Imatges de pÓgina
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Of the enterprise so hazardous and high :
No wonder, for, though in thee be united
What of perfection can in man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider,
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce view'd the Galilean towns,
And once a year Jerusalem, few days'

Short sojourn; and what thence couldst thou observe
The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts,
Best school of best experience, quickest insight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
As he who seeking asses found a kingdom,
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventurous :

But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes

The monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state,
Sufficient introduction to inform

Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts

And regal mysteries, that thou mayst know

How best their opposition to withstand.

With that, such power was given him then, he took The Son of God up to a mountain high. It was a mountain, at whose verdant feet

A spacious plain, outstretch'd in circuit wide,
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow'd,
The one winding, the other straight, and left between
Fair champaign with less rivers intervein'd,
Then meeting join'd their tribute to the sea;
Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;
With herds the pastures throng'd, with flocks the his;
Huge cities and high tower'd, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs, and so large
The prospect was, that here and there was room
For barren desert, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain top the tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began:

Well have we speeded, and, o'er hill and dale,
Forest, and field, and flood, temples, and towers,
Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold'st
Assyria and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes, and the Caspian lake, thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay,
And inaccessible the Arabian drought:
Here Nineveh, of length within her wall
Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns;

[graphic]

There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis
His city there thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
And Hecatompylos her hundred gates;
There Susa by Choaspes' amber stream,
The drink of none but kings; of later fame,
Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye thou mayst behold.
All these the Parthian, now some ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire, under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou comest to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid

He marches now in haste; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage

They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit ;

All horsemen in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,

In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings. He look'd, and saw what numbers numberless

The city gates outpour'd, light-armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride;

In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound;
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,
From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.

He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheel'd, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown:
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots, or clephants endorsed with towers
Of archers, nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude with spades and axes arm'd

To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or, where plain was, raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;
Mules after these, camels, and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican, with all his northern powers,
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,

The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her sex, Angelica,

His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
Both Paynim, and the peers of Charlemain.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry;
At sight whereof the fiend yet more presumed,
And to our Saviour thus his words renew'd :

That thou mayst know I seek not to engage
Thy virtue, and not every way secure

On no slight grounds thy safety, hear and mark
To what end I have brought thee hither, and shown
All this fair sight; thy kingdom, though foretold
By prophet or by angel, unless thou
Endeavour, as thy father David did,

Thou never shalt obtain ; prediction still
In all things, and all men, supposes means,
Without means used, what it predicts revokes.
But say thou wert possess'd of David's throne
By free consent of all, none opposite,
Samaritan or Jew; how couldst thou hope
Long to enjoy it quiet and secure,

Between two such enclosing enemies,

Roman and Parthian? Therefore one of these

Thou must make sure thy own, the Parthian first
By my advice, as nearer, and of late

Found able by invasion to annoy

Thy country, and captive lead away her kings,
Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,

Maugre the Roman. It shall be my task

To render thee the Parthian at dispose;

Choose which thou wilt, by conquest or by league.
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
That which alone can truly reinstall thee
In David's royal seat, his true successor,
Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten tribes,
Whose offspring in his territory yet served,
In Habor, and among the Medes dispersed ;
Ten sons of Jacob, two of Joseph, lost
Thus long from Israel, serving, as of old
Their fathers in the land of Egypt served,
This offer sets before thee to deliver.
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
To their inheritance, then, nor till then,
Thou on the throne of David in full glory,

From Egypt to Euphrates, and beyond,
Shalt reign, and Rome or Cæsar not need fear.
To whom our Saviour answer'd thus, unmoved:
Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm,

And fragile arms, much instrument of war
Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,
Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my ear
Vented much policy, and projects deep
Of enemies, of aids, battles, and leagues,
Plausible to the world, to me worth nought.
Means I must use, thou sayest, prediction else
Will unpredict and fail me of the throne.
My time, I told thee, and that time for thee
Were better farthest of, is not yet come;
When that comes, think not thou to find me slack
On my part aught endeavouring, or to need
Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome
Luggage of war there shown me, argument
Of human weakness rather than of strength.

My brethren, as thou call'st them, those ten tribes,
I must deliver, if I mean to reign

David's true heir, and his full sceptre sway
To just extent over all Israel's sons.

But whence to thee this zeal, where was it then
For Israel, or for David, or his throne,

When thou stoodst up his tempter to the pride
Of numbering Israel, which cost the lives
Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites
By three days' pestilence? Such was thy zeal
To Israel then, the same that now to me.

As for those captive tribes, themselves were they
Who wrought their own captivity, fell off
From God to worship calves, the deities

Of Egypt, Baal next, and Ashtaroth,
And all the idolatries of heathen round,

Besides their other worse than heathenish crimes
Nor in the land of their captivity

Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
The God of their forefathers; but so died
Impenitent, and left a race behind

Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
From Gentiles, but by circumcision vain,
And God with idols in their worship join'd.
Should I of these the liberty regard,
Who, freed as to their ancient patrimony,
Unhumbled, unrepentant, unreform'd,

Headlong would follow; and to their gods perhaps
Of Bethel and of Dan? No, let them serve
Their enemies, who serve idols with God.
Yet he at length, time to himself best known,
Remembering Abraham, by some wondrous call
May bring them back repentant and sincere,

And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
While to their native land with joy they haste,
As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
When to the Promised Land their fathers pass'd;
To his due time and providence I leave them.

So spake Israel's true King, and to the fiend
Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.
So fares it when with truth falsehood contends.

BOOK IV.

PERPLEX'D and troubled at his bad success,
The tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
Discover'd in his fraud, thrown from his hope
So oft, and the persuasive rhetoric

That sleek'd his tongue, and won so much on Eve,
So little here, nay lost; but Eve was Eve,
This far his overmatch, who, self-deceived
And rash, beforehand had no better weigh'd
The strength he was to cope with, or his own;
But as a man, who had been matchless held
In cunning, over-reach'd where least he thought,
To salve his credit, and for very spite,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
And never cease, though to his shame the more;
Or as a swarm of flies in vintage time,

About the wine-press where sweet must is pour'd,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound;
Or surging waves against a solid rock,

Though all to shivers dash'd, the assault renew,
Vain battery, and in froth or bubbles end;
So Satan, whom repulse upon repulse
Met ever, and to shameful silence brought,
Yet gives not o'er, though desperate of success,
And his vain importunity pursues.

He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Wash'd by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length back'd with a ridge of hills,

That screen'd the fruits of the earth, and seats of men,
From cold septentrion blasts; thence in the midst
Divided by a river, of whose banks

On each side an imperial city stood,

With towers and temples proudly elevate
On seven small hills, with palaces adorn'd,
Porches, and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues, and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens, and groves presented to his eyes,

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