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Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades
With fruits and flow'rs from Amalthea's horn,
And ladies of th' Hefperides, that seem'd
Fairer than feign'd of old, or fabled fince
Of faery damfels met in forest wide
By knights of Logres, or of Lyones,
Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore:
And all the while harmonious airs were heard
Of chiming strings, or charming pipes, and winds
Of gentlest gale Arabian odors fann'd
From their soft wings, and Flora's earliest smells. 365
Such was the splendor, and the Tempter now
His invitation earnestly renew'd.
What doubts the Son of God to fit and eat?
These are not fruits forbidden; no interdict
Defends the touching of these viands pure;
Their taste no knowledge works at least of evil,
But life preferves, deftroys life's enemy,
Hunger, with sweet restorative delight.
All these are Spirits of air, and woods, and springs,
Thy gentle minifters, who come to pay
Thee homage, and acknowledge thee their Lord:
What doubt'ft thou Son of God? fit down and eat.
To whom thus Jefus temp'rately reply'd.
Said'st thou not that to all things I had right?
And who withholds my pow'r that right to use? 380
Shall I receive by gift what of my own,
When and where likes me beft, I can command?
I can at will, doubt not, as foon as thou,
Command a table in this wilderness,
And call swift flights of Angels ministrant
Array'd in glory on my cup to' attend:
Why shouldst thou then obtrude this diligence,
In vain, where no acceptance it can find?
And with my hunger what hast thou to do?
Thy pompous delicacies I contemn,
And count thy specious gifts no gifts but guiles.
To whom thus anfwer'd Satan malecontent.
That I have also pow'r to give thou seest;
If of that pow'r I bring thee voluntary
What I might have bestow'd on whom I pleas'd, 395
And rather opportunely in this place
Chose to impart to thy apparent need,
Why shouldst thou not accept it? but I see
What I can do or offer is suspect;
Of these things others quickly will dispose,
Whose pains have earn'd the far fet spoil. With that
Both table and provision vanish'd quite
With found of harpies wings, and talons heard;
Only th' impórtune Tempter ftill remain'd,
And with these words his temptation pursu'd.
By hunger, that each other creature tames,
Thou art not to be harm'd, therefore not mov'd;
Thy temperance invincible besides,
For no allurement yields to appetite,
And all thy heart is set on high designs,
High actions; but wherewith to be achiev'd?
Great acts require great means of enterprise;
Thou art unknown, unfriended, low of birth,
A carpenter thy father known, thyfelf
Bred up in poverty and ftraits at home,
Lost in a desert here and hunger-bit:
Which way or from what hope doft thou aspire
To greatness? whence authority deriv'st?
What followers, what retinue canft thou gain,
Or at thy heels the dizzy multitude,
Longer than thou canst feed them on thy cost?
Money brings honor, friends, conqueft, and realms:
What rais'd Antipater the Edomite,
And his fon Herod plac'd on Juda's throne,
(Thy throne) but gold that got him puissant friends?
Therefore, if at great things thou would'st arrive,
Get riches firft, get wealth, and treasure heap,
Not difficult, if thou hearken to me;
Riches are mine, fortune is in my hand;
They whom I favor thrive in wealth amain,
While virtue, valor, wisdom fit in want.
To whom thus Jefus patiently reply'd.
Yet wealth without these three is impotent
To gain dominion, or to keep it gain'd.
Witness those ancient empires of the earth,
In highth of all their flowing wealth diffolv'd:
But men indued with these have oft attain'd
In lowest poverty to highest deeds;
Gideon, and Japhtha, and the shepherd lad,
Whofe ofspring on the throne of Judah fat
So many ages, and fhall yet regain
That feat, and reign in Ifrael without end.
Among the Heathen, (for throughout the world
To me is not unknown what hath been done
Worthy' of memorial) canft thou not remember 445
Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus?
For I esteem thofe names of men so poor
Who could do mighty things, and could contemn
Riches though offer'd from the hand of kings.
And what in me seems wanting, but that I
May also in this poverty as foon
Accomplish what they did, perhaps and more?
Extol not riches then, the toil of fools,
The wife man's cumbrance if not snare, more apt
To flacken virtue, and abate her edge,
Than prompt her to do ought may merit praise.
What if with like averfion I reject
Riches and realms; yet not for that a crown,
Golden in show, is but a wreath of thorns,
When on his shoulders each man's burden lies;
For therein stands the office of a king,
His honor, virtue, merit and chief praise,
That for the public all this weight he bears.
Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and fleepless nights
To him who wears the regal diadem,
Paffions, defires, and fears, is more a king;
Which every wife and virtuous man attains:
And who attains not, ill aspires to rule
Cities of men, or head-ftrong multitudes,
Subject himself to anarchy within,
Or lawless paffions in him which he serves.
But to guide nations in the way of truth
By faving doctrin, and from error lead
To know, and knowing worship God aright,
Is yet more kingly; this attracts the foul,
Governs the inner man, the nobler part;
That other o'er the body only reigns,
And oft by force, which to a generous mind
So reigning can be no fincere delight.
Besides to give a kingdom hath been thought
Greater and nobler done, and to lay down
Far more magnanimous, than to affume.
Riches are needless then, both for themselves,
And for thy reafon why they fhould be fought, 485
To gain a scepter, oftest better miss'd.
The end of the Second Book.