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Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to inquire);
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,
The 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 may'st 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 entering 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,
Or on the Emilian, some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe Nilotic isle, and more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor 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 wreathed;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians, north
Beyond Danubius to the Tauric 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,
Endued with regal virtues, as thou art,
Appearing, and beginning noble deeds,
Mightst thou expel this monster from his throne, TOU
Now made a sty, and, in his place ascending,
A victor people free from servile yoke !
And with my help thou may'st; to me the power
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 throue, be prophesied what will."
To whom the Son of God, unmoved, replied: "Nor doth this grandeur and majestic show 110 Of luxury, though call'd magnificence, More than of arms before, allure mine eye, Much less my mind; though thou shouldst 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, Chios, and Crete, and how they quaff in gold, Crystal, and myrrhine cups, emboss'd with gems And studs of pearl, to me shouldst tell, who thirst 120 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 tormentor, conscience, find him out: 130 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'd ill the nations under yoke, Peeling their provinces, exhausted all By lust and rapine; first ambitious grown Of triumph, that insulting vanity; Then cruel, by their sports to blood inured Of fighting beasts, and men to beasts exposed; 140 Luxurious by their wealth, and greedier still, And, from the daily scene, effeminate.
What wise and valiant man would seek to free
These, thus degenerate, by themselves enslaved ?
Or could of inward slaves make outward free ?
Know, therefore, when my season comes to sit
On David's throne, it shall be like a tree
Spreading and overshadowing all the earth;
Or as a stone, that shall to pieces dash
All monarchies besides throughout the world;
And of my kingdom there shall be no end :
Means there shall be to this; but what the means
Is not for thee to know, nor me to tell."
To whom the tempter, impudent, replied :
“I see all offers made by me how slight
Thou valuest, because offer'd, and reject'st;
Nothing will please the difficult and nice,
Or nothing more than still to contradict :
On the other side know also thou, that I
On what I offer set as high esteem,
Nor what I part with mean to give for naught:
All these, which, in a moment, thou behold’st,
The kingdoms of the world, to thee I give
(For, given to me, I give to whom I please),
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else,
On this condition: if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior lord
(Easily done), and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve ?”
Whom thus our Saviour answer'd with disdain : 170
“I never liked thy talk, thy offers less ;
Now both abhor, since thou hast dared to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition :
But I endure the time, till which expired,
Thou hast permission on me. It is written,
The first of ail commandments, Thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God, and only him shalt serve;
And darest thou to the Son of God propound
To worship thee, accursed ? now more accursed
For this attempt, bolder than that on Eve,
And more blasphemous, which expect to rue.
The kingdoms of the world to thee were given ?
Permitted rather, and by thee usurp’d;
Other donation none thou canst produce.
If given, by whom but by the King of kings,
God over all supreme? If given to thee,
By thee how fairly is the Giver now
Repaid! But gratitude in thee is lost
Long since. Wert thou so void of fear or shame,
As offer them to me, the Son of God ?
To me my own, on such abhorred pact,
That I fall down and worship thee as God ?
Get thee behind me; plain thou now appear’st
That evil one, Satan for ever damn’d.”
To whom the fiend, with fear abash'd, replied :
“Be not so sore offended, Son of God,
Though sons of God both angels are and men,
If I, to try whether in higher sort
Than these thou bear'st that title, have proposed
What both from men and angels I receive,
Tetrarchs of fire, air, flood, and on the earth,
Nations besides from all the quarter'd winds,
God of this world invoked, and world beneath :
Who then thou art, whose coming is foretold
To me most fatal, me it most concerns ;
The trial hath indamaged thee no way,
Rather more honour left and more esteem:
Me naught advantaged, missing what I aim'd.
Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
The kingdoms of this world; I shall no more