Paradise Regain'd: Book III (1671)

written by

« Reload image

SO spake the Son of God, and Satan stoodA while as mute confounded what to say,What to reply, confuted and convinc'tOf his weak arguing, and fallacious drift;At length collecting all his Serpent wiles,With soothing words renew'd, him thus accosts. I see thou know'st what is of use to know,What best to say canst say, to do canst do;Thy actions to thy words accord, thy wordsTo thy large heart give utterance due, thy heartConteins of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.Should Kings and Nations from thy mouth consult,Thy Counsel would be as the OracleUrim and Thummim, those oraculous gemsOn Aaron's breast: or tongue of Seers oldInfallible; or wert thou sought to deedsThat might require th' array of war, thy skillOf conduct would be such, that all the worldCould not sustain thy Prowess, or subsistIn battel, though against thy few in arms.These God-like Vertues wherefore dost thou hide?Affecting private life, or more obscureIn savage Wilderness, wherefore depriveAll Earth her wonder at thy acts, thy selfThe fame and glory, glory the rewardThat sole excites to high attempts the flameOf most erected Spirits, most temper'd pureÆtherial, who all pleasures else despise,All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,And dignities and powers all but the highest?Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe, the SonOf Macedonian Philip had e're theseWon Asia and the Throne of Cyrus heldAt his dispose, young Scipio had brought downThe Carthaginian pride, young Pompey quell'dThe Pontic King and in triumph had rode.Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.Great Julius, whom now all the world admiresThe more he grew in years, the more inflam'dWith glory, wept that he had liv'd so longInglorious: but thou yet art not too late. To whom our Saviour calmly thus reply'd.Thou neither dost perswade me to seek wealthFor Empires sake, nor Empire to affectFor glories sake by all thy argument.For what is glory but the blaze of fame,The peoples praise, if always praise unmixt?And what the people but a herd confus'd,A miscellaneous rabble, who extolThings vulgar, & well weigh'd, scarce worth the praise,They praise and they admire they know not what;And know not whom, but as one leads the other;And what delight to be by such extoll'd,To live upon thir tongues and be thir talk,Of whom to be disprais'd were no small praise?His lot who dares be singularly good.Th' intelligent among them and the wiseAre few, and glory scarce of few is rais'd.This is true glory and renown, when GodLooking on the Earth, with approbation marksThe just man, and divulges him through HeavenTo all his Angels, who with true applauseRecount his praises; thus he did to Job,When to extend his fame through Heaven & Earth,As thou to thy reproach mayst well remember,He ask'd thee, hast thou seen my servant Job?Famous he was in Heaven, on Earth less known;Where glory is false glory, attributedTo things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.They err who count it glorious to subdueBy Conquest far and wide, to over-runLarge Countries, and in field great Battels win,Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslavePeaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,Made Captive, yet deserving freedom moreThen those thir Conquerours, who leave behindNothing but ruin wheresoe're they rove,And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,Then swell with pride, and must be titl'd Gods,Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,Worship't with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,Rowling in brutish vices, and deform'd,Violent or shameful death thir due reward.But if there be in glory aught of good,It may by means far different be attain'dWithout ambition, war, or violence;By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,By patience, temperance; I mention stillHim whom thy wrongs with Saintly patience born,Made famous in a Land and times obscure;Who names not now with honour patient Job?Poor Socrates (who next more memorable?)By what he taught and suffer'd for so doing,For truths sake suffering death unjust, lives nowEqual in fame to proudest Conquerours.Yet if for fame and glory aught be done,Aught suffer'd; if young African for fameHis wasted Country freed from Punic rage,The deed becomes unprais'd, the man at least,And loses, though but verbal, his reward.Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seekOft not deserv'd? I seek not mine, but hisWho sent me, and thereby witness whence I am. To whom the Tempter murmuring thus reply'd.Think not so slight of glory; therein leastResembling thy great Father: he seeks glory,And for his glory all things made, all thingsOrders and governs, nor content in HeavenBy all his Angels glorifi'd, requiresGlory from men, from all men good or bad,Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption;Above all Sacrifice, or hallow'd giftGlory he requires, and glory he receivesPromiscuous from all Nations, Jew, or Greek,Or Barbarous, nor exception hath declar'd;From us his foes pronounc't glory he exacts. To whom our Saviour fervently reply'd.And reason; since his word all things produc'd,Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,But to shew forth his goodness, and impartHis good communicable to every soulFreely; of whom what could he less expectThen glory and benediction, that is thanks,The slightest, easiest, readiest recompenceFrom them who could return him nothing else,And not returning that would likeliest renderContempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?Hard recompence, unsutable returnFor so much good, so much beneficence.But why should man seek glory? who of his ownHath nothing, and to whom nothing belongsBut condemnation, ignominy, and shame?Who for so many benefits receiv'dTurn'd recreant to God, ingrate and false,And so of all true good himself despoil'd,Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would takeThat which to God alone of right belongs;Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,That who advance his glory, not thir own,Them he himself to glory will advance. So spake the Son of God; and here againSatan had not to answer, but stood struckWith guilt of his own sin, for he himselfInsatiable of glory had lost all,Yet of another Plea bethought him soon. Of glory as thou wilt, said he, so deem,Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass:But to a Kingdom thou art born, ordain'dTo sit upon thy Father David's Throne;By Mothers side thy Father, though thy rightBe now in powerful hands, that will not partEasily from possession won with arms;Judæa now and all the promis'd landReduc't a Province under Roman yoke,Obeys Tiberius; nor is always rul'dWith temperate sway; oft have they violatedThe Temple, oft the Law with foul affronts,Abominations rather, as did onceAntiochus: and think'st thou to regainThy right by sitting still or thus retiring?So did not Machabeus: he indeedRetir'd unto the Desert, but with arms;And o're a mighty King so oft prevail'd,That by strong hand his Family obtain'd,Though Priests, the Crown, and David's Throne usurp'd,With Modin and her Suburbs once content.If Kingdom move thee not, let move thee Zeal,And Duty; Zeal and Duty are not slow;But on Occasions forelock watchful wait.They themselves rather are occasion best,Zeal of thy Fathers house, Duty to freeThy Country from her Heathen servitude;So shalt thou best fullfil, best verifieThe Prophets old, who sung thy endless raign,The happier raign the sooner it begins,Raign then; what canst thou better do the while? To whom our Saviour answer thus return'd.All things are best fullfil'd in their due time,And time there is for all things, Truth hath said:If of my raign Prophetic Writ hath told,That it shall never end, so when beginThe Father in his purpose hath decreed,He in whose hand all times and seasons roul.What if he hath decreed that I shall firstBe try'd in humble state, and things adverse,By tribulations, injuries, insults,Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,Suffering, abstaining, quietly expectingWithout distrust or doubt, that he may knowWhat I can suffer, how obey? who bestCan suffer, best can do; best reign, who firstWell hath obey'd; just tryal e're I meritMy exaltation without change or end.But what concerns it thee when I beginMy everlasting Kingdom, why art thouSollicitous, what moves thy inquisition?Know'st thou not that my rising is thy fall,And my promotion will be thy destruction? To whom the Tempter inly rackt reply'd.Let that come when it comes; all hope is lostOf my reception into grace; what worse?For where no hope is left, is left no fear;If there be worse, the expectation moreOf worse torments me then the feeling can.I would be at the worst; worst is my Port,My harbour and my ultimate repose,The end I would attain, my final good.My error was my error and my crimeMy crime; whatever for it self condemn'd,And will alike be punish'd; whether thouRaign or raign not; though to that gentle browWillingly I could flye, and hope thy raign,From that placid aspect and meek regard,Rather then aggravate my evil state,Would stand between me and thy Fathers ire,(Whose ire I dread more then the fire of Hell)A shelter and a kind of shading coolInterposition, as a summers cloud.If I then to the worst that can be hast,Why move thy feet so slow to what is best,Happiest both to thy self and all the world,That thou who worthiest art should'st be thir King?Perhaps thou linger'st in deep thoughts detain'dOf the enterprize so hazardous and high;No wonder, for though in thee be unitedWhat of perfection can in man be found,Or human nature can receive, considerThy life hath yet been private, most part spentAt home, scarce view'd the Gallilean Towns,And once a year Jerusalem, few daysShort sojourn; and what thence could'st thou observe?The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,Empires, and Monarchs, and thir radiant Courts,Best school of best experience, quickest in sightIn all things that to greatest actions lead.The wisest, unexperienc't, will be everTimorous and loth, with novice modesty,(As he who seeking Asses found a Kingdom)Irresolute, unhardy, unadventrous:But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quitThose rudiments, and see before thine eyesThe Monarchies of the Earth, thir pomp and state,Sufficient introduction to informThee, of thy self so apt, in regal Arts,And regal Mysteries; that thou may'st knowHow best their opposition to withstand. With that (such power was giv'n him then) he tookThe Son of God up to a Mountain high.It was a Mountain at whose verdant feetA spatious plain out stretch't in circuit wideLay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow'd,Th' one winding, the other strait and left betweenFair Champain with less rivers interveind,Then meeting joyn'd thir tribute to the Sea:Fertil of corn the glebe, of oyl and wine,With herds the pastures throng'd, with flocks the hills,Huge Cities and high towr'd, that well might seemThe seats of mightiest Monarchs, and so largeThe Prospect was, that here and there was roomFor barren desert fountainless and dry.To this high mountain top the Tempter broughtOur Saviour, and new train of words began. Well have we speeded, and o're hill and dale,Forest and field, and flood, Temples and TowersCut shorter many a league; here thou behold'stAssyria and her Empires antient bounds,Araxes and the Caspian lake, thence onAs far as Indus East, Euphrates West,And oft beyond; to South the Persian Bay,And inaccessible the Arabian drouth:Here Ninevee, of length within her wallSeveral days journey, built by Ninus old,Of that first golden Monarchy the seat,And seat of Salmanassar, whose successIsrael in long captivity still mourns;There Babylon the wonder of all tongues,As antient, but rebuilt by him who twiceJudah and all thy Father David's houseLed captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,Till Cyrus set them free; PersepolisHis City there thou seest, and Bactra there;Ecbatana her structure vast there shews,And Hecatompylos her hunderd gates,There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,The drink of none but Kings; of later fameBuilt by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and thereArtaxata, Teredon, Tesiphon,Turning with easie eye thou may'st behold.All these the Parthian, now some Ages past,By great Arsaces led, who founded firstThat Empire, under his dominion holdsFrom the luxurious Kings of Antioch won.And just in time thou com'st to have a viewOf his great power; for now the Parthian KingIn Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his HostAgainst the Scythian, whose incursions wildHave wasted Sogdiana; to her aidHe marches now in hast; see, though from far,His thousands, in what martial equipageThey issue forth, Steel Bows, and Shafts their armsOf equal dread in flight, or in pursuit;All Horsemen, in which fight they most excel;See how in warlike muster they appear,In Rhombs and wedges, and half moons, and wings. He look't and saw what numbers numberlessThe City gates out powr'd, light armed TroopsIn coats of Mail and military pride;In Mail thir horses clad, yet fleet and strong,Prauncing their riders bore, the flower and choiceOf many Provinces from bound to bound;From Arachosia, from Candaor East,And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffsOf Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,From Atropatia and the neighbouring plainsOf Adiabene, Media, and the SouthOf Susiana to Balsara's hav'n.He saw them in thir forms of battell rang'd,How quick they wheel'd, and flying behind them shotSharp sleet of arrowie showers against the faceOf thir pursuers, and overcame by flight;The field all iron cast a gleaming brown,Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn,Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight;Chariots or Elephants endorst with TowersOf Archers, nor of labouring PionersA multitude with Spades and Axes arm'dTo lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,Or where plain was raise hill, or over-layWith bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;Mules after these, Camels and Dromedaries,And Waggons fraught with Utensils of war.Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,When Agrican with all his Northern powersBesieg'd Albracca, as Romances tell;The City of Gallaphrone, from thence to winThe fairest of her Sex AngelicaHis daughter, sought by many Prowest Knights,Both Paynim, and the Peers of Charlemane.Such and so numerous was thir Chivalrie;At sight whereof the Fiend yet more presum'd,And to our Saviour thus his words renew'd. That thou may'st know I seek not to engageThy Vertue, and not every way secureOn no slight grounds thy safety; hear, and markTo what end I have brought thee hither and shewnAll this fair sight; thy Kingdom though foretoldBy Prophet or by Angel, unless thouEndeavour, as thy Father David did,Thou never shalt obtain; prediction stillIn all things, and all men, supposes means,Without means us'd, what it predicts revokes.But say thou wer't possess'd of David's ThroneBy free consent of all, none opposite,Samaritan or Jew; how could'st thou hopeLong to enjoy it quiet and secure,Between two such enclosing enemiesRoman and Parthian? therefore one of theseThou must make sure thy own, the Parthian firstBy my advice, as nearer and of lateFound able by invasion to annoyThy country, and captive lead away her KingsAntigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,Maugre the Roman: it shall be my taskTo render thee the Parthian at dispose;Chuse which thou wilt by conquest or by league.By him thou shalt regain, without him not,That which alone can truly reinstall theeIn David's royal seat, his true Successour,Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten TribesWhose off-spring in his Territory yet serveIn Habor, and among the Medes dispers't,Ten Sons of Jacob, two of Joseph lostThus long from Israel; serving as of oldThir Fathers in the land of Egypt serv'd,This offer sets before thee to deliver.These if from servitude thou shalt restoreTo thir inheritance, then, nor till then,Thou on the Throne of David in full glory,From Egypt to Euphrates and beyondShalt raign, and Rome or Caesar not need fear. To whom our Saviour answer'd thus unmov'd.Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm,And fragile arms, much instrument of warLong in preparing, soon to nothing brought,Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my earVented much policy, and projects deepOf enemies, of aids, battels and leagues,Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.Means I must use thou say'st, prediction elseWill unpredict and fail me of the Throne:My time I told thee, (and that time for theeWere better farthest off) is not yet come,;When that comes think not thou to find me slackOn my part aught endeavouring, or to needThy politic maxims, or that cumbersomeLuggage of war there shewn me, argumentOf human weakness rather then of strength.My brethren, as thou call'st them; those Ten TribesI must deliver, if I mean to raignDavid's true heir, and his full Scepter swayTo just extent over all Israel's Sons;But whence to thee this zeal, where was it thenFor Israel, or for David, or his Throne,When thou stood'st up his Tempter to the prideOf numbring Israel, which cost the livesOf threescore and ten thousand IsraelitesBy three days Pestilence? such was thy zealTo Israel then, the same that now to me.As for those captive Tribes, themselves were theyWho wrought their own captivity, fell offFrom God to worship Calves, the DeitiesOf Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,And all the Idolatries of Heathen round,Besides thir other worse then heathenish crimes;Nor in the land of their captivityHumbled themselves, or penitent besoughtThe God of their fore-fathers; but so dy'dImpenitent, and left a race behindLike to themselves, distinguishable scarceFrom Gentils, but by Circumcision vain,And God with Idols in their worship joyn'd.Should I of these the liberty regard,Who freed, as to their antient Patrimony,Unhumbl'd, unrepentant, unreform'd,Headlong would follow; and to thir Gods perhapsOf Bethel and of Dan? no, let them serveThir enemies, who serve Idols with God.Yet he at length, time to himself best known,Remembring Abraham by some wond'rous callMay bring them back repentant and sincere,And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,While to their native land with joy they hast,As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,When to the promis'd land thir Fathers pass'd;To his due time and providence I leave them. So spake Israel's true King, and to the FiendMade answer meet, that made void all his wiles.So fares it when with truth falshood contends.

The End of the Third Book.

© John Milton