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Best school of best experience, quickest insight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienc'd, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
(As he who seeking asses found a kingdom,)
Irresolute, unhardy, unadvent'rous :

But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes



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
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow'd,


Th' one winding, th' other straight, and left between
Fair champain with less rivers intervein'd,

Then meeting join'd their tribute to the sea:
Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;
With herds the pastures throng'd, with flocks the


Huge cities and high tower'd, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs, and so large
The prospect was, that here and there was room

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
Our Saviour, and new train of words began.

Well have we speeded, and, o'er hill and dale,
Forest, and field, and flood, temples, and towers,
Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold'st
Assyria and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes, and the Caspian lake, thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay,
And inaccessible the Arabian drought:
Here Nineveh, of length within her wall
Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns ;
There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis
His city there thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
And Hecatompylos her hundred gates;
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,





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
Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthian, (now some ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire,) under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gather'd all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid

He marches now in haste; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage




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
Of many provinces from bound to bound;
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales;

From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south

Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.



He saw them in their forms of battle rang'd,
How quick they wheel'd, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face

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

For tournament.'

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 field all iron cast a gleaming brown:
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots or elephants endors'd with towers
Of archers, nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude with spades and axes arm'd
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or, where plain was raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;
Mules after these, camels, and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican with all his northern powers
Besieg'd Albracca, as romances tell,

The city of Gallaphrone, from whence to win
The fairest of her sex Angelica

His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
Both Paynim, and the peers of Charlemain.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry;

326 brown] Euripidis Phæn. 296.

καταχάλχον ἀπὰν

Πέδιον ἀστράπτει.


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







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