the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth.” Apparently his chin was caught by a branch of the oak, and the mule ran off. There is nothing said about his hair getting entangled in the oak. Yet every one knows the doggerel—

Oh Absalom, oh Absalom, my son, my son,
Hadst thou but worn a periwig, thou hadst not been undone!
   —David’s Lament for his Son Absalom.

Absalon, in Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, is meant for the duke of Monmouth, natural son of Charles II. (David). Like Absalom, the duke was handsome; like Absalom, he was loved and rebellious; and, like Absalom, his rebellion ended in his death (1649–1685).

Absalom and Achitophel, the best political satire in the language, by Dryden, in about 1000 lines of heroic verse, in rhymes. The general scheme is to show the rebellious character of the puritans, who insisted on the exclusion of the duke of York from the succession, on account of his being a pronounced catholic, and the determination of the king to resist this interference with his royal prerogative, even at the cost of a civil war.

The great difficulty was where to find a substitute. Charles II. had no legal male offspring, and, though he had several natural sons, the duke of Monmouth was the only one who was the idol of the people. So the earl of Shaftesbury (Achitophel), an out-and-out protestant, used every effort to induce Monmouth (Absalom) to compel the king (David) to set aside the duke of York. Shaftesbury says, “Once get the person of the king into your hands, and you may compel him to yield to the people’s wishes.” Monmouth is over-persuaded to take up the cause “of the redress of grievances,” and soon has a large following, amongst whom is Thomas Thynne (Issachar), a very wealthy man, who supplies the duke with ready money. When the rebellion grew formidable, the king called his councillors to meet him at Oxford, and told them he was resolved to defend his prerogatives by force of arms, and thus the poem ends.

A reply in verse, entitled Azaria and Hushai (q.v.), was written by Samuel Pordage.

Mr. Tate has written a second part, which not only destroys the unity of the poem, but is of very small merit.

The poem begins with a statement that Charles II. (David) had many natural sons, but only Monmouth (Absalom) had any chance of being his successor. He then remarks that no sort of government would satisfy puritans. They had tried several, but all had failed to please them. On the puritans’ side was the earl of Shaftesbury (Achitophel), Titus Oates (Corah), and many others. On the king’s side advocates of the “right divine,” were the archbishop of Canterbury (Zadoc), the bishop of London (Sagan), the bishop of Rochester and dean of Westminster, the earl of Mulgrave (Abdiel), Sir George Savile (Jotham), Hyde (Hushai), Sir Edward Seymour (Amiel), and many more. Charles II. is called David; London, Jerusalem; catholics, Jebusites; puritans, Jews. France is called Egypt; its king, Pharaoh; and Holland is called Tyre.

Absolon, a priggish parish clerk in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. His hair was curled, his shoes slashed, his hose red. He could let blood, cut hair, and shave, could dance, and play either on the ribible or the gittern. This gay spark paid his addresses to Mistress Alison, the young wife of John, a wealthy aged carpenter; but Alison herself loved a poor scholar named Nicholas, a lodger in the house.—The Miller’s Tale (1388).

Absolute (Sir Anthony), a testy, but warm-hearted old gentleman, who imagines that he possesses a most angelic temper; and when he quarrels with his son, the captain, fancies it is the son who is out of temper, and not himself. Smollett’s “Matthew Bramble” evidently suggested this character. William Dowton (1764–1851) was the best actor of this part.

Captain Absolute, son of sir Anthony, in love with Lydia Languish, the heiress, to whom he is known only as ensign Beverley Bob Acres, his neighbour, is his rival, and sends a challenge to the unknown

  By PanEris using Melati.

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