Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

"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 expressed
"By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
"Their orators thou then extollst, 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,

350

360

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 foretell thee: soon thou shalt have cause "To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus

Nicely or cautiously, my offered 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 fulfilled.
"Now contrary, if I read aught in Heaven,

"Or Heaven write aught of Fate, by what the stars
"Voluminous, or single characters,

"In their conjunction met, give me to spell;

66

Sorrows, and labours, opposition, hate

"Attend thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries,

380

"Violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death:

[ocr errors]

A kingdom they portend thee; but what kingdom, "Real or allegoric, I discern not,

"Nor when ;-eternal sure, as without end, "Without beginning; for no date prefixed "Directs me in the starry rubric set."

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,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As daylight sunk, and brought in lowering Night,
Her shadowy offspring ;-unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day.

Our Saviour meek, and with untroubled mind
After his airy jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,

Wherever, under some concourse of shades,

Whose branching arms, thick intertwined, might shield
From dews and damps of night his sheltered head;
But, sheltered, slept in vain; for at his head

390

400

The Tempter watched, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturbed his sleep: and either tropic now

Gan thunder, and both ends of Heaven; the clouds,
From many a horrid rift, abortive, poured
Fierce rain with lightning mixed,-water with fire
In ruin reconciled: nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell
On the vexed wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks,
Bowed their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer. Ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God! yet only stoodst
Unshaken! Nor yet staid the terror there;
Infernal ghosts, and hellish furies, round

410

420

Environed thee; some howled, some yelled, some shrieked,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou

Satst unappalled in calm and sinless peace!
Thus passed the Night so foul, till Morning fair
Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amice grey;

Who with her radiant finger stilled the roar

Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds,
And grisly spectres, which the Fiend had raised
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
And now the Sun with more effectual beams
Had cheered the face of Earth, and dried 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,

Cleared up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn,
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
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 resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage
And mad despite to be so oft repelled.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,

Backed 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:

"Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God!

"After a dismal night: I heard the wrack,

"As earth and sky would mingle; but myself

430

440

450

"Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear them "As dangerous to the pillared frame of Heaven,

"Or to the Earth's dark basis underneath,

66

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 ofttimes noxious where they light
"On man, beast, plant,—wasteful and turbulent,-
"6 Like turbulences in the affairs of men,
"Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
"They oft fore-signify and threaten ill :
"This tempest at this desert most was bent;
"Of men at thee, for only thou here dwellst.
"Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject

460

"The perfect season offered with my aid

To win thy destined seat, but wilt prolong "All to the push of Fate,-pursue thy way "Of gaining David's throne, no man knows when, "For both the when and how is nowhere told? "Thou shalt be what thou art ordained, no doubt ; "For angels have proclaimed it, but concealing "The time and means. Each act is rightliest done, "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 sceptre get fast hold;

"Whereof this ominous night, that closed thee round, "So many terrors, voices, prodigies,—

"May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign.”

So talked he, while the Son of God went on And staid not, but in brief him answered thus:

"Me worse than wet thou findst not; other harm, "Those terrors, which thou speakst of, did me none: "I never feared they could, though noising loud "And threatening nigh: what they can do, as signs Betokening, or ill boding, I contemn

[ocr errors]

"As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
"Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
"Obtrudest thy offered aid, that I, accepting,
"At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
"Ambitious Spirit! and wouldst be thought my God,
"And stormst refused, thinking to terrify

"Me to thy will! desist!-thou art discerned,
"And toilst in vain-nor me in vain molest!"

To whom the Fiend, now swoln with rage, replied:

"Then hear, O son of David, virgin-born!
"For 'Son of God' to me is yet in doubt;
"Of the Messiah I have heard foretold
"By all the Prophets; of thy birth at length,
"Announced by Gabriel, with the first I knew;
"And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
"On thy birth-night, that sung thee Saviour born.
"From that time seldom have I ceased to eye

470

480

490

500

66

66

'Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth;

Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred; "Till at the ford of Jordan, whither all

"Flocked to the Baptist, I among the rest,

[ocr errors]

(Though not to be baptized,) by voice from Heaven "Heard thee pronounced 'the Son of God beloved.' "Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view "And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn "In what degree or meaning thou art called "The Son of God-which bears no single sense. "The Son of God I also am, or was; "And if I was, I am; relation stands : "All men are Sons of God; yet thee I thought "In some respect far higher so declared: "Therefore I watched thy footsteps from that hour, "And followed thee still on to this waste wild;

[ocr errors]

Where, by all best conjectures, I collect

"Thou art to be my fatal enemy:

"Good reason then, if I beforehand seek

"To understand my adversary,-who

"And what he is ;-his wisdom, power, intent ;

[ocr errors][merged small]

"To win him, or win from him what I can :

"And opportunity I here have had

"To try thee, sift thee; and confess have found thee "Proof against all temptation, as a rock

"Of adamant, and, as a centre, firm;

"To the utmost of mere man both wise and good,
"Not more ;-for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
"Have been before contemned, and may again.
"Therefore to know what more thou art than man,
"Worth naming 'Son of God' by voice from Heaven,
"Another method I must now begin."

So saying, he caught him up, and, without wing
Of hippogrif, bore through the air sublime,

Over the wilderness and o'er the plain;
Till, underneath them, fair Jerusalem,
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious Temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount

510

520

530

540

« PredošláPokračovať »