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THE ARGUMENT.

Satan having compafs'd the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mift by night into Paradife, enters into the Serpent fleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labors, which Eve propofes to divide in feveral places, each laboring apart: Adam confents not, alledging the danger, left that enemy, of whom they were forewarn'd, fhould attempt her found alone: Eve, loath to be thought not circumfpect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather defirous to make trial of her ftrength; Adam at last yields: The Serpent finds her alone; his fubtle approach, firft gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attain'd to human fpeech and fuch understanding not till now; the Serpent anfwers, that by tafting of a certain tree in the garden he attain'd both to speech and reason, till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowledge forbidden: The Serpent now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat; the pleas'd with the tafte deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not, at last brings him of the fruit, relates what perfuaded her to eat thereof: Adam at first amaz'd, but perceiving her loft, refolves through vehemence of love to perish with her; and extenuating the trefpafs eats alfo of the fruit: The effects thereof in them both; they feek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

PARADISE LOS T.

воок

IX.

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more of talk where God or Angel gueft With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd

To fit indulgent, and with him partake

Rural repaft, permitting him the while

Venial difcourfe unblam'd: I now must change
Thofe notes to tragic; foul diftruft, and breach
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,

And disobedience: on the part of Heaven
Now alienated, distance and distaste,

Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin and her fhadow Death, and Mifery
Death's harbinger: Sad tafk, yet argument
Not lefs but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe purfu'd
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia difefpous'd,
Or Neptune's ire or Juno's, that fo long
Perplex'd the Greek and Cytherea's fon;
If answerable ftile I can obtain
Of my celestial patronefs, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplor'd
Ba

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And

And dictates to me flumb'ring, or infpires

Eafy my unpremeditated verse :

Since first this fubject for heroic fong

Pleas'd me long choofing, and beginning late;

Not fedulous by nature to indite

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Wars, hitherto the only argument

Heroic deem'd, chief maft'ry to diffect

With long and tedious havoc fabled knights
In battels feign'd; the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unfung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields,
Impreffes quaint, caparifons and steeds;
Bafes and tinfel trappings, gorgeous knights
At jouft and torneament; then marshal'd feast
Serv'd up in hall with fewers, and seneshals;
The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To perfon or to poem. Me of these
Nor skill'd nor ftudious, higher argument
Remains, fufficient of itself to raise

That name, unless an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years damp my intended wing
Deprefs'd, and much they may, if all be mine,
Not hers who brings it nightly to my ear.

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The fun was funk, and after him the star Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring

Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter

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"Twixt day and night, and now from end to end Night's hemifphere had veil'd th' horizon round:

When

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