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Satan having compass'd the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist 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 several 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 laft 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, afks how he attain'd to human speech 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 reafon, 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: fhe pleas'd with the taste 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 seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accufation of one another.

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O more of talk where God or Angel guest
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 distrust, and breach
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,

And disobedience: on the part of Heaven
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and juft rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of woe,
Sin and her fhadow Death, and Misery
Death's harbinger: Sad tafk, yet argument
Not lefs but more heroic than the wrath
Of ftern 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 anfwerable ftile I can obtain
Of my celeftial patronefs, who deigns
Her nightly vifitation unimplor'd

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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
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 fhields,
Impreffes quaint, caparisons and steeds;
Bafes and tinfel trappings, gorgeous knights
At jouft and torneament; then marshal'd feaft
Serv'd up in hall with fewers, and seneshals;
The fkill of artifice or office mean,

Not that which juftly gives heroic name
To perfon or to poem. Me of these
Nor skill'd nor ftudious, higher argument
Remains, fufficient of itself to raise

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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.

The fun was funk, and after him the ftar
Of Hefperus, whofe office is to bring
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter

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








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