Imatges de pÓgina

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By a providing angel ; all the race

310 Of Israel here had famished, had not God Rained from Heaven manna ; and that prophet bold, Native of Thebez, wandering here, was fed Twice by a voice inviting him to eat. Of Thee these forty days none hath regard, Forty and more deserted here indeed."

To whom thus Jesus :-“What conclud'st thou hence? They all had need ; I, as thou seest, have none."

“ How hast Thou hunger then?” Satan replied. “Tell me, if food were now before Thee set,

320 Wouldst Thou not eat?” “Thereafter as I like The giver,” answered Jesus. “Why should that

Cause Thy refusal ?” said the subtle fiend.
“ Hast Thou not right to all created things?
Owe not all creatures, by just right, to Thee
Duty and service, nor to stay till bid,
But tender all their power? Nor mention I
Meats by the law unclean, or offered first
To idols-those young Daniel could refuse;

; Nor proffered by an enemy—though who

Would scruple that, with want oppressed? Behold,
Nature ashamed, or, better to express,
Troubled, that Thou shouldst hunger, hath purveyed
From all the elements her choicest store,
To treat Thee as beseems, and as her Lord
With honour. Only deign to sit and eat.

He spake no dream ; for, as his words had end,
Our Saviour, lifting up His eyes, beheld,
In ample space under the broadest shade,
A table richly spread in regal mode,

With dishes piled and meats of noblest sort
And savour-beasts of chase, or fowl of game,
In pastry built, or from the spit, or boiled,
Gris-am ber-steamed; all fish, from sea or shore,
Freshet or purling brook, of shell or fin,
And exquisitest name, for which was drained

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Pontus, and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast.
Alas ! how simple, to these cates compared,
Was that crude apple that diverted Eve!
And at a stately sideboard, by the wine,

That fragrant smell diffused, in order stood
Tall stripling youths rich-clad, of fairer hue
Than Ganymed or Hylas; distant more,
Under the trees now tripped, now solemn stood,
Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades
With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn,
And ladies of the Hesperides, that seemed
Fairer than feigned of old, or fabled since
Of fairy damsels met in forest wide
By knights of Logres, or of Lyones,
Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore.
And all the while harmonious airs were heard
Of chiming strings or charming pipes; and winds
Of gentlest gale Arabian odours fanned
From their soft wings, and Flora's earliest smells.
Such was the splendour; and the tempter now
His invitation earnestly renewed :

“ What doubts the Son of God to sit and eat ? These are not fruits forbidden; no interdict Defends the touching of these viands pure;

370 Their taste no knowledge works, at least of evil, But life preserves, destroys life's enemy, Hunger, with sweet restorative delight. All these are spirits of air, and woods, and springs, Thy gentle ministers, who come to pay Thee homage, and acknowledge Thee their Lord. What doubt'st Thou, Son of God? Sit down and eat.”

To whom thus Jesus temperately replied :“Said'st thou not that to all things I had right? And who withholds my power that right to use?

380 Shall I receive by gift what of My own, When and where likes me best, I can command? I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou,





Command a table in this wilderness,
And call swift flights of angels ministrant,
Arrayed in glory, on my cup to attend :
Why shouldst thou, then, obtrude this diligence
In vain, where no acceptance it can find ?
And with My hunger what hast thou to do?
Thy pompous delicacies I contemn,
And count thy specious gifts no gifts, but guiles."

To whom thus answered Satan, malecontent:-
“ That I have also power to give Thou seest;
If of that power I bring Thee voluntary
What I might have bestowed on whom I pleased,
And rather opportunely in this place
Chose to impart to Thy apparent need,
Why shouldst Thou not accept it? But I see
What I can do or offer is suspect.
Of these things others quickly will dispose,
Whose pains have earned the far-fet spoil." With that
Both table and provision vanished quite,
With sound of harpies' wings and talons heard ;
Only the importune tempter still remained,
And with these words his temptation pursued :

“By hunger, that each other creature tames,
Thou art not to be harmed, therefore not moved ;
Thy temperance, invincible besides,
For no allurement yields to appetite;
And all Thy heart is set on high designs,
High actions. But wherewith to be achieved?
Great acts require great means of enterprise ;
Thou art unknown, unfriended, low of birth,
A carpenter Thy father known, Thyself
Bred up in poverty and straits at home,
Lost in a desert here and hunger-bit.
Which way, or from what hope, dost Thou aspire
To greatness ? whence authority deriv'st?
What followers; what retinue canst Thou gain,
Or at Thy heels the dizzy multitude,


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Longer than Thou canst feed them on Thy cost?
Money brings honour, friends, conquest, and realms.
What raised Antipater the Edomite,
And his son Herod placed on Judah's throne,
Thy throne, but gold, that got him puissant friends?
Therefore, if at great things Thou wouldst arrive,
Get riches first, get wealth, and treasure heap
Not difficult, if Thou hearken to me.
Riches are mine, fortune is in my hand ;
They whom I favour thrive in wealth amain,
While virtue, valour, wisdom, sit in want.'

To whom thus Jesus patiently replied :-
“ Yet wealth without these three is impotent
To gain dominion, or to keep it gained-
Witness those ancient empires of the earth,
In height of all their flowing wealth dissolved;
But men endued with these have oft attained,
In lowest poverty, to highest deeds-
Gideon, and Jephtha, and the shepherd lad
Whose offspring on the throne of Judah sat
So many ages, and shall yet regain
That seat, and reign in Israel without end.
Among the heathen (for throughout the world
To Me is not unknown what hath been done
Worthy of memorial) canst thou not remember
Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus?
For I esteem those names of men so poor,
Who could do mighty things, and could contemn
Riches, though offered from the hand of kings.
And what in Me seems wanting but that I
May also in this poverty as soon
Accomplish what they did, perhaps and more?
Extol not riches, then, the toil of fools,
The wise man's cumbrance, if not snare; more apt
To slacken virtue and abate her edge
Than prompt her to do aught may merit praise.
What if with like aversion I reject





Riches and realms! Yet not for that a crown,
Golden in show, is but a wreath of thorns,
Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and sleepless nights,
To him who wears the regal diadem,
When on his shoulders each man's burden lies;
For therein stands the office of a king,
His honour, virtue, merit, and chief praise,
That for the public all this weight he bears.
Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king-
Which every wise and virtuous man attains;
And who attains not ill aspires to rule
Cities of men, or headstrong multitudes,
Subject himself to anarchy within,
Or lawless passions in him, which he serves.
But to guide nations in the way of truth
By saving doctrine, and from error lead
To know, and, knowing, worship God aright,
Is yet more kingly. This attracts the soul,
Governs the inner man, the nobler part;
That other o'er the body only reigns,
And oft by force—which to a generous mind
So reigning can be no sincere delight.
Besides, to give a kingdom hath been thought
Greater and nobler done, and to lay down
Far more magnanimous, than to assume.
Riches are needless, then, both for themselves,
And for thy reason why they should be sought-
To gain a sceptre, oftest better missed.”


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