Page images

Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fix’d in thy dissent, 1160
Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with me.”
To whom, then first incens'd, Adam replied:
*Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve express'd
Immutable, when thou wert lost, not I; 1165
Who might have liv'd , and joy'd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing 2 Not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint: what could I more ? 1170
I warn'd thee, I admonish'd thee, foretold
The danger, and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this, had been force;
And force upon free will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on ; secure 1175
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps
I also err'd, in overmuch admiring
What seem'd in thee so perfect, that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue 1180
That error now, which is become my crime,
And thou th’ accuser. Thus it shall befall
Him who, to worth in women overtrusting,
Lets her will rule: restraint she will not brook;
And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue, 1185
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.”
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning;
And of their vain contést appear'd no end.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Man's transgression known, the guardian-Angels forsake Paradise, and return up to heaven io approve their vigilance, and are approved; God declaring that the entrance of Satan could not be by them prevented. He sends his Son to judge the transgressors; who descends and gives sentence accordingly; then in #! clothes them both, and reascends. Sin and Death, sitting till then at the gates, of hell, by wondrous ompathy feeling, the success of Satan in this new world, and the sin, by man there committed, resolve to sit no longer confined in hell, but to follow Satan, their sire up to the place of mon; to make, the way easier from hell to this world to and fro, they pave a broad high-way or bridge over Chaos, according to the track that Satan first made; then, preparing for earth, they meet him, proud of his success, returning to hell; their mutual gratulation. Satan arrives at Pandemonium, in full assembly relates with boasting his success against man; instead of applause is entertained with a general hiss by all his audience, transformed with himself also

suddenly into serpents, according to his doom given in Paradise; then, deluded with a show of the forbidden tree springing up before them , they, greedily reaching to take of the fruit, cheio dust and bitter ashes. The proceedings of Sin and Death; God foretels, the final victory of his Son over them, and the renewing of all things; but, for the present, commands his Angels to make several alterations in the heavens and elements. Adam, more and more soft.* fallen condition, heavily bewails, rejects the condolément of Eve; she persists, and at length appeases him : then, to evade the curse likely, to fall on their offspring, proposes to Adam violent ways, which he approves not ; but, conceiving better hope, puts her in mind of the late promise made them, that her seed should be revenged on the serpent; and earhorts her with him to seek peace of the offended Deity, by repentance and supplication.

MEANwhile the heinous and despiteful act
Of Satan done in Paradise, and how
He, in the serpent, had perverted Eve,
Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,
Was known in heav'n ; for what can 'scape the eye 5
Of God all-seeing; or deceive his heart
Omniscient? who, in all things wise and just,
Hinder'd not Satan to attempt the mind
Of man, with strength entire, and free-will arm'd
Complete to have discover'd and repuls'd 10
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.
For still they knew, and ought to have still remember'd,
The high injunction, not to taste that fruit,
Whoever tempted; which they not obeying,
Incurr'd (what could they less P) the penalty; 15
And, manifold in sin, deserv'd to fall.
Up into heav'n from Paradise in haste
Th' angelic guards ascended, mute and sad,
For man; for of his state by this they knew,
Much wond'ring how the subtle fiend had stol'n 20
Entrance unseen. Soon as th' unwelcome news
From earth arriv'd at heaven-gate; displeas'd
All were who heard; dim sadness did not spare
That time celestial visages, yet, mix'd
With pity, violated not their bliss. 25
About the new-arriv'd in multitudes
Th’ ethereal people ran, to hear and know
How all befel: they towards the throne supreme,
Accountable, made haste, to make appear,
With righteous plea, their utmost vigilance, 30
And easily approv’d; when the Most High
Eternal Father, from his secret cloud,
Amidst in thunder utter'd thus his voice:
‘Assembled Angels, and ye Pow’rs return'd
From unsuccessful charge; be not dismay’d, 35
Nor troubled at these tidings from the earth,
Which your sincerest care could not prevent;
Foretold so lately what would come to pass,
When first this tempter cross'd the gulf from hell.
I told ye then he should prevail; and speed
On his bad errand; man should be seduc’d,

And flatter'd out of all, believing lies
‘Against his Maker; no decree of mine
Concurring to necessitate his fall,
Or touch with lightest moment of impõlse
His free-will, to her own inclining left
In even scale. But fall’n he is; and now
What rests, but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression, death denounc'd that day?
Which he presumes already vain and void,
Because not yet inflicted, as he fear'd,
By some immediate stroke; but soon shall find
Forbearance no acquittance, ere day end.
Justice shall not return as bounty scorn'd.
But whom send I to judge them? whom but thee
Vicegerent Son? To thee I have transferr'd
All judgement, whether in heav'n, or earth, or hell.
Easy it may be seen that I intend
Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee
Man's friend, his Mediator, his design'd
Both ransom and Redeemer voluntary,
And destin'd man himself to judge man fall'n.
So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright
Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son
Blaz'd forth unclouded deity: he full
Resplendent all his Father manifest
Express'd, and thus divinely answer'd mild:
“Father Eternal, thine is to decree;
Mine, both in heav'n and earth, to do thy will
Supreme; that thou in me, thy Son belov’d,
Mayst ever rest well pleas'd. I go to judge
On earth these thy transgressors; but thou know'st,
Whoever judg’d, the worst on me must light,
When time shall be; for so I undertook
Before thee; and, not repenting, this obtain
Of right, that I may mitigate their doom
On me deriv'd ; yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy, as may illustrate most
Them fully satisfied, and thee appease.
Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none
Are to behold the judgement, but the judg’d,
Those two ; the third best absent is condemn'd,
Convict by flight, and rebel to all law:
Conviction to the serpent none belongs.”
Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose
Of high collateral glory. , Him thrones, and powers,
Princedoms, and dominations ministrant,
Accompanied to heaven-gate; from whence
Eden, and all the coast, in prospect lay.
Down he descended straight; the speed of gods

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Time counts not, though with swiftest minutes wing’d.

Now was the sun in western cadence low
From noon, and gentle airs, due at their hour,
To fan the earth now wak'd, and usher in
The evening cool; when he, from wrath more cool,
Came the mild judge, and intercessor both,

[ocr errors]

To sentence man: the voice of God they heard
Now walking in the garden, by soft winds
Brought to their ears, while day declin'd; they heard,
And from his presence hid themselves among 100
The thickest trees, both man and wife; till God,
Approaching, thus to Adam call'd aloud :
“Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet
My coming seen far off? I miss thee here,
Not pleas'd, thus entertain'd with solitude, 105
Where obvious duty ere while appear'd unsought:
Or come I less conspicuous, or what change
Absents thee, or what chance detains? Come forth!”
He came; and with him Eve, more loth, though first
To offend; discount'nanc'd both, and discompos'd; 110
Love was not in their looks, either to God,
Or to each other; but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy, and hate, and guile.
Whence Adam falt'ring long, thus answer'd brief: 115
“I heard thee in the gard’n, and of thy voice
Afraid, being naked, hid myself.” To whom
The gracious Judge without revile replied:
“My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not fear'd,
But still rejoic'd; how is it now become 120
So dreadful to thee P That thou art naked, who
Hath told thee? Hast thou eaten of the tree,
Whereof I gave thee charge thou shouldst not eat?”
To whom thus Adam sore beset replied:
“O heav'n' in evil strait this day I stand 125
Before my Judge; either to undergo -
Myself the total crime, or to accuse
My other self, the partner of my life;
Whose failing, while her faith to me remains,
I should conceal, and not expose to blame 18O
By my complaint: but strict necessity
Subdues me, and calamitous constraint;
Lest on my head both sin and punishment,
However insupportable, be all
Devolv’d; though, should I hold my peace, yet thou 135
Wouldst easily detect what I conceal.
This woman, whom thou mad'st to be my help,
And gav'st me as thy perfect gift, so good,
So fit, so ficceptable, so divine,
That from her hand I could suspect no ill, 140
And what she did, whatever in itself,
Her doing seem'd to justify the deed;
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
To whom the sovran Presence thus replied:
*Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey 145
Before his voice? or was she made thy guide,
Superior, or but equal, that to her .
Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
Wherein God set thee above her made of thee,
And for thee, whose perfection far excell’d 150
Hers in all real dignity? Adorn'd

She was indeed, and lovely, to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection; and her gifts
Were such, as under government well seem'd;
Unseemly to bear rule; which was thy part 155
And person, hadst thou known thyself aright.”
So having said, he thus to Eve in few :
“Say, woman, what is this which thou hast done?
To whom sad Eve, with shame nigh overwhelm’d,
Confessing soon, yet not before her Judge 160
Bold or loquacious, thus abash'd replied:
“The serpent me beguil'd, and I did eat.”
Which when the Lord God heard, without delay
To judgement he proceeded on th’ accus’d
Serpent, though brute; unable to transfer 165
The guilt on him who made him instrument
Of mischief, and polluted from the end
Of his creation: justly then accurs'd,
As vitiated in nature: more to know
Concern’d not man (since he no further knew), 170
Nor alter'd his offence; yet God at last
To Satan first in sin his doom applied,
Though in mysterious terms, judg’d as then best:
And on the serpent thus his curse let fall:
“Because thou hast done this, thou art accurs'd 175
Above all cattle, each beast of the field;
Upon thy belly groveling thou shalt go,
And dust shalt eat all the days of thy life.
Between thee and the woman I will put
Enmity, and between thine and her seed; 18O
Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel.”
So spake this oracle, then verified
When Jesus, Son of Mary, second Eve,
Saw Satan fall, like lightning, down from heaven,
Prince of the air; then, rising from his grave, 185
Spoil’d principalities and pow'rs, triumph'd
In open show; and, with ascension bright,
Captivity led captive through the air,
The realm itself of Satan, long usurp'd;
Whom he shall tread at last under our feet; 190
Ev’n he, who now foretold his fatal bruise;
And to the woman thus his sentence turn'd:
“Thy sorrow I will greatly multiply
By thy conception; children thou shalt bring
In sorrow forth; and to thy husband's will 195
Thine shall submit; he over thee shall rule.’
On Adam last thus judgement he pronounc'd :
‘Because thou hast hearken'd to the voice of thy wife,
And eaten of the tree concerning which
I charg'd thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat thereof:200
Curs'd is the ground for thy sake; thou in sorrow
Shalt eat thereof, all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles it shall bring thee forth
Unbid; and thou shalt eat of th’ herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, 205
Till thou return unto the ground; for thou

« PreviousContinue »