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PERI LEX'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-deceiv'd
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, [men
That screen'd the fruits of the earth and seats of
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 height of mountains interpos'd:
By what strange parallax or optic skill
Of vision, multiply'd 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,
31 septentrion] See Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 10, p. 844, ed. 8vo.
'From the septentrion cold.'
35 seven] Virg. Georg. ii. 535.
'Septemque una sibi muro circumdedit arces.' Newton. 45 queen] Rutilii Itin. i. 47.
'Exaudi, regina tui pulcherrima mundi.' Dunster.
In the Ode to Rome, falsely attributed to Erinna, that city is termed daiqpwv úvaσoa.' ver. 2. A. Dyce.
So far renown'd, and with the spoils enrich'd
Of nations. There the Capitol thou see'st
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 dispos'd
My aery microscope-thou mayst behold,
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,
Carv'd work, the hand of fam'd artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine
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, turms of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on th' Emilian, some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic isle; and more to west,
56 gods] Some editions read incorrectly 'God.'
66 turms] Virg. Æn. v. 560.
'Equitum turmæ.' Newton.
71 Nilotic] Martial Ep. vi. 80.
'Nilotica tellus.' Dunster.
The realm of Bocchus 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 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, 85
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shar'd among petty kings too far remov'd.
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 retir'd
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,
Indu'd with regal virtues as thou art,
72 Black-moor] Hor. Od. ii. vi. 3.
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 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 throne, be prophesy'd what will.
To whom the Son of God unmov'd 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
Their sumptuous gluttonies and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone,
115 citron tables or Atlantic stone] Citron wood grew on Mount Atlas, and was held by the Romans as valuable as gold. Martial Ep. xiv. 89. 'Accipe felices, Atlantica munera, sylvas.' Atlantic stone, the Commentators say, was never heard of; nor can they explain the meaning of the expression: had the mantle therefore of Bentley descended on me, I should read
and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic, stor'd.'
I can find no account of Atlantic marble in the learned work of Cariophylus de Ant. Marmoribus.-Since writing the above, I believe that I have detected the true meaning of Atlantic stone, which has escaped the Commentators. Pliny mentions that the woods of Atlas were eagerly searched by the Romans for