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I lost him, but so found, as well I saw
He could not lose himself; but went about
His father's business. What he meant I mus’d,
Since understand. Much more his absence now 100
Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
But I to wait with patience am inur’d;
My heart hath been a store-house long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events.
Thus Mary pond'ring oft, and oft to mind
Recalling what remarkably had pass’d
Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts
Meekly compos'd awaited the fulfilling :
The while her Son, tracing the desert wild,
Sole but with holiest meditations fed,
Into himself descended, and at once
All his great work to come before him set;
How to begin, how to accomplish best
His end of 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 council sat;
There, without sign of boast, or sign of joy,
Solicitous and blank he thus began.
Princes, heaven's ancient sons, ethereal thrones,
Demonian spirits now from the 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 ;
I, as I undertook, and with the vote
Consenting in full frequence was impower'd,
Have found him, view'd him, tasted him, but find
Far other labour to be undergone
Than when I dealt with Adam first of men,
Though Adam by his wife's allurement fell,
However to this man inferior far,
If he be man by mother's side at least,
With more than human gifts from heaven adorn'd,
Perfections absolute, graces divine,
And amplitude of mind to greatest deeds.
Therefore I am return’d, lest confidence
Of my success with Eve in paradise
Deceive ye to persuasion oversure
Of like succeeding here: I summon all
Rather to be in readiness, with hand
Or counsel to assist, lest I, who erst
Thought none my equal, now be overmatch’d.
So spake the old Serpent doubting, and from all
With clamour was assur'd their utmost aid
At his command; when from amidst them rose
Belial, the dissolutest spirit that fell,
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 sairest 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,
Skill'd to retire, and in retiring draw
Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets.
Such object hath the power to soften and tame
Severest temper, smooth the rugged'st brow,
Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve,
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,
And made him bow to the gods of his wives.
To whom quick answer Satan thus return’d. Belial, in much uneven scale thou weigh’st All others by thyself; because of old Thou thy self doat’dst on woman-kind, admiring 175 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, 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, then lay'st thy scapes on names ador’d, Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan, Satyr, or fawn, 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, how 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.
For Solomon, he liv'd at ease, and full
Of honour, wealth, high fare, 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 the 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
Of fond desire ? or should she confident,
As sitting queen ador'd on beauty's throne,
Descend with all her winning charms begirt
To enamour, as the zone of Venus once
Wrought that effect on Jove, so fables tell;
How would one look from his majestick brow,
Seated as on the top of virtue's hill,
Discount’nance her despis'd, and put to rout
All her array ; her female pride deject,
Or turn to reverent awe! for beauty stands'
In the admiration only of weak minds
Led captive. Cease to admire, and all her plumes
Fall flat and shrink into a trivial toy,
204 bait] Spens. F. Q. v. viii. 1.
Beauty's lovely bait.' Dunster. 216 majestick brow] Milton's Prose Works (of Reformation) by Symmons, vol. i. p. 54. •And buy and sell the awful, and majestick wrinkles of her brow.'