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HE measure is English Heroic Verse, without Rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rime being no neceffary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verfe, in longer Works efpecially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to fet off wretched matter and lame Meeter; grac't indeed fince by the use of fome famous modern Poets, carried away by Cuftom, but much to thir own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse then else they would have expreft them. Not without cause, therefore, fome both Italian and Spanish Poets of prime note, have rejected Rime both in longer and fhorter Works, as have alfo, long fince, our best English Tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious eares, triveal and of no true mufical delight; which confifts only in apt Numbers, fit quantity of Syllables, and the fenfe varioufly drawn out from one verfe into another, not in the jingling found of like endings, a fault avoyded by the learned Ancients both in Poetry and all good Oratory. This neglect then of Rime, fo little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteem'd an example fet, the first in English, of ancient liberty recover'd to Heroic Poem from the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing."
BOOK I. THE ARGUMENT.
HE firft Book proposes, first in brief, the whole Subject, Mans difobedience, and the lofs thereupon of Paradife wherein he was plac't: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his fide many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep. Which action past over, the Poem hafts into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, defcrib'd here, not in the Center (for Heaven and Earth may be fuppos'd as yet not made, certainly not yet accurft) but in a place of utter darkness, fitlieft call'd Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning Lake, thunder-struck and astonisht, after a certain space recovers, as from confufion, calls up him who next in Order and Dignity lay by him; they confer of thir miserable fall. Satan awakens all his Legions, who lay till then in the fame manner confounded; They rife, thir Numbers, array of Battel, thir chief Leaders nam'd, according to the Idols known afterwards in Canaan and the Countries adjoyning. To thefe Satan directs his Speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new World and new kind of Greature to be created, according to an ancient Prophefie or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible Creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this Prophefie, and what to determin thereon he refers to a full Councel. What his Affociates thence attempt. Pandemonium the Palace of Satan rifes, fuddenly built out of the Deep: The infernal Peers there fit in Councel.
BOOK II. THE ARGUMENT.
HE Confultation begun, Satan debates whether another Battel be to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven: fome advife it, others diffuade: A third propofal is prefer'd, mention'd before by Satan, to fearch the truth of that Prophefie or Tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferiour to themfelves, about this time to be created: Thir doubt who fhall be fent on this difficult fearch: Satan thir chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honourd and applauded. The Councel thus ended, the reft betake them feveral wayes and to feveral imployments, as thir inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes He paffes on his Journey to Hell Gates, finds them fhut, and who fat there to guard them, by whom at length they are op'nd, and discover to him the great Gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the fight of this new World which he fought.
BOOK III. THE ARGUMENT.
OD fitting on his Throne fees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created; fhews him to the Son who fat at his right hand; foretells the fuccefs of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own Justice and Wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free and able enough to have withstood his Tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him feduc't. The Son of God renders praifes to his Father for the manifeftation of his gracious purpofe towards Man; but God again declares, that Grace cannot be extended towards Man without the fatisfaction of divine Juftice; Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to God-head, and therefore with all his Progeny devoted to death must dye, unless fome one can be found fufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his Punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a Ranfome for Man: the Father accepts him, ordains his incar