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النشر الإلكتروني

Powers of fire, air, water, and earth beneath,
(So may we hold our place and these mild seats
Without new trouble) such an enemy
Is risen to invade us, who no less
Threatens than our expulsion down to Hell;
I, as I undertook, and with the vote
Consenting in full frequence was impower'd,
Have found him, view'd him, tasted him; but find
Far other labour to be undergone
Than when I dealt with Adam, first of Men,
Though Adam by his wife's allurement fell,
However to this Man inferior far ;
If he be Man by mother's side, at least
With more than human gifts from Heaven adorn'd,
Perfections absolute, graces divine,
And amplitude of mind to greatest deeds.
Therefore I am return'd, lest confidence
Of my success with Eve in Paradise
Deceive ye to persuasion over sure
Of like succeeding here : I summon all
Rather to be in readiness, with hand
Or counsel to assist ; lest I, who erst
Thought none my equal, now be over-match’d.'

So spake th’ old Serpent, doubting; and from all
With clamour was assur'd their utmost aid
At his command : when from amidst them rose
Belial, the dissolutest Spirit that fell,
The sensuallest, and, after Asmodai,
The fleshliest Incubus; and thus advis'd :

Set woman in his eye, and in his walk,
Among daughters of men the fairest found :
Many are in each region passing fair
As the noon sky: more like to goddesses
Than mortal creatures, graceful and discreet,

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Expert in amorous arts, enchanting tongues
Persuasive, virgin majesty with mild
And sweet allay'd, yet terrible to' approach,
Skill'd to retire, and, in retiring, draw
Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets.
Such object hath the power to soften' and tame
Severest temper, smooth the rugged'st brow,
Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve,
Draw out with credulous desire, and lead
At will the manliest, resolutest breast,
As the magnetic hardest iron draws.
Women, when nothing else, beguild the heart
Of wisest Solomon, and made him build,
And made him bow, to the gods of his wives.'

To whom quick answer Satan thus return'd:
* Belial, in much uneven scale thou weigh'st
All others by thyself; because of old
Thou thyself doaťdst on womankind, admiring
Their shape, their colour, and attractive gráce,
None are, thou think'st, but taken with such toys.
Before the Flood thou with thy lusty crew,
False titled sons of God,' roaming the earth,
Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men,
And coupled with them, and begot a race.
Have we not seen, or by relation heard,
In courts and regal chambers how thou lurk’st,
In wood or grove, by mossy fountain side,
In valley or green meadow, to waylay
Some beauty rare, Calisto, Clymene,
Daphne, or Semele, Antiopa,
Or Amymone, Syrinx, many more
Too long, then lay'st thy scapes on names ador'd,
Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan,
Satyr, or Faun, or Sylvan? But these haunts

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Delight not all; among the sons of men,
How many' have with a smile made small account
Of Beauty and her lures, easily scorn'd
All her assaults, on worthier things intent!
Remember that Pellean conqueror,
A youth, how all the beauties of the East
He slightly view'd, and slightly overpass'd;
How he, surnam'd of Africa, dismiss'd,
In his prime youth, the fair Iberian maid.
For Solomon, he liv'd at ease, and full
Of honour, wealth, high fare, aim'd not beyond
Higher design than to enjoy his state:
Thence to the bait of women lay expos’d:
But he, whom we attempt, is wiser far
Than Solomon, of more exalted mind,
Made and set wholly on the accomplishment
Of greatest things. What woman will you find,
Though of this age the wonder and the fame,
On whom his leisure will vouchsafe an eye
Of fond desire? Or should she, confident,
As sitting queen ador'd on Beauty's throne,
Descend with all her winning charms begirt
To' enamour, (as the zone of Venus once
Wrought that effect on Jove, so fables tell;)
How would one look from his majestic brow,
Seated as on the the top of Virtue's hill,
Discountnance her despis'd, and put to rout
All her array; her female pride deject,
Or turn to reverent awe! for Beauty stands
In the’ admiration only of weak minds
Led captive; cease to admire, and all her plumes
Fall flat, and shrink into a trivial toy,
At every sudden slighting quite abash'd.

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Therefore with manlier objects we must try
His constancy; with such as have more show
Of worth, of honour, glory, and popular praise,
Rocks, whereon greatest men have oftest wreck'd:
Or that which only seems to satisfy
Lawful desires of nature, not beyond;
And now I know he hungers, where no food
Is to be found, in the wide wilderness:
The rest commit to me; I shall let pass
No' advantage, and his strength as oft assay.'

He ceas'd, and heard their grant in loud acclaim;
Then forthwith to him takes a chosen band
Of Spirits likest to himself in guile,
To be at hand, and at his beck appear,
If cause were to unfold some active scene
Of various persons, each to know his part:
Then to the desert takes with these his flight;
Where, still from shade to shade the Son of God
After forty days fasting had remain'd.
Now hungering first, and to himself thus said:
“Where will this end? four times ten days I've

pass'd
Wandering this woody maze, and human food
Nor tasted, nor had appetite; that fast
To virtue I impute not, or count part
Of what I suffer here; if nature need not,
Or God support nature without repast
Though needing, what praise is it to endure?
But now I feel I hunger, which declares
Nature hath need of what she asks; yet God
Can satisfy that need some other way,
Though hunger still remain : so it remain
Without this body's wasting, I content me,

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And from the sting of famine fear no harm;
Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts, that feed
Me hungering more to do my Father's will.'

It was the hour of night, when thus the Son
Commun’d in silent walk, then laid him down
Under the hospitable covert nigh
Of trees thick interwoven; there he slept,
And dream'd, as appetite is wont to dream,
Of meats and drinks, nature's refreshment sweet:
Him thought, he by the brook of Cherith stood,
And saw the ravens with their horny beaks
Food to Elijah bringing, even and morn,
Though ravenous, taught to'abstain from what they
He saw the Prophet also, how he fled [brought:
Into the desert, and how there he slept
Under a juniper; then how awak'd
He found his supper on the coals prepar'd,
And by the Angel was bid rise and eat;
And eat the second time after repose,
The strength whereof suffic'd him forty days:
Sometimes that with Elijah he partook,
Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse.
Thus wore out night; and now the herald lark
Left his ground-nest, high towering to descry
The Morn's approach, and greet her with his song:
As lightly from his grassy couch up rose
Our Saviour, and found all was but a dream;
Fasting he went to sleep, and fasting wak’d.
Up to a hill anon his steps he rear'd,
From whose high top to ken the prospect round,
If cottage were in view, sheep-cote, or herd;
But cottage, herd, or sheep-cote, none he saw;
Only' in a bottom saw a pleasant grove,
With chant of tuneful birds resounding loud:

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