Page images

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 compared,
Was that crude apple that diverted Eve!
And at a stately side-board, 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 tripp'd, now solemn stood,
Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades,


With fruits and flow'rs from Amalthea's horn,
And ladies of th' 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.

All these are spirits of air, and woods, and springs,
Thy gentle ministers, who come to


Thee homage, and acknowledge thee their Lord:
What doubt'st thou, Son of God? sit down and eat.
To whom thus Jesus temp'rately reply'd:

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 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-set spoil. With that

Both table and provision vanish'd quite

With sound of harpies' wings, and talons heard;

Only th' impórtune 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 would'st 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 reply'd:
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 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 Isreal 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 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,

[ocr errors]

The wise man's cumbrance if not snare, more apt
To slacken virtue, and abate her edge,
Than prompt her to do aught may

What if with like aversion I reject

merit praise.

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, 460

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.






[blocks in formation]

Satan, in a speech of much flattering commendation, endeavours to awaken in Jesus a passion for glory, by particularizing various instances of conquests achieved, and great actions performed, by persons at an early period of life. Our Lord replies, by showing the vanity of worldly fame, and the improper means by which it is generally attained; and contrasts with it the true glory of religious patience and virtuous wisdom, as exemplified in the character of Job. Satan justifies the love of glory from the example of God himself, who requires it from all his creatures. Jesus detects the fallacy of this argument, by showing that, as goodness is the true ground on which glory is due to the great Creator of all things, sinful man can have no right whatever to it. Satan then urges our Lord respecting his claim to the throne of David; he tells him that the kingdom of Judea, being at that time a province of Rome, cannot be got possession of without much personal exertion on his part, and presses him to lose no time in beginning to reign. Jesus refers him to the time allotted for this, as for all other things; and, after intimating somewhat respecting his own previous sufferings, asks Satan why he should be solicitous for the exaltation of one, whose rising was destined to be his fall. Satan replies, that his own desperate state, by excluding all hope, leaves little room for fear; and that, as his own punishment was equally doomed, he is not interested in preventing the reign of one, for whose apparent benevolence he might rather hope for some interference in his favour. Satan still pursues his former incitements; and, supposing that the seeming reluctance of Jesus to be thus advanced might arise from his being unacquainted with the world and its glories, conveys him to the summit of a high mountain, and from thence shows him most of the kingdoms of Asia, particularly pointing out to his notice some extraordinary military preparations of the Parthians to resist the incursions of the Scythians. He then informs our Lord, that he showed him this purposely that he might see how necessary military exertions are to retain the possession of kingdoms, as well as to subdue them at first, and advises him to consider how impossible it was to maintain Judea against two such powerful neighbours as the Romans and Parthians, and how necessary it would be to form an alliance with one or other of them. At the same time he recommends, and engages to secure to him, that of the Parthians; and tells him, that by this means his power will be defended from any thing that Rome or Cæsar might attempt against it, and that he will be able to extend his glory wide, and especially to accomplish what was particularly necessary to make the throne of Judea really the throne of David, the deliverance and restoration of the ten tribes, still in a state of

« PreviousContinue »