1648
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Psyche. Canto XIII. The Impeachment.

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


The Passion narrative continues in a strong vein of anti-semitism.



THE ARGUMENT.
Spight, Slander, Scorn, Injustice, rampant grown,
Array themselves against Love's single head:
He hurried and worry'd up and down
Through thousand Wrongs, with mighty Patience fed
Their hungry Cruelties, who studied how
To blanch their ugly Villany with Law.

The azure Spheres, though in a several tract,
Their proper Motions endlessly they wheel,
With pure harmonious constant friendship act
Their mighty Parts; and ne'r were known to reel
Beyond their bounds, or by irregular
Crossness on one another interfere.

The faithful Sun observes from East to West
His first appointed Course; and slopes his coach
By rule, when he through Cancer's claws would thrust,
Or Capricorn's opposed distance reach,
Nor stops he there; in our deceived eyes,
And not in restless Heav'n the Solstice lies.

Exactly constant in her changing face
Untired Luna manageth the Night;
Which duly she adorns with silver grace
As Titan decks the Day with golden light:
And though her self she often waning sees,
Yet in her Task admitteth no Decrease.

The Spring remembers her appointed Cue?
And so doth dull benummed Winter his;
For still he worries forward at his due
Determin'd season, spight of all the Ice
Which clogs his heels, and all the banks of Snows
Which up had block'd him in his Northern house.

All Plants and Trees their annual Tasks attend,
And fertile answer give the Gardner's sweat:
No Reptile, Beast or Bird presumes to rend
Their God's Prescript, and Nature's Laws forget.
Thus loyal Heav'n and Earth contented are
Thy yoke, O dear Obedience, to wear.

Men, only Men perversly-wanton, throw
The reins of Discipline from off their necks;
Rowing against the Tide of sacred Law,
And madly running upon Vice's rocks:
Boldly enforcing thus their heav'nly Lord
To draw on Earth his necessary Sword.

His Sword he draws, and arms with it the hand
Of his Vicegerents; whom a full Commission
He gives, the Cause of Justice to defend
Against Disorders daring opposition:
That seeing Man would not by God be awed,
He might by Man be to his duty bowed.

But O what thing so sacred is and strait
Which humane Crossness ventures not to wrest!
Into Astraea's venerable Seat
How oft doth impudent Injustice thrust!
How often purple Malefactors are
Upon the bench, and Virtue at the bar!

When Bribes, when Envy and when Stomach steal
Into the ponderation of the Case;
Poor helpless Right her undermined Scale
Sees quite blown up: for predetermin'd was
The cruel Tekel; and this grave ado
Of Tryal, only Solemn makes her wo.

But to infuse in every bitter Cup
His exemplary Sweetness, and persuade
His patient Followers to drink it up;
A willing Prize Himself great Jesus made
To lawless Law, and wonderfully deign'd
By Innocency's foes to be arraign'd.

A Condescent so rare, that Phylax knew
His Pupil 'twould to imitation draw,
If ever Tyranny occasion threw
In her meek Spirit's way: He therefore now
Resolveth by his tutoring Tongue to lead
Through this strange story her attentive heed.

For her religious Breast was fired now
With noble vigor from the Heav'nly Board,
And bravely fit to tower, and travel through
The loftiest Atchiements of her Lord.
This made him haste her from the sacred Cave,
When by the holy Kiss sh' had took her leave.

Then he conducts her up to Calvary,
The Hill of Marvels, that this Prospect might
Yield her with uncontrolled Liberty
Of Love's chief stations an open sight:
And there arriv'd, Mark now, my Dear, said He,
What further Wonders Jesus did for thee.

Wert thou enthroned on Heav'n's proudest Hill,
Which looks o'er all the glories of the Skies,
Thou could'st not with a nobler Spectacle
Feast there the hunger of thy wondering Eyes;
Than from this Mountain's most renowned head.
Thou by my Finger and my Tongue shall read.

In yonder Street of ruins towring high
Stood High-priest Annas's House; but Caiaphas,
(His Son by more than Marriage, since the Dye
Of guiltless Blood in which they joyn'd, may pass
For Consanguinity,) enjoy'd his Den,
Where now that Rubbish is the Tomb of sin.

Those Caytifs, who had in the Garden seiz'd
Thy Lord, to Annas hal'd Him first, to see
What Censure's load his Reverend Spight was pleas'd
To heap upon the guilt of Piety;
But he with cruel Favor Him dismiss
Unto his Son, the bolder bloodier Priest.

Thus Jesus through the Streets and scorn, is led
To Caiaphas; who smil'd within, to see
What full success had crown'd his Bargain's head,
And grudged not the slender price: yet he
Still in his Looks, with sage Hypocrisy,
Maintain'd his sober Priestly gravity.

So hast thou seen a Lyon cast his eyes
Upon his harmless prey with stearn disdain,
As if his fury long'd for no such prize;
Whilst he his greedy paws can scarce contain,
Or with his teeth bite in their own desire
Of blood: so certain is his salvage ire.

In seeming jealous zeal of Peace and Law,
Sacred and Civil, he demandeth, Why
Throngs of Disciples He presum'd to draw,
And with His New-found Doctrines multiply
Sects in the Church, and Tumults in the State,
Religion and Allegiance to defeat?

(Such Impudence on Sin's hard forehead grows,
That whilst the Laws of Heav'n and Earth she breaks,
On Innocence her own black crimes she throws;
And loudly-holy ardent outcries makes
Against all Innovations, which on them
She chargeth, for whose Blood her thirst doth flame.)

Those grave-fac'd Bloodhounds thus, those Elders, who
Had sold their Conscience to the barbarous Queen,
God's Honor and the King's, pretended to
Redeem from Blasphemy: and whilst with keen
Hunger and rage for Naboth's Life they hunted,
A solemn Fast the shameless Saints appointed.

Thy Lord's wise Eye pierc'd through this vain
Demand; And why, said He, requir'st thou this of Me?
Behold what witness crouds on either hand,
Whose gaping Months expect their cue from thee.
They heard My Preaching; and hear thou what they
Against Me, now I challenge them, can say.

No Conventicle's sneaking Cloisters hid
Those Doctrines which against blind Darkness sought;
The Synagogue and Temple witnessed
And so did they themselves whate'r I taught.
My Gospel it concern'd the World to know
And from my Lips in publick it did flow.

And what more reasonable Word than this
From Righteous Wisdom's Mouth could strained he!
And yet by being such, alas, it is
An augmentation of His Crime, and He
Is guilty now at least of Petty-treason
Against the Priest, because He speaketh Reason.

For strait a surly Sergeant standing by,
First bent his angry Brow, and then his Fist;
With which at Jesus's Face his spight let fly
Crying, Bold Fellow, Can God's Reverend Priest
Deserve no fairer Answer? now we see
What kind of Manners grow in Galilee.

Would'st thou not look that Thunder's roar should he
The echo to that vile unworthy Stroak?
For how can Jesus seem unmannerly
To any Priest of God, who though He took
Dust's servile Vail to shrow'd His glorious head,
Still prov'd Himself to be both Priest and God.

But from the Lamb's sweet mouth thus Meekness spoke:
If in my Answer any Crime there be,
Accuse Me thou, and let the Highpriest look
That legal Justice be perform'd on Me.
If not; before the face of Justice' Seat
Why dost thou Mine injuriously beat?

Melted by this ingenuous soft Reply
The Vulgar Him with silent pity view'd,
But Caiaphas, with his Society
Of consistorial Scribes and Elders, shew'd
What Covenant's poison they had swallow'd down:
And past all cure their Zeal's disease was grown.

Since of free-cost no Slanderers they could get
To bring thy Lord's Impeachment in; they make
Their stronger Purse supply their weaker wit,
And prodigally now mischievous, seek
To hire false-witness, as before they bought
That Treason which Him pris'ner thither brought.

Is this the venerable Sanhedrim
Which hunts so eagerly to find a Lye
That Truth may not escape? Are grave and grim
Judges the Panders grown of Calumny?
In Moses's Chair sits bold Injustice, and
Wrests righteous Law by holy Aaron's hand?

Ah this is Hell's refined Master-piece
Of dangerous Craft, to beautify the face
Of horrid dire Intents; and Wickedness
So foul a Monster is, that her own Glass
Frights her deformity into desire
Of sheltering her self in Virtue's tire.

Whole troops of Witnesses strait thronged in
With thicker Articles: when Rulers dare
Once egg the venal Vulgar on to sin;
Slander to Conscience never lends her ear;
But, in presumption Law is on her side;
With furious Impudence delights to ride.

But this rude Rout were Younglings yet, and raw
Knights of the post, nor had they conn'd their Lye,
With warey forecast; or remembred how
Their work required perfect memory:
This made th' accusers each impeach his brother
Whilst all their stories jarr'd on one another.

Yet check'd they must not be, whose clear Intent
Aim'd only at the publick Good; least this
Should damp new witness with discouragement,
Who Articles might urge with more success.
Alas, those men came well-affected, but
Quite out of count'nance by the Court were put.

Their honest meaning by the Sanhedrim
Is kindly constru'd, and with thanks requited;
That others might with subtler art to trim
Their likelyer Accusations be invited;
For still the patient Court expects to see
Who will the next Calumniators be.

But when that first Miscarriage had dismay'd
All other Lyars: Satan, who stood by,
Snatch'd unto hell his way to fetch some aid,
For fear the labouring Priest's ripe Villany,
And his great Hopes, should now abortive be:
Such care to murder thy dear Spouse had he.

Deep in the bowels of eternal Night,
Is sunk a dismal Den of choise Damnation,
Where Stinks with Stinks maintain a deadly fight,
And Ejulation roars at Ejulation;
Where Horrors Horrors fright, and where Despair
The face of Desperation doth tear.

He hither came: when lo the iron Door
Gap'd like the thirsty Earth to drink him in;
Whilst from the joyful Cavern's mouth a Roar
Of sulfury thunder bellow'd, to begin
Its Sovereign's welcome; who with gracious look
That direful Compliment right kindly took.

For in he went; and there his Daughter saw
Busy in pouring ever-flaming lead
On yelling Souls, whom Lyes and Slanders threw
Into that boiling Curse. Upon a bed
Of red-hot iron, not yet cooled lay
Lust's holocaust, Madam Potiphera.

She lay, and bit, and roard and bit again
Her slanderous tongue whence deadly shafts she shot
At holy Joseph when she had in vain
Spent all her eyes' artillery, and what
Soft blandishment's quaint wit could muster up
To bring about her hot venerial Hope.

There lay that foul-mouth'd Ten, whose envious Lye
Blasted the florid Sweets of Canaan,
Spreading dry Dearth on fat Fertility,
And spewing Gall where Milk and Honey ran:
One drop of which they wish'd, but wish'd in vain,
To cool the fury of their burning Pain.

There fry'd that Pair of venal Souls, who by
Their hired Falsehood Naboth swore to death;
Acting themselves that foul Impiety
With which they slander'd him: with flaming breath
God and the King they curs'd, and wish'd all hell
Melted into the heart of Jezebel.

There howling Zedekia felt his own
Imposture real prove upon his Heart,
Which gored by his iron Horns was grown
Beyond the hopes of Cure; and by the Smart
Of meet Damnation fully taught him that
His Lyes did more himself than Ahab cheat.

His throat there Assur's Railer General rent
With loud assertion of his Blasphemy;
Avouching still, that God expresly sent
Him to extirpate Salem's strength: and why
Fond Rabsheka do's He thus deep torment thee,
For that bold Errand, if on it he sent thee?

There raved those two goatish Elders who
So reverently bely'd Susanna's fame,
As naked now as she, and bathing too,
But in a spring of never-dying flame,
Well-suting with that fire of leacherous rage
Which burnt ev'n in their cold and snowy age.

These, and ten thousand more, lay roaring there,
The dire remorsless Mistress of the Den
Triumphing in their tortures: never Bear
With such intemperate fierceness revell'd when
Her hungry teeth were flinging ope their way
Amidst the bowels of her helpless Prey.

Fell Calumny it was; a monstrous She:
Her Front and Brows were built of sevenfold brass;
An obstinate Swarthiness, which scorn'd to be
Pierced by any Blush, besmear'd her face;
Her hollow Eyes with peevish Spight were fill'd;
Her powting Lips with deadly Venom swell'd.

Her dreadful Jaws replenish'd Quivers were,
Wherein for Teeth, Spears, Darts and Arrows stood;
Her lungs breath'd plagues through all the neighbour air;
Her mouth no moisture knew, but blended blood
Of Asps and Basilisks, to make her fit
Sure Mischief upon Innocence to spit.

Ten Dragons' stings all twisted into one
Engin of desperate Sharpness, was her Tongue;
This made her Language pure Destruction,
For dying Knells in every Word were rung;
No Sentences composed her Oration
At any time but those of Condemnation.

Her Brain is that mischievous shop, in which
As every other Slander forged was,
So that, which, all Examples to out-stretch,
Shamelesly dar'd Omnipotence's face,
Proclaiming that thy Lord not by his own
But Satan's power trampled Satan down.

Whenever any rankling Canker breeds
Kingdoms' or Countries' fatal overthrow,
Her viperous trade it is, the pois'nous seeds
Of restless Fears and Jealousies to sow
In People's hearts; who strangely readier are
To lend to Falshood than to Truth their ear.

And O how greedily that Ear drinks in
All forgeries this cursed Hag can mint,
Whilst she on Kings and Princes joyes to pin
Whatever wittyest Envy can invent,
To make the Countrie's publick Parent be
In his own Children's eyes an Enemy.

She spying now her royal Father there,
Thus beg'd his benediction on her knee;
Bless Me, O awful Sire; and grant me here
Some tools of fresh new-fashion'd Cruelty:
These Souls are us'd too kindly; all their Pains
Grow stale and cold, familiar their Chains.

Fear not; it shall be so, cry'd Satan: but
Sweet Child, another Work first craves our Care:
My Hate's prime But our Judas's help has got
Fast in an handsome seasonable snare;
I mean that Galilean Beggar, who
Pilfring my Subjects' hearts about did go.

But now the Priests forsooth are so demure,
(And I'l remember't when I get them here,)
That though with Judas they did all conjure,
And bought that Christ ev'n at a rate too dear;
Their Holinesses some pretence must have
How in destroying Him their Fame to save.

Confusion on their Fame; who though they dread
Not what the thundering wrath of Heav'n can do
In vindication of a guiltless Head;
Are awed by the putid Vulgar so,
That they confess most infamous Impiety,
Whilst they the People make their greatest Deity.

Base-hearted Hypocrites! Can they not be
Brave verturous Sinners, as am I their Prince?
Yet since they needs will sneak to hell; sure we
For once will help the Fools to their Pretence:
They want False-witness for a cloke, and Thou
This Livery canst best on them bestow.

But see thou mouldst up some athletick Lye,
Whose burly bulk all Truth may overbear:
Some petty sucking Knaves their best did try,
But strait their ill-shod Tales did enterfere.
On thee the Feat depends: come let's away;
The Highpriest's Court, or rather mine, doth stay.

This said: his Daughter by her hand he took,
And with more sprightful speed than Indian arrow
Cuts Air's soft body, violently broke
Earth's sturdy obstacles, and posting thorough
The sullen Mass, in jealous fury came
Back to his other Home Jerusalem.

There when the puzzell'd Council he had ey'd
Gaping and staring one upon another;
Two itching Rogues he in a corner spy'd
Scratching their heads, and beating them together:
He smels their meaning strait, and through their breasts
His unperceived Daughter slyly thrusts.

As when the bosom of the Delphick Priest
Rampantly boil'd with his desired hell,
His rapture by his gestures he confest,
Hastening to vent his belking Oracle:
So this accursed Couple kindled by
The Fury's vigor, long'd to belch their Lye.

Each flung his hand above his working head,
Crying, I have it sure; let's to the Bar:
And when their Projects they examined,
They found that in one mould both minted were:
At which they smil'd, and shaked hands, and kiss,
And flew with full-mouth'd clamor to the Priest.

Great Caiaphas, and ye the Sandedrim,
The holy Guardians of Heav'n's reverend Law,
Hear us, said they, who will object to Him
No tales of Fame, but what we heard and saw
Our present selves; and may nor Eye nor Ear,
If we a fiction vouch, nor see nor hear.

Forgive this Preface: Witness should we know,
As naked as the Truth they offer be;
But when delinquents so portentous grow
As to affright Belief, well well may we
This license crave (ah that there were no need!)
Our own hard case, no less than Truth's to plead.

Notorious 'tis how deep this Pris'ner wrought
On Vulgar Hearts by His miraculous Feats:
And they, 'tis like, our Evidence will flout
Who have enslav'd their Faith to His Deceits.
But sure no Jannes, nor no Jambres e'r
Shall blind the wisdom of great Moses's Chair.

We saw Him strutting in the Temple, where
Broaching His most blasphemous Pride,
He cry'd, This Hand-erected House I down will tear,
And rear another where no Hand shall guide,
Or help the Building: intimating that
He was forsooth a God, not Mary's Brat.

Nay, to be sure His Blasphemy might want
No compliment of desperate impudence,
Though six and fourty years He knew were spent
In compassing this Work's magnificence;
He blush'd not to affirm, that three poor days
Was all the time He'd take the Pile to raise.

Thus needs must He a rank False-prophet be,
Or else this sacred Temple lay in dust.
Chuse which you will, th' enormous crime you see
Is capital: for sure you ne'r will trust
Him for the Restauration. Here their roar
They ceas'd, presuming that they home had swore.

But how shall rash self-shattering waves, maintain
Themselves against impenetrable Rocks!
This brittle wretched Slander beats in vain
On Innocence's firmitude, and wracks
Its own split spight, could but the Highpriest's eye
Have seen its shivers which about did fly.

For grant this confident Article as true
As it was false; why must it branded be
As Blasphemy in Him, who in the view
Of ample witness prov'd His Potency
Sufficient was the Temple to restore,
When He from Death her captive Lazarus tore?

To re-erect that little Building, was
A piece of Architecture which alone
Outvy'd all Herod's power, and did surpass
The wit and wealth of sumptuous Solomon.
No Hand but Heav'n's that sovereign strength can have
Which layeth Life's foundation on the Grave.

Yet to a murmur buzz'd about the Hall,
Toss'd by the silly Rout from one another:
The Council gravely shak'd their heads; and all
Mingled their jealous whisperings together:
Till Caiaphas stood up, and ask'd thy Lord
Why He would no Reply to's Charge afford?

But Jesus, who ne'r spilt a word in vain,
(For sweet and precious was his blessed Breath,)
No answer would to that Impeachment deign,
Which crosses well-known Truth, and carrieth
Its Answer in it self to any Ear,
But that which is resolved not to hear.

The Priest's curs'd expectation being by
This generous silence quite confuted, he
Consults his own malicious subtilty,
And Answered there at least presumes to be:
Yet pumps his desperate Wits in vain, until
Satan with fresh Advice his head did fill.

Which so embrav'd his Impudence, that now
This Savior deeply he contests to make
Him prove His own Accuser: Well we know,
Said he, those towring Words of thine must speak
A more than Mortal Power; nor must thou hope
Thy silence now shall lock the bus'ness up.

For by the ever-living God, whose Name
Too glorious is on human Tongues to sit,
I thee conjure expresly to proclaim,
Whether thou art the Christ, whom holy Writ
Has promis'd to the World, that Blessed One,
The Heir of Heav'n, and God's Eternal Son.

O who would think this consecrated Tongue,
Which with such reverential Awe can quote
God and His Word, mean while should burn in strong
Thirst of most guiltless Blood! but Hell can shoot
It self through Heav'n, and Satan dares make one
Amongst the Sons of God before His Throne.

Hence he his Scholars teacheth to begin
The foulest crimes with God's all-beauteous Name;
So with a winning cheat to usher in
What else by plain and necessary shame
Would be obstructed. Thus the Charmer's Tongue
Distils his poison through his dainty Song.

But He who came Truth's glorious Lamp to light,
Was pleased now to give a clear Reply:
His Heav'n, His Sire, Himself did Him invite
Himself; His Sire, His Heav'n to verify.
In Me, said He, fulfill'd your Scriptures are,
God's Son am I, and Heav'n's apparent Heir.

And though your Eyes now look such scorn on Me,
Time comes when they shall melt in tears for This;
When on the Cloud's high Chariot they shall see
My Majesty in Glory's bright excess,
And by my march's flash have light to know
I own a Judgment-seat, as well as you.

No sooner was this glorious Truth profest,
But Caiaphas in deep dissimulation
His politickly-bloody malice drest;
For starting from the Bench, with zealous passion
He tore his cloaths, in token of his high
Horror at that presumed Blasphemy.

So when the barbarous Crocodil doth flame
With greedy ire against his present Prey;
His cursed eyes will needs religious seem,
Pouring out yearning tears to wash away
By Pity's flood the shame of that foul fact,
He so impatiently gapes to act.

Vain Hypocrite, keep whole thy Cloths to hide
Thy shameless self; whom thou one day shalt tear
For this thy emblematick Trick, to bid
The People use the Pris'ner at the Bar
As thou thy Robe: But they are dull, and yet
Read not what thou commend'st to them by it.

They read it not: But, Psyche, salvage He
Awakes their drousy cruelty, and cries,
What need we further Witnesses? for ye
Have heard His wide-mouth'd raving Blasphemies.
Speak what you think; so plain's the Case to me,
That I dare let His friends His Judges be.

O sage, O righteous Judge, and fit to wear
The sacred Mitre, who doth first invite
The People's Mouths to Blood, and then repair
To their wild Sentence! Whether wrong or right,
Speak what think you, a firebrand is and will
Kindle the fury of their murdering Zeal.

Refer the harmless Chicken's case unto
The censure of the hungry Kite: Demand
The Wolf's opinion of the Lamb; and who
Can doubt what judgment they will pass, who bend
The utmost nerves of all their Wit and Might
Upon those Innocents to feast their spight?

Their feet these Blood-hounds felt no sooner loose,
But they pursu'd the scent, and with joint cry
Their common sense proclaimed thus:
May those Not live, who think He is not fit to die.
This roaring Sentence serv'd the turn, and so
Abused Jesus for Condemn'd must go.

What matter though the sacred Rolls can show
No Statute which His Life as forfeit touches?
This popular Extemporal Vote is Law
Enough, to yield Him into barbarous clutches;
And He, so foul and monstrous is His Case,
Must die for breaking that which never was.

Forthwith the busy Officers, and all
The insolent Servants seize Him as their prey;
And in the middle of the smoaky Hall,
His gentle Patience make their froward play:
Where, as a preface to His deep disgrace,
Their odious scorn they spit upon His Face.

One at His Mouth, another at His Eyes,
One at His Beard, another at His Nose
His slaver aims, and impudently tries
To shoot his shame with art. O putid Foes,
Where are your Eyes and Face, that you can
His Bedaub so thick with studied Noisomness!

What rival Excellence could e'r compare
With this Majestick Look? is Libanus,
Is Paradise, is Heav'n, so sweetly-fair?
Are Titan's Eyes so mildly-glorious?
Is delicate Aurora's April cheek,
So roseal as this, so soft, so sleek?

Cull out ten thousand of th' exactest Faces
Where goodly Feature ever made her home;
Yet must the Exactest of their richest Graces,
Array'd in bashful yielding blushes come
Into the presence of this Aspect, where
The Rule and Standard of all Beauties are.

No other Scene of glorious Loveliness
Had everlasting Bliss to feast the Eye;
An ample Banquet furnish'd were in this
Accomplish'd Countenance, to justify
Their Faith beyond exception, who conclude
Vision the sum of pure Beatitude.

And must all Gracefulness's radiant Throne
Of your vile Excrement the sink he made
Rather on Caiaphas his Cheeks, or on
Great Cesar's, this rank Contumely spread;
Or on the Stars, whose Eyes all lighted are
At those bright Lamps your filth beclouded here.

This strange Requital must his Spittle find,
His Sovereign Spittle, which bestowed sight,
Unknown, unhop'd-for sight, upon the Blind;
That His own Eyes' all-love-deserving light,
Must in your foul-mouth's scum be drown'd! — O stay,
Dear Psyche, I have something more to say.

Thy loyal streams are ready broach'd, I see,
To wash this odious Wrong from off His Face;
But rein them in a while, that they may be
Officious to thy Lord's more deep Disgrace.
The saddest part's behind; and fit for thine,
And all the pious World's lamenting brine.

This word so awed Psyche's sorrow, that
Biting her Lip, she bit off half her sigh
And having dry'd her cheeks, a conquest got
Against her will, of forward sympathy.
Then pray'd she Phylax to proceed; and He
Thus spun on Grief's triumphant History.

These Varlets, when their clotted spittle had
Besmear'd His Face with so much ugly froth,
That they their own work's sight abhorr'd, their Bad
They turn to Worse: for strait they wind a cloth
About his patient Head, which should have been
To wipe away, not hide, their nasty Sin.

Thus blinding both of Heav'n and Earth the Light
Some with their Fists, some with their Cudgels fly
Upon His Head and Shoulders; and their spight
So gamesom is, that His Calamity
Must find them sport, and all His bruses be
The ticklings of their barbarous Jollity.

The petulant Caytifs, as they thresh Him, cry,
Great Sir, we know you are a Man of God,
Be pleased therefore now to prophesy
Who aims at you the Cudgel or the Rod.
No matter though your eyes that towel bind,
Prophets are Seers, and cannot be blind.

No surer way could Peevishness contrive
Its most malicious self to multiply;
For every jeer they spit and stroke they give,
Is now improved, and do's double fly:
With witty Cruelty to overbear Him,
They teach each jeer to strike, each stroke to jeer Him.

Ignoble scorn, and sordid insultation,
Add Bitterness unto the Soul of Gall,
And stretch all torturing Racks with new vexation,
When they upon Heroick Spirits fall:
Who then that stinging sorrow's gulph can sound,
With which these Taunts thy Lord's brave Heart did wound!

For all the Metal of illustrious worth
Which ever temper'd Greek or Roman Breast,
Was glorious Dross to that which had its birth
From Heav'n and Mary; that, which not the least
Degenerous mixture e'r deflour'd: so high
Was Jesus His refined Gallantry.

But on your heads, bold Worms, your Mocks rebound;
For he less blinded is than you, and sees
Your antick villany; and those profound
Sinks of unfathomable Wickedness,
Those Hearts of yours, which open he at last
To all the World's both view and hate shall cast.

You then shall need no Prophesy to clear
Who stroke the first, or who the second Blow;
Whose stroke's the hardest, jeers the bitterest were,
Who did the quaintest art of Malice show:
Your foul Exploits shall then be printed fair
Upon your Foreheads, and themselves declare.

Whilst at this Working-play they busy were,
Thy Lord ne'r shrunk nor sought to shield His Head:
No Butt with firmer constancy could e'r
Welcome the Arrow's wounds; nor ever did
The patient Anvil more unmoved stand
Under the labouring Smith his iron Hand.

For He resolved was Himself to wade
Quite through the reddest sea of Shame and Pain,
To bless and sanctify the Valiant Trade
Of Patience, and by His example train
His faithful Martyrs' noble Army in
Religion's quarrel, Glory's Bay to win.

Tir'd by His Tolerance, at length, in loth
Compassion of themselves these Feinds give over,
Snatching from His victorious Head the Cloth,
Which now to deeper Grief did Him discover;
For His Disciple strait He heard and saw
Bruising Him with a far more violent Blow.

Peter, of late so fix'd and resolute, who
Had boasted that the grimmest face of Death
Should not out-look his Faith, and Duty to
His Royal Master; with the self-same Breath,
Had twice renounced his Allegiance, and
Now on the brink of his third Fall did stand.

For as he lingred in the Hall to see,
His fear's event about his Lord; a stout
And busy Actor in the Treachery,
By Judas's lately headed, cries, About
This sneaking Rogue, what need we clearer proof
Is not his Galilean Tongue enough?

Then with sure claw his Throat arresting; I
Remember your bald Pate: nay, never stare,
Nor puff, nor gape, nor study for a lye,
To mask the part you in the Garden bare,
But, Sirrah, know that now I have you here,
I must and will revenge my Cosen's Ear.

Nor think this leathern staring Pair of yours
Can pay the debt you ow his single One:
We know the Witch your Mayer's conjuring powers
Can clap them on again: but by the Throne
Of God, I vow, that now I'll take a course
To make thee sure, in spight of Magick force.

It is no running, nor no sculking now;
No shades, no trees are here, before the Priest
D'ye see your Goodly Leader yonder, how
Silenc'd with Truth, with heavy Guilt oppress
Quite dumb, half dead He stands? Friend you must go,
And in His Censure be His Follower too.

Forthwith the Soldiers justling round about,
Besieg'd his frighted Soul with thicker dread.
So have I seen a peevish snarling rout
Of hasty Curs agreeing down to tread
The fallen Dog, and for no cause at all
But that 'twas his unhappy hap to fall.

As when the waves which in his way grew high
Had wrack'd his Faith which bore him up before,
His sinking Heart was quickly follow'd by
His frighted Feet: so his Accusers' roar
Now storming in his Ears, distrustful He
Yields to this tempest's importunity.

Yet there he crav'd his Savior's help: but now
He sinks so deep that he despairs of that,
And with vile Cowardise contriveth how
To save his wretched Skin he cares not what
He curses, swears, or lyes, so any shift
Him from his Panick-gulf may serve to lift.

Hark O ye high-conceited Mortals, who
Presume your strength may scorn the battery
Of any earthly or infernal foe;
Beat not this Heart of late with full as high
Resolves as yours? yet now it faints away;
And all his Courage melteth to Dismay.

Ah silly Confidence, which dares erect
Its pile on fragil Dust! the Bubble thus
When puff'd with widest pride, is soonest crackt;
Thus when the foolish Smoak's voluminous
Ambition aims to reach the lofty sphere,
It quickly vanisheth to empty air.

By Heav'n he cries, and Him who heav'n did frame,
By all the Sanhedrim, the sacred Law,
The Temple and its Gold, by Pilate's name,
By Cesar's head, by whatsoe'r I know
Divine or reverend, I freely swear
That I'm a stranger to the Pris'ner there.

If I were with Him in the Garden, may
I never enter blessed Paradise;
In Abraham's bosom may I never lay
My head, if ever it did rest in His;
On me may Egypt's Plagues, and Sodom's Flame
Be pour'd, if till to day I knew His Name.

'Tis true, I am of Galilee: but was
It in my power in Jewry to be born?
I'm ne'r the less of Israel's holy Race,
Nor for a world would I Apostate turn:
I'm Moses's Scholar: Hell their portion he
Who e'r would such a Master change as he.

Right lusty are thine Oaths, and generously
Thy daring Imprecations thou dost thunder,
Reply'd the Soldier; and why might not I
For once mistake? for I confess I wonder
How thou couldst serve that sheepish Master there,
Who canst so bravely Curse, and stoutly Swear.

Thou knowst 'twas dark, and let my Error be
Scor'd on Night's back, whose shades abus'd mine eye:
Go then, (and here upon his shoulder he
Clapped his barbarous applause,) but by
Thine own rare Oaths I swear, thou lookest still
As like that Rogue as Tophet do's to Hell.

Thus gained he his too dear liberty,
And lost himself: but as he sneak'd away;
A crowing Cock awak'd his memory
Into the broad light of his Dutie's day:
His startled Eyes strait hasted to repent,
And back to Jesus with submission went.

When lo, mild He, who could no Pity find,
To ease His own oppressed Innocence,
With ready beams of heav'nly kindness shin'd
Upon His Servant's traytorous Offence;
Forewarning Peter how to use his Sheep
When they down Error's precipice should leap.

Denyed Jesus would not him deny,
But spake His pardon by His gracious Look:
Yet so that Peter might withal descry,
Deep written in that most pathetick book,
The piteous copy of that causeless smart,
With which his Falshood pierc'd his Saviour's heart.

Powerful and long the Sermon was which He
Preach'd in th' epitomy of this short Glance.
But with such speed all Wonder's love to be
Atchiev'd when Flashes of Omnipotence
Weilded by Grace's hand the work assist;
Witness the Miracle in Peter's breast.

That breast which by this Glimpse was vanquish'd so,
That driv'n by holy shame, he seeketh where
To weep away his ugly Crime and lo
His Tears now bitterer than his Curses were.
Thus when the Sun on sturdy Ice but looks,
It strait repenteth into running brooks.

But now Aurora from the roseal East
Had newly dress'd and sent abroad the Day;
To finish his Design of Night, the Priests
To Pilate's court dispatch'd thy Lord away:
Nor needs he teach his Miscreants what to do,
Who Spight's fell trade had better learn'd than so.

The boistrous Rout with galling cords and chains
Load Jesu's hands and feet, and hurry Him
With headlong haste through all the streets and lanes
Which sweat with Crouds, — who an outrageous stream
Of odious blasphemies and curses shed
At every step He takes, upon His head.

Hast thou not mark'd how in a silver night
The mad-brain'd mungrels gather in the street;
Where with united barkings at the light
Of beauteous Phebe, heav'n and earth they beat?
Such and so causless were the Clamours which
Against thy Lord these railing Throngs did stretch.

But thus arrived at the Palace, they
The Pris'ner in to Pilate gravely send;
For 'twas with them an high religious day,
Nor could unhallowed Places but offend
Their scrupulous strictness; who all cleansed were
To celebrate their reverend Passover.

Shame on their foul Hypocrisy, who in
This goodly Mask of zealous Sanctity
With eager Fury strive to act a Sin
Too horrid to be expiated by
Their greatest Sacrifices and would fain
By this Lamb's blood their Paschal one destain.

But when the Judge came forth, demanding what
Offence exposed Jesu's Life to Law;
The surly Priests grew insolently hot,
And cry'd, We hop'd the Governor e'r now
Had understood that Israel's Sanhedrim
No Malefactor makes without a Crime.

Can it be dreamt we'd take such pains to chain
A Lamb, and send him for a Wolf to thee?
If so; what need disputes? the case is plain;
We, we alone must here Delinquents be:
O then release that righteous Soul, and bid
The slanderous Sanhedrim be Crucifi'd.

To this bold shift was Malice driv'n to make
Meer Accusation for Conviction pass.
But wisely then reply'd the Judge, why take
You this long way about? since you so gross
Have found His Crimes, you might, and may do now
Make Him a sacrifice to your own Law.

True, said the Priest; nor had our pious Zeal
Loiter'd thus long, did but our Law permit
Our indignation liberty to deal
With such a Malefactor as is fit:
Surely we in our looks have written plain
And legible enough, our just Disdain.

But our Lawgiver's gentle heart did ne'r
Provide a Death for such a Monster, as
He ne'r suspected any Jew could dare
To shew himself; and this is Jesus's case.
His due's the Cross; and none, great Sir, but you
That decent vengeance can on Him bestow.

The generous Roman shak'd his head to see
The Priests so shameless in their bloody Hate:
And yet to cool their mutinous Spirits, he
Commands the Pris'ner to the Judgment Seat;
Requiring His Impeachment might in clear
And open terms before the Court appear.

Forc'd here their troubled fraud to shelter in
The sanctuary of some strong-guilt Lye;
If we, said they, by His outragious Sin
But able were to mould and tune our Cry,
The noise not only would amaze your ear,
But rend all Heav'n, and Vengeance hither tear.

For know, that in profoundly-bold despight
To God, and that unspotted Truth which We
Receiv'd from Him, this Brat of hellish night
Blush'd not to broach blasphemous Heresy,
But through the honest credulous Country ran
Tainting the Commons with his Doctrine's bane.

Yet well it were if Heav'n alone had been
His desperate Mischief's butt: most traytorous He
Both hop'd, and try'd to work His dangerous teen
On Earth, and its Imperial Majesty;
Great Cesar's tribute down He preach'd, and yet
Up for a King Himself the Varlet set.

Thus roard the Priests. But when the Judge had well
The bus'ness weigh'd by grave examination,
And found its big-look'd bulk with Malice swell
And not with Truth: he made this Protestation:
Had I your eyes, I know not what might be,
But with mine own, no fault in Him I see.

He, that He is a King doth not deny;
But mark what Royalties he challengeth:
So simple is His Ingenuity,
He owns no Territories here beneath.
What harm to Cesar can by Him be done
Who fancyeth his Kingdom in the Moon?

There let His idle fancy reign: but yet
'Tis pity for His folly He should Die.
What Justice ever counted Want of Wit
A capital Offence. Nay more, if I
Be right informed, in the Tribute He
Hath witness'd His sufficient Loyalty.

The Case was put, and cunningly, to try
What at the bottom lay of His Design:
Yet by His Doctrine He most readily
Asserted it, and doubted not to join
His Practice too: what Custom more, I pray,
Could Cesar wish, than both to Preach and Pay?

As when the flames by Winds are beaten back,
With boiling murmur they their wrath increase,
And with more violent combustion mock
The pacifying Gale's attempt: so these
Repulsed Priests more hot and raging grew
And with full mouth these Exclamations blew.

All dangerous Impostures know their trade
And foul Intents with fair Pretences paint:
Whate'r He craftily or Preach'd or Pay'd,
Was but to shield Himself from Law's restraint:
Sedition was His Drift, and He could ne'r
Persue that game unless he footloose were.

'Tis strange wise Pilate should not clearly see
What through our Nation is so sadly spred;
For all Samaria, and Judea He
With mutinous Principles envenomed;
Whose egs He hatch'd in Galilee; a Nest
Of all the world for such a brood the best.

But this deferr'd their bloody hopes; for now
They father'd Him on Galilee, it put
Pilate upon a politick search to know
If He to Antipas' Command might not
Of right belong; which baying gladly found,
Strait to the Tetrarch he dispatch'd Him bound.

Nor fail'd this cunning Compliment to reach
The mark of his Desires, which was to win
The Tetrarch's love and close that rupture which
Had in their wounded friendship gaping been.
Jesus, who found no friends Himself must be
The means to cement others' Amity.

Thus through new Streets and new Revilings, He
To surly Herod's lodging bandied is:
The Prince could not conceal his joy to see
Him whom his unbelieving Curiousness
Had oft desir'd, since trumpeting Report
With Christ's strange Acts had fill'd his wondring Court.

And now himself he cheateth into hope
The Pris'ner His good will and word to gain,
Would rouze His utmost skill and power up
Him with miraculous Feats to entertain.
For Herod knew that this Man was He
Who scorn'd to buy His life with flattery.

His Questions thick he spur'd, but spur'd in vain;
Wise Jesus would no idle motions mind,
Nor any Answer but of Silence deign;
And though the Priests and Scribes their Railings join'd,
He said as little to their shameless Lye
As to the Tetrarch's Curiosity.

Is this, said Herod then, with big disdain,
Great Cesar's Rival, one who's only fit
Sovereign of sheepish stupid fools to reign?
Is this that wonder-working He, who yet
In this hard pinch can not with Power or Brain
His scorn'd, accus'd, and challeng'd self maintain?

Is all the wide-spread Glory of His Name?
Are all His Miracles shrunk up to this,
That He Himself with most ignoble shame
Should prove a Miracle of Sottishness?
Is this the King, to find whose heart my Father
A thousand Infants' breasts tore ope together?

Ah how my fancy wrong'd brave John, when I
Dream'd this was He to life again arriv'd!
Yet grant it John; His gross Stupidity
Assures me still that he is not reviv'd.
Come Souldiers, use your antick wits, that so
We may have sport at least, before He go.

Glad were the Guard, and ready equally
Jesus to mock, and to content their Lord:
About Him round they danc'd with hideous Cry,
And bid Him still that Tempest with His Word;
And when His Patience silent stood, enjoyn'd Him
To cast out that dumb Devil which did bind Him.

One limping came, and His great Godship pray'd
To cure his Leg, then kick'd Him on the breast:
For his lame Hand another crav'd His aid,
Then beat and brus'd Him with his brawny Fist;
A third desir'd Him to restore a dead
Dog unto life, then threw it at His head.

To vary this most scornful sport; at last
Come dress Him like a Prince, the Tetrarch cry'd,
And let the Jews return their King to taste
What Banquet Pilate will for Him provide:
Perhaps 'twill make Him ope that mouth which He
So obstinately here hath shut at me.

Tell him, I thank him for his Courtesy;
It made me merry, as ye all have seen:
But I'l not rob his Lordship's Pleasures by
Detaining this his Idiot; when I mean
To play with fools, I hope my Galilee
With one such Puppet more may furnish me.

Thus Jesus in a gorgeous Robe is clad,
The more conspicuous to make His shame:
And so through fresh Disdains and Scoffings led
To be of further Tyranny the Game.
With such a Pageant of Contempt the base
Abusive vulgar never feasted was.

They dance, they hout, they hollow, winck, and grin,
And this occasion trayterously embrace
Upon all princely Ornaments to pin
Their scornful Jeers. But Pilate stricken was
With wiser wonder at His splendid hue,
Knowing what Garb was to Delinquents due.

For those whose Lives presum'd as forfeit were
To Death, by Custom's sad solemnity
Were tir'd in Funeral Black, which might prepare
Them to the thoughts of their Catastrophe,
And intimate the colour of that Sin
Whose horrid darkness cloth'd their souls within.

But Providence did so correct their spight,
That He whose breast was purer than the Day,
Wore in His Vesture's face no guilty Night,
But by His Foes' own hands in an Array
Of Glory shin'd, and was absolved when
They hal'd Him to His Condemnation.

So when a boistrous loud Conspiracy
Of Winds their puffing labouring fury blow
About the World, in hopes to damp the sky
With swarthy clouds and storms; they often throw
All Vapors out, and with a full and fair
Serenity attire the purged Air.

Check'd by the sense of that pure Vestment's look,
And feeling moral Honesty beat high
In's startled bosom, Pilate could not brook
His Conscience to be Slave unto the Cry
Of those importunate Jews, who roaring stood
And gap'd with thirsty mouths for guiltless blood.

What me concerned I have done, said he;
Him, and your Accusations have I
Off sifted to the bottom: as for me,
I hope I never gave you reason why
You should presume that any Clamors may
Fright Pilate out of Justice's Highway.

Your Temple or your Altars cannot be
More venerable unto you, than is
My yet-unspotted Judgment-Seat to Me;
And mine, I trust, shall all impatient Cries
Of groundless Rage as valiantly resist
As Minos, or as Rhadamanthus's breast.

What I to Cesar ow, and what to Right,
I long have known, and must not now forget:
My heart is Roman, and the dearest Light
Of Heav'n or Life far less inamors it,
Than Honor's splendor, which can never be
Cohabitant with Wrong and Tyranny.

In Pilate's Annals shall it e'er be read,
That he deflowr'd Tiberius's sword, and most
Divine Astraea fouly ravished,
And that not by his own but others' Lust?
That Jewry's Ruler trembled at a Voice,
And was subdu'd by nothing but a Noise?

I'll sooner chuse mine own heart-blood should flow,
And let your Thirst carouze in it, than I
From any guiltless Veins their streams will draw
To quench the loudest Importunity.
Mine is mine own; but what have I to do
To give another's Life, when Law says No?

Law takes no hold of Jesus, nor must I,
Nor did the Tetrarch; and why, why will you
But since I see that crafty Calumny
Abused hath your honest meaning, now
I'll for your Credit Him chastise, and so
Give Him dismission without more ado.

And this the rather, since by custom I
Ingaged am to honor this your Feast,
In granting some Offendor Liberty
Whom fit your Pity counts to be releast:
And who deserves your candor more than this
Poor Man, whose fault at most but Folly is.

Thus strove the Judge, that he might not condemn
Himself with Jesus; but the sullen Priests
His gracious Offer spitefully contemn
And spur the People (in whose fury rests
Their final hope,) to beg with all the strife
Of stoutest Throats, none but Barabbas's Life.

Bold Bloodhounds! is not this Barabbas he
Whom you your selves know guilty of the Fact,
You fain would fasten upon Jesus? ye
Beheld what tumults he presum'd to act,
And how his desperate Riot he persued,
Until in Murder he his hands imbrued.

Hold you the Murderer's Life so dear, that he
Must live with you, whilst Innocent Jesus dies?
And do's Barabbas's cursed Company
Suit better with your reverend Sanctities?
Or think you God and Man so blind, as not
To see and hate your grosly-barbarous Plot?

Strange, Psyche, 'twas, with what impatient cries
The Mad-brain'd Vulgar, Heav'n and Earth did tear:
Barabbas's Name through all their Clamor flies,
Anxious for him, and none but him they are;
He is their Darling, and they cannot live,
If Pilate will not grant them his Reprieve.

Thus hellish Hate op'd Providence's door
To heav'nly Love, and made Barabbas be
The Type of all the World; which from the power
Of endless Death, and equal Misery
Was to be snatch'd to day, and in its room
A harmless Lamb expos'd to bloody Doom.

Mean while, the Judge's Lady sent her Page,
To pray her worryed and perplexed Lord
Not to be mad, because that Rout did rage,
Nor venture to prophane the Roman Sword
With Holy Blood; since certainly, said she,
Jesus is just, and they seditious be.

For my good Genius, as I lay asleep,
Appear'd unto me hand in hand with thine:
Thine beat his Breast, and bitterly did weep,
And told the reason of his grief to mine:
He said, (and sigh'd, and trembled as he said)
Pilate with Jesus now will be betray'd.

Pilate will be betrayed to destroy
The Life of Jesus, and his own withal;
For Jesu's blood will cry another day,
And loud to Pilate's Veins and Heart will call:
His Veins and Heart must to that Call reply—
—I started here, and out the Dream did fly.

Thus Heav'n-admonished Claudia sought to fright
Her Husband from his Precipice's brow,
And gave miraculous witness to the bright
Integrity of Jesus in the view
Of all His foes; for Heav'n was pleas'd that He
By either sex now justify'd should be.

No sooner had the trembling Page deliver'd
His ominous Message, but the Judge's Heart
With fatal jealousy and horror shiver'd;
His Joints unbuckled; Eyes and Hair did start;
His Knees together smote, his Blood flew back,
And left his Lips and all his Visage black.

O gracious Lord! who never fails to send
Smart warnings ev'n to Pagan Hearts, when they
By strong Temptations baited are, to rend
And throw their own upright Resolves away:
So monstrous is a Conscience-stifling Evill;
So loth is God that Man should prove a Devil.

But when the Scribes and Priests had learn'd the News:
See how this Conjurer hath by Magick Art,
Cry'd they, sent hellish Spirits to abuse
The honest thoughts of noble CIaudia's Heart:
That by this Trick the Judge might frighted be,
Our Truths made Slanders, and Himself set free.

'Tis well the Lady signify'd that she
Sleep's pris'ner was and so Delusion's prize:
But this Impostor's Life shall find that we
Are waking, and know how to use our Eyes.
The Wife may to her rest again; but keep
We must and will the Husband now from sleep.

Strait all the People with fresh clamors roar'd,
Thund'ring Barabbas in the Judge's Ear:
Which violent storm quite blew away the Word
His Spouse had sent; and he through sudden fear
Of Insurrection, thus returns to treat
About the bus'ness which he most did hate.

Friends, ask, I pray, your second thoughts, and see
If they upon Barabbas needs will dote:
'Tis far from my desire your Haste should he
Your prejudice; 'twas Haste made you so hot
Against your smother'd Reason: but my leave
To make your choice again, I freely give.

For I would fain my Courtesy should be
True to its Name; which sure cannot be so,
If none but this bold Murderer must be he,
Whom you will let my Love on you bestow,
Consider well, and you will kind it stand
More with your Credits, Jesus to demand.

But that Advice melts into empty air,
Which woos the Vulgar to Consideration:
And Pilate might as well, by speaking fair,
Have hop'd to send a Torrent's Inundation
Back to its spring-head, to consult and see
Whether it had not best more gentle be.

For at this word enrag'd, they all renew
Their former Outcry; For Barabbas we,
And for none other but Barabbas sue;
Our Fame no plaster craves or needs: you see
We beg but wonted Favor, which if you
Thus geld by cutting off our Choice, Adieu.

Mov'd with their boistrous Madness, Pilate cries,
If this seditious Murderer alone
Can seem to you to be a worthy Prize,
Tell me what must with Innocence be done?
Both cannot be reprieved: therefore speak
What course with Christ shall I and Justice take?

Right glad the Judge had giv'n them leave to name
The manner of their plotted Cruelty;
They with a barbarous smile reply, The Game
Is not so hard to play; Let Jesus die:
Do you but doom Him to the Cross, and We
At charge of Executing Him will be.

Then, as an Army with united Shout
Rends all the Field, when most impatient they
Fly to their Work of Blood: th' unanimous Rout
Discharg'd at Pilate's Ear, and cry'd, Away,
Away with Him, that Justice on may ride
In her free course, Let Him be crucify'd.

O more than hellish Impudence and Spight!
Is this the People, whose high Estimation
Of Jesus could the Highpriest's projects fright
Into a secret cautious Conjuration!
The People, who admir'd His heav'nly Word,
And His convincing Miracles ador'd!

The People, who to pave His welcome way,
Could strip Trees bodies, and their own, and spread
That Princely Entertainment, to display
How ev'n His Ass's feet they honored!
The People, who could brave Hosanna cry!
A Word, O how unlike to Crucify!

How well sage Heads have fix'd the odious brand
Of Fickleness upon the Vulgar! for
More safely may you on the Lydian Sand,
Or on the Adriatick Billows, or
The flitting Winds, build Towers, than rely
Upon the multitude's Fidelity.)

The horror of that Word made Pilate start
Who, stepping back, and flinging up his hands,
Far be it, cry'd, far be it from my heart
To harbor such Injustice! Your Demands
Should not be Traps; nor is it fit that I
Turn Tyrant, others' Spight to gratify.

Wears He the stain of Murder, or of Treason,
To mark Him out for death? can any eye
Barabbas find in Him? Or is it reason
That He because He has no Crime, must die?
And can you choose no Instrument but Me,
The Pandar of your bloody Lust to be?

Great Cesar thinks me wise enough to hear
And judge of Cases; and why will not you?
I have (though with some prejudice; so far
Your zeal had biass'd me,) the Pris'ner through
A strict Examen drawn; and must withal
Confess, His Crime is far from capital.

And shall my Foes' glad Tongues have cause to stay,
To my dear Honor's vile confusion, that
Pilate bow'd down his Conscience to obey
A Lawless Motion. Henceforth urge me not:
Some reasonable Castigation, I
Will lay on Jesus; but He must not die.

As when a knot of eager Hornets are
Repressed by a wary hand, about
With doubled rage they fly, and buzzing their
Right smart, alarms more resolutely, the stout
Onset renew: So now in fiercer Cries
The Rout's disdain at this Repulse did rise.

The Cataracts of Nile, or those which tear
Their headlong way down steepest Alpes, make not
A fra[n]gor so astonishing, as their
Wide yelling Mouths, resolv'd no more to shut
Till they can conquer by Impetuousness;
And, Crucify Him, still their thunder is.

The frighted Palace trembled at the crack,
Whose dismal echo to the Temple flew;
And from the Temple loudly bounding back,
It self through all the startled City threw.
Yea, ev'n the Rout themselves could not forbear,
Against their own Request to stop their Ear.

Which whilst thus terribly it bellow'd, though
It shak'd the Judge, and made him stagger; yet
It fail'd to work his total overthrow:
For fast he clapp'd his arms about his great
And generous Resolution, nor could
He fall (and that he knew) except he would.

Then wisely pondering that the highpriest's spight
The coals of all this mad Combustion blew;
And that they on the headstrong Vulgar might,
Had built their Salvage hopes: he studies how
To frustrate their malicious Design
By a severe, yet tender Countermine.

For in he takes thy Lord, and yields Him to
The servile Scourge, that by this Cruelty,
Way to His Pity he might ope, and so
Some blood for all the rest might satisfy.
He hop'd if once they saw Him all in gore,
Their thirstiest Malice would not wish for more.

For though the Multitude's untutor'd Ears
Are deaf to Reason's Plea; their Eyes can hear
The mute but loud complaint of bloody Tears,
And understand the Dialect, whene'er
It flows from Wound's red lips: And why, said He,
May Jews, if they be Men, not Human be!

The surly Beadles fetch'd their strongest Tew,
And having stripp'd their patient Prey of all
His cloths' defence, with churlish twitches drew,
And to the stoutest pillar of the Hall
Fast bound Him up; least He, by sinking under
The lashe's load, their wrath's carreer should hinder.

With iron Whips then to their work they fell,
And plow'd his Back's delicious Garden up:
Profound and long the Furrows were, yet still
Levell'd and fill'd as fast as broken ope;
For drown'd they were, and drowned in no flood
But of their own inestimable Blood.

Down to the bottom of each tender Vein
The cruel Engins div'd, and tore from thence
The precious purple springs; which in disdain
They toss'd about, until their violence
In too too costly colours painted thick,
Upon th' unworthy Floor and Pillar stuck.

The Pillar and the Floor now blush'd to see
How those remorsless Bloodhounds knew no shame;
For still they prosecute their tyranny,
Till weariness prevails with tired them,
(As lately with the Servants of the Priest,)
Meerly in self-compassion to desist.

But then the Soldiers take their barbarous cue,
To vex His Patience with more witty spight:
And that He may some royal token shew
Of His pretended Kingship their conceit
Prompts them to wreath a Crown of Thorns, and it
Upon His Head, in Fury's triumph set.

And thus the Curse which Heav'n injoin'd to grow
On Sin-condemned Earth, from thence is rent,
And deep engrafted into Jesus's Brow;
Who with this Diadem of stings content,
Nor wish'd nor envied their dainty pride,
Whose tresses were in roseal chaplets ty'd.

Then on His Back, to mock His Temples' pain
With gorgeous scorn, a purple Robe they throw:
Alas, how needless! now in richer grain
Too full they see His native scarlat flow,
Whilst all His Body is arrayed round
In one expanded universal wound.

And having planted in His Hand a Reed,
(A silly Scepter, and which well comply'd
With His ignoble Crown,) themselves they spread
In several gamesom squadrons, to deride
This meekly-silent miserable Thing,
Whom of Contempt they had created King.

O may the Sovereign of the Jews, said they,
Outlive the Hart's, the Raven's, the Eagle's years!
May His victorious Ensigns He display
Throughout the World, affrighted at His Wars!
Thus may He thresh all Nations: and here
They bang'd and brus'd Him; and went on to jeer:

May Heav'n's propitious Eye for ever dwell
On Him, who best deserves its care! may all
The Clouds which with the fattest Blessings swell
Let on His Head their choicest riches fall,
As freely as we rain these drops on it!
And at this word they all upon Him spit.

High on the Roman Bird's Imperial wing
May thy illustrious Name and Glory ride!
And may Tiberius to this nobler King
Thus yield his mighty Throne! this said, a wide
And massy Chair full at His Face they throw,
Which deeply grav'd its footsteps in His Brow.

From all the proudest Conqueror's Temples, who
Fondly conceive their never-fading Bay
Has power to make themselves immortal too,
Their glorious wreaths thus mayst Thou rend away!
Then hollowing loud, in raging sport they tear
Off from His sacred Head His goodly Hair.

One, after three low bowings, on his Knee
Humble Petitions brings; and having pray'd
His pardon of that Importunity,
Flings dirt and mire in's Eyes. Another play'd
Ambassador, pretending mighty things
He had in charge to Him from neighbour Kings.

Most Excellent Sir, my business is, said he,
Of such immediate consequence, that it
Can no delay digest, but urgeth me
To this unwonted and uncivil fit
Of craving present Audience: and here
He smartly box'd His Ears to make Him hear.

A third came with a golden Goblet in,
And fawning thus: The Queen to you hath sent
This Morning-draught, and prays you to begin,
That she may pledge you: suddenly he bent
At Jesus's gentle Face his ireful Brow
And in His Mouth the Bowl of Urine threw.

A fourth His Reed pluck'd from His Hand, and cry'd,
Your Scepter, Sir, too heavy is, I fear;
Let not your Majesty your Servant chide,
If he offend in too much Loyall Care:
Your self shall judge how grievous is its weight:
Which said, Him with the sturdy Cane he beat.

A fifth with earnest supplication su'd
For leave, his Princely Train that day to bear;
Then snatching up His Robe behind, with rude
But eager peevishness, he kick'd Him there;
Batt'ring the Body of all Sweetness, till
His weary Foot stopp'd his unwearied Will.

A sixth came bawling, Treason, Treason, Sir,
Treason against your sacred Majesty:
Your Jewish Subjects all conspiring are
Against your Honor and your Life: O fly,
And save your Royal Self. This made them all,
Seeing Him bound so fast, a-laughing fall.

'Twere endless, Psyche, to describe how they
With crabbed wantonness did sneer and pout;
How they did wrest their looks; what wry-mouth'd play
They us'd, their gentle Savior to flout.
The worst of ugly Petulance conceive,
And infinitely worse than that believe.

This Scene thus acted: Pilate brings Him forth
Accouter'd thus, into the People's view:
And though no Crime of His appeareth worth
The name of Capital; 'tis fit I shew
You with what heavy punishment, said He,
His light and jetty faults revenged be.

If this ridiculous Garb seem not enough,
With more than killing shame to clothe Him; see
What full-tide streams of Blood about Him flow,
And guess what favor He hath gain'd from me.
Alas, can any further room be found
In all His Body, but for one more Wound?

Behold the Man this torn and worryed Thing
Is He, how ever Comely heretofore:
Sure He has for His foolish Name of King
Full dearly pay'd; and of your Credits more
Regardful were not I, than of mine own,
Such proofs of Cruelty I had not shown.

Say now what augmentation of Disgrace
Or Anguish, could from any Cross accrue,
To that which in His brused batter'd Face,
And all-bemangled Flesh you read: 'tis true
He lives; but such a joiless Life, as hath
All reason to prefer the foulest Death.

O spectacle of most commanding sorrows!
How would all Hearts, but [fierce] Jews', melt to see
These ghastly torrents, and these gasping furrows:
The perfect Picture of Calamity!
How would a Tyger's thirsty wrath relent!
How would the souls of hungry Bears repent!

Had these unhappy Miscreants any Eyes,
But those of hard'ned Rancor, they might here
Have marked how their own sad Miseries
To patient Jesus all transferred were,
And scor'd upon His Back: they might have found
A salve for all their sores in every wound.

They might have seen His innocent Temples wear
That Malediction, which to them was due:
Whilst He the stinging Briars pleas'd to bear,
And leave to them the fragrant flowers which grew
Both in their Mortal Gardens here, and which
With endless Sweets did Paradise inrich.

At least that Lesson of Compassion they
As well as Pilate, might have plainly read,
Which in large Rubrick Letters open lay,
And to the eyes of all Spectators spread
So fair a challenge, that no generous Breasts
Could Pity's importunity resist.

But lo, the barbarous Priests, unsatisfy'd
With all that sea of Blood already shed,
Because some more behind remained: cry'd
O ease the Earth of that blasphemous Head,
Before Heav'n vindicate it self, and we
Involved in the Flood of Vengeance be.

Those sorry Gashes, though they glare, are yet
Less deep and broad than His Offence: beside
All Serpents have the ill-bestowed wit,
To lick and heal their wounds, though far more wide
Than those of His: and why may pois'nous He
Not full as cunning as His Kindred be?

Is His a boyish fault, that you should deem
A whiping, meet and ample Punishment?
O rather square your own by Heav'n's esteem,
And join with ours your righteous consent.
A Cross, a Cross: Heav'n cannot pleased be,
Until this Monster crucify'd it see.

This most unreasonable Madness made
The Judge as loud as They: Your throat, said He,
Shall never roar me to your bloody trade.
The Man is guiltless in mine eyes; if ye
Resolved are that Innocence must die,
Go murder Him your selves, and cease your cry.

Harsh was this word, and grated their Design:
So hard, that they inforced were to fly
To that reserve which they did most decline,
As knowing well 'twas an old-answer'd Lye:
That Law they now pretend, to which long since
The Pris'ner justify'd His Innocence.

Nay, they reply'd, It is not We, but Law:
Our Law, more dear to us than are our Lives,
Requires His Death. May Pilate please to know
That our just God no grace, nor pardon gives
To (though but faint) Blasphemers; and shall He,
Who makes Himself the Son of God, go free?

If Thou Protector of our Laws wilt be
Break not our greatest for this Varlet's sake.
Should He intrude into the Family
Of Cesar, and his Heir's great Title take,
Sure thou wouldst judge a Cross his due; and is
Heav'n's Emperor's Wrong a less Offence than this?

Bloodthirsty Hypocrites! who clearly knew,
How they their Law in urging it deny'd:
Had this most false Impeachment been most true,
Yet must not Jesus by the Cross have dy'd;
Their Law an heap of Stones ordain'd to be
The Death and Monument of Blasphemy.

Yet this New-plea stung jealous Pilate so,
That he again retires, and tries again
What fresh Examination might do:
Blind Notions tumbled in his troubled Brain
Concerning Heros and Half-gods, which had
The solemn Cheats of Pagan Faith been made.

For seeing more than human Patience shine
In Jesus's strange deportment; he began
To think he might be one of Jove's Divine
And Sovereign Stock, though masked now in Man:
Him therefore he requireth to unease
The truth, and satisfy him whence He was.

But to this needless Curiosity
Thy sober Lord would no Reply vouchsafe:
For whether He from Heav'n His Pedigree
Or Earth deriv'd, 'twas evident enough,
That Innocence in God or Man, could from
A righteous Judge deserve no fatal doom.

This Silence spurr'd indignant Pilate's pride:
Oft have I spoke for Thee, and yet wilt Thou
Not one poor word bestow on me? defy'd
Is all my power, said he, by which I now
Can bless Thee with a free release, or send
Thee on the Cross to make Thy cursed End?

But Jesus thus: no power hadst thou to reach
My life, but by Heav'n's special private Grant:
'Tis not thy common Jurisdiction which
Involveth Me: this makes the Priest who sent
Me pris'ner hither, to be plunged in
So much the deeper and the fouler Sin.

Aw'd by this Answer's gravity, into
A piercing sense of His integrity;
Th' ingenuous Judge resolves his best to do
In setting Him, and his own Conscience free;
His utmost prudence he awak'd to treat
And into honesty the People cheat.

But whilst he signify'd his gentle Mind,
Alas, new oil upon their flames he threw;
For in their loudest fury all combin'd,
Upon Him with this bold Reply they flew;
If Jesus you dismiss, We must have leave
Great Cesar to acquaint with this Reprieve.

Did not that Traitor's Head contrive to wear
A Crown of gold, where now those Thorns you see?
And who more dangerous foes to Cesar are
Than those who would no longer subjects be?
He says, His Realm is not on Earth: and what
Should Traitors being taken, plead, but that?

But were He free again, and had proud He
New thousands at His heels, to follow on
His Will's Carreer; might His design not be
True to our Fears? And will our Judge alone
Let loose this danger? surely loyal We
Must hold you then for Cesar's Enemy.

Drove by this Menace to his Judgment-seat,
Behold your King, and mark Him well, said he:
Can this poor sorry Wight be thought the great
Rival of Cesar? But this honest Plea
They thus confute: Away with Him, and let
Him pay upon the Cross His Treason's debt.

The Cross? in smiling anger Pilate cry'd;
Is that the Throne where I must set your King?
No King have we, the sullen Priests reply'd,
But Cesar: as for this accursed Thing,
'Tis more than time that to His Cross He go,
And every one who is His favorer too.

The Judge had with their Malice grappled long:
But now his Place and Office lay at stake;
He who before so righteous was and strong,
Hop'd to support himself by turning weak
And impious: Nor did the People spare
To hasten those strange Hopes whose ground was Fear.

This new State-blast on his faint Bosom blew
So thick a storm of Jealousy and Dread
That now he fancy'd all the City drew
Their mutinous Swords against his single Head;
And that the Priests had with their specious Lye
Dispatch'd to Rome a dangerous Embassy.

Thus toss'd and bandy'd by the tempest, He
His Faith and Truth, the dearest wares he had,
Throws over-board; and to their Cruelty
Steers his Consent: which yet appear'd so mad
And full of foul and odious horror, that
He calls for Water, off to wash its Blot.

Why wilt thou ravish, foolish Hypocrite
The Virgin Nymph? what Water canst thou get
To wash This clean; which cannot make thee white,
But only by thy wretched touching it
For ever will be stain'd: should all the Sea
Flow on thy Hands, they still would bloody be.

The Leopard's spots, which fix their feet so sure
Upon his skin, shall sooner run away;
Sooner the Aethiop's face shall learn a Cure
And change its ugly Night to beauteous Day;
The Ravens with Swans in white shall sooner vye,
Then thou be purg'd from thy ingrained Dye.

Yet Pilate flatter'd by his own Device,
Will needs be cabling in the Bacin; and
Behold, ye Priests and People all, he cries,
Of Jesu's blood I wash my guiltless Hand:
Though I the Sentence pass, it stall be known
You forc'd my tongue, and you the Act must own.

Content; and since in it you will not share,
Let ours, said they, the Honor wholly be:
Both Heav'n and Earth will thank our zealous Care,
And safe Tiberius praise our Loyalty.
So will your Self, when you have weighed well
What kind of Monster you have sent to hell.

As for His Blood which frights your timorous Hand,
It is to us the brightest paint of Glory,
And will to all Succession's eyes commend
Our just and pious Resolution's Story:
'Tis our Ambition's highest Wish, that it
May on our Heads, and on our Children's sit.

Unhappy Wish! had this been rightly fram'd,
No Pray'r with purer wings had soard to heaven,
Nor pull'd more Blessings, than would have streamed
In this rich Blood: But see the monstrous leaven
Of holy-looking Malice, which can thus
Make sweetest words turn sadly Ominous.

For 'twas not long e'r Titus came and pour'd
This Flood upon them, and their Wish fulfilled:
They and their Heirs together were devour'd.
With such full vengeance this red Torrent swelled;
Their Town and Temple too the Deluge found,
Which in their Wishe's surplusage were drown'd.

Wild War did never yet so riot in
The veins of any helpless wights, as here;
Nor fatal Misery hunt out any Sin
With so severe a Quest as that: for their
Outragious Wish and bloody Exclamation
Tolled the funeral Knell to all their Nation.

And now the Judge, within whose breast the fear
Of Men, vile Men, much more than God did reign;
Those Bonds of generous Right himself does tear
From which he woo'd the People to refrain;
And ruins all his Honor that he may
Secure his tottering Dignity to day.

His Roman Boastings splendid plumes he plucks;
To hold it fast, he stains his Master's Sword;
His righteous Tenderness, upon the rocks
Of Tyranny he breaks; and by one Word
Gives all his Protestations the Lye,
Judging the Lord of Innocence to die.

O monstrous Sentence! were the fell Decrees
Which ever get from mouths of Tyrants brake,
With all their dismal Pomp of Cruelties,
Describ'd in one black Roll; they could not make
So hideous a show as This alone
Of Barbarousness the dire Perfection.

All Injuries in This triumphant are,
Skru'd to the highest pitch of rampant Spight:
Injustice but a Suckling was, till here
She suddenly attain'd her stature's height:
Herod indeed had fairly nurs'd her; but
Her bulk's full growth by Pirates help she got.

For could all Hell mould up so dire a Doom
As might send every Babe who 'gan to see
Life's morning light, strait from his Mother's womb
To Death's black Ev'n; that Sentence yet would be
Less fell than This, which murders at a blow
More Innocence than all the World can show.

Than This; to which no Copy near shall draw
Till Albion with Palestine shall vy;
When British Jews against their King a Law
Shall find, and make the Rout for Justice cry;
When they a Pilate of their own shall get,
And desperate Soldiers too, to do the feat.

Unfortunate Judge! how rufully hast thou
Condemn'd thy timorous Self in dooming Him!
The time draws nigh, when Caius will not know
Pilate for Cesar's friend; thy dear Esteem
And Office, to their fatal evening draw,
And Six Years more will make Thee feel the Law.

The Law of Banishment; when France shall see
Thee to Vienna ty'd in strong Disgrace;
Where Hell shall to thy Soul displayed be,
And make thy Conscience war against thy face,
Mustring the Guilt of this unhappy Day
Before thine eyes in terrible array.

Thy Ladie's Message there again shall sound,
And sting thy heart; thine own Profession's there
Of Jesu's Innocence, shall all rebound
Upon thy thoughts, and thy Remembrance tear:
That mocked Water there shall scald thee, and
Revenge its wrong on thy polluted Hand.

There shall thy Whips on Thee their Lashes turn;
There shall the Thorns plant Tortures on thy head;
There to thy self each Stripe and Scoff and Scorn
Shall in full tale be duly numbered;
There thy prodigious Sentence back shall fly,
And point black Pilate out as fit to die.

Then shall the cruel Cross, the Nails, the Spear,
March through thy thoughts, and slaughter thee alive;
Till Crucify'd by thine own fatal fear,
Thy Self meet vengeance to thy self shalt give,
And from thy Hell above by cursed death
Send thy despairing Soul to Hell beneath.

So shall thine Hand thou thoughtst thou washt so white,
Foully imbru'd in thine own horrid gore,
An useful Copy to all Judges write
Of what sure Doom Heav'n's righteous Wrath doth pour
On them who warp Law's rule to Peoples' Lust,
And make the Throne of justice be Unjust.

[1702; Grosart (1880) 2:17-35]

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