« السابقةمتابعة »
By a providing Angel; all the race
Of Israel here had famish'd, had not God
Rain'd from Heaven manna : and that Prophet 1 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,
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, nor 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 ; beast of chase, or fowl of game,
" That Prophet :' Elijah the Tishbite.
In pastry built, or from the spit, or boild,
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 Africk coast
(Alas, how simple to these cates compared,
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 Ganymed4 or Hylas ;5 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 6 horn,
And ladies of the Hesperides, that seem'd
Fairer than feign'd of old or fabled since
Of faery 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.
1. Freshet :' fresh running stream.—2 • Pontus:' Euxine Sea.
bay:' in Italy.--* • Ganymed:' a boy beloved of Jupiter.–5 • Hylas :' a
youth loved of Hercules.—® • Amalthea :' see Ovid, Fast. 5, 115.-3. Lancelot,'
&c. : characters in the old romance of Morte d'Arthur.
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 ?
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 malecontent.
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 pleas'd,
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-fet1 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,
1 Far-fet :' far-fetched.
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 realms :
What rais'd Antipater1 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 gain’d.
Witness those ancient empires of the earth,
In highth of all their flowing wealth dissolv’d:
But men endued with these have oft attain'd
In lowest poverty to highest deeds ;
Gideon, and Jephtha, and the shepherd lad,2
1. Antipater:' fact-sec Josephus.—2 « Shepherd lad:' David.
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,2 Regulus ?
For I esteem those names of men so poor,
Who could do mighty things, and could contemn
Riches, though offer'd 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 publick 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.
1. Quintius:' Cincinnatus.--2 Curius :' Dentatus.