« السابقةمتابعة »
MEANWHILE the new baptiz'd, who yet re
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Hail highly favour'd, among women bless'd!
Of other women, by the birth I bore,
Spoken against, that through my very soul
A sword shall pierce; This is my favour'd lot, My exaltation to afflictions high:
And with him talk'd, and with him lodg'd, (I mean
The city of Palms, non and Salem old,
Or in Perea; but return'd in vain.
Afflicted I may be, it seems, and bless'd.
Hath wrapp'd him from us? will he now retire 40
Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come;
Thus Mary, pondering oft, and oft to mind 105 Recalling what remarkably had pass'd Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts Meekly compos'd awaited the fulfilling: The while her Son tracing the desert wild, Sole, but with holiest meditations fed, Into himself descended, and at once All his great work to come before him set, How to begin, how to accomplish best His end of being on earth, and mission high ; For Satan with sly preface to return Had left him vacant, and with speed was gone Up to the middle region of thick air,
Thy chosen, to what height their power unjust 45
Soon we shall see our hope, our joy, return."
"Set women in his eye, and in his walk, Among daughters of men the fairest found; Many are in each region passing fair As the noon sky; more like to goddesses Than mortal creatures, graceful and discreet, Expert in amorous arts, enchanting tongues Persuasive, virgin majesty with mild And sweet allay'd, yet terrible to approach, Skill'd to retire, and in retiring draw Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets. Such object hath the power to soften and tame Severest temper, smoothe the rugged'st brow, Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve, Draw out with credulous desire, and lead At will the manliest, resolutest breast, As the magnetic hardest iron draws.
Women, when nothing else, beguil'd the heart Of wisest Solomon, and made him build,
And made him bow to the gods of his wives."
To whom quick answer Satan thus return'd:
In courts and regal chambers how thou lurk'st,
He ceas'd, and heard their grant in loud acclaim; Then forthwith to him takes a chosen band
Of spirits likest to himself in guile
"Where will this end? Four times ten days I've Wand'ring this woody maze, and hurnan food [pass'd Nor tasted, nor had appetite; that fast To virtue I impute not, or count part Of what I suffer here; if Nature need not, Or God support Nature, without repast, Though needing, what praise is it to endure? But now I feel I hunger, which declares Nature hath need of what she asks; yet God Can satisfy that need some other way, Though hunger still remain; so it remain Without this body's wasting, I content me, And from the sting of famine fear no harm, Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts, that feed Me hung'ring more to do my Father's will."
It was the hour of night, when thus the Son 260 Commun'd in silent walk, then laid him down, Under the hospitable covert nigh
Of trees thick interwoven; there he slept,
180 Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they
Too long, then lay'st thy scapes on names ador'd,
Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan,
Satyr, or Faun, or Sylvan? But these haunts
Delight not all; among the sons of men,
How many have with a smile made small account
The strength whereof suffic'd him forty days;
For Solomon, he liv'd at ease, and full
Of honour, wealth, high fare, aim'd not beyond Higher design than to enjoy his state;
Thence to the bait of woman lay expos'd:
But he whom we attempt is wiser far
Than Solomon, of more exalted mind,
Of wood-gods, and wood-nymphs: he view'd it
"With granted leave officious I return, But much more wonder that the Son of God In this wild solitude so long should bide Of all things destitute, and well I know Not without hunger. Others of some note, As story tells, have trod this wilderness; The fugitive bond-woman with her son, Outcast Nebaioth, yet found here relief By a providing angel; all the race Of Israel here had famish'd, had not God Rain'd from heaven manna; and that prophet bold, Native of Thebez, wand'ring here, was fed Twice by a voice inviting him to eat:
"How hast thou hunger then ?" Satan replied: Tell me if food were now before thee set, Wouldst thou not eat?" "Thereafter as I like The giver," answer'd 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, not to stay till bid, But tender all their power? Nor mention I Meats by the law unclean, or offer'd first To idols, those young Daniel could refuse; Nor proffer'd by an enemy; though who Would scruple that, with want oppress'd? Behold Nature asham'd, or better to express, Troubled, that thou shouldst hunger, hath purvey'd 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 pil'd, and meats of noblest sort And savour, beasts of chase, or fowl of game, In pastry built, or from the spit, or boil'd, Gris amber steam'd: all fish from sea or shore, Freshet, or purling brook, of shell or fin, And exquisitest name, for which was drain'd Pontus, and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast. Alas! how simple, to these cates compar'd, Was that crude apple that diverted Eve! And at a stately side-board, by the wine, That fragrant smell diffus'd, in order stood Tall stripling youths, rich clad, of fairer hue Than Ganymede or Hylas; distant more Under the trees now tripp'd, now solemn stood, Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades
With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn. And ladies of th' Hesperides, that seem'd,
Fairer than feign'd 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
"What doubts the Son of God to sit and eat?
All these are spirits of air, and woods, and springs,
What I can do or offer is suspect;
"By hunger, that each other creature tames, Thou art not to be harm'd; therefore, not mov'd: 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 achiev'd? 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, Longer than thou canst feed them on thy cost? Money brings honour, friends, conquest, and What rais'd Antipater, the Edomite, [realms. And his son Herod plac'd on Juda's throne, (Thy hrone) 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, 430 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 gain'd." Witness those ancient empires of the earth, In height of all their flowing wealth dissolv'd: But men endu'd with these have oft attain'd 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 445 Quintius, Fabricius, Cureus, Regulus ?
Riches and realms; yet not for that a crown,
And call swift flights of angels ministrant
Or lawless passions in him which he serves.
Array'd in glory on my cup t' attend:
But to guide nations in the way of truth
Why shouldst thou then obtrude this diligence, In vain, where no acceptance it can find?
By saving doctrine, and from error lead
And with my hunger what hast thou to do? Thy pompous delicacies I contemn,
And count thy specious gifts no gifts, but guiles."
To know, and knowing, worship God aright, 475
END OF BOOK SECOND
"I see thou know'st what is of use to know, What best to say canst say, to do canst do; Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart Contains of good, wise, just, the perfect shape. Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult, Thy counsel would be as the oracle Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems On Aaron's breast; or tongue of seers old, Infallible or wert thou sought to deeds That might require th' array of war, thy skill Of conduct would be such, that all the world Could not sustain thy prowess, or subsist In battle, though against thy few in arms. These godlike virtues wherefore dost thou hide, Affecting private life, or more obscure In savage wilderness? wherefore deprive All earth her wonder at thy acts, thyself The fame and glory, glory the reward That soul excites to high attempts, the flame Of most erected spirits, most temper'd pure Ethereal, who all pleasures else despise, All treasures and all gain esteem as dross, And dignities and powers all but the highest? Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe; the son Of Macedonian Philip had ere these Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held At his dispose; young Scipio had brought down The Carthaginian pride: young Pompey quell'd 35 The Pontic king, and in triumph had rode. Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature, Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment. Great Julius, whom now all the world admires, The more he grew in years, the more inflam'd 10 With glory, wept that he had liv'd so long Inglorious: but thou yet art not too late."
He ask'd thee, Hast thou seen my servant Job?" Famous he was in heaven, on earth less known; Where glory is false glory attributed
To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame. 70 They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to over-run
Large countries, and in field great battles win,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy, 80
Till conqu'ror Death discover them scarce men 85
Violent or shameful death their duc reward.
It may by means far different be attain'd,
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
Who names not now with honour patient Job? 95
To whom our Saviour calmly thus replied: "Thou neither dost persuade me to seek wealth For empire's sake, nor empire to affect For glory's sake, by all thy argument. For what is glory but the blaze of fame, The people's praise, if always praise unmix'd? And what the people but a herd confus'd, A miscellaneous rabble, who extol [praise? Things vulgar, and well weigh'd, scarce worth the They praise, and they admire they know not what, And know nor whom, but as one leads the other; And what delight to be by such extoll'd,
To live upon their tongues, and be their talk, 55 Of whom to be disprais'd were no small praise? His lot who dares be singularly good.
Th' intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is rais'd.
This is true glory and renown, when God,
Looking on th' earth, with approbation marks The just man, and divulges him through heaven To all his angels, who with true applause Recount his praises: thus he did to Job,
When to extend his fame through heaven and
Equal in fame to proudest conquerors.
To whom the Tempter murm'ring thus replied: "Think not so slight of glory; therein least Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory, 110 And for his glory all things made, all things Orders and governs; nor content in heaven, By all his angels glorified, requires Glory from men, from all men, good or bad, Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption; 115 Above all sacrifice, or hallow'd gift, Glory he requires, and glory he receives Promiscuous from all nations, Jew, or Greek, Or barbarous, nor exception hath declar'd: From us his foes pronounc'd glory he exacts." 120 To whom our Saviour fervently replied: "And reason; since his word all things produc'd, Though chiefly not for glory as prime end, But to show forth his goodness, and impart His good communicable to every soul Freely; of whom what could he less expect Than glory and benediction, that is, thanks, The slightest, easiest, readiest recompense From them who could return him nothing else, And not returning that, would likeliest render 130 Contempt instead, dishonour, obloquy ?
Hard recompense, unsuitable return
For so much good, so much beneficence.
But why should man seek glory, who of his own
So spake the Son of God: and here again
Yet of another plea bethought him soon.
"Of glory, as thou wilt," said he, "so deem; 150
By mother's side thy father: though thy right
With temp'rate sway; oft have they violated 160
So did not Maccabæus: he indeed
That by strong hand his family obtain d,
Tho' priests, the crown, and David's throne usurp'd,
To whom our Saviour answer thus return'd: "All things are best fulfill'd in their due time, And time there is for all things, truth hath said: If of my reign prophetic writ hath told That it shall never end, so when begin The Father in his purpose hath decreed, He in whose hand all times and seasons roll. What if he hath decreed that I shall first Be tried in humble state, and things adverse, By tribulations, injuries, insults, Contempts and scorns, and snares, and violence, Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting, Without distrust or doubt, that he may know What I can suffer, how obey? Who best
Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first 195
"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 Indust east, Euphrates west, And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay, And inaccessible th' Arabian drouth: 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; 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 Béctra 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 Parthian hands, The great Selucia, Nisibis; and there Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
To whom the Tempter, inly rack'd, replied: "Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost Of my reception into grace; what worse? For where no hope is left, is left no fear: If there be worse, the expectation more Of worse torments me than the feeling can. I would be at the worst; worst is my port, My harbour, and my ultimate repose, The end I would attain, my final good. My error was my error, and my crime My crime; whatever for itself condemn'd, And will alike be punish'd, whether thou Reign or reign not; though to that gentle brow Willingly I could fly, and hope thy reign, From that placid aspect and meek regard, Rather than aggravate my evil state,
Would stand between me and thy Father's ire,
He marches now in haste; see, though from far, His thousands, in what martial equipage