thou art to wreck,
487'Tis fatal to thy fame and to thy neck:
488Why should thy metre good King David blast?
490Dar'st thou presume in verse to meet thy foes,
491Thou whom the penny pamphlet foil'd in prose?
492Doeg, whom God for mankind's mirth has made,
493O'er-tops thy talent in thy very trade;
494Doeg to thee, thy paintings are so coarse,
495A poet is, though he's the poet's horse.
496A double noose thou on thy neck dost pull
497For writing treason, and for writing dull;
498To die for faction is a common evil,
499But to be hang'd for non-sense is the devil:
500Hadst thou the glories of thy king exprest,
501Thy praises had been satire at the best;
502But thou in clumsy verse, unlickt, unpointed,
503Hast shamefully defi'd the Lord's anointed:
504I will not rake the dung-hill of thy crimes,
505For who would read thy life that reads thy rhymes?
506But of King David's foes, be this the doom,
507May all be like the young man Absalom;
508And for my foes may this their blessing be,
509To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee.


457] The text is that of the second edition, which, appearing in the same year as the first (1682), included some small corrections.
The success of Absalom and Achitophel was so great that Dryden was pressed by several persons to continue his satirical commentary upon the times. This he declined to do but he engaged his friend Nahum Tate (1652-1715), the poet and dramatist, to write a second part to Absalom and Achitophel. He supervised and revised the whole poem and added the verses characterizing Thomas Shadwell and Elkanah Settle as Og and Doeg. Only the character of Og is given here. Og is Thomas Shadwell, the hero of Mac Flecknoe. Back to Line
461] "Link" is the servant or hired boy who carries a lighted torch to guide the pedestrian through the generally unlighted streets. Back to Line
464] "Matter" is still commonly used as a synonym for pus. Back to Line
481] Nativity: horoscope. Back to Line
482] Shadwell was in fact a user of opium. Back to Line
489] A reference to the psalm recited at a public hanging. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.26-27.