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

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, beguil'd the heart
Of wisest Solomon, and made him build, 171
And made him bow to the gods of his wives.

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

All others by thyself; because of old
Thou thyself doat'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 full
Of 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 des're? or should she confident,
As sitting queen ador'd on Beauty's throne,
Descend with all her winning charms begirt,
T' enamour, as the rone 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 plumct
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
If 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
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

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 horney beaks.
Food to Elijah bringing ev'n and morn, 368
Tho' rav'nous, 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 sufhe'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 tow'ring to descry 289
The Morn's approach, and greet her with his song
As lightly from his grassy couch uprose
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 chaunt of tuneful birds resounding loud; 290
Thither hi bent hit way, determin'd there

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