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MEANWHILE the new-baptized, who yet remain'd
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly call'd,
Jesus Messiah, Son of God declared,

And on that high authority had believed,

And with him talk'd, and with him lodged; I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known,

With others, though in holy writ not named;
Now missing him, their joy so lately found
(So lately found, and so abruptly gone),
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
And, as the days increased, increased their doubt.
Sometimes they thought he might be only shown,
And for a time caught up to God, as once
Moses was in the mount and missing long,
And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels
Rode up to heaven, yet once again to come:
Therefore, as those young prophets then with care
Sought lost Elijah, so in each place these
Nigh to Bethabara; in Jericho

The city of palms, Ænon, and Salem old,
Machærus, and each town or city wall'd
On this side the broad lake Genezaret,
Or in Peræa; but return'd in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek,

Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering


Plain fishermen (no greater men them call),

Close in a cottage low together got,

Their unexpected loss and plaints outbreath'd:

Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Unlook'd for are we fallen! our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long

Expected of our fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth.
"Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
The kingdom shall to Israel be restored;"
Thus we rejoiced, but soon our joy is turn'd
Into perplexity and new amaze:

For whither is he gone, what accident
Hath rapt him from us? will he now retire
After appearance, and again prolong
Our expectation? God of Israel,

Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come;
Behold the kings of the earth, how they oppress
Thy chosen; to what highth their power unjust
They have exalted, and behind them cast
All fear of thee; arise, and vindicate
Thy glory; free thy people from their yoke.
But let us wait; thus far he hath perform'd,
Sent his Anointed, and to us revealed him
By his great prophet, pointed at and shown
In public, and with him we have conversed;
Let us be glad of this, and all our fears
Lay on his providence; he will not fail,
Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall,
Mock us with his blest sight, then snatch him hence,
Soon shall we see our hope, our joy, return.'

Thus they, out of their plaints, new hope resume
To find whom at the first they found unsought;
But, to his mother Mary, when she saw
Others return'd from baptism, not her son,
Nor left at Jordan, tidings of him none,
Within her breast though calm, her breast though


Motherly cares and fears got head, and raised

Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus


'O, what avails me now that honour high, To have conceived of God, or that salute,

"Hail, highly favour'd, among women blest!"
While I to sorrows am no less advanced,
And fears as eminent, above the lot
Of other women, by the birth I bore;
In such a season born, when scarce a shed
Could be obtain'd to shelter him or me
From the bleak air: a stable was our warmth,
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
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


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 store-house 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:
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:

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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 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 over-sure
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 over-match'd.'

So spake the old serpent, doubting; and from all With clamour was assured 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 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,
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,
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 attraetive 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,

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