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Before the Parthian. These two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, & scarce worth the sight,
Shar'd among petty kings too far remov'd;
These having shown thee, I have shown thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
This emperor hath no son, and now is old,
Old and lascivious, and from Rome retir'd
To Capræ, an island small, but strong,
On the Campanian shore, with purpose there
His horrid lusts in private to enjoy :
Committing to a wicked favourite
All public cares, and yet of him suspicious :
Hated of all, and hating. With what ease,
Endued with regal virtues, as thou art,
Appearing, and beginning noble deeds,
Might'st thou expel this monster from his throne,
Now made a sty, and in his place ascending,
A victor people free from servile yoke!
And with my help thou may’st; to me the power
Is given, and by that right I give it thee.
Aim therefore at no less than all the world;
Aim at the highest : without the highest attain’d,
Will be for thee no sitting, or not long,
On David's throne, be prophesied what will.”
To whom the Son of God, unmov'd, replied.
“ Nor doth this grandeur and majestic show
Of luxury, though callid magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye, (tell
Much less my mind; though thou should'st add to
Their sumptuous gluttonies, & gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone,
For I have also heard, perhaps have read,
Their wines of Setia, Cales, and Falerne,
Chios & Crete, and how they quaff in gold,
Crystal, & myrrhine cups, emboss'd with gems
And studs of pearl; to me should'st tell, who thirst
And hunger still. Then embassies thou show'st
From nations far and nigh: what honour that,
But tedious waste of time, to sit and hear
So many hollow compliments and lies,
Outlandish flatteries? Then proceed'st to talk
Of the emperor; how easily subdued,
How gloriously : I shall, thou say'st, expel
A brutish monster; what if I withal
Expel a Devil who first made him such?
Let his tormentor conscience find him out;
For him I was not sent : nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base ;
Deservedly made vassal; who, once just,
Frugal & mild, & temperate, conquer'd well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
By lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
of triumph, that insulting vanity :
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inur'd
Of fighting beasts, & men to beasts expos'd;
Luxurious by their wealth, & greedier still,
And from the daily scene effeminate.
What wise & valiant man would seek to free
These, thus degenerate, by themselves enslav'd ?
Or could of inward slaves make outward free?
Know therefore, when my season comes to sit
On David's throne, it shall be like a tree
Spreading and overshadowing all the earth;
Or as a stone, that shall to pieces dash
All monarchies besides throughout the world ;
And of my kingdom there shall be no end :
Means there shall be to this; but what the means,
Is not for thee to know, nor me to tell.”
To whom the Tempter, impudent, replied.
" I see all offers made by me how slight
Thou valuest, because offer'd, and reject'st :
Nothing will please the difficult and nice,
Or nothing more than still to contradict :
On the other side know also thou, that I
On what I offer set as high esteem,
Nor what I part with mean to give for nought;
All these, which in a moment thou behold’st,
The kingdoms of the world, to thee I give,
For, given to me, I give to whom I please,
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else,
On this condition, if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior lord,
Easily done, and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve ?"
Whom thus our Saviour answer'd with disdain.
“I never lik'd thy talk, thy offers less;
Now both abhor, since thou hast dar'd to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition :
But I endure the time, till which expir'd
Thou hast permission on me. It is written,
The first of all commandments, ‘Thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God, and only him shalt serve ;'
And dar'st thou to the Son of God propound
To worship thee accurs’d? now more accurs’d
For this attempt, bolder than that on Eve,
And more blasphemous; which expect to rue.
The kingdoms of the world to thee were given ?
Permitted rather, and by thee usurp'd ;
Other donation none thou canst produce.
If given, by whom but by the King of kings,
God over all supreme ? If given to thee,
By thee how fairly is the Giver now
Repaid ! But gratitude in thee is lost
Long since. Wert thou so void of fear or shame,
As offer them to me, the Son of God?
To me my own, on such abhorred pact,
That I fall down and worship thee as God?
Get thee behind me; plain thou now appear'st
That Evil one, Satan for ever damn'd.”
To whom the Fiend, with fear abash’d, replied.
“ Be not so sore offended, Son of God,
Though Sons of God both Angels are & Men,
If I, to try whether in higher sort
Than these thou bear'st that title, have propos'd
What both from Men and Angels I receive,
Tetrarchs of fire, air, flood, and on the earth,
Nations beside from all the quarter'd winds.
God of this world invok'd, and world beneath:
Who then thou art, whose coming is foretold
To me most fatal, me it most concerns ;
The trial hath indamag'd thee no way,
Rather more honour left and more esteem;
Me nought advantag'd, missing what I aim'd.
Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
The kingdoms of this world ; I Hhall no more
Advise thee; gain them as thou canst, or not.
And thou thyself seem'st otherwise inclin'd
Than to a worldly crown; addicted more
To contemplation and profound dispute,
As by that early action may be judg’d,
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 mean’st;
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 evinc'd.
Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by southwest, behold;
Where on the Ægean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air, and light the soil;
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
City or suburban, studious walks and shades.
See there the olive grove of Academe,
Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;
There flowery hill Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing ; there Ilissus rolls
His whispering 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 & learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand; and various-measur'd verse,
Æolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his, who gave them breath, but higher sung
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer callid,
Whose poem Phoebus challeng'd for his own ;
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught
In Chorus or lambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight receiv'd
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,
Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook th' arsenal, and fulmin'd over Greece
To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne :
To sage Philosophy next lend thine ear,
From Heaven descended to the low-roof'd house
Of Socrates; see there his tenement,
Whom well inspir'd the oracle pronounc'd
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams, that water'd all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Surnam'd 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 replied.
“ 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 plac'd felicity,
But virtue join' 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, & 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,