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And thou thyself seem'st otherwise inclined
Than to a worldly crown, addicted more
To contemplation and profound dispute;
As by that early action may be judged,


When slipping from thy mother's eye thou went'st
Alone into the temple; there wast found

Among the gravest Rabbies disputant

On points and questions fitting Moses' chair,

Teaching, not taught; the childhood shows the man,


As morning shows the day. Be famous then

By wisdom; as thy empire must extend,
So let extend thy mind o'er all the world
In knowledge, all things in it comprehend:
All knowledge is not couch'd in Moses' law,
The Pentateuch, or what the Prophets wrote;
The Gentiles also know, and write, and teach
To admiration, led by Nature's light;
And with the Gentiles much thou must converse,
Ruling them by persuasion as thou meanʼst;
Without their learning how wilt thou with them,
Or they with thee, hold conversation meet?
How wilt thou reason with them, how refute
Their idolisms, traditions, paradoxes?
Error by his own arms is best evinced.




Look once more ere we leave this specular mount
Westward, much nearer by south-west, behold
Where on the Ægean shore a city stands

Built nobly, pure the air, and light the soil,

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Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;

There flow'ry hill Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites

To studious musing; there Ilissus rolls

His whisp'ring stream: within the walls then view
The schools of ancient sages; his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,


Lyceum there, and painted Stoa next:

There shalt thou hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony in tones and numbers hit

By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
Eolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,

And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes thence Homer call'd,
Whose poem Phœbus challenged for his own.
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught
In Chorus or Iambic, teachers best



Of moral prudence, with delight received
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of Fate, and Chance, and change in human life;
High actions and high passions best describing:
Thence to the famous orators repair,


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Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democratie,
Shook th' arsenal and fulmined over Greece,


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Mellifluous streams that water'd all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Sirnamed Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe;


These here revolve, or, as thou lik'st, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire join'd.
To whom our Saviour sagely thus reply'd:


Think not but that I know these things, or think
I know them not; not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought: he who receives
Light from above, from the Fountain of Light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all profess'd
To know this only, that he nothing knew;


The next to fabling fell and smooth conceits;


A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;

Others in virtue placed felicity,

But virtue join'd with riches and long life;

In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last in philosophic pride,


By him call'd Virtue; and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all

Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life,


Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can;
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas, what can they teach, and not mislead.
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the world began, and how man fell
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the soul they talk, but all awry,


And in themselves seek virtue, and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none,
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite


Of mortal things. Who therefore seeks in these
True wisdom, finds her not, or by delusion
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,
An empty cloud. However, many books,
Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads


Incessantly, and to his reading brings not

A spirit and judgment equal or superior

(And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek?)


Uncertain and unsettled still remains,

Deep versed in books and shallow in himself,

Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys,

And trifles for choice matters, worth a spunge;

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With hymns, our psalms with artful terms inscribed,


Our Hebrew songs and harps in Babylon,

That pleased so well our victors' ear, declare

That rather Greece from us these arts derived;
Ill imitated, while they loudest sing

The vices of their deities, and their own,


In fable, hymn, or song, so personating

Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame:
Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid
As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Thin sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare

With Sion's songs, to all true taste excelling,
Where God is praised aright, and godlike men,
The holiest of holies, and his saints;

Such are from God inspired, not such from thee,
Unless where moral virtue is express'd
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;
But herein to our Prophets far beneath
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government
In their majestic unaffected style




Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
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 Quite at a loss, for all his darts were spent, Thus to our Saviour with stern brow replied:


Since neither wealth, nor honour, arms nor arts,
Kingdom nor empire pleases thee, nor aught
By me proposed in life contemplative,


Or active, tended on by glory, or by 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 foretell thee, soon thou shalt have cause
To wish thou never hadst rejected thus
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,


When prophecies of thee are best fulfill'd.

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

Or Heav'n write aught of Fate, by what the stars
Voluminous, or single characters,

In their conjunction met, give me to spell,


Sorrows, and labours, opposition, hate

Attend 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;


Nor when, eternal sure, as without end,

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So saying he took (for still he knew his power

Not yet expired) and to the wilderness


Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,

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