Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 somé 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][ocr errors][merged small]

BOOK IV.

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 flies 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 hills,?
That screen’d the fruits of the earth and seats of men

Italy, washed by the Mediterranean.

2 The Apennines,

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.

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, and see
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, turmsof horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote
In various habits on the Appian road,

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

“Eqnitụm turmæ."

Or on th’ Emilian,' some from farthest south
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotie isle, and more to west,
The realm of Bocchuga to the Black-moor sea;
From the Asian kings and Parthian, among these,
From India and the golden Chersonese,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreath'd:
From Gallia, Gades,' and the British west,
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians north
Beyond Danubius to the Taurie pool.
All nations now to Rome obedience pay,
To Rome's great emperor, whose wide domain
In ample territory, wealth, and power,
Civility of manners, arts, and arms,
And long renown, thou justly may’st prefer
Before the Parthian; these two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shared among petty kings too far removed.
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 retired
To Capreæ, 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,
Indued 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 yokep
And with my help thou may'st; to me the power

DO in road led towards the

nd the Emilian towards

4 Cadiz, in Spain, the extreme west of the Roman Empire.

5 Palus Mæotis, or Black Sea.
6 Tiberius.
? Sejanus.

farthest point of the

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 unmoved replied.
Nor doth this grandeur and majestic show,
Of luxury, though call’d magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye,
Much less my mind; though thou should’st add to tell
Their sumptuous gluttonies and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables' or Atlantic stone,
For I have also heard, perhaps have read,
Their wines of Setia, Cales, and Falerne, a
Chios, and Crete, and how they quaff in gold,
Crystal and 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 tormenter 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, and mild, and temperate, conquer'd well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
But lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
Of triumph, that insulting vanity;
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inured

1 Tables of citron-wood were very highly valued by the Romans. It grew on Mount Atlas, Atlantic stone was probably marble from Numidia. Pliny, in his Hist. Nat. lib. v. c. i., says that

the woods of Atlas were explored for citron-wood.

2 These were famous Campanian wines, Falerian was the best wine they posses:ed.

3 Greek wincs.

« PreviousContinue »