صور الصفحة

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; 355

But herein to our Prophets far beneath,

As men divinely taught, and better teaching

The solid rules of civil government

In their majestic unaffected stile

Than all th' oratory of Greece and Rome. 360

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 365 Quite at a loss, for all his darts were spent, Thus to our Saviour with stern brow reply'd:

Since neither wealth, nor honor, arms nor arts,
Kingdom nor empire pleases thee, nor ought
By me propos'd in life contemplative, 370

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 foretel thee, soon thou shalt have cause
To wish thou never hadst rejected thus 376

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, 380

When prophecies of thee are best fulfiU'd.

Now contrary, if I read ought in Heav'n,

Or Heav'n write ought of Fate, by what the stars

Voluminous, or single characters,

In their conjunction met, give me to spell, 385

Sorrows, and labors, opposition, hate

Attends 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, 350

Nor when, eternal sure, as without end,

Without beginning; for no date prefix'd

Directs me in the starry rubric set.

So say'ing he took (for still he knew his power Not yet expir'd) and to the wilderness 395

Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As day-light sunk, and brought in louring Night
Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day. 400

Our Saviour meek and with untroubled mind
After his aery jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades, [shield
Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd might
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 405
'Gan thunder, and both ends of Heav'n, the clouds
From many a horrid rift abortive pour'd
Fierce rain with lightning mix'd, water with fire
In ruin reconcil'd i nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, butrush'd abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell 415
On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks
Bow'd their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts;
Or torn up sheer i ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st 420

Unshaken; nor yet stay'd the terror there,
Infernal ghosts, and hellish furies, round [shriek'd,
Environ'd thee, some howl'd, some yell'd, some
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Satst unappall'd in calm and sinless peace. 425

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, chas'd the clouds, and laid the winds,
And grisly spectres, which the Fiend had rais'd 430
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 dry'd 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, 436

Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray
To gratulare the sweet return of morn;


Nor yet amidst this joy and brightest morn

Was absent, after all his mischief done, 440

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 resolv'd,

Desp'rate of better course, to vent his rage, 445

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; 450

Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God, After a dismal night; I heard the wrack As earth and sky would mingle; but myself Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear

them As dang'rous to the pillar'd frame of Heav'n, 455 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 oft times noxious where they light 46* On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent, Like turbulencies in th' affairs of men, Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point, They oft fore-signify and threaten illi This tempest at this desert most was bent; 465 Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.

Volume III. G

Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject

The perfect season offer'd with my aid

To win thy destin'd seat, but wilt prolong

All to the push of Fate, pursue thy way 470

Of gaining David's throne no man knows when,

For both the when and how is no where told,

Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt;

For angels have proclam'd it, but concealing

The timeand means: each act is rightliest done, 475

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 assay

Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,

Ere thou of Israel's scepter get fast hold; 480

Whereof this ominous night that clos'd thee round.

So many terrors, voices, prodigies

May warn thee, as a sure fore-going sign.

So talk'd he while the Son of God went on Andstay'd not, but in brief him answer'd thus. 485

Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm
Those terrors which thou speak'st of did me none 5
I never fear'd they could, though noising loud
And threatning nigh; what they can do as signs
Betokening, or ill boding, I contemn 490

As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
Who knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrud'st thy offer'd aid, that I accepting
At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
Ambitious spi'rit, and wouldst be thought my God,

« السابقةمتابعة »