1648
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Psyche. Canto IX. The Temptation.

Psyche: or Loves Mysterie. In XX. Canto's: displaying the Intercourse betwixt Christ, and the Soule. By Joseph Beaumont, Mr. in Arts and ejected Fellow of S. Peters College in Cambridge.

Rev. Joseph Beaumont


Joseph Beaumont's account of the Temptation in the Wilderness is notable for a fulsome fifty-stanza description of Famine.



THE ARGUMENT.
LOVE by the Desert's love-abhorring Beasts
Meekly acknowledg'd and adored us.
Bold Famin forty days upon Him Feasts;
To whose sharp teeth sly Satan joyneth his
Soft Tongue's deceit, yet nothing by their great
Attempts effected, but their own Defeat.

What reach of Reason e'r could fathom why
Slight Dust and Ashes; vile Corruption's Son,
The Heir apparent to the Misery
Which lives in Death, and blends Destruction
With all its Life; the poor Worm's uterine Brother,
His Grave's first Cosen; his own Ruin's Mother;

The odious Riddle of unhappy Shame
Whom foulest Beasts abhor; that Rebel who
In monstrous madness fear'd not to proclaim
A War with his own Bliss, but strove to wooe
Immortal Vengeance; and himself to fell
Whither Damnation would or no, to Hell:

Should so inamour Heav'n, as to obtain
The dignity of highest Favorite;
And in his Maker's grace so freely reign
As by those Spirits to be serv'd, whose bright
Extraction no acquaintance knows with Earth,
Nor did Pollution e'r defloure their birth;

Had not Almighty LOVE vouchsaf'd to take
This Lump of Clay and mould himself in it;
Which precious Union hath power to make
The total Mass of worthless vileness fit
To dwell in Honor's throne, and there receive
The Service Angels blush not now to give.

Hence comes high Heav'n content to stoop, and spare
Part of its Quire to wait on Us below;
Knowing its Master's Brethren sojourn here,
Who by their very Dust that Kindred show:
This is our Badge of shame advanc'd to be
The stamp of our sublime Nobility.

In love to their incarnate Sovereign, who
Upon the loftiest crest of all Creation
Hath fix'd for ever our poor Nature, so
That under her high feet full Adoration
Has room to kneel, their ready service they
Ev'n to the meanest of his Kinsfolks pay.

Whilst pompous Princes build their royal Pride
On th' arm'd Protection of their numerous Guard;
Their simplest vilest Slaves are dignifi'd
With Heav'n's illustrious Host, to watch and ward
Their several Charges; who though scorned
Things Below, are yet above design'd for Kings.

With Arms displayed, and with open breast
They stand to catch us when we falling are
Into this hard and dangerous life; and least
That fall should hurt us, they with tender care
Their Wings' soft feathers spread, that in those beds
Of Sweetness we may rest our infant heads.

Those heads from which no breeding hairs can peep,
But in their catalogue they note them, and
A strict account of their just number keep,
By Heav'n committed to their trusty hand.
And O, about our hearts how busy are
Their Pains, who thus attend our idle hair!

Alas our other Nurses' cares were vain,
So were our yearning Mothers' arms; did these
Dear Fosterers not help them to maintain
Their proper parts and though their Fervor cease,
These still persue Love's Task; hard Mothers may
Forget their Babes, but that will never They.

O no: These faithful Guardians are Things
Of try'd and never-failing Tenderness;
Such as their everlasting snowy wings,
Such as the living smiles and Joys which dress
The court of heav'n, such as the dainty Air
Which makes sweet Paradise both soft and fair.

Yet when just cause awakes their noble Might,
No Scythian Rock stands half so stiff as they;
No Lybian Lyon marcheth to the fight
With higher courage, nor afflicts his Prey
With deeper fright: for in their battel's rear
Brave Triumph's self triumpheth to appear.

Nor needless is this Aid: for feeble We
Have foes whose metal is all Spirit, and
The Powers of Darkness, and Artillery
Of Hell in pitched field against Us stand;
Whom Belzebub their General, with Spight
And ever-flaming Rage fires to the fight.

How shall poor Lambs outface the Tigre's Wrath;
Or Partridges abide the Griffen's Might;
How shall a Cockboat guide its even path
When rising Tempests make Seas stand upright;
How, how shall Dust block up the Serpent's road
When ravenous He hasts to his sentenc'd food?

But with his Blackness these bright Champions fought
Of old, and so complete a conquest got,
That ever since that heav'n-renowned Rout
Wild Lucifer, in sad remembrance put
Of his vain Spight, is in their presence tame,
And like the burnt Child trembles at their Flame.

He trembles, if the Boldness of our Sin
Wakes not fresh courage in his failing heart;
For then on Us He by our selves doth win;
Nor can our Guardians exercize their Art
With due success, when by self-treason We
Our forces join with Hell's Conspiracy.

When to mad fancy sleep yields Reason's rein,
Against polluted Dreams These stop the way,
That no highfed and tickling Thoughts may stain
The clouded Soul: for who, alas, can say,
I always am my self and though asleep
The constant watch of Chastity can keep!

These rescue lend us when sly Danger near
Our strait-besieged Soul or Body draws;
These intercept bold Chance, these by the clear
Lustre which flows about their blessed brows
Light us the way to Peace, and by their own
Kind wings relieve our feet when weary grown.

These, active in the bosom's secret forge,
Blow up Devotion's holy fire, to mint
Refin'd pellucid Thoughts, and purely purge
That Rust and Dross which might pollute the Print
Of Jesu's Image, that bright Image which
Will none but finest richest Ore inrich.

These teach th' embraved Soul to tower above
Those gross, yet empty things which flag below:
These steer us through the Miracles of Love,
And teach us in heav'n's Ocean how to row.
These all are Brethren unto Phylax, who
What He for Psyche did, for us will do.

Their aim his Steeds had now recovered
And Palestine regain'd: when He aside
Sloped his bridle, and his journy sped
Into another Desert, wild and wide
By whose dire Drought affrighted Jordan, though
Well stor'd with streams made haste away to flow.

As Psyche mused at the rueful Place,
Amongst whose desolate Nothings soon she lost
Her questioning eye; with his divine embrace
Phylax encourag'd her: and, though thou dost
Not yet behold, said he, the Price of thy
Long voyage, thou shalt find it by and by.

Here stopping his fleet Coach, He thus drove on
His sweet Discourse: O my thrice dearest Dear
(Because His precious Darling on whose throne
My Adoration waits,) this Desert here
Is but another Scene wherein thy Lord,
More fuel for thy wonder did afford.

It was repriev'd from bearing other fruit,
That it in Miracles might fertile be
In Miracles whose far-resounding bruit
Shall match the race of Time as long as He
Has legs to run; and when He drops into
His grave, in triumph o'r his tomb shall go.

When thirty times thy Spouse has seen the Sun
Change all his Inns, whose golden Signs are hung
Upon the Zodiack's girdle; reverend John
Gave Penance's Alarm so shrill and strong
As rous'd the dullest Souls, and mustered store
Of wondering People upon Jordan's shore.

But they their reverential wonder on
The glorious Baptist fix'd; not knowing they
Had muffled in their own throng's clou'd a Sun
Fairer than that which gilds the World with day;
A Sun before whose Rise illustrious John
Did only like the trembling twilight run.

For, first hid in his own Humility,
Jesus himself had mixed with the Crow'd;
In which blind Tumult's open Torrent He
Unto that River undiscover'd flow'd:
So purest Airs in a confused Cry
Though most melodious, breathe no Melody.

How He baptized Baptism; how a Crown
Of heav'n's best beams perch'd on his fairer Head;
How his coequal Spirit flutter'd down,
And what Applause his Father thundered;
I would repeat, but that it hugs thy heart,
For with this Story now thou Girded art.

But by that nimble Dove's eternal Wings
Being hither wafted from that River's shore,
He Purity unto the dry Land brings
As to the Water he had done before.
Yet nothing else he brought; nor drink nor meat,
He hither came to fight, and not to eat.

He came to fight; and bravely to revenge
The World's old Quarrel, which subdued lay
E'r since through Man's unwarey heart the strange
Bullet burst ope its death-deriving way;
Which, as it smiling hung upon the Tree,
Fond He an harmless Apple took to be.

He came to fight: and sturdy foes he found
Arm'd round with Power but much more with Rage:
Less than the Greatest had He been, this Ground
Had prov'd his Tragedie's unhappy Stage:
But so He fought, that here He forc'd at last
A Feast of Triumphs to attend his Fast.

For any Combat never chosen were
More dreadful Lists: observe that perched Hill,
That Throne of Barrenness and Squallor, where
Against the hungry North thou see'st a Cell;
Which long hath gaped but could never find
Any Relief but sapless bitter wind.

That Den's the Dwelling of that Champion who
First ventur'd on a Conflict face to face
With God incarnate, one as like to do
The feat of Spight, as any of the race
Of Hell-begotten Fiends; yet prov'd as feeble
As all the fearful world esteem'd her able.

Our noise had rous'd her now: see Psyche, see
Her goodly Ushers; those seav'n-horned Things
Though like to nothing but themselves they be;
Must go for Kine: spermatick Nile; which brings
Choise Monsters forth, in their strange birth alone
Hath all his other Prodigies out-gone.

These lowing to the King in silent night,
(Whom clear-ey'd Dreams through Fate's dark closets led,)
He starts and wakes; but of the frightful sight
He knew not how the Characters to read;
Nor why those sharpset Portents leaner shewed
When seav'n fat Kine their stomachs had subdued:

Till Joseph clear'd the Mist, and taught him what
By those new Hieroglyphicks' Destiny
Deign'd to unfold. But when the Beasts had got
Their full and starv'd septennial Victory;
They to this Cave for entertainment came,
Resolv'd to serve a correspondent Dame.

Behold their Hair is shrivell'd up and dry;
Their ugly Hides aforehand tann'd and tough;
Their sharp-affrighted Bones stand staring high;
Their wretched flesh's Reliques sink as low;
Their Bellies to their Backs close tyed are;
And sear and knotted sticks for Legs they wear.

All Shape is shrunk to such Deformity
That did their Horns not point them out, nor Thou
Nor Pharaoh could have dreamed they should be
Descended from a Bull and honest Cow.
And yet wellfavor'd Beasts are these to Her
Their dismal Sovereign, who comes raging there.

Just at the word the Hag appear'd, with Look
More keen than January's breath; or than
Revenge's visage; or the piercing stroke
Of barbarous North-begotten Boreas, when
He his most massy chains of Ice hath hurl'd
O'r Sea and Land, and stupify'd the World.

The sudden Dint shot into Psyche's heart
Such terrible Amazement, that it slew
Her heat and courage: but a counter Dart
Of ready succour Phylax thither threw,
And suppling her cold breast with soft and warm
Comforts, proceeded thus her Soul to arm.

Thy Weakness much applauds thy Spouse's might
Who stoutly grapled with this dreadful foe;
The only glimpse of whose portentuous sight
Could all thy trembling Spirits overthrow,
But yet thy fear this Terror strengthned, and
Assaulted thee by none but thine own hand.

If well thou mark'st what clogs the furies' train,
Fair may'st thou read thine own security;
For heavy at her heels she drags a chain
Of Adamant, whose other end is by
Heav'n's arm, in which all powers in triumph ride,
Fast to thy mighty Savior's footstool ty'd.

Fiercely indeed at first she darted out;
But now her curbed pace is tame and slow:
She knows her Compass, having often fought
In vain against her chain's eternal Law.
True to its duty is her trusty Tether,
Nor can her strength persuade it to reach hither.

Thus when the greedy Mastiff leapeth from
His nasty kennel, spurr'd by hungry wrath;
The sullen Chain, which will not go from home,
Checks his adventure and cuts of his path;
At which the wretched Cur lets fall his ears,
And tail, and spirit, and whines, and grins and lears.

For upon every wild and restless fiend
Sure sits this Curse, that they cannot forbear
To whet their Hunger and their Thirst to grind,
And in keen fury for the fight prepare
So soon as they have any prey descry'd;
Although, mad fools, they know their feet are ty'd.

Mark how her Eyes are fled into her head,
Afraid upon her cursed self to look;
For in that leaf alas what could she read
But what the Transcript is of Terror's book?
Her skin's the paper (O how ghastly white!)
Where Pain and Horror their black Legends write.

All upright staring stand her startled Hairs
Of one another's touch in jealous dread;
Two close shrunk Knots of Gristles are her Ears,
Severely tying up her starved head:
Her keeness is epitomized in
Her pinched Nose, and her sharp-pointed Chin.

Like chalky Pits her hollow cheeks appear;
Her sapless lips are parch'd and shrivell'd up;
Her ivory Teeth's too-cleanly ranges glare
With cruel whiteness, and stand always ope
That her dire Tongue may ever dangle out
To catch the rain and quench its burning drought.

Her trembling clung-up Neck has much ado
Under her head's light burden not to crack:
By its slight nodding flow'r oppressed, so
Shivers the famished and withered Stalk.
For Arms, she shows two yards of skin and bone
O'rpowr'd and tir'd with their own weight alone.

Her fleshless Hands are more than Vulture's Claws
Tallon'd with never-pruned Nails; and they,
The barbarous Sergeants of her greedy jaws
By their first touch for ever damn their prey,
Her legs are two faint crinckling Props; her feet
Already mouldring, haste their grave to meet.

The fatal Bunch of Corn which fills her hand,
(O no! which makes Vacuity be there:)
Are those Seav'n Ears which once on Nilus' strand
To mock those hungry Oxen ranged were;
And now becomes her Rod, on which there grows
No Grain, nor any other fruit, but Blows.

Was ever such Contraction seen, as there,
About a waste, whose girdle Thinness is!
The strait-lac'd Insect's slender Brood could ne'r
Shrink up themselves into a scanter dress.
Her Belly's sunk and gone; and spare she may
Her storehouse, who no store has there to lay.

See'st thou her ruful Thighs and shouldiers knawn!
Imagin not that any Beast but she
Her self was guilty of the fact: her own
Keen Tusks have grav'd those lines of Cruelty;
For since she wanted other Cates to eat,
She desperately made her self her Meat.

Little it was she from her self could tear;
And yet where nothing else was to be had,
That little seemed full and dainty Cheer.
But there alas, before she long had fed,
Her banquet fail'd between her teeth, and she
Instead of flesh, chew'd meer Vacuity.

This in her bosom ras'd that tempest's waves,
Which, could thou hear it, would amaze thine ear:
Her stomach gripes, and pricks, and roars, and raves,
And all its misery objects to Her:
So do her Bowels, bound in their own chains,
And ty'd, and twisted up in knots of Pains.

Three fiends of choicest Power and Spight there are
Whom dared Vengeance sends to lash the Earth;
The hidden Pestilence, wide open War;
And famin this fell Hag, whose Drought and Dearth
Burn with more Poison than the Plague, and kill
With sharper wounds than War's relentless steel.

This is that Engine which breaks ope its way
Through flesh and bone, and riots in the heart:
Yet leaves all whole, that so her fury may
Mock whom it tortures, and by cruel art
Seem to forbear all Violence, whilst she
Wakes Ruin by her silent Battery.

That living Death by which unhappy Man
Is forc'd himself his funeral to begin;
Whilst past hope's sphere he wanders faint and wan
Wrapp'd in the winding sheet of his pale skin,
And seeks his grave through whose cool door he may
Into a milder Death himself convey.

That peerless Tyrant, whose impatience hath
No possibility her Prize to spare;
The dire Dispenser of the Dregs of Wrath;
Of Torments Queen; the Empress of Despair;
That aenigmatick foe, whose Ammunition
Is nothing else but want of all Provision.

Expect not to behold her family,
Or what Retinue on her court attends:
No Servant ever strong enough could be
To bear her presence, much less her Commands;
Being assur'd they never should her will
Unless her Belly too they could fulfill.

Indeed dry Languishment, pale Ghastlyness,
Cold Desolation, her Handmaids be:
But of an essence so jejune are these,
That in her company deserted She
Nothing but nothing meets, or, what is worse,
The wretched fulness of an empty Curse.

But yonder Table which is hung so high
Above her Cavern's door will tell thee what
Were her exploits. When Mercy passed by,
This monitory sign she fixed, that
Mortals might learn what fiend was kennell'd here,
And of this Den of greedy Death beware.

Lo what a smoaking Hurlyburly's there
Of gallant Ruins tumbling on the ground,
These once high-built and goodly Cities were,
Which when War's mighty Ram could not confound,
This Hag with no Pikaxes but her own
Fierce Teeth, min'd all the walls and tore them down.

See there she chaseth frogs, and rats and mice,
And hunts the dogs themselves; ambitious by
These strangely-precious Dainties to suffice
The loud Demands of her stern Boulimy.
Discretely there the prudent Painter has
The Earth of Iron made, and Heav'n of Brass.

But there her Girdle and her shoes she eats
For that acquaintance which they had of old
With Beef and Mutton and such classick Meats:
There out she turns the silly useless Gold,
And clapping on its poverty a curse,
A savory Meal she maketh of her Purse.

She rouses there the sleeping mire, and by
A strict examination makes it tell
What hidden treasures in its bosom lie;
Nor is she daunted by the unlikely shell,
But ransacks still, and finds the gem within;
For she the Oyster first fish'd out for Men

The Dunghil there she rakes, and pries for fresh
Strong-scented Excrements; right glad when she
By lucky search achieves so rare a Dish
Which needs, being reeking hot, no cookery.
That Glass in which she drinks, and drinks up all,
No other is but her own Urinal.

Her Jaws against that Fort of stone she try'd,
When once she was immur'd in straights: and see
How she compell'd and tore Success; those wide
And ragged holes, her Tusks stout breaches be:
Her hasty boistrous Stomach would not stay,
And wanting other food, she eat her way.

That heap of Bones is all her Rage has left
Of her own Parents, whose dear flesh she made
Her barbarous feast, and them of life bereft
By whom she liv'd; such is the salvage trade
Of desperate Vipers, who their fury fatten
Ev'n on the Womb in which they were begotten.

And yet no Vipers venture to devour
Their proper Brood; 'tis Nature's strictest Law,
That with Traduction Love should join her power,
And like the Rivers, down hill strongest flow:
Only this Fiend all Vipers dares excuse,
And in her Children's blood her teeth imbrues.

For those bemangled Limbs which scatter'd be
About the Picture's verge, the ruins are
Of seav'n unloved lovely Babes, which she
Fear'd not with her remorseless claws to tear,
And back into her bowels force; if yet
She any bowels had, who thus could eat.

This Comprehension of all Portents, this
Most despicable, starv'd, but potent Hag,
Was that bold Combatant whom Desperateness
Clapp'd on the hack, embraving to a brag
And jolly confidence that mortal Might
Could never with her Teeth maintain a fight.

Resolved thus, she rushed from her grot
To seize thy Spouse: but started when she saw
Her strange Antagonist, and ventur'd not
To try on mighty Him her awed Claw:
Yet mad with hunger, she contrives to make
Her Craft the office of her fury take.

For though her Looks deep-dy'd in Horror's grain
Such strong Affrightment round about had shed,
That not the boldest Beast of all the Plain
But from those direful Emanations fled,
Leaving the Desert more than doubled, where
Was nothing now but earth and stones, and air:

Yet here discovering one who seem'd prepar'd
To meet and scorn the worst of Dangers, she
Grew jealous of the Champion, and fear'd
Some wiley stratagem might plotted be
Against her rightdown force; which made her choose
By Countremines his Project to oppose.

For waiting warey opportunity,
And being thin and subtile, with the wind
She mix'd her self, and then resolv'd to try
How she might steal upon him by a blind
And unperceived Charge. So Cowards fight
By base Advantage, not by generous Might.

But He, who all her cruel counsel saw,
From her abstruse carreer disdain'd to start;
And wellcom'd with stout constancy the Blow
Fiercely directed full against his heart;
Giving her leave her spightful self to shoot
Into his stomach through his yielding throat.

So when the Waves march in a raging tide
Against his Cavern's mouth, the fearless Rock
Makes good his ground, and never shrinks aside
To shun the peril of the violent shock;
But lets the Storm come in, and roar its fill
In all the bowels of his resolute Cell.

Thus entred, up and down she rends her way,
And seizeth with immediate greediness
All those Reserves of Nutriment which lay
Stor'd up in every close and dark Recess;
And these she conquer'd without any stop,
For as she met them strait she eat them up.

No Drop she left nor Crumb, to make reply
To that most earnest Call of thousand Veins,
Whose pritty craving mouths incessantly
Su'd for their due relief: her dearest gains
She counts by their Undoing, and makes all
Their Cries, the Musick of her Festival.

The robbed stomach thus too cleanly free
Of all things but the Thief: she broacheth there
The flood of all that corsive Cruelty
With which her pined self she us'd to tear:
A flood, to which most fretful Vinaigre
Is gentle Oile, smart Gall is dropping Myrrh.

As when incensed by the furious flame
The Furnace 'gins to rage; if you deny
The Cauldron some fresh Liquor's help to tame
The insolent Heat's excess, and mollify
Its rampant Thirst; how soon, alas, the poor
Copper it self will boil, and burn, and roar!

So fares it with the Entrails, where the fire
Which Nature kindled, if it wants its fuel,
On what comes next to hand will wreak its ire,
And grow against the Stomach's substance cruel:
For all its Life consists in constant Meat
And when it dies, it do's but cease to Eat.

And yet with adamantine Bravery
Thy Spouse in this Conspiracy of Pains
His Patience arms; and though his bowels frie
In mutinous flames, he valiantly refrains
From all Complaints and sighs and signs that he
Felt what he felt, stern Hunger's tyranny.

He by this Fast's sharp Med'cine pleased was
To cure the Eating of the fatal Tree
Where grew that Death which was entail'd to pass
On Eve's and Adam's wretched Progeny:
He freely what he might receive, refused,
Because, what they forbidden were, they used.

(Thus must chaste Water curb the lusty flame;
Thus Cold's strict bands must chain licentious Heat;
Thus sober Weight must idle Lightness tame;
Thus wholsom Sour must prune luxurious Sweet;
Thus honest Day must chase out thievish Night;
Thus Contraries with Contraries must fight.)

And by his venerable Practise he
Has consecrated and advanced this
Despised thing, to that sublime degree
Of glorious delight, that Fasting is
The Dainties of the Saints, to which they can
Invite their hearts, and feast the Inner Man.

For whilst they at this mistick banquet sit,
The saucy Flesh learns to be meek and mild;
The boiling Blood grows cool, and every fit
Of wilful Lust forgetteth to be wild;
The Passions to Reason crouching stand;
The Brain grows clear, and all its clouds disband.

Their free unhamper'd Contemplations towre
Up to the crest of their divine desires,
And through those everlasting Wonders scoure,
Which shine as far beyond the starry fires
As they above this Mass of Earth are whirld,
Which grovels in the bottom of the World.

Thus from that Slavery they redeemed are
Whose knots their teeth had tied; thus they throw
Their clogs away, and on free pinions rear
Themselves into themselves: being quickned now
By brisk Devotion's Flame, and not by that
Gross kitchen-Heat which warms their spit and pot.

Nor is the Body forc'd to bear the pain,
Whilst all the pleasure to the Soul accrues,
But in its kind reaps full as sweet again:
For its intirest vigor this renews,
And by fresh lively feathers quits the cost
Of all those rotten moulting plumes it lost.

For when high-fed Distempers sneak away;
And that dark Seed of crude Infirmities
Which in the bodie's furrows nestling lay,
Before its birth most seasonably dies;
Fasting the physick gives: yet generous She
(O cheap Physician!) never takes a fee.

She Nothing takes, and would have Man do so
For all her Recipes are only This:
She turns the deep Complaint of bitterest wo
Into an high-strain'd Dialect of Bliss,
And for this reason dares the Sick assure
Of Health's return, that Nothing them can cure.

O Sovereign Nothing! which so deeply could
Thy Spouse inamour, that on it He fed
Twice twenty days and nights: though Sleep so bold
Might grow to venture on his Eyes, it did
Not once presume to touch, much less to fight
The noble Paradox of his Appetite.

That generous Appetite, which strictly kept
This long long Watch without one wink of rest;
Yet since it suted with his pleasure, reaps
From this severest Restlessness, the best
Of Ease's sweets: though fasting, He could fill
Himself; for now his Stomach was his Will.

Unknown were those exuberant Dainties
He Ev'n in the midst of Emptiness enjoy'd:
'Twas always Meat and Drink to him to be
About his Father's glorious work employ'd.
O precious Piety, which furnishest
Without the Kitchen's help so rich a Feast!

The Fury spent her own his Strength to tire,
But fretted, gnaw'd, and vex'd her self in vain.
Hast thou not heard how Moses, all on fire
With stout Devotion, did of old sustain
As many days and nights on Sina's head,
A stranger all the while to drink and bread?

If by approach to God faint Man could grow
So much above the temper of a Creature;
If by attendance on the Moral Law
He could forget the urgent Law of Nature;
What might He do, to whose great Moses's Face
In all its splendors still, but dusky was!

What might He do who did not only draw
So near to God, but who Himself was He;
No Instrument, but Author of the Law,
By Virtue of his proper Deity.
No Proxy He, nor stated in his Might
Barely by Patent, but by Native Right.

He who their pow'r to Salamanders gave
Safely to scorn the siege of any flame,
And in the furnace's red bosom live,
Making the hostile fire become their tame
And friendly food; might well thirst's drought subdue
And turn its burning wrath to cooling Dew.

He, to whose Bounty's Hand Chamelions ow
Their Virgin Privilege, by which they may
Contemn all gross unwieldy Meats, and grow
Fat upon sapless Air; can find a way
As pure a diet for himself to get,
And force the Winds to blow him in his Meat.

Nay, since the soul of Bread is dull and dead,
And no assistance can to Life afford,
Unless it self be fortify'd and fed
By God's all-forming all-supporting Word;
He well can spare its aid, yet want no food,
Who is himself th' Essential Word of God.

Witness his most authentick Might; for now
An intimation of his Royal Will
With terror struck the gnawing Fury thro',
Commanding her not to disturb him, till
He gave her leave; Who busy ment to be
With other Beasts of better worth than she.

Soon saw the Hag how rashly she had thrown
Her wariest strength into a conquering Net,
Where her fell Teeth and Nails were not her own,
But His whom she design'd to make her meat.
Against her self she therefore madly bent
Her spight, and both her hair and heart-strings rent.

But safe and unmolested He went on
To seek those Beasts which from the dreadful Grot
Of this intolerable Fiend had run
To shroud their trembling Lives; and thought it not
Beneath himself, since He the Saviour is
Of Man and Beast, to care for what is His.

When Oxen he and Asses had descry'd
Lowing and braying their desires of grass,
He kindly thought of what did him betide,
When in their house he entertained was;
How Bethlehem stable with the hay and manger
Welcom'd the New-born-men-rejected Stranger.

A herd of Goats then met his Eye; which in
His gentle Bosom rais'd a pitying sigh,
To think of those whom bold and odious sin
Had made of stinking kin to these: yet by
His gracious look his love to them he spake:
He hates no Goats but those he did not make.

A flock of Sheep went bleating after them,
Whose sucking Sons made him reflect again
Upon himself God's everlasting Lamb,
Born in proud Salem's shambles to be slain.
He blest them all; and for their sustenance,
Ingag'd his Magazine of Providence.

Then friendly to a Pool with them he came,
The only Water which that Desert knows;
(If yet that Pool defile not Water's name,
Which only with deep muddy poyson flows.)
The banks were throng'd with savage Beasts, which lay
Panting and gasping, and forgot their prey.

For parching thirst had now drunk up their ire;
And hungry hunting would but more increase
That too-prevailing fury of their fire,
Which only Water's mildness might appease;
Yet though their Tongues lay frying on the brink,
They durst not quench them in that dangerous Drink.

For yet the long-expected Unicorn
Delay'd his coming; He who always by
The piercing Antidote of his fair Horn
First broach'd the wholesom Liquor which did lie
Imprison'd in the poyson's power, and then
A health to all his fellow-beasts begin.

Nor was his tardiness that day by chance,
The only day in which he could be spared;
For now Salvation's Horn, who could dispense
That sovereign vertue which was deeplyer feared
By every Poison, than what breaketh from
The potent Unicorn's, was thither come.

Great was the Congregation; for there
The princely Lyon lay, the angry Dog,
The mountainous Elephant, the shaggy Bear,
The hasty Wolf, the foaming Boar, the Hog
His grumbling Wife, the roaring frowning Bull,
The Porcupine of ammunition full.

The spotted Panther, stiff Rhinocerot,
Swift-footed Tigre; and a thousand more:
Whom wilder thirst had thither forc'd, in hot
And panting throngs beleaguered the shore,
Crowding as stoutly Water now to get
As Noah's frighted Troops to 'scape from it.

But when thine unexpected Spouse appeared,
With reverent amazement every Beast
The sacred spectacle both lov'd and feared,
And by ingenuous bashfulness confest
Whom they beheld, and how unworthy they
Esteem'd themselves to drink his Aspect's ray.

Yet that first Glance did such refreshment dart
That all the forces of their Thirst it slew.
So when unto a long-afflicted Heart
Joys their unlook'd-for sudden count'nance shew,
The blessed Glimpse frights gloomy Grief away,
Buries black Night, and wakes up beauteous Day.

These Beasts were heirs to them who when as yet
Time and the World were young, in Paradise
At God's own summoning together met,
To pay their homages in humble guise
To princely Adam; who sate mounting high
On his fair Throne of native Monarchy.

Well then they mark'd their Sovereign's Eyes and Face,
And all his Person's lovely Majesty,
Which streamed on them with such potent Grace,
That they durst not Allegiance deny
To so sweet Violence, but to his beck
And gentle Yoke bow'd down their loyal Neck.

But when unwary Adam's fall had spred
Guilt's vail upon his brused Face; with wonder
The Creatures gaz'd, and fain would there have read
Their former Lesson of Majestick splendor:
But seeing all was blurr'd, Abhorrence sworn
And open Foes of Subjects made them turn.

Their Sons and Generations after them
Succeeded in their hate to human Sin:
And all these barbarous Beasts which hither came
Had in that Quarrel born and nurtured been;
Who whensoe'r Chance shewed them a Man
To him as their condemned prey they ran.

For never spy'd they any one, but in
His self-betraying countenance they saw
The odious characters of deep-writ Sin;
Which their commission was their powers to draw
Against the foul Apostate, and withal
Their fury answer Vengeance's loud Call.

But when on JESU's face they try'd their Eyes,
No blur or sign of guilt they could descry:
His looks were purer than the virgin skies,
Polish'd with Beauty's best serenity
Array'd with princely Stateliness, and dight
With Love, with Life, with Grace, and Royal light.

This wak'd those ancient seeds of Memory,
Which prudent Nature in their hearts had set;
And which by wise Instinct did signify
That their unspotted Monarch they had met.
They had indeed; for this was Adam too:
Alas that Beasts much more than Men should know!

Men knew him not but Beasts distinctly read
In him the Protoplast's all-graceful feature:
Such were the gallant Glories of his Head;
Such was the goodly measure of his Stature;
Such were the reverend Innocencie's beams
Which from his flaming Eyes pour'd pleasure's streams.

Such radiant awfulness Men fancy in
Th' apparent heirs of earthly Kingdoms, that
They think the King of Beasts by royal Kin
To their condition groweth courteous at
Their sight, and quite forgets his cruel sense
Of being Salvageness's dreadful Prince.

What wonder than if thus it happen'd now
The mighty only Heir of Heav'n was here;
He, for whose high and best-deserving Brow
Eternity was busy'd to prepare
That Sun-outshining Crown, which flaming is
Upon his Incarnation's lowliness!

No longer durst the princely Lyon in
His wonted State, but in submission, rise;
His never-daunted Tail till now, between
His Legs he humbled, and let fall his Eyes:
Confessing to the Beasts that made his train,
That he was not their only Sovereign.

Approaching thus, he couched on the ground,
And with ingenuous devotion
Kiss'd JESU's Feet; rejoycing he had found
Juda's Majestick Lyon, who alone
Wore in his noble Looks fair-writ the Name
Of Emperor of this created Frame.

By his devout example all the rest
Their now engaged Duty learn'd, and did:
In decent modest order every Beast
His service by a meek kiss offered:
And then they all before him prostrate lay,
Humbly expecting what their Lord would say.

He in a Mystick Dialect, which soon
They understood, his Royal pleasure spoke:
For in that energetick Language on
All their First-fathers' necks he laid his yoke;
A yoke without regret drawn ever since
By their most tractable Obedience.

Nay, not those Animals alone; but Trees,
Shrubs, Plants, Pomona's Fruits, and Maia's Flowers,
The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the boistrous Seas,
The Winds, the Hails, the Frosts, the Snows, the Showers,
The Dews, the Lightning and the Thunder, Hell
And Heaven, and all things ken his Language well.

For being that Eternal Word, from whom
What ever Is, receives it self; He knows
In what intelligible way to come
To all his Creatures, and pronounce his Laws,
A Word of boundless bounds and potency
To every thing significant may be.

To every thing; and more than so: for He
On empty Nothing his Commands can lay;
And long before, ev'n in their Seeds they be,
Summon what Worlds be pleases; nor dare they
Plead ignorance of what he says, but by
Instant Existence to his Call reply.

(O how portentous is that Deafness then
Which dammeth up the most rebellious ear
Of those unhappy Heav'n-defying Men,
Whom their own welfare cannot wooe to hear
Almighty Mercie's sweetest-tuned Charms,
Nor Vengeance's long-thundering Alarms!)

What 'twas He spake, tho' they best understood,
Yet if my guessing may presume of leave,
He charg'd them to confine their thirst of Blood,
And for his Incarnation's sake reprieve
Those who were linked by that Mystery
To Heav'n and him in near affinity.

For now he came to ope a gentler Age
To all his World than heretofore had run,
To banish Spight, and Salvageness, and Rage,
And to establish endless Peace's Throne;
He came degraded Man to re-ordain,
And make him Prince of all below again.

To re-ordain him, that he would but yield
Not to be vassal unto Sin and Hell;
If he would be content his strength to build
On's Maker's Power, if he whose treacherous Will
Enslaves himself, would by Heaven's Pleasure rein
His Passions freedom which is Reason's chain.

And to encourage their Obedience, He
Told all their Beasts, their expectation and
Long-panting Groans should shortly answer'd he,
For he himself would haste to break the Bond
In which Corruption kept them slaves, and them
With Heaven's dear Heirs to Liberty redeem.

This done; his sacred Hand he lifted up
And round about on his devotos dealt
His bounteous Blessing; strait they 'gan to hop
Their thankful dance, when in their hearts they felt
The joyful influence which, they knew not how,
From his dry Hand's widestreaming fount did flow.

Then with the fairest manners plain Beasts had,
Shaking their tails, and louting low their heads,
They took their reverent leave; not only glad
Their hardest breasts were sown with gentle seeds,
But that they in their Sovereign's lovely dread
A Lyon and a Lamb together read.

Thus left alone he hasts to make due use
Of privacy's rich opportunity.
What fitter place could wise Devotion chuse
Where she with freedom through all heav'n might fly?
What is the Desert, but an Harbour, which
No storms of this tumultuous world can reach?

Besides; his active Soul now lightned by
His fast, and fairly poiz'd on sprightful wings,
Was well appointed up to tower, and try
The altitude of Heav'n's sublimest things.
Not that he needed this advantage, but
To Man this useful Copy deign'd to set.

As when more fuel's heap'd upon the hearth
Than well the Chimny's stomach can digest;
The flames their wonted bounds despising, forth
With fury rush, till all the Room oppress
With bright and dark billows of fire and smoak
In that dry Sea's unruly storm they choak.

So when intemperate Man ingorgeth more
Than corresponds with his Capacity;
With burning Vapors that superfluous store
Riots about his heart and bead. But he
Who trades in fasting, keeps his Spirit's sphere
Calm and unclouded: as did JESUS here.

Through that unfathomable Treasury
Of sacred Thoughts and Counsels and Decrees,
Built in the Palace of Eternity
And safely locked with three massy keys
Whereof himself by proper right keeps one.
With intellectual lightness now he ran.

And there he to his humane Soul unvail'd
The flaming Wonders of Divinity;
A Sea through which no Seraph's eye e'r sail'd,
So vast, so high, so deep those secrets be
(God's nearest Friend, the Soul of JESUS is
Whom he admits to all his Privacies.)

There, in an adamantine Table, by
The glorious hand of Goodness fairly writ
He saw his Incarnation's Mystery,
The Reasons, Wonders, and the ways of it.
There freely rang'd his Contemplation from
His scorned Cradle to his guarded Tomb.

His Soul rejoiced all the way it ran,
And taught his Fast to turn a sumptuous Feast:
Each Grief, each Pain he took delight to scan,
And what the bitterest was he rellish'd best.
Not for a World would he have wanted one;
But could have wish'd a crueler Passion.

Thus having exercis'd the day; when night
On heav'n's wide face her sable mantle spread,
He other Work began: no leaden weight
Of Drowsiness lagg'd down his watchful head:
So strong his Fast was grown, that no dull cloud
Durst to his brain out of his stomach croud.

Those silent hours he spent in ardent Prayers,
His evening and burnt sacrifice; and by
The quick ascent of those mysterious stayers
Climb'd back again to heav'n's sublimity;
Where his Ejaculations busy grew,
And thicker than th' Angelick Legions flew.

There pray'd he that the world might not disdain
The gentle yoak he meant on it to lay;
Nor force Heav'n to come down to Earth in vain,
But to its now obtruding Bliss give way;
That since God to Humanity did stoop,
Man would into Divinity get up.

That generously-ingenuous Souls would dare
To trace his hardy steps, though flesh and blood,
With all the Pleas of Tenderness and Fear
Full in the way of their adventure stood:
That Piety might Rest in Watching find,
And learn by Fasts to fatten up the Mind.

But now no less than forty times the Sun,
The Giant of the day, had from the east
Prick'd forth his Golden-trapped Steeds, and run
His never-wearied race into the west;
And watchful Vesper dress'd as oft with light
The silver tapers, and trim'd up the night.

When thy wise Spouse, who All the seasons knew
Of Heav'n's abstrusest Dispensations, gave
Th' unbridled Monster's Raving leave to shew
Her teeth's full power. And how profound and brave
This Counsel was, thou by and by shalt see;
For he on yielding built his Victory.

As when the greedy Dog, who long had lain
Muzzel'd and chain'd in presence of his meat,
The freedom of his feet and chaps doth gain;
For all the time he lost, he strives to eat,
Flying like lightning on his breakfast, which
His hasty paws and jaws together catch:

So Famin now releas'd to her own will,
Reveng'd her long restraint with rampant spight;
And had it but been possible to kill
Life's unconsenting Lord, her furies' Might
Had from the far less raging villanies
Of People, Priests, and Pilat, snatch'd their prize.

For with such fell remorslessness she ne'r
Had heartned up her Tallons and her Teeth,
To wage her monstrous hunger's war, as here;
Nor with more confidence e'r promis'd Death
To save his Sithe the labour: and some ground
The flag in JESUS saw her hopes to found.

His tortur'd Stomach roar'd, his bowels clung,
The heav'nly Graces of his count'nance fell;
Thirst parch'd his beauteous lips and burnt his tongue;
But by his own permission all: for well
He knew that if he grew not faint and wan,
Hell would suspect him to be more than Man.

Hell's jealous Prince had conn'd all Prophesies
Which pointed out a greater King than He;
A King decreed from Jesse's Root to rise,
And quite extirpate his long Tyranny;
Upon his guard he stood, and watch'd to see
The dangerous time, and who the Man should be.

At first, thou know'st, that Quire which sung to Earth
Good Will and Peace, through Him did Terror dart;
The glorious rumor of the Infant's Birth
No sooner stroke his ear, but broke his heart;
He Simeon's Jubilation echoed by
A Groan, and Anna's Preaching by a sigh.

With curs'd misgiving thoughts he chew'd upon
The Benedictus of old Zachary;
The East's sweet Star's irradiation
Blinded with horror his amazed eye
His guilty Soul was rack'd in sad suspense
To hear the Magy's pious Confidence.

But when those fatal Items rous'd his pride
To take some course this danger to repress,
And he had Herod's desperate Sword employ'd;
He hop'd, and bragg'd, he had not stroke amiss:
Besides, now thirty years could not discover
Any great fear, he dream'd the worst was over.

And much it chear'd him to remember that
Messias was to be a Virgin's Son:
Thy ford, his insolence term'd Joseph's Brat,
The silly Carpenter's poor Urcheon;
Who liklier was some simple house to build
Than raise a Kingdom and a scepter weild.

Yea to that fond excess of boldness he
Hardned his thoughts, as to imagin that
Great Daniel's most punctual Prophesy
Had plainly miss'd its mark: nor car'd he what
The other Prophets talk'd, now He who set
Messias' time, so foully fail'd in it.

But when on Jordan's bank he heard and saw
Heav'n's glorious Testimonials of its Son;
His sturdy Impudence began to thaw,
New Terror through his cursed bones did run.
Long 'twas e'r he could recollect a thought
His drift of Mischief how to bring about.

So when the flood-gates which have long stood ope,
Their mouths with sudden resolution shut;
The checked streams, which flow'd with more than hope
Of being Masters of that Pass, are put
Unto their deepest plunge, and swell and roar
In doubt which way their fury they shall pour.

At last he hither traced him and set
That fury Famin to begin the fight:
Deep desperate anguish made him vex and fret,
To see the vain contention of her spight
For forty days together: but at length
When she prevail'd, his pride renew'd its strength.

On Chance's vain account he scor'd it up
That JESUS had sustain'd the fight till now:
As he had done, when from their pillars' top
To dust he saw his Egypt's Idols bow;
Because since then he found some new ones able
To stand, and Memphis once more Isi's stable.

And now his cue was come, to Hell he stepp'd
And op'd a Box, which by his couch's side,
He as the dearest of his Treasures kep'd:
Ten thousand quaint Delusions there were ty'd
In one another's gentle snarles so strait
That Craft her self from hence might learn deceit.

There lay smooth-burnish'd words, and quick mutations,
Sleight-handed Tricks, importunate Courtesies,
Sweet looks, delicious shapes, and dainty fashions,
False loves, invenom'd fawnings, holy lies;
Those gorgeous frauds by which he lured Eve
For one poor Apple Heav'n and God to leave.

And those by which he holy Aaron made
More silly than the Calf his fear erected;
Those which unconquer'd Samson's strength betray'd,
Those which the Fort of Chastity dejected
In David's heart; and those whose witchery
Charm'd his wise Son to fond Idolatry.

This also was the cursed nest of those
More wily wiles he forged to entice
The brave Inhabitants of Heav'n to close
With his Conspiracy, when in the skies
He drew his army up and ventur'd on
Against the Thunder's mouth, and God's own Son.

All which he takes, and squeezes into one
Conflux of more than quintessential Guiles:
With which insidious Extraction
His thirst he quenches, and his bosom fills;
And so returns into this Desert, well
Stuff'd with the best, because the worst, of Hell.

Imperial was his Retinue, for
A thousand burly Peers of Phlegeton
Had robb'd earth, air, and sea of all their store
Of braveries, and proudly put them on:
All which were answer'd by the rich attires
Both of their haughty Horses and their Squires.

But as the Cedar on tall Liban's head
Dishonors dwarfy shrubs that creep below;
And as th' illustrious Peacok's glories spread
Disgrace upon the sparrow, or the Crow;
So now majestick Satan's Port transcended
Whatever in his Lord's might be commended.

Twelve sable steeds, smug as the old Rav'n's wing,
Of even stature, and of equal pride;
Sons of the wind, or some more speedy thing,
To his fair Chariot all abreast were ty'd;
That in this royal Range each first might be,
And jointly shew their several gallantry.

Perpetual sparks of Vigorousness they shot
From their two fountains of prospective fire;
Their mighty Neighings easy conquest got
Of every noise, and made god stars his quire;
And thus through Clouds both black and big as they
Thunder and Lightning use to rend their way.

As ebon-shining Bows, so bended were
Their sinewy Necks; their stomachs boiled over
In restless foaming scum, which far and near
Flung their disdain; their Pawing did discover
With what impatience on the earth they trode
And coveted to trace th' aetherial rode.

Their shoes were Silver, and their bridles gold;
Thick pearl their velvet trappings studded; their
Luxuriant mains in curled volumes roll'd
Down to the ground, their starting Ears did wear
Proserpine's favors with rich jewels tip'd;
The way their full Tails for their Sovereign swep'd.

The Wheels were Cedar, clouted round about
With Gold's more precious Rival, Chrysolite;
The Charet Almug, sumptuously wrought
With an embroider'd confluence of bright
Well-order'd Gems: upon which princely Seat
Prouder than it, sate Belzebub the Great.

So Titan mounted on his flying throne
Of flaming glory, sweepeth through the skies,
Outglittering all the combination
Of his bright Coach's rates by his own eyes
And by's imperial proper fire, exceeds
The ardor of his Heav'n-devouring steeds.

What Pomp in Alexander's count'nance reign'd,
Or swell'd upon Nebuchadnezzar's brow;
Improv'd and to a loftier Tumor strain'd,
To his own Aspect he transplanted now;
Having compounded in one stately ly
The universal looks of Majesty

Disdain and Frowns the chief ingredients were,
And long ago he learn'd to manage them:
Yet Grace and royal Mildness too were there,
If need should be some soft Deceit to frame
With awful gravity deep flow'd his beard;
And he some wise and ancient Prince appear'd.

A tripple crown of diamond on his head,
Wherein was graven Earth, and Air, and Sea,
His Empires provinces deciphered
So shameless his Presumption is, that he
Counts Adam's Right his own, and writes his stile
E'r since he snar'd him by the Apple's Guile.

Down from his shoulders streamed to his feet
A Mantle of estate, with Ermyns lin'd:
Whose texture's glorious face so thick was set
With oriental Gems, no eye could find
What web it was, it being bravely lost
In that magnificence of too much cost.

Three troops of Pages on his wheels did wait,
The first in Azure, and in Green the next,
The third in darkest Purple: which conceit
Was but the Comment on his Crown's proud Text.
Ten thousand Curassiers, his dreadful Guard,
Before him trotted, and his passage clear'd.

Of Sumptures, Wains, and Carriages a Sea
Mannerly roll'd its plainer flood behind:
Which seem'd the Transmigration to be
Of all the Earth, engaged now to find
Some other World whose larger bounds might give
Leave to those straitned Swarms at large to live.

Yet dar'd no justling Tumults interpose
Amongst their throngs, whom silent
Discipline Led on in decent state, though all sworn foes
To modest Order's Rules which fairly join
Troublous Disparities in Union's rest:
Confusion's Prince well knows this Peace is best.

In this magnifick Port, his Progress He
Gravely pretended through his Earth to take:
That beaten Circuit, where incessantly
Some hellish bus'ness kept his Rage awake:
But now more dangerous was this Lyon grown
Than when he ranged Roaring up and down.

For though that barbarous Roar loud Terror spoke,
Withal it gave fair warning to beware;
But when majestick Grace and Order cloak
His thievish Enterprise, He charmeth fear
Too fast asleep, to think a King in so
Great pomp, a stealing would, and cheating go.

See'st thou that rueful place, that garden where
Eternal Barrenness deep-rooted grows;
Where unrelenting flints and pebles are
Both soil and fruit? that Scene thy Saviour chose
Wherein to wrestle with keen Famin, and
Grant her free leave on her own ground to stand.

And hither march'd that Pompous Pagentry:
Whose surly Van when they with JESUS met,
Deign'd not poor looking Him the charity
Of half an eye, but proudlier forward set:
For those inferior vulgar Feinds had not
Been privy to their Sovereign Cheater's Plot.

But Satan, though his spightful heart did leap
For joy to see how in his fallen cheeks
Hunger had writ her cruel conquest deep;
With fained princely pitty yet off breaks
His course: the Steeds, in foaming scorn to stay,
Their bridles champ'd, and stamp'd upon their way.

But He more gentle seem'd than they were fierce;
For, fixing on thy Lord his yearning eyes,
His breast he smote in shew of deep remorse,
His gracious head he sadly shaked thrice,
And then as oh to heav'n he looked up,
And cunning tears at every look did drop.

He hop'd the pined Man would bend his knee
(Too feeble long to stand,) and succour crave
Whilst yet he could receive: he hop'd that He
Would ope his mouth, since so did now his Grave:
But Him too stout he found to buckle down;
He nobly held his tongue, and held his own.

With that, the royal Tempter thus began:
My Pity never was till now neglected
By any He who wore the face of Man;
Much less by such whom Famin had dejected
Below the looks of human life. And yet
Perhaps some Mystery I now have met.

That with contented patience thou canst be
The miserable Prey of Famin, and
Forbear (if not disdain) to ask of me
Who with all courteous Succour ready stand,
Implies thy strength, whate'r thy face appear,
Higher to move than in an human sphere.

Where-e'r she had it, Rumor sent of late
A strange Relation to my ear, which she
Profest she took both from the leaves of Fate,
And from experimental Certainty:
'Twas, that the Son of God had chang'd his Home,
And privately on earth to sojourn come.

She added, That his garb was plain and mean,
Since he was but a Pilgrim here below;
And rather came to see than to be seen,
As wisest Travellers are wont to do.
But more she told me not; perhaps, that I
And my good fortune might the rest descry.

I would be loth it should reported be
In heav'n, to my Realm's everlasting shame,
That this renown'd celestial Prince, when He
To any of my territories came,
Should taste no argument to make him know
And say at home, The World is kind below.

For much my Honor it concerns, and me,
That worthy Entertainment should attend
Such mighty Strangers: and, if thou be He,
Take notice thou hast met a royal friend;
A friend both able and resolv'd to prove
That thou all Glory hast not left above.

But yet these deep-plow'd wrinkles ill would suit
My solemn forehead, and this reverend Snow
My head and beard, if Rashness should confute
Those sage and sober Tokens; if I now
Who purchas'd long ago the high esteem
Of Grave and Wise, should Light and Credulous seem.

Then since my princely Credit pleadeth for
A clear Probation, you may not deny
Some rational Assurance who you are;
Nor can that Evidence be seal'd, but by
Some potent Demonstration, that to you
As to their Sovereign, Nature's Statutes bow.

If you be that great He, God's mighty Son,
(And God forbid you such a Truth should hide,)
Let it suffice your fast thus far has run,
And now a breakfast for your self provide:
Lo here a Board with Pebles ready spread,
Speak but the word, and make them loaves of bread.

The Tempter so. JESUS wisely saw
How he suspended was in jealous Doubts,
And by this Artifice contrived how
To extrecate his snarl'd perplexed thoughts:
His heav'nly Prudence therefore took a course
On's hellish Craft a darker Mist to force.

For as a noble Champion when the Blow
Flieth with deadly aim against his heart,
With warey buckler back again doth throw
The intercepted and deceived Dart:
So did thy Spouse by God's unconquer'd Word,
His ready shield against the Tempter's Sword.

'Tis written, that the life of Man, said He,
Shall lean not only on the staff of Bread,
But on a stronger steadier Prop, and be
By God's more wholsom Word securely fed.
What need we loaves our Hunger's rage to still?
From God's Mouth floweth that which Man's will fill.

O most impenetrable Buckler! how
Slender an Help is tripple steel to thee!
Seav'n-times-redoubled Adamant must bow
To thy less vulnerable Durity,
O Scripture! what vain straws and feathers are
Goliah's Arms, if they with thee compare!

This Psyche, this is that victorious Shield,
Which sure Protection can on thee bestow,
Though all Hell's Troops pitch'd in a martial field
Conspired have, and sworn thy Overthrow,
Its noble use thy Spouse declar'd to thee,
Who fought with none but this Artillery.

With this he fought, who Thunder had at call
And all Heav'n's Hosts attending his Command:
No strength would he employ, but what might fall
Within the reach of thy short feeble hand.
Thou canst not thunder: yet his sacred Word
Thou well mayest wield, and wound ev'n Satan's Sword.

But as the greedy Wolf, once beaten back;
By that repulse is but enraged to
Rebound with doubled spight, and fiercelier make
His fresh encounter: angry Satan so
Brus'd by this fall, and vexed at the pain,
Plucks up his spirits and ventures on again.

Yet as he charg'd, he on the sudden felt
His Confidence's foot begin to slip;
Bold was his Will, but timorous his Guilt;
And, though he thought not on's, he bit his lip.
His Jealousy at last advis'd his Wrath
Calmly to march, and in the safest path.

His Plot now therefore slylyer driving on,
He plausibly pretends this sullen Place
To be the Stage where Heav'n's illustrious Son
Should act his Greatness, too unworthy was;
And in high courtship hasts to change this mean
And despicable, for a gallant Scene.

For as a stragling Cloud came by that way,
He, as th' usurping Monarch of the air,
His leisure sternly beckned it to stay,
And so get up into his flying chair;
Taking thy Lord with him, who was content
To try what by this new design he meet.

Nodding the next Wind then on him to wait,
He through the welkin scour'd, and quickly came
(For now his way all open lay and straight,)
To this long journey's but, Jerusalem;
Where on the Temple's highest Spire he set
Him who, he fear'd, might prove the God of it.

Then to his work alone he fell; his Train
Being left behind, and charged to attend
Their King's return: for much he did disdain,
In case he could not now atchieve his end,
His envious Elves again should witness how
A starved Man Hell's Sovereign overthrew.

He wisely ponder'd that the Arms whereby
Thy Spouse had him repuls'd, the mightiest were,
And therefore cunningly resolv'd to try
If he could Scripture bow to serve his war.
O wit of deepest Hell, which makes a Sword
Of God's own Word, to fight with God the Word.

Appointed thus: I grant, said he, that thy
Reply was true, yet answer'd not my Doubts.
Lo here a scene where thou may'st satisfy
By one Experiment all scrupulous thoughts.
If God thy father be, leap down from hence,
In witness of thy filial Confidence.

Is it not Written, that He shall command
His Angels' trusty Care to wait on thee,
And with a watchful ready-stretched hand
In every Danger's sute thy hail to be,
That no rude stone with churlish shock may meet
(So tender is He) thy secured feet?

Mark Psyche, mark the Cheater's craft, how he
Mangles the Text, and skips what spoils his plot:
In all thy ways they shall thy Keepers be;
So ran the tenor of that Scripture: but
He knew that desperate Precipices were
No Ways for Men who walk'd in holy fear.

Be sure it move thee not, if henceforth thou
See'st any of his Urcheons Scripture spit:
Who by their Master's jugling copy know
Both how to clip and to adulterate it:
Or else such peevish cunning glosses make
As it against it self shall force to speak.

They this Authority will quote, to throw
That royal Power flat it first set up;
And from their thrones urge sacred Kings to bow,
And to their reverend lyes make Scepters stoop:
By this the Church her self they from her own
Fair pinnacle will try to tumble down.

But with another genuine Text thy Lord
Nobly confuted him, and thus reply'd:
This Law's enacted in th' authentick Word,
Thou shalt not tempt thy God: and Heav'n forbid
That I should dare his Providence, and think
When down I plunge my self, I cannot sink.

Perhaps thy wonder asks, why Satan, now
He had on Danger's brink thy Savior set,
Brideled his fury, and forbore to throw
Him headlong thence: but thou must not forget
That still his guilty breast was jealous least
His foe at force of arms might get the best.

Alas the chain of all his power is short:
Believe it Psyche, there's no mortal Wight
But, if resolv'd to hold his Virtues' fort,
May tire his siege, and all his onsetes slight:
But silly Cowards to his strength make way
Whilst they by lazy fears themselves betray.

Repulsed thus, the Tempter in his heart
Stifl'd his grief and smothered his shame:
And now inforc'd to act another part,
Leap'd on the cloud upon whose back he came,
With which he through Air's wondring regions swum
Hurrying thy patient Lord along with him.

To his expecting Train he swum; for now
Put to his last reserve of plots, he ment
To venture all at one great cast; and though
Still loth his Elves should see him foild, he went
With desperate resolution to the fight;
Dear was his credit, but more dear his spight

Up to a Mount he march'd, whose stately head
Despised Basan, Carmel, Libanus,
The Alpes where Winter always keeps his bed,
With Pendle, Calpe, Atlas, Caucasus,
And all the proudest cliffs of Ararat
Where Noah's floating Ark first footing got.

A Mount which on the highest Clouds look'd down,
And saw all kinds of Weather far below;
A Mount which rose like Earth's imperial Crown,
Where never any Wind aspir'd to blow;
A Mount which bravely reach'd at heav'n and made
Far distant Countrys subject to its shade.

Arrived there; with three new plates of brass
His never-blushing front he fortify'd;
Being now upon an Enterprise which was
Brother to that in impudence and pride
When arm'd with spightful fury and disdain
He ventur'd to assail Heav'n's Sovereign.

The same great Son it was of Glory's Father,
To whom his stomach then refus'd to yield
Free and ingenuous homage, choosing rather
To try it with him in a pitched field.
Fool, who though beat at first, no warning took
For what he was, in following fights to look.

A massy throne of beaten gold upon
A pavement of refined silver stood;
Which round about that gorgeous region
Poured the plenitude of Glory's flood.
Triumphant Arcs and Collumns on each side
In Laurel wreaths hid and display'd their pride.

Ten thousand splendid things, which bravely check'd
The brightest Diamond's count'nance, as obscure
With dazeling Awe and Majesty bedeck'd
A spacious Canopy, which fastned sure
Upon the Stars, its neighbours, hover'd right
Above the throne, and vaild it o'er with light.

Here Satan pitch'd him down: when lo, the crew
Of his attending Imps in humble guise
Themselves before his radiant footstool threw
Adoring him with millions of Lies:
Nor durst they from the pavement stir, until
His Nod had signify'd his gracious Will.

Then reaching forth his hand, he gave the sign
To that brave Apparition which he
By sprightful art had tutor'd to combine
With his profound but glorious Forgery:
One moment did the feat; for all the Scene
Before his hand was quite stretch'd out, came in.

A mighty Globe roll'd fairly up the hill,
Where, upon Poles unknown, it turn'd before
His throne's proud face, and to that bulk did swell
That all the World's full countenance it wore.
No Conjurations ever grew so strong
As in this Witcherie's universal Throng.

There might you see the East's illustrious shore
The Western Columns and th' Atlantick Sea;
The Snow's and Ice's never thawing store
High heaped in the north Extremity;
The Dogstar's Empire; and the Lybian strand
Where endless Summer boileth in the sand.

There precious Indus washed up his gems,
There wealthy Tagus pav'd his shores with gold,
There Vistula look'd brave in silver streams,
There Ganges, Ister, and Orontes roll'd,
Hydaspes, Tenais, Rhone, Rhene, Niger, Po,
Euphrates, Tigris, Nile, and thousand moe.

In milk and honey there swam Palestine,
There shadow'd with her odoriferous Cloud,
Arabia's Felicity did shine;
There Scythia in her furs her self did shroud;
There Neptune chose thine Albion for his bride,
And plac'd her, as a better World, aside.

There dwelt all Countries which your Traffick knows,
And more than yet must to its knowledge come:
But when young Avarice past her nonage grows,
And thinks her thirsty Purse hath more than room
For this scant World, another shall be found,
Which yet the West in ignorance hath drown'd.

But in this ample Pageant was display'd
That fatal World which future times shall see
By venturous Columbus' art betray'd
To Christian Covetousness and Cruelty.
(O why should Christians' Estimation hold
The Western Souls less dear than Western Gold!)

Yea, and those vaster Regions, which far
From Africk and from Asia ran away,
And the South's remoter bosom were
Lock'd up and treasured so close, that they
Shall longest 'scape Discoverie's reach, and be
From Navigation's bold incroachments free.

No sooner had the Globe turn'd round about,
And every Kingdom's proudest Glory shown:
But from his Rome Tiberius stepped out;
And humbling from his head to's hand, his Crown,
With fear and reverence his approaches made
To Satan's footstool, where his lips he laid.

Then having prefac'd by that lowly kiss,
Behold, dread Sir, my Diadem, said he,
Bows to thy royal Pedestal: by this
The highest of Assurances, to Thee
I, who am in thy Roman World thy great
Viceroy, my homage tender at thy feet.

Impowred by thy sovereign Might alone
Th' Assyrian Lyon made the World his prey:
By thee the Persian Bear's Dominion
Through all the forests of the earth made way:
By Thee the Grecian Leopard snatch'd all this,
And stoutly wish'd another World were his.

By Thee the Iron-jaw'd ten-horned Beast,
The martial Roman, so prevailing grew,
That having torn and swallow'd all the rest,
He with the Sun victoriously flew
About the World, which now sits safe and sings
Under the shadow of our Eagle's wings.

By Thee great Julius did our Empire found;
By Thee Augustus fully rais'd its frame;
By Thee were these my loyal Temples crown'd
With this, the shadow of thy Diadem.
O may thy Vassal with thy favour, and
Thy Blessing, wear the Gift of thine own hand.

So with a thousand Holocausts will I
Make fat thy holy Altars morn and night:
So my imperial yoke shall always lie
Upon my Subjects' shoulders firm, and light,
Whilst I by thy auspicious Influence
Reign both of Justice and of mildness Prince.

Tiberius here some gracious nod expected,
As his Commission to resume his Crown.
But strait he saw his flattering Suit rejected,
And his fair hopes damp'd by a cloudy frown:
Which cloud into a suddain Tempest broke
Whilst Satan thus his indignation spoke.

Thou hast depos'd thy self, Tiberius, by
Acknowledging that I thy Sovereign am:
For how shall I intrust a World in thy
Luxuriant lazy hand, who hither came
Upon no business but a Visitation;
Which bids the Earth now look for Reformation.

And well it may: Alas poor Earth, that I
So long delay'd to visit sickly Thee,
Through most unhappy confidence that my
Vicegerent had his Office known, and Me.
But though ignoble He betrays his trust,
I still must be my self, and that is Just.

Then since my Name, my Honor, and my Care
Of my dear World all summon me to find
Some Hero's worthy Temples, which may wear
That Crown according to my princely mind,
Be't so: and thou Tiberius, thank my love
That I with it thy head do not remove.

Here turning to thy Spouse his kinder eye,
My courteous fortune I must thank, said He,
Who in my Progress hath so luckily
To my not poor acquaintance offered thee.
I little thought, till this survey I took,
That I a new Lieutenant had to look.

By Him I see how easily Princes slide
Down the glib paths of heedless Luxury:
And what can silly People do, whose guide
Leads them the way to Ruin have not I
Just cause to choose some sober Man whose care
May stop that vicious desperate career!

Now whether thou art Son to God, or no,
Surely thou spring'st from some heroick Race;
The noblest Rays of Honor sparkle so
In thy though pined yet most princely face:
Although thy Modesty conceals thy Birth,
And Parentage, it cannot cloud thy worth.

And yet that Virtue's precious too; for well
I know that stomachful Ambition threw
From Heav'n's high Turret to profoundest Hell
Disdainful Lucifer and all his Crew.
But still the miracle which doth advance
My wonder highest, is thy Temperance.

That Excellence, alone can never dwell,
But proves the fertile spring of all the rest.
How readily a temperate Prince may quell
Sin's breeding Surfeits in their nasty nest,
Whilst all his Life's an exemplary Law
Which sweetly leads, when Statutes cannot draw!

And such a Prince, and none but such, can cure
The wide Contagion which rank vice hath spread
On this poor Age: nor can my love endure
Longer delay, since I am furnished
With Thee, whose merits on my Justice call
To make thee Deputy of all this All.

Nay more than so: Thou seest how Age doth grow
Upon my weary back; and I confess
I cloyed feel my self and tired now
With Glorie's Sweets and Honor's Weight, no less
Than with my years, and could contented be
To end my days in quiet Privacy.

Nor must it be in vain, that I have found
An Hero on whose shoulders safely I
May trust the Burden of my Cares, and ground
Just hopes of all my World's felicity.
Wherefore this free and solemn Act I make
Before Heav'n's face which I to witness take:

First, I bequeath to Thee Tiberius' Crown;
To which imperial Rome's vast Pow'r is ty'd:
Next I surrender to thine Head mine own
High Diadem: for thou henceforth shalt ride
In this my royal Chariot, and run
In thine own Orb together with the Sun.

For wheresoe'r he sets or rises, He
Shall upon none but thy Dominions shine,
His Master long ago bequeath'd to me
This Monarchy below; and what is mine
Though I to whom I please might give, yet thy
Desert binds up my choice's liberty.

These Glories which inrich that rolling Ball
Are but the beams of that which shall he shine.
The Kingdoms which are spread from pole to pole,
Shall in thy universal Realm combine:
And in requital of thy noble Fast
The World shall join its store to dress thy feast.

My Legions here shall swear, so shall my Peers,
(And I my self will tender them the oath,)
Allegiance both to Thee, and to thy Heirs.
Yea to complete my grand Donation, both
My shrines and Temples I to thee resign:
No Name shall there adored be but Thine.

Nor will I any constant homage tie
To this my Grant; for all I mean to ask
Is one bare token of thy thanks, which I
As ample Pay will construe; and this task
Shall be as short as easy: fall but down
And worship me, and all the World's thine own.

So spake the King of craft whose staring Train
Question'd the honesty of their own eyes,
In which this Prince elect appear'd so plain
And poor a worm: for these strange fallacies
O wily Belezebub were too profound
For their short Apprehensions to sound.

But as the gentle sweetly-swelling Sea
Which rolls above the Spheres, when daring Men
Affronted Gad with towring Villany,
Forgot its ever-polish'd smiles, and in
Tempestous violence breaking through the shore
Of Heav'n, a flood of death on earth did poure.

So thy provoked Spouse, who never yet
Had suffer'd frowns to gather on his brow,
An angry look against the Tempter knit,
And with disdainful Answer made him know
That all his Pageantry could not conceal
His ugly self who fouler makes his Hell.

Bold Satan, 'tis enough that I, said he,
Thus long have seen and born thine insolence:
Lo I defie thy foolish Baits and Thee
Vainer than they: hence fond Impostor, hence
Behind my back, and there thy shameless pride
(If any place may hide it) learn to hide.

Do's not Religion's Law, the Scripture, say,
Thine Adoration thou to God shaft give,
And at his feet alone thy service pay?
All Heav'n forbid that I should Him bereve
Of his due homage, and imbezil it
Upon the Tyrant of th' infernal Pit.

As when on Sodom's Impudence of old
Heav'n pour'd its fire to purge their lustful flames,
The wretched Town repented not, yet howl'd
And mix'd its tears amongst the brimstone streams;
But all in vain, for Men and City in
One funeral pile were buried with their Sin.

So at the Lightning of thy Lord's Reply
This frighted Globe of Cheats made haste to melt
And nothing of this Universal Lye
Remain'd, but Ashes; whose strong vapor smelt
So hideously rank, that ev'n the steam
Of Stinck her self, to this would Odours seem.

Confounded Satan backward from his throne
Fell down the Mount, and tumbled towards hell
To all the Deeps he by his bellowing Groan
Dismally rung his woful Comming's knell.
And in his fall, his Horns and Tail, and Claws
Brake out; so did the Sulphure from his Jaws.

His yelling Peers and lamentable Crew
Of Legions, justled headlong after Him:
Presenting to thy Lord's victorious view
A Copy of that sight, when from the brim
Of highest Heav'n their King with them He beat
Down to the bottom of their damned Seat.

Thus changed was the scene: and Satan who
Sought by his God to be adored, pay'd
That God this seemly Adoration. So
Great JESU, may all Treasons be betray'd;
So may all Rebels find their shameless feet
Snarled for evermore in their own Net.

In these three Conflicts, Heav'n with tender eye
Upon its Champion waited; yet reliev'd
Him with no Seconds, till the Victory
By his own single velour was atchiev'd:
But then flew down an Host, whose highstrain'd Lays
Back to the spheres return'd the Victor's praise.

O Psyche, had'st thou heard their royal Song,
Thou might'st have learn'd how we above employ
Our blessed time, where on each warbling Tongue
Sit endless Raptures of excessive Joy;
Whilst every hearty Angel, as he sings,
Claps his Applause with his exultant wings.

Their Gratulation ended; on their knees
A sumptuous Banquet they to him present,
Stor'd with the choice of all varieties
Which best might recompense his rigid Lent:
And He, in whom all princely graces reign,
Was pleas'd their ministry not to disdain.

But when He thus had broke his mighty fast,
The fury which so long possess his breast
Impatient fretting Famin, out he cast,
Remanding her unto her odious Nest;
And bid an Angel tie her in that chain,
When he had kick'd her to her den again.

There must she dwell past hopes of gitting loose
But when He's pleas'd (because displeas'd,) to let
Vengeance break out on his relentless foes
Whom lusty fatness makes too bold and great
To be his Subjects, and adore a Prince
Who in his Laws enacteth Abstinence.

But from the Lists of this renowned fight
Th' eternal Spirit's Conduct wafted Him
To Galilee's known coasts: to which he might
As soon on his own Power's wings have swum;
But Heav'n was studious to attend him, and
In his great bus'ness joy'd to have a hand.

Another World of wonders will appear
When we shall launch into that Legend's Sea;
But now repose and cheer thy spirits here
Against that Voyage: for thy Piety
Shall take at leisure solemn time and place
Wherein thy Spouse's fasting steps to trace.

This said; He spread his ready wing before
His Pupil, and on that fair table set,
Out of his own unseen but copious store
A neat supply of chastly-pleasant meat.
She blest her Lord, whose favour granted her
A Banquet on his own Fast's theater.

But whilst on those external Cates she fed,
Her Soul was sitting at a secret Feast
With all this Storie's Dainties furnished
Which faithful Memory anew had drest.
And well she knew (which much advanc'd the Cheer)
Her Spouse did fast not for Himself but Her.

And now, since Phebus hastned to his rest
And smoak'd already in the Western Deep,
Phylax his chariot curtains drew, and prest
The Virgin's eyes to do as much by Sleep:
One wing beneath, and one above her head
He laid, and turn'd her Board into her Bed.

[1702; Grosart (1880) 1:162-182]

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