Imatges de pÓgina

In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last, in philosophic pride,

By him call'd virtue; and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life,
Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can,
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,

Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.

Alas! what can they teach and not mislead,
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the world began, and how man fell,
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the soul they talk, but all awry,
And in themselves seek virtue, and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none;
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite

Of mortal things. Who therefore seeks in these
True wisdom, finds her not, or by delusion
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,
An empty cloud. However, many books
Wise men have said are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,

And what he brings, what need he elsewhere seek?
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,

Deep versed in books, and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys,

And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.
Or if I would delight my private hours
With music or with poem, where so soon
As in our native language can I find

That solace? All our law and story strew'd

With hymns, our psalms with artful terms inscribed,

Our Hebrew songs and harps in Babylon,

That pleased so well our victor's ear, declare
That rather Greece from us these arts derived;

Ill imitated, while they loudest sing

The vices of their deities and their own
In fable, hymn, or song, so personating

Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame.
Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid
As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Thin sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare
With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,
Where God is praised aright, and godlike men,
The holiest of holies, and his saints;

Such are from God inspired, not such from thee,

Unless where moral virtue is express'd
By light of nature not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll'st, as those
The top of eloquence, statists indeed

And lovers of their country, as may seem;
But herein to our prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic unaffected style,

Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,
What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
These only with our law best form a king.

So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now,
Quite at a loss, for all his darts were spent,
Thus to our Saviour with stern brow replied:
Since neither wealth, nor honour, arms, nor arts,
Kingdom, nor empire pleases thee, nor aught
By me proposed in life contemplative

Or active, tended on by glory or fame,

What dost thou in this world? The Wilderness For thee is fittest place; I found thee there,

And thither will return thee; yet remember

What I foretell thee, soon thou shalt have cause
To wish thou never hadst rejected thus

Nicely or cautiously my offer'd aid,

Which would have set thee in short time with ease
On David's throne, or throne of all the world,
Now at full age, fulness of time, thy season,
When prophecies of thee are best fulfill'd.
Now contrary, if I read aught in heaven,

Or heaven write aught of fate, by what the stars,
Voluminous, or single characters,

In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows, and labours, opposition, hate,

Attend thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries,

Violence, and stripes, and lastly cruel death;

A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I discern not;

Nor when, eternal sure, as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefix'd
Directs me in the starry rubric set.

So saying, he took, for still he knew his power Not yet expired, and to the wilderness

Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As daylight sunk, and brought in lowering night,
Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day.
Our Saviour, meek and with untroubled mind
After his aëry jaunt, though hurried sore,

Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades,
Whose branching arms thick intertwined might shield
From dews and damps of night his shelter'd head,
But shelter'd slept in vain, for at his head
The tempter watch'd, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturb'd his sleep and either tropic now


'Gan thunder, and both ends of heaven the clouds
From many a horrid rift abortive pour'd
Fierce rain with lightning mix'd, water with fire
In ruin reconciled: nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell
On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks
Bow'd their stiff necks, laden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer. Ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st
Unshaken; nor yet stay'd the terror there,
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round

Environ'd thee; some howl'd, some yell'd, some shriek'd,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat'st unappall'd in calm and sinless peace.
Thus pass'd the night so foul, till morning fair
Came forth with pilgrim steps in amice gray,
Who with her radiant finger still'd the roar
Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds,
And grisly spectres, which the fiend had raised
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
And now the sun with more effectual beams
Had cheer'd the face of earth, and dried the wet
From drooping plant or dropping tree; the birds,
Who all things now behold more fresh and green,
After a night of storm so ruinous,

Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn,
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The prince of darkness; glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came;
Yet with no new device, they all were spent,
Rather by this his last affront resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage,
And mad despite to be so oft repell'd.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,

Back'd on the north and west by a thick wood:
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said :

Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,

After a dismal night: I heard the rack
As earth and sky would mingle, but myself

Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear them

As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of heaven,
Or to the earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable

And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man's less universe, and soon are gone;
Yet as being ofttimes noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful, and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify and threaten ill ;
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offer'd with my aid
To win thy destined seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way

Of gaining David's throne no man knows when,
For both the when and how is nowhere told,
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt;
For angels have proclaim'd it, but concealing
The time and means; each act is rightliest done,
Not when it must, but when it may be best.
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
What I foretold thee, many a hard essay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night that closed thee round
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,

May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign.

So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on And stay'd not, but in brief him answer'd thus:

Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm
Those terrors, which thou speak'st of, did me none;
I never fear'd they could, though noising loud
And threatening nigh; what they can do, as signs
Betokening, or ill-boding, I contemn

As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrudest thy offer'd aid, that I accepting
At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
Ambitious spirit, and wouldst be thought my god;
And storm'st refused, thinking to terrify

Me to thy will. Desist, thou art discern'd,
And toil'st in vain, nor me in vain molest.

To whom the fiend, now swollen with rage, replied:
Then hear, O Son of David, virgin-born;
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt;
Of the Messiah I had heard, foretold
By all the prophets; of thy birth at length
Announced by Gabriel with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
On thy birth-night, that sung thee Saviour born.


From that time seldom have I ceased to eye
Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred;
Till, at the ford of Jordan, whither all
Flock'd to the Baptist, I among the rest,
Though not to be baptized, by voice from heaven
Heard thee pronounced the Son of God beloved.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
In what degree or meaning thou art call'd
The Son of God, which bears no single sense;
The son of God I also am, or was,

And if I was I am; relation stands ;

All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher so declared.

Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour,

And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild;
Where by all best conjectures I collect

Thou art to be my fatal enemy.

Good reason then, if I beforehand seek
To understand my adversary, who,

And what he is, his wisdom, power, intent;
By parle, or composition, truce, or league,
To win him, or win from him what I can.
And opportunity I here have had

To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock

Of adamant, and as a centre firm,

To the utmost of mere man both wise and good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemn'd, and may again :
Therefore to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming Son of God by voice from heaven,
Another method I must now begin.

So saying he caught him up, and without wing
Of hippogriff bore through the air sublime
Over the wilderness and o'er the plain;
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple rear'd
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topp'd with golden spires:
There on the highest pinnacle he set
The Son of God, and added thus in scorn:
There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house


ught thee, and highest placed, highest is


Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, He will give command
Concerning thee to his angels, in their hands

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