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A manger

his ; yet soon enforced to fly Thence into Egypt, till the murderous king Were dead, who sought his life, and, missing, fill'd With infant blood the streets of Bethlehem; From Egypt home return'd, in Nazareth Hath been our dwelling many years; his life Private, unactive, calm, contemplative, Little suspicious to any king ; but now Full grown to man, acknowledged, as I hear, By John the Baptist, and in public shown, Son own'd from heaven by his Father's voice, I look'd for some great change; to honour ? no; But trouble, as old Simeon plain foretold, That to the fall and rising he should be Of many in Israel, and to a sign Spoken against, that through my very soul 90 A sword shall pierce; this is my favour'd lot, My exaltation to afflictions high ! Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blest; I will not argue that, nor will repine. But where delays he now ? some great intent Conceals him: when twelve

years

he scarce had seen,
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 mused,
Since understand ; much more his absence now
Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
But I to wait with patience am inured ;
My heart hath been a storehouse long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events."

Thus Mary, pondering oft, and oft to mind
Recalling what remarkably had pass'd
Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts
Meekly composed awaited the fulfilling:

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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 bim 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 called
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 less
Threatens than our expulsion down to hell;
I, as I undertook, and with the vote
Consenting in full frequence, was empower'd, 130
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

140 Of my success with Eve in Paradise Deceive ye to persuasion over-sure

no

Of like succeeding here; I summon all
Rather to be in readiness, with hand
Or counsel to assist ; lest I, who erst
Thought nóne my equal, now be over-match'd."

So spake the old serpent, doubting; and from al
With clamour was assured their utmost aid
At his command: when from amidst them rose
Belial, the dissolutest spirit that fell,

150 The sensualest, and, after Asmodai, The fleshliest incubus, and thus advised:

“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, 160 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, beguiled the heart Of wisest Solomon, and made him build,

170 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 thyself doat'st on womankind, admiring
Their shape, their colour, and attractive grace,

None are, thou think'st, but taken with such toys.
Before the food, 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 waylay
Some beauty rare, Calisto, Clymene,
Daphne, or Semele, Antiopa,
Or Amymone, Syrinx, many more
Too long, then lay'st thy scapes on names adored,
Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan,

190 Satyr, 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, how all the beauties of the East
He slightly view'd, and slightly overpass'd;
How he, surnamed of Africa, dismiss’d,
In his prime youth, the fair Iberian maid.
For Solomon, he lived 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 exposed :
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

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Of fond desire ? Or should she, confident,
As sitting queen adored 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 majestic brow,
Seated as on the top of virtue's hill,
Discountenance her, despised, 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,
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 honour, 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;

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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 ceased, 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 hungering first, and to himself thus said :

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