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down from the immense height. The Saviour's answer confounds him. Despairing of reaping the fruit of his infernal labours, and overwhelmed with confusion, he finally leaves the Redeemer, and a bright troop of angels descends and ministers to him.

Having noticed so particularly the beauties of this admirable Poem, we proceed impartially to point out its defects. They are glaring and unpardonable in a Christian Poet, whose fable or plot is necessarily borrowed from divine revelation, which will not bear elision or distortion, much less contradiction. They are of two kinds:-a defect of action, and of sentiment. If the Author had entitled his performance "The Temptation of Christ," the action of the Poem as it stands at present would have been complete. But as he proposes to sing

Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,

we have a right to expect a celebration of all those acts of almighty love and power by which the work was accomplished. That Paradise was regained, and human redemption effected, by the single act of our Saviour's temptation in the wilderness, is in open contradiction to the Sacred Scriptures. They plainly declare that he saved us by his obedience unto death: that his temptation was initiatory to his glorious Priesthood, and but a portion of the hardness which it became him to endure, who, as the Captain of our salvation, was perfected through sufferings. It was indeed the first of a grand series of victories over our spiritual enemies, but

He triumph'd when he fell!

What a theme would the life, the discourses, the miracles of Jesus have afforded for such a pen as Milton's! But the closing scene, the tragedy of Calvary, might furnish the matter of an angel's song. The imagination of men ever since they were placed on the earth have made wide excursions in search of objects which should fully employ and satisfy their exquisite powers:-they have created delight'ul fictions, and because the plain and usual event of human life are too common and uninteresting, they have brought the gods themselves from heaven to enliven the scene, and painted in glowing colours the benevolent manners and wonderful exploits of their condescending and social divinities. But, O what a field is here! The imagination may rove in these realities, and lose itself in wonders. The sober judgment has no vagaries to reprove or condemn, for here excess is impossible. All that the mind of man could conceive is beggared and shamed by the reality. A more extended action, therefore, was necessary for doing justice to the subject, and affording full scope for the unrivalled powers of the Poet.

The Poem is also chargeable with a defect of sentiment, or deviation from a capital doctrine of inspiration.

Amicus Miltonus, sed magis amica veritas.

Poetical license does not extend to the violation of divine truth. The proper Divinity of the Eternal Son, so unequivocally revealed in the Holy Scriptures, is kept entirely out of sight. Thus the Poet has injured himself no less than in excluding the scene of the crucifixion from the action of his Poem. He has torn the sun from the firmament; and, as when that luminary retires from the world every object loses its colour and beauty, so the absence of this stupendous doctrine casts a gloom over his work, and occasions incongruities which would disgrace an author far below the rank of Milton. He has thus deprived himself of a principle equal in energy to the famous one so well known to the ancients, and hinted at in the following precept of Horace.

Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus Inciderit.

But we hasten through this part of our subject.We have no pleasure in exposing the defects of this Samson among poets; it is like uncovering the nakedness of a father.

To conclude our observations,-there is no opportunity here for the introduction of the splendid machinery which dazzles and delights us in Paradise Lost. There the Poet had

Ample room and verge enough.

He was relating events which could not possibly, in some cases, fall within the limits of human observation. He could launch out into infinite space, visit unknown regions, and converse with intelligencies, whose nature, whose habits and powers are so interesting, that the bare mention of their name opens the ear of curiosity, and prepares it for a feast of delight. The reverence and sympathy of man for those elder parts of the creation are powerfully excited by obscure hints and notices of their operations in the Holy Scriptures. He is led to consider them as his guardians, his monitors, and his future companions in the world of bliss. Paradise Lost had anticipated what of this nature would have given lustre and interest to this performance, but whatever could embellish it as far as it goes, has been employed. The display of the Poet's geographical and mythological learning is truly surprising. Indeed, when we consider the difficulties he had to encounter in supplying so dignified a Hero as the Son of the Most High God with proper sentiments, and in giving variety to a long Poem, consisting almost wholly of dialogue, we cannot hesitate to pronounce it one of the most noble productions of the human mind.



I WHO erewhile the happy garden sung,
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried

Through all temptation, and the Tempter foil'd 5
In all his wiles, defeated and repuls'd,
And Eden rais'd in the waste wilderness.

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Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried Repentance and heaven's kingdom high at hand 20 To all baptiz'd: to his great baptism flock'd With awe the regions round, and with them came From Nazareth the son of Joseph deem'd To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure, Unmark'd, unknown; but him the Baptist soon 25 Descried, divinely warn'd, and witness bore As to his worthier, and would have resign'd To him his heavenly office; nor was long His witness unconfirm'd: on him baptiz'd Heaven open'd, and in likeness of a dove The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice From heaven pronounc'd him his beloved Son. That heard the adversary, who roving still About the world, at that assembly fam'd Would not be last, and with the voice divine Nigh thunder-struck, th' exalted Man, to whom Such high attest was given, awhile survey'd With wonder; then with envy fraught and rage Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid-air To council summons all his mighty peers, Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involv'd, A gloomy consistory; and them amidst With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake:

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All virtue, grace, and wisdom, to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
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 heaven, that whom he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
The prophet do him reverence, on him rising
Out of the water, heaven above the clouds.
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant,
And out of heaven the Sov'reign voice I heard,
This is my Son, belov'd, in him am pleas'd.
His mother then is mortal, but his sire
He who obtains the monarchy of heaven,
And what will he not do t' advance his Son?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep; 90
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
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,
But must with something sudden be oppos'd,
Not force, but well couch'd fraud, well woven


Ere in the head of nations he appear


Their king, their leader, and supreme on earth. I, when no other durst, sole undertook


The dismal expedition to find out

And ruin Adam, and th' exploit perform'd Successfully; a calmer voyage now

"O ancient powers of air and this wide world, For much more willingly I mention air, 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

Will waft me: and the way found prosp'rous once Induces best to hope of like success."




Upon my head: long the decrees of heaven


Delay, for longest time to him is short:

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

He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement to the 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 enterprise 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



120 | All righteous things: therefore above my years,
The law of God I read, and found it sweet,
Made it my whole delight, and in it grew
To such perfection, that ere yet my age

His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles,
Where he might likeliest find this new declar'd,
This Man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to subvert whom he suspected rais'd
To end his reign on earth, so long enjoy'd;
But contrary, unweeting he fulfill'd
The purpos'd counsel pre-ordain'd and fix'd
Of the Most High, who in full frequence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake :

"Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold, Thou and all angels conversant on earth With man or men's affairs, how I begin fo verify that solemn message late,



135 [be

On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a Son
Great in renown, and call'd the Son of God;
Then told'st her doubting how these things could
To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest
O'er-shadow her; this Man born, and now up-

Had measur'd twice six years, at our great feast 210
I went into the temple, there to hear
The teachers of our law, and to propose

What might improve my knowledge or their own;
And was admir'd by all: yet this not all


To which my spirit aspir'd: victorious deeds 215
Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while
To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke,
Then to subdue and quell o'er all the earth
Brute violence and proud tyrannic power,
Till truth were freed, and equity restor'd:
Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first,
By winning words, to conquer willing hearts,
And make Persuasion do the work of Fear;
At least to try, and teach the erring soul
Not wilfully mis-doing but unware
Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiv-



To show him worthy of his birth divine
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan; let him tempt and now assay
His utmost subtilty, because he boasts
And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng
Of his apostasy; he might have learnt
Less overweening since he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a Man
Of female seed, far abler to resist
All his solicitations, and at length



By words at times cast forth, inly rejoic'd,
And said to me apart,-"High are thy thoughts,
O Son, but nourish them, and let them scar
To what height sacred virtue and true worth
Can raise them, th ugh above example high;
By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
For know, thou art no son of mortal man ;
Though men esteem thee low of parentage,
Thy Father is th' eternal King who rules
All heaven and earth, angels and sons of men;
A messenger from God foretold thy birth
Conceiv'd in me a virgin; he foretold



All his vast force, and drive him back to hell,
Winning by conquest what the first man lost,
By fallacy surpris'd. But first I mean
To exercise him in the wilderness;
There shall he first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance;
His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength,
And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
That all the angels and ethereal powers,
They now, and men hereafter, may discern
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect Man, by merit call'd my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men."

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Of angels in the fields of Bethlehem sung




To shepherds watching at their folds by night,
And told them the Messiah now was born,
Where they might see him, and to thee they came,
Directed to the manger where thou lay'st,
For in the inn was left no better room;
A star, not seen before, in heaven appearing,
Guided the wise men thither from the east,
To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold,
By whose bright course led on they found the place,
Affirming it thy star new graven in heaven,
By which they knew the King of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna warn'd
By vision, found thee in the temple, and spake,
Before the altar and the vested priest,
Like things of thee to all that present stood.-
This having heard, straight I again revolv'd
The law and prophets, searching what was writ
Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes




So spake th' eternal Father, and all heaven Admiring stood a space, then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures mov'd Circling the throne and singing, while the hand Sung with the voice, and this the argument:

"Vict'ry and triumph to the Son of God Now ent'ring his great duel, not of arms, But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles. The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untried, Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce, Allure, or terrify, or undermine. Be frustrate all ye stratagems of hell, And devilish machinations come to nought."

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Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake
I am; this chiefly, that my way must lie
Through many a hard assay, e'en to the death,
Ere I the promis'd kingdom can attain,
Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins
Full weight must be transferr'd upon my head.
Yet neither thus dishearten'd or dismay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited, when behold
The Baptist (of whose birth I oft have heard, 270
Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come
Before Messiah, and his way prepare.

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So they in heaven their odes and vigils tun'd:
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days
Lodg'd in Bethabara, where John baptiz'd,
Musing and much revolving in his breast,
How best the mighty work he might begin
Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first
Publish his godlike office now mature,
One day forth walk'd alone, the Spirit leading,
And his deep thoughts, the better to converse 190
With Solitude, till far from track of men,
Thought following thought, and step by step led on,
He enter'd now the bordering desert wild,
And with dark shades and rocks environ'd round,
His holy meditations thus pursu'd :

"O what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awaken'd in me swarm, while I consider
What from within I feel myself, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill sorting with my present state compar'd!
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing: all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do
What might be public good: myself I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth,



Me him, (for it was shown him so from heaven,)
Me him, whose harbinger he was; and first
Refus'd on me his baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won:
But as I rose out of the laving stream,
Heaven open'd her eternal doors, from whence
The Spirit descended on me like a dove,
And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from heaven, pronounc'd me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone
He was well pleas'd; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes

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And, looking round on every side, beheld
A pathless desert dusk with horrid shades:
The way he came not having mark'd, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he pass'd, whether on hill
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some ancient oak,
Or cedar to defend him from the dew,
Or harbour'd in lone cave, is not reveal'd;


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Or virtuous; I should have so lost all sense.
What can be then less in me than desire
To see thee and approach thee, whom I know
Declar'd the Son of God, to hear attent
Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds?
Men generally think me much




To all mankind: why should I? they to me
Never did wrong or violence: by them
I lost not what I lost; rather by them




Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt
Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last
Among wild beasts; they at his sight grew mild,
Nor sleeping him nor waking harm'd; his walk
The fiery serpent fled, and noxious worm;
The lion and fierce tiger glar'd aloof.
But now an aged man, in rural weeds,
Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray ewe,
Or wither'd sticks to gather, which might serve
Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen,
To warm him, wet return'd from field at eve,
He saw approach, who first with curious eye 319
Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake :

"Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this
So far from path or road of men, who pass [place
In troop or caravan? for single none
Durst ever, who return'd, and dropp'd not here
His carcass, pin'd with hunger and with drouth.
I ask thee rather, and the more admire.
For that to me thou seem'st the Man whom late
Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford
Of Jordan honour'd so, and call'd thee Son


Of God. 1 saw and heard; for we sometimes, 330 Who dwell this wild, constrain'd by want come forth

To town or village nigh, (nighest is far,)
Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new: Fame also finds us out."

To whom the Son of God: "Who brought me hither, 335

Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek."


"By miracle he may," replied the swain; "What other way I see not; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inur'd More than the camel, and to drink go far, Men to much misery and hardship born; But if thou be the Son of God, cominand That out of these hard stones be made thee bread, So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste." 345

He ended, and the Son of God replied: "Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written

(For I discern thee other than thou seem'st)
Man lives not by bread only, but each word
Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed 350
Our fathers here with manna? In the mount
Moses was forty days, nor ate nor drank;
And forty days Elijah without food
Wander'd this barren waste; the same I now:
Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?"


Whom thus answer'd th' arch-fiend now undisguis'd:


I gain'd what I have gain'd, and with them dwell
Copartner in these regions of the world,
If not disposer; lend them oft my aid,
Oft my advice, by presages and signs,
And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams,
Whereby they may direct their future life.
Envy they say excites me, thus to gain
Companions of my misery and wo,
At first it may be; but long since with wo
Nearer acquainted, now I feel, by proof,
That fellowship in pain divides not smart,
Nor lightens ought each man's peculiar load.
Small consolation then, were man adjoin'd: [man,
This wounds me most, (what can it less?) that
Man fallen shall be restor'd, I never more."



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To all the host of heaven; the happy place
Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy,
Rather inflames thy torment, representing
Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable,
So never more in hell than when in heaven.
But thou art serviceable to heaven's King.
Wilt thou impute t' obedience what thy fear
Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites?
What but thy malice mov'd thee to misdeem
Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him
With all inflictions? but his patience won.
The other service was thy chosen task,
To be a liar in four hundred mouths;
For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou pretend'st to truth; all oracles
By thee are given, and what confess'd mor: true
Among the nations? that hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy answers, what but dark,
Ambiguous, and with double sepse delu ting, 435
Which they who ask'd have seldom unierstood,
And not well understood as good not known?
Whoever by consulting at thy shrine
Return'd the wiser, or the more instruct
To fly or follow what concern'd him most,
And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
For God hath justly given the nations up
To thy delusions; justly, since they fell
Idolatrous: but when his purpose is
Among them to declare his providence
To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy



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But from him, or his angels president
In every province? who themselves disdaining
T'approach thy temples, give thee in command
What to the smallest tittle thou shalt say
To thy adorers; thou, with trembling fear,
Or, like a fawning parasite obeyst;
Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrench'd;
No more shalt thou by oracle abuse
The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceas'd,
And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice
Shalt be inquir'd at Delphos or elsewhere;
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his Living Oracle
Into the world to teach his final will,
And sends his Spirit of Truth henceforth to dw'
In pious hearts, an inward oracle





"Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, And urg'd me hard with doings, which not will But misery hath wrested from me: where Easily canst thou find one miserable, And not enforc'd oft-times to part from truth; If it may stand him more in stead to lie, Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure? But thou art plac'd above me, thou art Lord; From thee I can and must submiss endure Check or reproof, and glad to 'scape so quit. Hard are the ways of Truth, and rough to walk, Smooth on the tongue discours'd, pleasing to th' And tunable as sylvan pipe or song; What wonder then if I delight to hear


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He added not; and Satan, bowing low His gray dissimulation, disappear'd,

Her dictates from thy mouth? Most men admire
Virtue, who follow not her lore: permit me
To hear thee when I come (since no man comes)
And talk at least, though I despair t' attain.
Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure,


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