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To sit upon Thy father David's throne,
By mother's side Thy father, though Thy right
Be now in powerful hands, that will not part
Easily from possession won with arms.
Judæa now and all the promised land,
Reduced a province under Roman yoke,
Obeys Tiberius, nor is always ruled
With temperate sway : oft have they violated
The temple, oft the law, with foul affronts,
Abominations rather, as did once
Antiochus. And think'st Thou to regain
Thy right in sitting still, or thus retiring ?
So did not Maccabeus. He indeed
Retired unto the desert, but with arms;
And o'er a mighty king so oft prevailed,
That by strong hand his family obtained,
Though priests, the crown, and David's throne usurped,
With Modin and her suburbs once content.
If kingdom move Thee not, let move Thee zeal
And duty-zeal and duty are not slow,
But on occasion's forelock watchful wait :
They themselves rather are occasion best-
Zeal of Thy Father's house, duty to free
Thy country from her heathen servitude.
So shalt Thou best fulfil, best verify,
The prophets old, who sung Thy endless reign-
The happier reign the sooner it begins.
Reign then ; what canst Thou better do the while ?'
To whom our Saviour answer thus returned :-
“All things are best fulfilled in their due time;
And time there is for all things, truth hath said.
If of My reign prophetic writ hath told
That it shall never end, so, when begin
The Father in His purpose hath decreed-
He in whose hand all times and seasons roll.
What if He hath decreed that I shall first
Be tried in humble state, and things adverse,
By tribulations, injuries, insults,
Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,
Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting
Without distrust or doubt, that He may know
What I can suffer, how obey? Who best
Can suffer best can do, best reign who first
Well hath obeyed—just trial ere I merit
My exaltation without change or end.
But what concerns it thee when I begin
My everlasting kingdom? Why art thou
Solicitous ? What moves thy inquisition ?
Know'st thou not that My rising is thy fall,
And My promotion will be thy destruction ? "
To whom the tempter, inly racked, replied:
Let that come when it comes. All hope is lost
Of my reception into grace ; what worse ?
For where no hope is left is left no fear.
If there be worse, the expectation more
Of worse torments me than the feeling can.
I would be at the worst; worst is my port,
My harbour, and my ultimate repose,
The end I would attain, my final good.
My error was my error,
My crime ; whatever, for itself condemned,
And will alike be punished, whether Thou
Reign or reign not—though to that gentle brow
Willingly I could fly, and hope Thy reign,
From that placid aspect and meek regard,
Rather than aggravate my evil state,
Would stand between me and Thy Father's ire
(Whose ire I dread more than the fire of Hell)
A shelter and a kind of shading cool
Interposition, as a summer's cloud.
If I, then, to the worst that can be haste,
Why move Thy feet so slow to what is best?
Happiest, both to Thyself and all the world,
That Thou, who worthiest art, shouldst be their King !
Perhaps Thou linger’st in deep thoughts detained
Of the enterprise so hazardous and high !
No wonder; for, though in Thee be united
What of perfection can in man be found,
Or human nature can receive, consider
Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent
At home, scarce viewed the Galilean towns,
And once a year Jerusalem, few days'
Short sojourn ; and what thence couldst Thou observe?
The world Thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts-
Best school of best experience, quickest insight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous, and loth, with novice modesty
(As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom)
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventurous.
But I will bring Thee where Thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before Thine eyes
The monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state-
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of Thyself so apt, in regal arts,
And regal mysteries ; that Thou may'st know
How best their opposition to withstand."
With that (such power was given him then), he took
The Son of God up to a mountain high.
It was a mountain at whose verdant feet
A spacious plain outstretched in circuit wide
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flowed,
The one winding, the other straight, and left between
Fair champaign, with less rivers interveined,
Then meeting joined their tribute to the sea.
Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;
With herds the pasture thronged, with flocks the hills;
Huge cities and high-towered, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs; and so large
The prospect was that here and there was room
For barren desert, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain-top the tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began :-
“Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale,
Forest and field and flood, temples and towers,
Cut shorter many a league. Here Thou behold'st
Assyria, and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes and the Caspian lake; thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond ; to south the Persian bay,
And, inaccessible, the Arabian drought:
Here, Nineveh of length within her wall
Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns ;
There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all Thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis,
His city, there Thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
And Hecatompylos her hundred gates;
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
The drink of none but kings; of later fame,
Built by Emathian or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye, Thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthian (now some ages past
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire) under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time Thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gathered all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana ; to her aid
He marches now in haste. See, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit-
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings."
He looked, and saw what numbers numberless
The city gates outpoured, light-armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride.
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound-
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana, to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales;
From Atropatia, and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheeled, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown.
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots, or elephants endorsed with towers
Of archers ; nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude, with spades and axes armed,
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or where plain was raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke :
Mules after these, camels and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,