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Best school of best experience, quickest insight
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
The monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state; Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts
And regal mysteries; that thou may'st know
How best their opposition to withstand.
With that, (such power was given him then,) he took
The Son of God up to a mountain high.
It was a mountain at whose verdant feet
A spacious plain outstretch'd in circuit wide
Th' one winding, th' other straight, and left between
Then meeting join'd their tribute to the sea:
Huge cities and high tower'd, that well might seem
238 insight] Milton's own edition, and all the earlier editions, except Tonson's, 1747, read in sight.'
For barren desert, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain top the tempter brought 265
Well have we speeded, and, o'er hill and dale,
264 fountainless and dry] 'Desarts desolate, and dry.' Drayton's Moses, lib. ii. p. 1603, ed. 8vo.
288 Choaspes] See Plin. N. Hist. lib. xxiv. c. cii. vol. iv. p. 362. ed. Brot. and lib. xxxi. c. xxi. 3. vol. v. p. 299, 'Parthorum reges ex Choaspe, et Eulao tantum bibunt.'
'It is a fact worthy of remark, that at this moment, while all the
The drink of none but kings; of later fame
He marches now in haste; see, though from far,
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms, 305 Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit ;
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel:
inhabitants of Kermanshah drink of the stream of Aub Dedoong, and of the spring called Aubi-i-Hassan-Khan, the king's son alone has the water for himself and his harem brought from the stream of the Kara Soo (the Choaspes). We drank of it ourselves as we passed, and from its superiority to all the waters of which we had tasted since leaving the banks of the Tigris, the draught was delicious enough to be sweet even to the palsied taste of royalty itself.' Buckingham's Trav. in Assyria, &c. p. 119. On the delicious water of the Nile, see Forbes's Oriental Mem. ii. p. 72; and on that of the Ganges, 139. The Mogul Emperors travelled with it: Akber never drank any other, and called it the 'Water of Life.'
306 flight] Lucan. Phars. i. 229,
'Missa Parthi post terga sagitta.' Dunster.
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings. He look'd, and saw what numbers numberless
In coats of mail and military pride;
The city gates outpour'd, light armed troops
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle rang'd,
309 wedges, and half-moons] Virgil mentions the 'wedge;' Æn. xii. 457, 'densi cuneis se quisque coactis agglomerant:' and Stat. Theb. v. 145, the half-moon; lunatumque putes agmen descendere.' Dunster.
310 numbers numberless] For this expression (which was very common in old English Poets anterior to Milton) see Peele's Works, by Dyce, sec. ed. 1829, vol. i. p. 227.
'A number numberless, appointed well
and Heywood's Troy, p. 203.
311 gates] Virg. Æn. xii. 121,
Agmina se fundunt portis.'
314 Prancing] Compare the description in Heliodori Æthiop. lib
iii. p. 175. ed. Mitscherlich.
324 arrowy] En. xii. 284.
'Tempestas telorum, ac ferreus ingruit imber.' Dunster.
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The city of Gallaphrone, from whence to win
His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
326 brown] Euripidis Phæn. 296.
329 endors'd] B. Jonson's Epig. to W. Earl of Newcastle :
'Nay, so your seat his beauties did endorse,
As I began to wish myself a horse.'
334 yoke] Eschyli Persæ, 71.
Ζυγὸν ἀμφιβαλῶν αυχενί πόντου. Thyer.
337 Such] Lucan. Phars. iii. 288.
'coiere nec unquam
Tam variæ cultu gentes, tam dissona vulgi