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This Speech is, I think, the finest that is ascribed to Satan in the whole Poem. The Evil Spirit afterwards proceeds to make his Discoveries concerning our first Parents, and to learn after what manner they may be best attacked. His bounding over the Walls of Paradise; his sitting in the Shape of a Cormorant upon the Tree of Life, which stood in the Center of it, and over-topp'd all the other Trees of the Garden; his alighting among the Herd of Animals, which are so beautifully represented as playing about Adam and Eve, together with his transforming himself into different Shapes, in order to hear their Conversation; are Circumstances that give an agreeable Surprize to the Reader, and are devised with great Art, to connect that Series of Adventures in which the Poet has engaged this great Artificer of Fraud.
[The Thought of Satan's Transformation into a Cormorant, and placing himself on the Tree of Life, seems raised upon that Passage in the //iad, where two Deities are described, as perching on the Top of an Oak in the Shape of Vulturs.]
His planting himself at the Ear of Eve in the shape [under the Form] of a Toad, in order to produce vain Dreams and Imaginations, is a Circumstance of the same Nature; as his starting up in his own Form is wonderfully fine, both in the Literal Description, and in the Moral which is concealed under it. His Answer upon his being discovered, and demanded to give an Account of himself, are [is] conformable to the Pride and Intrepidity of his Chara&ter.