Imatges de pÓgina
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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,
Ilis 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 clest,
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 Aies 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,

Above the height of mountains interposed :
By what strange parallax or optic skill
Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to inquire;
And now the tempter thus his silence broke:

The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earth,
So far renown'd, and with the spoils enrich'd
Of nations; there the capitol thou seest
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable, and there Mount Palatine,
The imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods, so well I have disposed
My aëry microscope, thou mayest behold
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in,
Prætors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state ;
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power,
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the Emilian, some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic isle, and more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor sea ;
From the Asian kings, and Parthian, among these,
From India, and the Golden Chersonese,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreath'd ;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west,
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians, north
Beyond Danubius to the Tauric pool.
All nations now to Rome obedience pay,
To Rome's great emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth, and power,
Civility of manners, arts, and arms,
And long renown, thou justly mayest prefer
Before the Parthian ; these two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shared among petty kings too far removed.
These having shown thee, I have shown thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
This emperor hath no son, and now is old,

Old and lascivious, and from Rome retired
To Capreæ, an island small but strong
On the Campanian shore, with purpose there
His horrid lusts in private to enjoy,
Committing to a wicked favourite
All public cares, and yet of him suspicious,
Hated of all, and hating. With what ease,
Endued with regal virtues as thou art,
Appearing and beginning noble deeds,
Mightst thou expel this monster from his throne,
Now made a sty, and, in his place ascending,
A victor people free from servile yoke?
And with my help thou mayest ; to me the power
Is given, and by that right I give it thee.

I
Aim therefore at no less than all the world,
Aim at the highest, without the highest attained
Will be for thee no sitting, or not long,
On David's throne, be prophesied what will.

To whom the Son of God unmoved replied:
Nor doth this grandeur and majestic show
Of luxury, though call'd magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye,
Much less my mind ; though thou shouldst add to tell
Their sumptuous gluttonies and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone,
For I have also heard, perhaps have read,
Their wines of Setia, Cales, and Falerne,
Chios, and Crete, and how they quaff in gold,
Crystal and myrrhine cups emboss'd with gems
And studs of pearl, to me shouldst tell who thirst
And hunger still. Then embassies thou show'st
From nations far and nigh. What honour that,
But tedious waste of time to sit and hear
So many hollow compliments and lies,
Outlandish flatteries? then proceed'st to talk
Of the emperor, how easily subdued,
How gloriously' ; I shall, thou sayest, expel
A brutish monster ; what if I withal
Expel a devil who first made him such?
Let his tormentor conscience find him out;
For him I was not sent, nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base,
Deservedly made vassal, who, once just,
Frugal, and mild, and temperate, conquer'd well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
But lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
Of triumph, that insulting vanity;
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inured
Of fighting beasts, and men to beasts exposed
Luxurious by their wealth, and greedier still,
And from the daily scene effeminate.

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