Page images

On no slight grounds thy safety, hear and mark
To what end I have brought thee hither and shown
All this fair sight; thy kingdom, though foretold
By prophet or by angel, unless thou
Endeavour, as thy father David did,
Thou never shalt obtain; prediction still
In all things, and all men, supposes means,
Without means used, what it predicts revokes.

thou wert possess'd of David's throne
By free consent of all, none opposite,
Samaritan or Jew; how could'st thou hope
Long to enjoy it quiet and secure,
Between two such enclosing enemies,
Roman and Parthian ? therefore one of these
Thou must make sure thy own, the Parthian first
By my advice, as nearer, and of late
Found able by invasion to annoy
Thy country, and captive lead away her kings,
Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,
Maugre the Roman. It shall be my task
To render thee the Parthian at dispose;
Choose which thou wilt, by conquest or by league
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
That which alone can truly reinstall thee
In David's royal seat, his true successor,
Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten tribes
Whose offspring in his territory yet serve,
In Habor, and among the Medes dispersed;
Ten sons of Jacob, two of Joseph lost
Thus long from Israel, serving, as of old
Their fathers in the land of Egypt served,
This offer sets before thee to deliver.
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
To their inheritance, then, nor till then,
Thou on the throne of David in full glory,
From Egypt to Euphrates and beyond,
Shalt reign, and Rome or Cæsar not need fear.

I The Parthians led Hyrcanus away captive to Seleucia when he was seventy years old.-See JOSEPHUS,

To whom our Saviour answer'd thus unmoved Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm, And fragile arms, much instrument of war Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought, Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my ear Vented much policy, and projects deep Of enemies, of aids, battles, and leagues, Plausible to the world, to me worth nought. Means I must use, thou say'st, prediction else Will unpredict and fail me of the throne. My time, I told thee, (and that time for thee Were better farthest off,) is not yet come; When that comes, think not thou to find me slack On my part aught endeavouring, or to need Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome Luggage of war there shown me, argument Of human weakness rather than of strength. My brethren, as thou call'st them, those ten tribes I must deliver, if I mean to reign David's true heir, and his full sceptre sway To just extent over all Israel's sons. But whence to thee this zeal, where was it then For Israel, or for David, or his throne, When thou stood'st up his tempter to the pride Of numb'ring Israel, which cost the lives Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites By three days' pestilence ?i sueh was thy zeal To Israel then, the same that now to me. As for those captive tribes, themselves were they Who wrought their own captivity, fell off From God to worship calves, the deities Egypt, Baal next, and Ashtaroth, And all th' idolatries of heathen round, Besides their other worse than heathenish crimes; Nor in the land of their captivity, Humbled themselves, or penitent besonght The God of their forefathers; but so died Impenitent, and left a race behind


1 1 Chron, xxi. 1.

Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
From Gentiles, but by circumcision vain,
And God with idols in their worship join'd.
Should I of these the liberty regard,
Who freed as to their ancient patrimony,
Unhumbled, unrepentant, unreform’d,
Headlong would follow; and to their gods perhaps
Of Bethel and of Dan? no, let them serve
Their enemies, who serve idols with God.
Yet he at length, time to himself best known,
Rememb’ring Abraham, by some wondrous call
May bring them back repentant and sincere,
And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
While to their native land with joy they haste,
As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
When to the promised land their fathers pass'd ;
To his due time and providence I leave them.

So spake Israel's true king, and to the fiend Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles. So fares it when with truth falsehood contends.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


PERPLEX'd and troubled at his bad success
The tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
Discover'd in his fraud, thrown from his hope
So oft, and the persuasive rhetoric
That sleek'd his tongue, and won so much on Eve;
So little here, nay lost: but Eve was Eve,
This far his over-match, who self-deceived
And rash, before-hand had no better weigh'd
The strength he was to cope with, or his own:
But as a man who had been matchless held
In cunning, over-reach'd where least he thought,
To salve his credit, and for very spite,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
And never cease, though to his shame the more;
Or as a swarm of Aies in vintage time,
About the wine-press where sweet must is pour’d,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound;
Or surging waves against a solid rock,
Though all to shivers dash'd, the assault renew,
Vain batt'ry, and in froth or bubbles end;
So Satan, whom repulse upon repulse
Met ever, and to shameful silence brought,
Yet gives not o'er, though desperate of success,
And his vain importunity pursues.
He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain,' long, but in breadth not wide,
Wash'd by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length back'd with a ridge of ills,
That screen'd the fruits of the earth and seats of men
From cold Septentrion blasts, thence in the midst
Divided by a river, of whose banks
On each side an imperial city stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate
On seven small hills, with palaces adorn'd,
Porches, and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues, and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens, and groves presented to his eyes,
Above the highth of mountains interposed:
By what strange parallax or optic skill
of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to enquire :
And now the tempter thus his silence broke.

| Italy, washed by the Mediterranean.

2 The Apennines,

The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earth
So far renown'd, and with the spoils enrich'd
Of nations; there the Capitol thou seest
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable, and there mount Palatine,
Th' imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods, so well I have disposed
My aery microscope, thou mayst behold
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye,
What conflux issuing forth, or ent’ring in,
Prætors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state;
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power,
Legions and cohorts, turms- of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote
In various habits on the Appian road,

and see

| Troops of horse, a word coined from the Latin turma. VIRG. Æn, V. 360.--NEWTON.

“Eqnitụm turmæ."

« PreviousContinue »