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Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades,
With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn,
And ladies of the 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
Of gentlest gale Arabian odours fann'd
From their soft wings, and Flora's earliest smells.
Such was the splendour, and the tempter now
His invitation earnestly renew'd :
What doubts the Son of God to sit and eat ?
These are not fruits forbidden; no interdict
Defends the touching of these viands pure ;
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 :
Saidst thou not that to all things I had right?
And who withholds my power that right to use ?
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,
Array'd 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 answer'd Satan, malcontent :
That I have also power to give, thou seest;
If of that power I bring thee voluntary
What I might have bestow'd 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 earn'd the far-fet spoil. With that
Both table and provision vanish'd quite
With sound of harpies' wings and talons heard ;
Only the importune tempter still remain’d,
And with these words his temptation pursued :
By hunger, that each other creature tames,
Thou art not to be harm'd, 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 derivest?
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 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 weath, 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 dissolved.
But men endued 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
Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus ?
For I esteem those names of men so poor,
Who could do mighty things, and could contemn
Riches, though offer'd from the hands 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 miss'd.
So spake the Son of God, and Satan stood
Awhile as mute, confounded what to say,
What to reply, confuted, and convinced
Of his weak arguing and fallacious drift;
At length, collecting all his serpent wiles,
With soothing words renew'd, him thus accosts :
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 the 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 god-like 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 sole 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
or 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
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 inflamed
With glory, wept that he had lived so long
Inglorious : but thou yet art not too late.
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 confused,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
Things vulgar, and, well weigh’d, scarce worth the praise?
They praise and they admire they know not what,
And know not whom, but as one leads the other ;
And what delight to be by such extollid,
To live upon their tongues, and be their talk,
Of whom to be dispraised were no small praise ?
His lot who dares be singularly good.
The intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is raised.
This is true glory and renown, when God,
Looking on the 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 earth,
As thou to thy reproach mayst well remember,
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,
They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to overrun
Large countries, and in field great battles win,
Great cities by assault : what do these worthies,
But rob, and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable nations, neighbouring or remote,
Made captive, yet deserving freedom more
Than those their conquerors, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe'er they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
Then swell with pride, and must be titled gods,
Great benefactors of mankind, deliverers,
Worshipp'd with temple, priest, and sacrifice ?
One is the son of Jove, of Mars the other;
Till conqueror Death discovers them scarce men,
Rolling in brutish vices, and deform’d,
Violent or shameful death their due reward.
But if there be in glory aught of good,
It may by means far different be attain'd,
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance. I mention still
Him, whom thy wrongs, with saintly patience borne,
Made famous in a land and times obscure ;
Who names not now with honour patient Job?
Poor Socrates, who next more memorable ?
By what he taught and suffer'd for so doing,
For truth's sake suffering death unjust, lives now
Equal in fame to proudest conquerors.
Yet if for fame and glory aught be done,
Aught suffer'd ; if young African for fame
His wasted country freed from Punic rage,
The deed becomes unpraised, the man at least,
And loses, though but verbal, his reward.
Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seek,
Oft not deserved? I seek not mine, but his
Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am.
To whom the tempter, murmuring, thus replied ;
Think not so slight of glory, therein least
Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory,
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;
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 declared;
From us, his foes pronounced, glory he exacts.
To whom our Saviour fervently replied :
And reason, since his word all things produced,
Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,