« PreviousContinue »
Confounded, Jong they sate, as strucken mute,
Till Adam, though not less than Eve abasb’d,
At length gave utterance to these words constrain'de
O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfeit man's voice, true in our fall
False in our promised rising; since our eyes
Open'd we find indeed, and find we know
Both good and evil, good lost, and evil got,
Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know,
Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,
Of innocence, of faith, of purity,
Our wonted ornaments now soil'd and stain'd,
And in our faces evident the signs
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store,
Ev'n shame, the last of evils; of the first
Be sure then. How shall I behold the face
Henceforth of Gor or angel, erst with joy
And rapture so oft beheld ? those heav'nly shapes
Will dazzle now this earthly, with their blaze
Insufferably bright. O might I here
In solitude live savage, in some glade
Obscured, where highest woods, impenetrable
To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad,
And brown as evening : cover me, ye pines,
Ye cedars, with innumerable boughs
Hide me, where I may never see them more.
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise
What best may for the present serve to hide
The parts of each from other, that seem most
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sew'd,
And girded on our loins, may cover round
Those middle parts, that this new comer, shame,
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.
So counsell d he, and both together went
Into the thickest wood ; there soon they choso
The figtree, not that kind for fruit renown'd,
But such as at this day to Indians known
In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
About the mother tree, a pillar'd shade?
High overarch’d, and echoing walks between;
There oft the Indian herdsman shunning heat
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loopholes cut thro' thickest shade. Those leaves
They gather d, broad as Amazonian targe,
And with what skill they had together sew'd,
To gird their waist, vain covering, if to hide
Their guilt and dreaded shame; O how unlike
To that first naked glory! Such of late
Columbus found th' American so girt
With feather'd cincture, naked else and wild
Among the trees on isles and woody shores.
Thus fenced, and as they thought, their shame in part
Cover'd, but not at rest or ease of mind,
They sat them down to weep, nor only tears
Rain'd at their eyes, but high winds worse within
Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate,
Mistrust, suspicion, discord, and shook sore
Their inward state of mind, calm region once
And full of peace, now tost and turbulent:
For understanding ruled not, and the will
Heard not her lore, both in subjection now
To sensual appetite, who from beneath
Usurping over sov'reign reason claim'd
Superior sway: from thus distemper'd breast
Adarn, estranged in look and alter'd style,
Speech intermitted thus to Eve renew'd.
Would thou hadst hearken’d to my words, and stay'd
With me, as I besought thee, when that strange
Desire of wand'ring this unhappy morn
I know not whence possess'd thee; we had then
Remain'd still happy, not, as now, despoil'd
Of all our good, shamed, naked, miserable.
Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve
The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek
Such proof, conclude, they then begin to fail.
To whom soon moved with touch of blame thus Eve
What words have pass'd thy lips, Adam severe,
Imput’st thou that to my default, or will
Of wand'ring, as thou call'st it, which who knows
But might as ill have happen'd thou being by,
Or to thyself perhaps : hadst thou been there,
Or here th' attempt, thou couldst not have discern'a
Fraud in the serpent, speaking as he spake;
No ground of enmity between us known,
Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm.
Was I to have never parted from thy side ?
As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.
Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
Commind me absolutely not to go,
Going into such danger, as thou said'st ?
Too facile, then thou didst not much gainsay,
Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fix'd in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with me.
To whom then first incensed Adam replied.
Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ungrateful Eve, express'd
Immutable when thou wert lost, not I,
Who might have lived and joy'd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee ?
And am I now upbraided, as the cause
Of thy transgressing P not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint : what could I more?
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
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
The 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,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,
And of their vain contest appear'd no end.
Man's transgression known, the guardian angels forsake paradise, and return up to beaver to approve their vigilance, and are approved, God declaring that the entrance of Satan conll not be by them prevented. He sends his Son to judge the trang gressors; who descends, and gives sentence accordingly; then in pity clothes them both, and reascends. Sin and Death, sitting till then at the gates of hell, by wondrous sympathy feeling the success of Satan in this new world, and the sin by man there conimitted, resolve to sit no longer confined in bell, but to follow Satan their sire up to the place of man: to make the way cisier from hell to this world to and fro, they pave a broad bighway, or bridge, over Chaos, according to the truck that Satan first made; then, prepiring for earth, they meet him, proud of his 'success, returning to hell: their mutual gratulation. Satan arrives at Pandemonium, in full assembly relates witb boasting his success against man: insteal of applause, is entertained wi'b a general biss by all bis audience, transformed, with himself also, suddenly into serpents, according to his doom given in Paradise ; then, deluded with a sbow of the forbildon tree springing up before them, they gieedily reaching to take of the fruit, cbew dust and bitter ashes. The proceedings of Sin and Death; God foretells the final victory of his Son over them, and the renewing of all things; hut for the present commands bis angels to make several alterations in the heavens and elements Adam, more and more perceiving his fallen condition, beavily bewails, rejects the condolement of Evo; 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 pot; but conceiving better hope, puts her iu mind of the late promise mide them, that ber seed sbould be revenged on the serpent, and exhorts her with him to seek peace of the offended Deity, by repentance and Bupplicatiou.
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
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 freewill arm'd,
Complete to have discover'd and repulsed
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend!
For still they knew, and onght 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 ? the penalty,
And, manifold in sin, deserved to fall.
Up into heav'n from paradise in haste
Th' angelic guards ascended, mute and sad