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Nor yet amidst this joy and brightest morn
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The prince of darkness; glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came,
Yet with no new device, (they all were spent,)
Rather by this his last affront resolv’d,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage,
And mad despite to be so oft repell’d.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Back’d on the north and west by a thick wood :
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said.

Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night : I heard the rack
As earth and sky would mingle, but myself
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear

them As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of heav'n, Or to the earth's dark basis underneath, Are to the main as inconsiderable And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze To man's less universe, and soon are gone ; Yet as being oft times noxious where they light 460 On man, beast, plant, wasteful, and turbulent, Like turbulencies in the affairs of men, Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point, They oft fore-signify and threaten ill: This tempest at this desert most was bent; Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st. Did I not tell thee, if thou did'st reject


465 470


The perfect season offer'd with my aid
To win thy destin'd seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David's throne no man knows when,
For both the when and how is no where told?
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain’d, no doubt ;
For angels have proclaim'd it, but concealing
The time and means; each act is rightliest done, 475
Not when it must, but when it may be best.
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
What I foretold thee, many a hard assay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night that clos’d thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure fore-going sign.

So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on
And staid not, but in brief him answer'd thus.

Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm
Those 'terrors, which thou speak’st of, did me

I never fear’d they could, though noising loud
And threat’ning nigh; what they can do as signs
Betok’ning, or ill-boding, I contemn
As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrud'st thy offer'd aid, that I accepting
At least might seem to hold all pow'r of thee,
Ambitious spirit, and would'st be thought my God,
And storm'st refus’d, thinking to terrify



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Me to thy will. Desist, (thou art discern’d
And toil'st in vain,) nor me in vain molest.

To whom the fiend now swoll'n with rage replied.
Then hear, O Son of David, virgin-born ;
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt:
Of the Messiah I had heard, foretold
By all the prophets ; of thy birth at length
Announc'd by Gabriel with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
On thy birthnight, that sung thee Saviour born.
From that time seldom have I ceas'd to eye
Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred ;
Till at the ford of Jordan, whither all
Flock'd to the baptist, I among the rest,
(Though not to be baptiz’d,) by voice from heav'n
Heard thee pronounc'd the Son of God belov’d.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
In what degree or meaning thou art call’d
The Son of God, which bears no single sense ;
The Son of God I also am, or was;
And if I was, I am ; relation stands;
All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher so declared.
Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour,
And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild;
Where by all best conjectures I collect



Had' seems

502 I had heard] All the editions read have heard.' absolutely requisite. Dunster.





Thou art to be


Good reason then, if I beforehand seek
To understand my adversary, who,
And what he is, his wisdom, power, intent;
By parl, or composition, truce, or league,
To win him, or win from him what I can.
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant, and as a centre firm,
To the utmost of mere man both wise and good, 535
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemn'd, and may again :
Therefore to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming Son of God by voice from heav'n,
Another method I must now begin.

So saying he caught him up, and without wing Of hippogrif bore through the air sublime Over the wilderness and o'er the plain; Till underneath them fair Jerusalem, The holy city, lifted high her towers, And higher yet the glorious temple rear'd Her pile, far off appearing like a mount Of alabaster, topp'd with golden spires : There on the highest pinnacle he set The Son of God, and added thus in scorn.

There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright



550 555

548 alabaster] From Clemens, and P. Mela, see Heber's Life of Bishop Taylor, ii. 272. 'Of Ægyptian Thebes with its houses of alabaster.'


Will ask thee skill; I to thy father's house
Have brought thee, and highest plac’d, highest is best,
Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, He will give command
Concerning thee to his angels, in their hands
They shall uplift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.

To whom thus Jesus. Also it is written,
Tempt not the Lord thy God: he said and stood :
But Satan smitten with amazement fell.
As when earth's son Antæus, (to compare
Small things with greatest,) in Irassa strove
With Jove's Alcides, and oft foil'd still rose,
Receiving from his mother earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join'd,
Throttled at length in th' air, expir'd and fell ;
So after many a foil the tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall.
And as that Theban monster that propos'd
Her riddle, and him who solv'd it not, devour'd,
That once found out and solvd, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from th’ Ismenian steep;
So struck with dread and anguish fell the fiend,
And to his crew that sat consulting, brought
(Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success,)




563 As when] P. Fletcher's Purple Island, p. 163, ed. 1633. • As when If greatest things with lesse we may compare.' A. Dyce.

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