Page images

Where no ill seems; which now for once beguiled
Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted spirit of all in heav'n:
Who to the fraudulent imposter foul
In his uprightness answer thus return'd.

Fair angel, thy desire which tends to know
The works of God, thereby to glorify
The great Work-master, leads to no excess
That reaches blame, but rather merits praise
The more it seems excess, that led thee hither
From thy empyreal mansion thus alone,
To witness with thine eyes what some perhaps
Contented with report hear only in heav'n:
For wonderful indeed are all His works,
Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all
Had in remembrance always with delight:
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deepP
I saw, when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar
Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined;
Till at his second bidding darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung.
Swift to their several quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire,
And this ethereal quintessence of heav'n
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rollid orbicular, and turn'd to stars
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;
Each had his place appointed, each bis course,
The rest in circuit walls this universe.
Look downward on that globe whose hither side
With light from hence, though but reflected shines;
That place is earth the seat of man, that light
His day, which else as th' other hemisphere
Night would invade, but there the neighbouring moon
So call that opposite fair star, her aid
Timelv interposes, and her monthly round

Still ending, still renewing, through mid heav'n,
With borrow'd light her countenance triform
Hence fills and empties to enlighten th' earth,
And in her pale dominion checks the night.
That spot to which I point is paradise,
Adam's abode, those lofty shades his bow'r :
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires,

Thus said, he turn'd, and Satan bowing low,
As to superior spirits is wont in heaven,
Where honour due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,
Down from th' ecliptit, sped with hoped success,
Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel,
Nor stay'a, till on Niphates' top'he lights.

1 A moun ain bordering on Mesopotamia, near which the earthly paradise is mapposed to have bee: placed. From HUME.



Satan now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions, fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil, journeys on to paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described, overleaps the bounds, sits in the shape of a cormorant on the Tree of life, as the highest in the garden to luok about him. The garden described ; Satan's first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall: overlears their discourse, tbence gathers that the Tree of knowledge was forbidden them to eat of, under penalty of death; and thereon intends to found his temptation, by seducing them to transgress : then leaves them awhile to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwbile Uriel descending on a sunbeam warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of paradise, that some evil spirit had escaped the deep, and passed at noon by his sphere in the shape of a good angel down to paradise, discovered afterwards by bis furious gestures in the mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest : their bower described; their evening worship. Gabriel drawing forth his bands of nightwatch to walk the round of paradise, appoints two strong angels to Adam's bower, lest the evil spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping; there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dream, and bring him, though unwilling to Gabriel ; by whom questioned, he scorufully answers, preparos resistauce; but bindered by a sign from heaven flies out of paradise.

O FOR that warning voice, which he,' who ss
Th' Apocalypse, heard cry in heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon," put to second rout.
Came furious down to be revenged on men,
“ Woe to the inhabitants on earth!” that now.
While uime was, our first parents had been waru'd
The coming of their secret foe, and 'scaped,
Haply so 'scaped his mortal snare; for now
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down
The tempter ere th' accuser of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to hell :
Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold,
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt, which, nigh the birth
Now rolling, boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils


! St. John. Rev. xii. 10. "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, and at verse 12, “Woe to the inhabiters

of the earth and of the soul for the devill is come down unto you. .....


Opon himself; horror and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The hell within him, for within him hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place: now conscience wakes despair
That slumber'd, wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;
Sometimes towards heav'n and the full-blazing sun,
Which now sat high in his meridian tow'r:
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began.

O thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd,'
Look’st from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world, at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminish'd heads, to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,
Warring in heav'n against heav'n's matchless King.
Ah, wherefore! He deserved no such return
From me, whom He created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with His good
Upbraided none; nor was His service hard.
What could be less than to afford Him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay Him thanks,
How due ! yet all His good proved ill in mo,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high
I sdein'a subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burthensome, still paying, still to owe;

1 Milton originally designed to write • tragedy on the Fall, and this grand speech was intended to begin it. This

is asserted by Porson on the authority of Milton's nephew, Edward Philips

3 Disdained.

Forgetful what from Him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then P
O had his powerful destiny ordain'd
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition! Yet why not? some other power
As great might have aspired, and me though mean
Drawn to his part; but other powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations arra'd.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand ?
Thon hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accusa
But heav'n's free love dealt equally to all ?
Be then His love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe:
Nay cursed be thou; since against His thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair P
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threat’ning to devour me opens wide;
To which the hell I suffer seems a heav'n.
O then at last relent: is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left P
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts

Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
• Th' Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know

How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan;
While they adore me on the throne of hell,
With diadem and sceptre high advanced
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery; such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain

« PreviousContinue »