Page images

His end on being on earth, and mission high :
For Satan with sly preface to return
Had left him vacant, and with speed was gone
Up to the middle region of thick air,
Where all his potentates in counsil sat:
There without sign of boast, or sign of joy,
Solicitous and blank he thus began.

Princes, Heav'ns ancient Sons, etherial Thrones,
Demonian Spirits now, from th' element
Each of his reign allotted, rightlier call'd
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;
1, as I undertook, and with the vote
Consenting in full frequence was impower'd, 130
Have found him, view'd him, tasted him, but find
Far other labor to be undergone
Than when I dealt with Adam first of men,
Though Adam by his wife's allurement fell,
However to this Mau inferior far,
If he be man by mother's side at least,
With more than human gifts from Heav'n adorn'd,
Perfections absolute, graces divine,
And amplitude of mind to greatest deeds ;
Therefore I am return'd, lest confidence 140
Of my success with Eve in Paradise
Deceive ye to persuasion over-sure
Of like succeeding here ; I summon all

[ocr errors]

Rather to be in readiness, with hand
Or council to assist : lest I who erst
Thought none my equal, now be over-match’d.

So spake th' old Serpent doubting, and from a.
With clamour was assur'd their utmost aid
At his command; when from amidst them rose
Belial, the dissolutest spi'rit that fell, 15
The sensualest, and after Asmodai
The fleshliest incubus, and thus advis'd.

Set women 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, Expert in amorous arts, enchanting tongues Persuasive, virgin majesty with mild And sweet allay'd, yet terrible to approach, 16 Skill'd to retire, and in retiring draw Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets. Such object hath the pow'r to soften and tame Severest temper, smooth the rugg’dst brow Enerve, and with voluptuous hope, disolve, 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, 17 And made him bow to the gods of his wives.

To whom quick answer, Saran thus return'd: Belial, in much uneven scale thou weighst

All others by thyself; because of old
Thou thyself doar’dst on woman kind, admiring
Their shape, their colour, and attractive grace,
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 180
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 way-lay,
Some beauty rare, Calisto, Clymene,
Daphne, or Semele, Antiopa,
Or Amymone, Syrinx, many more.
Too long, thou lay'st thy scapes on names ador'd,
Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan,

190 Satir, or Faun, or Sylvan? But these haunts 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, of 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, 200 For Solomon, he liv'd at ease, and fullOf Honour, wealth, high fair’d, 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 th' 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 210
Of fond desire? or should she confident,
As sitting queen ador'd on Beauty's throne,
Descend with all her winning charms begirt,
T'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 top of Virtue's hill,
Discountenance her despis'd, and put to rout
All her array; her female pride deject,
Or turn to reverent awe; for Beauty stands 220
In th' 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 :
Therefore with manlier objects we must try
His constancy, with such as have more show
Of worth, of honor, 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; 230
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; 240
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 hung'ring first, and to himself thus said,
Where will this end ? four times ten days I've

pass'd Wand'ring 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 250 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, And from the sting of famine fear no harm, Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts that feed, Me hung’ring more to do my Father's will.

It was the hour of night, when thus the Son 260 Commun'd in silent walk, then laid him down

« PreviousContinue »