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I, WHO erewhile the happy garden sung
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried
Through all temptation, and the tempter foil'd
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste wilderness.

Thou Spirit, who ledst this glorious eremite
Into the desert, his victorious field,
Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute;
And bear, through highth or depth of Nature's bounds,
With prosperous wing full summ'd, to tell of deeds
Above heroick, though in secret done,
And unrecorded left through many an age;
Worthy to have not remain'd so long unsung.

Now had the great proclaimer, with a voice
More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried
Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand
To all baptized: to his great baptism flock'd
With awe the regions round, and with them came
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deem'd
To the flood Jordan; came, as then obscure,
Unmark'd, unknown; but him the Baptist soon
Descried, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resign'd
To him his heavenly office; nor was long
His witness unconfirm'd: on him baptized
Heaven open'd, and in likeness of a dove
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.
That heard the adversary, who, roving still
About the world, at that assembly famed
Would not be last; and, with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man, to whom
Such high attest was given, awhile survey'd
With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage,
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory: and them amidst,
With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:

2. See Rom. v. 19.

8. This invocation is so supremely beautiful, that it is hardly possible to give the preference even to that in the opening of the Paradise Lost. This has the merit of more conciseness.-DUNSTER.

11. Inspire, &c. See the very fine opening in the ninth book of Paradise Lost, and also his invocation of Urania, at the beginning of the seventh book. See also

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his presentiment that he would undertake something like these two greatpoems, in his "Reasons of Church Government urged against Prelacy," quoted in the "Compendium of English Literature," page 265.

14. Full summ'd. See note on Paradise Lost, vii. 421.

26. Divinely warned. See John i. 33. 42. Omsistory. By this word I suppose Milton intends to glance at the meeting

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O ancient powers of air, and this wide world;
(For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember hell,
Our hated habitation,) well ye know,
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possess'd, and ruled,
In manner at our will, the affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me; though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed ef Eve
Upon my head. Long the decrees of Heaven
Delay, for longest time to him is short;

And now, too soon for us, the circling hours
This dreaded time have compass'd, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long-threaten'd wound,
At least, if so we can; and, by the head
Broken, be not intended all our power
To be infringed, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air:
For this ill news I bring; the woman's Seed,
Destined to this, is late of woman born:
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause;
But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them, so
Purified, to receive him pure; or rather
To do him honour as their King: all come,
And he himself among them was baptized;
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
The prophet do him reverence; on him, rising
Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, (whate’er it meant)
And out of Heaven the sovran voice I heard,—
This is my Son beloved,-in him am pleased.
His mother then is mortal, but his Sire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven:
And what will he not do to advance his Son?

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may read the first two speeches in it; this of Satan with which the book judiciously opens; and that of God, at verse 130 of this book.-I. WHARTON.

53. Attending, that is, waiting, expecting.

87. Obtains in the sense of the Latin obtineo, to hold, retain, or govern.

His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep.
Who this is we must learn; for man he seems
In all his lineaments; though in his face
The glimpses of his Father's glory shine.
Ye see our danger on the utmost edge

Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be opposed,
(Not force, but well-couch'd fraud, well-woven snares,)
Ere in the head of nations he appear,

Their king, their leader, and supreme on earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook

The dismal expedition, to find out
And ruin Adam; and the exploit perform'd
Successfully: a calmer voyage now

Will waft me; and the way, found prosperous once,
Induces best to hope of like success.

He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to the infernal crew,
Distracted and surprised with deep dismay
At these sad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief:
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprise
To him, their great dictator, whose attempt
At first against mankind so well had thrived
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march
From hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light,
Regents, and potentates, and kings, yea, gods,
Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs
His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,
Where he might likeliest find this new-declared,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to subvert whom he suspected rais'd
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoy'd:
But, contrary, unweeting he fulfill'd
The purposed counsel, pre-ordain'd and fix'd,
Of the Most High; who, in full frequence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake:

97. Well-couch'd, that is, fraud couching closely down like a tiger, ready to spring upon its prey: a most expressive epithet.

100. When no other durst. The fear and unwillingness of the other of the fallen angels to undertake this dismal expedition is particularly described in Paradise Lost, ii. 420.-DUNSTER.

119. Coast of Jordan. The wilderness where our Saviour underwent his forty days' temptation, was on the same

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89 and 90. See Par. Lost, vi. 834, &c., | bank of Jordan where John was bapfor the account of the Messiah's driving the rebel angels out of Heaven.

tized.

120. Girded with snaky wiles. Though this phrase may allude to the habits of sorcerers and necromancers who were represented in prints as girded about the middle with the skins of serpents; yet, as Dunster says, it rather is used here in a metaphorical sense, as the Christian is described in the "Ephesians," as having his "loins girt about with truth." So in the beginning of the third book of this poem Satan is described, as

"At length collecting all his serpent wiles.”

Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold,
Thou and all angels conversant on earth
With man or men's affairs, how I begin
To verify that solemn message, late
On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a son,
Great in renown, and call'd the Son of God;
Then told'st her, doubting how these things could be
To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest
O'ershadow her. This man, born and now upgrown,
To show him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan: let him tempt, and now assay
His utmost subtlety; because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
Of his apostasy: he might have learnt
Less overweening, since he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man,
Of female seed, far abler to resist

All his solicitations, and at length

All his vast force, and drive him back to hell;
Winning, by conquest, what the first man lost,
By fallacy surprised. But first I mean
To exercise him in the wilderness:
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance:
His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
That all the angels and ethereal powers,
They now, and men hereafter, may discern,
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect man, by merit call'd my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men.

So spake the Eternal Father, and all heaven
Admiring stood a space; then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved,

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mighty in the other. Satan expresses his diffidence, but still resolves to make trial of this Son of God; the Father declares his purpose of proving and illustrating his Son. The infernal crew are distracted and surprised with deep dismay; all Heaven stands awhile in admiration. The fiends are silent through fear and grief; the Angels burst forth into sing ing with joy and the assured hopes of success. And their attention is thus en

137. Told'st; this is, thou told'st. 146. Apostasy, for apostates, the abstract for the concrete: this alludes to his boasting of his having "ruined Adam," line 102.

262. O'ercome all the world, John xvi. 33. 168. All Heaven admiring stood. We cannot but notice the great art of the poet, in setting forth the dignity and importance of his subject. He represents all beings as interested one way or other in the event. A council of Devils is sum-gaged, the better to engage the atten. moned: an assembly of Angels is held. tion of the reader.-NEWTON. Satan is the speaker in the one, the Al

Circling the throne and singing, while the hand
Sung with the voice, and this the argument:

Victory and triumph to the Son of God,
Now entering his great duel, not of arms,
But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles!
The Father knows the Son; therefore secure
Ventures his filial virtue, though untried,
Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of hell;
And, devilish machinations, come to naught!

first

So they in heaven their odes and vigils tuned:
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodged in Bethabara, where John haptized,
Musing, and much revolving in his breast,
How best the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way
Publish his godlike office now mature,
One day forth walk'd alone, the Spirit leading,
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse
With solitude, till, far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He enter'd now the bordering desert wild;
And, with dark shades and rocks environ'd round,
His holy meditations thus pursued:

O, what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awaken'd in me swarm, while I consider
What from within I feel myself, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill sorting with my present state compared!
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do,
What might be public good; myself I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth,
All righteous things: therefore, above my years,
The law of God I read, and found it sweet,
Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
To such perfection, that, ere yet my age
Had measured twice six years, at our great feast
I went into the temple, there to hear
The teachers of our law, and to propose
What might improve my knowledge or their own;
And was admired by all: yet this not all
To which my spirit aspired; victorious deeds

174. Now entering his great duel; that is, now entering the lists to prove, in personal combat with his avowed antagonist, the reality of his divinity.

182. Vigils, the songs which they sung while keeping their watches.

184. Bethabara. John i. 28.
189. One day walk'd forth alone. In

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what a fine light does Milton here place that text of Scripture, where it is said that Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the Wilderness! He adheres strictly to the inspired historian, and at the same time gives it a turn which is extremely poetical.-THYER.

205. To promote all truth. John xviii. 37.

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