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LXXIII.

DAVID AND BATH-SHEBA.

(From a black letter copy printed for J. Wright]

HEN David in Jerusalem
As royal king did rule and reign,
Behold what happened unto him,

That afterward procured his pain.

On the top of all his princely place,

A gallant prospect there had he, From whence he might, when 't pleas'd his grace,

Many a gallant garden see.

It chanced so upon a day.

The king went forth to take the air, All in the pleasant month of May,

From whence he spied a lady fair.

[graphic]

Her beauty was more excellent

And brighter than the morning sun, By which the king incontinent,

Was to her favour quickly won.

She stood within a pleasant bower,

All naked for to wash her there, Her body, like a lilly flower,

Was covered with her golden hair.

The king was wounded with her love,

And what she was he did inquire, He could not his affection move,

He had to her such great desire.

She is Uriah’s wife, quoth they,

A captain of your princely train, That in your wars is now away,

And she doth all alone remain.

Then, said the king, bring her to me,

For with her love my heart is slain, The prince of beauty sure is she,

For whom I do great grief sustain.

The servants they did soon prepare,

To do the message of the king, And Bath-sheba the lady fair

Unto the court did quickly bring.

The king rejoiced at her sight,

And won her love, and lay her by, Till they in sport had spent the night,

And that the sun was risen high.

The king his leave most kindly took

Of the fair lady at the last :
And homeward then she cast her look

Till that three months were gone and past.

And then in Bath-sheba so fair,

She found her former health exil'd, By certain tokens that she saw,

The king had gotten her with child.

Then to the king she made her moan,

And told him how the case did stand, The king sent for her husband home,

To cloak the matter out of hand.

When from the camp Uriah came,

The king received him courteously, Demanding how all things did frame

Concerning of the enemy.

Uriah shewed his highness all

The accident of warlike strife,
Then, said the king, this night you shall

Keep company with your own wife.

The Ark of God, Uriah said,

With Judah's host and Israel, Sleep in the field, and not a man

Within the house where they do dwell.

Then should I take my ease, quoth he,

In beds of down with my fair wife ? O king, he said, that must not be,

So long as I enjoy my life.

Then did the king a letter frame

To Joab, general of the host, And by Uriah sent the same,

But certainly his life it cost.

SECOND PART.

And when the king for certain knew,

Uriah thus had murdered been, Fair Bath-sheba to court he drew,

And made of her his royal queen,

Then God, that saw his wicked deed,

Was angry at King David's sin, The prophet Nathan then with speed

Came thus complaining unto him.

O David, ponder what I say,

A great abuse I shall thee tell, For thou that rul'st in equity

Should see the people ruled well.

Two men within the city dwell

The one is rich, the other poor, The rich in eattle doth excell,

The other nothing had in store.

Saving one little silly sheep,

Which young he did with money buy, With his own bread he did it feed

Amongst his children tenderly.

The rich man had a stranger come,

Unto his house, that lov’d him dear, The poor man's sheep therefore he took,

And thereof made his friend good chear.

Because that he his own would save,

He us’d the man thus cruelly,
Then by the Lord, the king did swear,

The rich man for that fault should die.

Thou art the man, the prophet said,

Thy princely crown God gave to thee, Thy lord's wives thou thy own hast made,

And many more of fair beauty.

Why hast thou so defiled thy life,

And slain Uriah with thy sword, And taken home his wedded wife,

Regarding not God's holy word,

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