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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 rul’d
In manner at our will th' affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise deceiv'd by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head : long the decrees of heav'n
Delay, for longest time to him is short ;

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45. air

always so. Why any interval This our old conquest,]

should ever occur between the -through the air

decrees of the Almighty and his The realm itself of Satan long execution of them, a reason is usurp'd; Par. Lost, X. 188. immediately subjoined, which

forms a peculiarly fine transition 53. -attending] That is, wait to the succeeding sentence. ing, expecting ; from the French Time is as nothing to the Deity; attendre.

long and short having in fact Or in their pearly shells at ease no existence to a Being with attend

whom all duration is present. Moist nutriment. Par. Lost, vii. 407. Time to human beings has its

and patiently attend stated measurement, and by this My dissolution. Ibid. xi. 551. Satan had just before estimated Milton frequently makes use of it; Gallicisms. Thus he has defend, How many ages, as the years of men, in this poem, in the sense of This universe we have possess'd. forbid, from the French defendre; -no interdict

Time to guilty beings, human Defends the touching of these viands or spiritual, passes so quick, that

ii. 370, the hour of punishment, howAnd in Par. Lost, xi. 86. he ever protracted, always comes

too soon, terms the forbidden fruit “ that defended fruit." Dunster.

And now, too soon for us, the circling

hours 55. -long the decrees of heav'n

This dreaded time have compass'd, Delay, for longest time to him

wherein we is shart;]

Must bide the stroke of that longThat is, the decrees of heaven threaten'd wounde are sometimes long delayed, not

Dunster.

pure,

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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 infring'd, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air ;
For this ill news I bring, the woman's seed
Destin'd to this, is late of woman born:

65
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flow'r, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim

70 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 baptiz'd, Not thence to be more pure, but to receive The testimony of heav'n, that who he is Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw The prophet do him reverence, on him rising 80

15

57. -the circling hours] Mil- to lead the choral dance. The ton seems fond of this expres circling hours then are the same sion. See Par. Lost, vj. 3. vii. with “ the hours in dance.” 342. And so Virgil, Georg. ii. Par. Lost. iv. 266. Dunster. 402.

74. Purified to receive him -redit labor actus in orbem, pure,] Alluding to the ScripAtque in se sua per vestigia volvitur ture expression 1 John iii. 3. annus,

And every man that hath this hope Kuxata to circle, as used by the in him, purifeth himself even as Greek poets, sometimes signifies he is pure.

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Out of the water, heav'n above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant,
And out of heav'n the sovereign voice I heard,
This is my Son belov’d, in him am pleas’d. i
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 ?
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

83. A perfect dove descend,] others among the ancients, and He had expressed it before ver. Beza and others among the 30. in likeness of a dove, agree- 'inoderns, who believed that the ably to St. Matthew, the Spirit Devil, though he might koow of God descending like a dove, Jesus to be some extraordinary iii. 16. and to St. Mark, the person, yet knew him not to be Spirit like a dove descending upon the Messiah, the Son of God: him, i. 10. But as Luke says, and the words of the Devil, If that the Holy Ghost descended in thou be the Son of God, seem to a bodily shape, iii. 22. the poet express his uncertainty concernsupposes with Tertullian, Austin, ing that matter. The devils inand others of the fathers, that deed afterwards knew him, and it was a real dove, as the painters proclaimed him to be the Son of always represent it.

God, but they might not know 87. He who obtains the mo- him to be so at this time, before narchy of heaven: Obtains is this temptation, or before he in the sense of oblineo in Latin; had entered upon his public to hold, retain, or govern. Dun- ministry, and manifested himself ster.

by his miracles. And our au89. —and sore have felt, thor, who makes the Devil to When his fierce thunder drove hear the voice from heaven, This us to the deep :)

is my beloved Son, still makes In reference to the sublime de- him doubt in what sense Jesus scription, in the Par. Lost, vi. was so called. See iv. 514. 834-866, of the Messiah driving the rebel angels out of heaven. Thenceforth I thought thee worth Dunster.

my nearer view, 91. Who this is we must learn,]

And narrower scrutiny, that I might

learn Our author favours the opinion In what degree or meaning thou art of those writers, Ignatius and

called

100

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,

95
But must with something sudden be oppos’d,
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

100 The dismal expedition to find out And ruin Adam, and th' exploit perform'd Successfully; a calmer voyage now Will waft me; and the way found prosp'rous once Induces best to hope of like success.

105 He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement to th' infernal crew, Distracted and surpris’d 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 enterprize

The Son of God, which bears no'

-Sir, it is single sense ; gc.

A charge too heavy for my strength;

but yet 91. It was requisite for the We'll strive to bear it for your poet to assume this opinion, as worthy sake, it is a necessary hinge on which To th' extreme edge of hazard. part of the poem turns. Dun. 94. See the notes, Par. Lost,

i. 276. E. 94. Ye see our danger on the 97. -well woven snares,] utmost edge

-fraus innexa clienti; Of hazard,]

Virg. n. vi. 670. An expression borrowed from . docilis fallendi, et nectare tectos Shakespeare, All's Well that Arte dolos ; Silius Italicus, iii. 233. ends Well, act iii. sc. 5.

Dunster.

ster.

115

To him their great dictator, whose attempt
At first against mankind so well had thriv'd
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,

120

113. To him their great dicta- danger and difficulty as in his tor,] Milton applies this title first expedition to ruin mankind. very properly to Satan in his It is said in reference to what present situation, as the autho. be had spoken before, rity he is now vested with is

I, when no other durst, sole underquite dictatorial, and the expe

took dition on which he is going of The dismal expedition to find out the utmost consequence to the And ruin Adamfallen angels. Thyer.

-a calmer voyage now

Will waft me ge. 116. Hell's deep-vaulted den] In the Par. Lost there are some Girded with snaky wiles, alluding similar descriptions of hell to the habit of sorcerers and ne

- the fiery concave. ii. 635. cromancers, who are represented Hovering on wing under the cope of

in some prints as girded about hell.

i. 345.' the middle with the skins of -the torrid clime

snakes and serpents; a cincture Smote on him sore besides, vaulted totally opposite to that recomwith fire.

i. 297. mended by the Apostle, Eph. vi. Dunster.

14. having your loins girt about 119. So to the coast of Jordan with truth; and worn by our he directs

Saviour, Isa. xi. 5. And righteousHis easy steps, girded with ness shall be the girdle of his loins, snaky wiles,]

and faithfulness the girdle of his For as Lightfoot observes, vol. reins. ii. p. 299. the wilderness, where 120. --girded with snaky wiles,] our Saviour underwent his forty The imagery very fine, and the days' temptation, was on the circumstances extremely proper. same bank of Jordan where the Satan is here figured engaging baptism of John was, St. Luke on a great expedition, succinct, witnessing it, that Jesus being and his habit girt about him now baptized UTEOTARVE ato TOU with a girdle of snakes; which Topdarov, returned from Jordan, puts us in mind of the instrunamely from the same tract, ment of the fall. Warburton. whereby lie came thither. His But girded here is used only easy steps, for here was not that in a metaphorical sense, as in

VOL. III.

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