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The happier reign the sooner it begins;
Reign then; what canst thou better do the while?
To whom our Saviour answer thus return'd.
All things are best fulfill'd in their due time,
And time there is for all things, Truth had said :'
If of my reign prophetic writ hath told
That it shall never end, so when begin
The Father in his purpose hath decreed,
He in whose hands all times and seasons roll.2
What, if He hath decreed that I shall first
Be tried in humble state and things adverse,
By tribulations, injuries, insults,
Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,
Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting,
Without distrust or doubt, that he may know
What I can suffer, how obey? Who best
Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first
Well hath obey'd ;3 just trial, ere I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee when I hegin
My everlasting kingdom ? why art thou
Solicitous ? what moves thy inquisition ?
Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,
And my promotion will be thy destruction ?
To whom the tempter, inly rack', replied.
Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost
Of my reception into grace : what worse ?
For where no hope is left, is left no fear:
If there be worse, the expectation more
Of worse torments me than the feeling can
I would be at the worst, worst is my port,
My harbour, and
The end I would attain, my final good.
My error was my error, and my crime
My crime; whatever for itself condemn’d,
And will alike be punish'd, whether thou
Reign or reign not; though to that gentle brow
Willingly I could fly, and hope thy reign,
From that placid aspect and meek regard,
Rather than aggravate my evil state,
Would stand between me and thy father's ire,
Whose ire I dread more than the fire of hell,)
A shelter, and a kind of shading cool
Interposition, as a summer's cloud.
If I then to the worst that can be haste,
Why move thy feet so slow to what is best,
Happiest buth to thyself and all the world,
That thou who worthiest art should'st be their king ?
Perhaps thou linger'st in deep thoughts detain'a
Of the enterprize so hazardous and high :
No wonder, for, though in thee be united
What of perfection can in man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider,
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce view'd the Galilean towns,
And once a year Jerusalem,' few days'
Short sojourn; and what thence couldst thou observe ?
The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts,
Best school of best experience, quickest insight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
As he who seeking asses found a kingdom, ?
Irresolute, unhardy, unadvent'rous :
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
The monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state,
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts
And regal mysteries, that thou may'st know
How best their opposition to withstand.
With that, (such power was given him then,) he took The Son of God up to a mountain high.3
It was a mountain at whose verdant feet
A spacious plain outstretch'd in c
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow'd,
The one winding, the other straight, and left between
Fair champaign with less rivers intervein'd,
Then meeting join'd their tribute to the sea :
Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;
With herds the pastures throng'd, with flocks the hills;
Huge cities and high tower'd, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs, and so large
The prospect was, that here and there was room
For barren desert, fountainless and dıy.
To this high mountain top the tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began,
Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale,
Forest and field, and flood, temples, and towers,
Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold’st
Assyria and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes, and the Caspian lake, thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay,
And inaccessible the Arabian drought:?
Here Nineveh, of length within her wall
Several days? journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar," whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns;
There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him * wko twice
Judah and all thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis
His city there thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
immediately above Assyria, and from whence he had made Satan survey Eden in the "Paradise Lost."- See DunsTER.
? A figure of speech for the desert.
And Hecatompylos' her hundred gates ;
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
The drink of none but kings ;', of later fame
Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis," and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye thou may'st behold. .
All these the Parthian, now some ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire, under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his hosts
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana ; to her aid
He marches now in haste; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit;
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel :
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings.
He look'd, and saw what numbers numberless
The city gates outpour'd, light armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride;
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
many provinces from bound to bound;
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,
From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara’s? haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheeld, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown:
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots or elephants endorsed with towers
Of archers, nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude with spades and axes arna'd
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or, where plain was raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;
Mules after these, camels, and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican with all his-northern powers
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her sex Angelica
His daughter, sought by many prowest“ knights,
Both Paynim, and the peers of Charlemain.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry;
At sight whereof the fiend yet more presumed,
And to our Saviour thus his words renew'd.
That thou may'st know I seek not to engage
Thy virtue, and not every way secure
1 Said to be "dark" from their thick forests.
Orlando goes mad for love of her.
must remember, when we marvel some-
what at this blending of truth and
fiction, that the poems of Arionto and
Boiardo had probably been the delight of
Milton's youth; and that he is alluding
to the greatest poets of his own age, not
merely to romances.