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The perfect season offer'd with my aid
So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on
Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm,
To whom the fiend, now swoln with rage, replied:
All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought
So saying, he caught him up, and, without wing
There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
To whom thus Jesus: Also it is written,
561. He said and stood. The tempter | He said, that is, he gave this reason for sets our Saviour on a pinnacle of the not casting himself down, and stood. His temple, and there requires of him a standing properly makes the discovery, proof of his divinity, either by Etanding and is the principal proof of his progeny or casting himself down, as he might that the Tempter required. Now shoro safely do if he was the Son of God, accord- thy progeny. His standing convinces S& ing to the quotation from the Pralmist. tan. Hlis standing is considered as the To this our Saviour answers, as he an- display of his divinity, and the immeswers in the Gospe's.-“It is written diate cause of Satan's fall; and the grand again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord contrast is formed between the standing thy God,” tacitly inferring that his casting of the one, and the fall of the other. – himself down would be tempting God. NEWTON.
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell.
True image of the Father; whether throned
564. Irassa or Iresus, a beautiful coun- as pleased with its burden: a beautiful try of Libya, not far from Cyrene. figure. 565. Jove's Alcides : Hercules.
596. True image, &c. All the poems 572. Theban monster: The Sphinx, that ever were written must yield, even whose riddle Edipus solved; whereupon Paradise Lost must yield to the Regained, she cast herself headlong from the citar in the grandeur of its close. Christ stands del of Thebes termed the Ismenian triumphant on the pointed eminence. sleep, from the Ismenus, which ran by The Demon falls with amazement and Thebes.
terrour, on this full proof of His being 583. Him, according to the common that very Son of God whose thunder construction of language, certainly must forced him out of Heaven. The blessed refer to Satan, the person last mentioned. Angels receive new knowledge. They The intended sense of this passage can- behold a sublime truth established, which not indeed be misunderstood; but we was a secret to them at the beginning of grieve to find any inaccuracy in a part the temptation, and the great discovery of the poem so eminently beautiful.- gives a proper opening to their hymn on DUNSTER.
the victory of Christ and the defeat of 585. Blithe air: Glad, merry, cheerful,' the Tempter.-COLTON.
Wandering the wilderness; whatever place,
Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek,
619. Autumnal stars, and Sirius in par of the bottomless pit (Rev. ix. 11) is here ticular, were supposed to produce mis- applied to the bottomless pit itself. chief to mankind. Lightning: see Luke 629. Yelling, &c. See Matt. viii. 28, and X. 18.
Rev. xx. 1, 2, 3. 624. Abaddon. The name of the angel 605. Debel, defeat.
It has been observed of almost all the great epic poems, that they fall off, and become languid, in the conclusion. This last book of the ** Paradise Regained" is one of the finest conclusions of a poem, that can be produced. They who talk of our author's genius being in the decling when he wrote his second poem, and who therefore turn from it, as from a dry prosaic composition, are, I will venture to say, no judges of poetry. With a fancy such as Milton's, it must have been more difficult to forbear poetic decorations, than to furnish them; and a glaring profusion of ornament would, I conceive, have more decidedly betrayed the poeta senescens, than a want of it. The first book of the “Paradise Lost" abounds in similies, and is, in other respects, as elevated and sublime as any in the whole poem: but here the poet's plan was totally different. Though it may be said of the “Paradise Regained,” as Longinus has said of the “Odyssey,” that it is the epilogue of the preceding poem; still the design and conduct of it is as different as that of the “Georgics" from the “Æneid.” The “Paradise Regained" has something of the didactic character: it teaches not merely by the general moral, and by the character and conduct of its hero; but has also many positive precepts everywhere interspersed. It is written for the most part in a style admirably condensed, and with a studied reserve of ornament: it is nevertheless illuminated with beauties of the most captivating kind. Its leading feature throughout is that “excellence of composition," which, as Lord Monboddo justly observes, so eminently distinguished the writings of the ancients; and in which, of all modern authors, Milton most resembles them.
At the commencement of this book the argument of the poem is considerably advanced. Satan appears hopeless of success, but still persisting in his enterprise: the desperate folly and vain pertinacity of this conduct are perfectly well exemplified and illustrated by three apposite similies, each successively rising in beauty above the other. The business of the temptation being thus resumed, the tempter takes our Lord to the western side of the mountain, and shows to hiin Italy, the situation of which the poet marks with singular accuracy; and, having traced the Tiber from its source in the Apennines to Rome, he briefly enumerates the most conspicuous objects that may be supposed at first to strike the eye on a distant view of this celebrated city. Satan now becomes the speaker; and, in an admirably descriptive speech, points out more particularly the magnificent public and private buildings of ancient Rome, descanting on the splendour and power of its state, which he particularly exemplifies in the superb pomp with which their provincial magistrates proceed to their respective governments; and in the numerous ambassadors that arrive from every quarter of the habitable globe, to solicit the protection of Rome and the emperor. These are two pictures of the most highly finished kind: the numerous figures are in motion before us; wo absolutely see
Prætors, proconsuls to their provinces
Legions and cohorts, &c. Having observed that such a power as this of Rome must reasonably be preferred to that of the Parthians, which he had displayed in the preceding book, and that there were no other powers worth our Lord's attention; the tempter now begins to apply all this to his purpose : by a strongly drawn description of the vicious and detestable character of Tiberius, he shows how easy it would be to expel him, to take possession of his throne, and to free the Roman people from that slavery in which they were then held. This he proffers to accomplish for our Lord, whom he incites to accept the offer, not only from a principle of ambition, but
* “ The poet growing old."