« PreviousContinue »
Subject himself to anarchy within,
Or lawless passions in him which he serves.
But to guide nations in the way of truth
By saving doctrine, and from error lead
To know, and knowing worship God aright,
Is yet more kingly; this attracts the soul,
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 sincere delight.
Besides, to give a kingdom hath been thought
Greater and nobler done, and to lay down
Far more magnanimous than to assume.
Riches are needless then, both for themselves,
And for thy reason why they should be sought, 485
To gain a sceptre, oftest better miss'd.
So spake the Son of God, and Satan stood
A while as mute, confounded what to say,
What to reply, confuted, and convinc'd
Of his weak arguing and fallacious drift ;
At length, collecting all his serpent wiles,
With soothing words renew'd, him thus accosts.
I see thou know'st what is of use to know,
What best to say canst say, to do canst do;
Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words
To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart 10
Contains of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.
Should kings and nations from thy mouth consult,
Thy counsel would be as the oracle
Urim and Thummim, those oraculous gems
On Aaron's breast; or tongue of seers old
Infallible : or wert thou sought to deeds
That might require th’ array of war, thy skill
Of conduct would be such, that all the world
Could not sustain thy prowess, or subsist
In battle, though against thy few in arms.
These god-like virtues wherefore dost thou hide,
Affecting private life, or more obscure
savage wilderness? wherefore deprive
All earth her wonder at thy acts, thy self
The fame and glory, glory the reward
That sole excites to high attempts, the flame
Of most erected spirits, most temper'd pure
Ætherial, who all pleasures else despise,
All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,
And dignities and powers, all but the highest ?
Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe ; the son
Of Macedonian Philip had ere these
Won Asia, and the throne of Cyrus held
At his dispose ; young Scipio had brought down
The Carthaginian pride; young Pompey quelld 35
The Pontic king, and in triumph had rode.
Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,
Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.
Great Julius, whom now all the world admires,
The more he grew in years, the more inflam’d
With glory, wept that he had liv'd so long
Inglorious: but thou yet art not too late.
To whom our Saviour calmly thus replied.
Thou neither dost persuade me to seek wealth
For empire's sake, nor empire to affect
For glory's sake by all thy argument.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The people's praise, if always praise unmixt ?
And what the people but a herd confus’d,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
Things vulgar, and well weigh’d, scarce worth the
They praise and they admire they know not what,
And know not whom, but as one leads the other:
And what delight to be by such extolld,
To live upon their tongues and be their talk,
Of whom to be disprais'd were no small praise ?
His lot who dares be singularly good.
Th’intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is rais’d.
This is true glory and renown, when God,
Looking on the earth, with approbation marks
The just man, and divulges him through heaven
To all his angels, who with true applause
Recount his praises. Thus he did to Job,
When, to extend his fame thro’ heaven and earth, 65
As thou to thy reproach may'st well remember,
He ask'd thee, Hast thou seen my servant Job ?
Famous he was in heaven, on earth less known;
Where glory is false glory, attributed
To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.
They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to overrun
Large countries, and in field great battles win,
Great cities by assault: what do these worthies,
But rob, and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable nations, neighbouring or remote,
Made captive, yet deserving freedom more
Than those their conquerors, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe'er they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
Then swell with pride, and must be titled gods,
Great benefactors of mankind, deliverers,
Worshipp'd with temple, priest, and sacrifice;
One is the son of Jove, of Mars the other;
Till conqueror death discover them scarce men,
Rolling in brutish vices, and deform’d,
Violent or shameful death their due reward.
But if there be in glory aught of good,
It may by means far different be attain'd
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance. I mention still
Him whom thy wrongs with saintly patience borne
Made famous in a land and times obscure ;
Who names not now with honour patient Job?
Poor Socrates, (who next more memorable ?)
By what he taught and suffer'd for so doing,
For truth's sake suffering death unjust, lives now
Equal in fame to proudest conquerors.