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Mine own that bide upon me, all from me

Shall with a fierce reflux on me rebound;

On me, as on their natural centre light,

Heavy, though in their place. O fleeting joys

Of Paradise, dear bought with lasting woes!

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay

To mould me man? did I solicit thee

From darkness to promote me? or here place

In this delicious garden? As my will

Concurred not to my being, it were hut right

And equal to reduce me to my dust,

Desirous to resign and render back

All I received, unable to perform

Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold

The good I sought not. To the loss of that,

Sufficient penalty! why hast thou added

The sense of endless woes? Inexplicable

Thy justice seems; yet, to say truth, too late

I thus contest; then should have been refused

Those terms, whatever, when they were proposed:

Thou didst accept them. Wilt thou enjoy the good,

Then cavil the conditions? and though God

Made thee without thy leave, what if thy son

Prove disobedient, and reproved, retort,

'Wherefore didst thou beget thee? I sought it not:'

Wouldst thou admit, for his contempt of thee,

That proud excuse? Yet him, not thy election,

But natural necessity, begot.

God made thee of choice his own, and of his own

To serve him: thy reward was of his grace;

Thy punishment then, justly, is at his will.

Be it so, for I submit: his doom is fair;

That dust I am, and shall to dust return.

O welcome hour whenever! Why delays

His hand to execute what his decree

Fixed on this day? Why do I over-live?

Why am I mocked with death, and lengthened out

To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet

Mortality my sentence, and be earth

Insensible! how glad would lay me down

As in my mother's lap! there I should rest

And sleep secure: his dreadful voice no more

Would thunder in my ears; no fear of worse

To me and to my offspring would torment me

With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt

Pursues me still, lest all I cannot die;1

Lest that pure breath of life, the spirit of man

Which God inspired, cannot together perish

With this corporeal clod; then in the grave,

Or in some other dismal place, who knows

But I shall die a living death? O thought

Horrid, if true! Yet why? It was but breath

Of life that sinned: what dies but what had life

And sin? The body properly had neither.

All of me then shall die: let this appease

The doubt, since human reach no further knows.

For though the Lord of all be infinite,

Is his wrath also? Be it; man is not so,

But mortal doomed. How can he exercise

Wrath without end on man whom death must end?

Can he make deathless death? That were to muke

Strange contradiction, which to God himself

Impossible is held, as argument

Of weakness, not of power. Will he draw out,

For anger's sake, finite to infinite

In punished man, to satisfy his rigour

Satisfied never? That were to extend

His sentence beyond dust and nature's law,

By which all causes else according still

To the reception of their matter act,

Not to the extent of their own sphere. But say

That death be not one stroke, as I supposed,

Bereaving sense, but endless misery

From this day onward, which I feel begun

Both in me, and without me, and so.last

To perpetuity: ay me! that fear

Comes thundering back with dreadful revolution

On my defenceless head; both Death and I

Ams found eternal, and incorporate both:

Nor I on my part single: in me all

Posterity stands cursed. Fair patrimony

That I must leave ye, sons. Oh! were I able

To waste it all myself, and leave ye none!

So disinherited, how would ye bless

Me now your curse! Ah! why should all mankind

For one man's fault thus guiltless be condemned,

'From Hor. Od. iii. xxx., 6, " non email moriar."
2 Bentfey corrects, are.

If guiltless? But from me what can proceed.

But all corrupt, both mind and will depraved,

Not to do only, but to will the same

Wifti me? How can they then acquitted stand

In sight of God? Him, after all disputes,

Forced I absolve: all my evasions vain;

And reasonings, though through mazes, lead me still

But to my own conviction: first and last

On me, me only, as the source and spring

Of all corruption, all the blame lights due;

So might the wrath! Fond wish! couldst thou support

That burden heavier than the earth to bear,

Than all the world much heavier, though divided

With that bad woman? Thus what thou desix'st,

And what thou fear'st, alike destroys all hope

Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable

Beyond all past example and future,

To Satan only like both crime and doom.

O conscience! into what abyss of fears

And horrors hast thou driven me, out of which

I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged!"
Thus Adam to himself lamented loud,

Through the still night; not now, as ere man fell,

Wholesome, and cool, and mild; but with black air

Accompanied, with damps and dreadful gloom,

Which to his evil conscience represented

All things with double terror: on the ground

Outstretched he lay, on the cold ground, and oft

Cursed his creation, death as oft accused

Of tardy execution, since denounced

The day of his offence. "Why comes not death,"

Said he, "with one thrice acceptable stroke

To end me? Shall truth fail to keep her word?

Justice divine not hasten to be just?

But death comes not at call; justice divine

Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries.

O woods! O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bowers 1

With other echo1 late I taught your shades

To answer, and resound far other song."

Whom thus afflicted, when sad Eve beheld,
Desolate where she sat, approaching nigh,
Soft words to his fierce passion she assayed;
But her with stern regard he thus repelled:
1 See v. 202.

"Out of my sight, thou serpent! that name hest Befits thee with him leagued, thyself as false And hateful; nothing wants but that thy shape, Like his, and colour serpentine, may show Thy inward fraud, to warn all creatures from thee Henceforth; lest that too heavenly form pretended To hellish falsehood snare them. But for thee I had persisted happy, had not thy pride And wandering vanity, when least was safe, Rejected my forewarning, and disdained Not to be trusted, longing to be seen, Though by the devil himself, him overweening To over-reach, but with the serpent meeting Fooled and beguiled; by him thou, I by thee; To trust thee from my side, imagined wise, Constant, mature, proof against all assaults; And understood5 not all was but a show, Rather than solid virtue; all but a rib, Crooked by nature; bent, as now appears, More to the part sinister, from me drawn; Well if thrown out, as supernumerary To my just number found. Oh! why did God, Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven With spirits masculine, create at last This novelty on earth, this fair defect Of nature, and not fill the world at once With men, as angels, without feminine, Or find some other way to generate Mankind? This mischief had not then befallen, And more that shall befall, innumerable Disturbances on earth through female snares, And strait conjunction with this sex: for either He never shall find out fit mate, but such As some misfortune brings him, or mistake; Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain Through her perverseness, but shall see her gained By a far worse, or if she love, withheld' By parents; or his happiest choice too late Shall meet, already linked and wedlock-bound To a fell adversary, his hate or shame; Which infinite calamity shall cause To human life. and household peace confound."

He added not, and from her turned; but Eve, 1 i.e. held or placed before. 2 i.e. I understood.

Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing,
And tresses all disordered, at his feet
Fell humble, and embracing them, besought
His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint:

"Forsake me not thus, Adam! witness Heaven
What love sincere, and reverence in my heart
I bear thee, and unweeting have offended,
Unhappily deceived! Thy suppliant
I beg, and clasp thy knees; bereave me not,
Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid,
Thy counsel in this uttermost distress,
My only strength and stay: forlorn of thee,
Whither shall I betake me, where subsist?
While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps.
Between us two let there be peace, both joining,
As joined in injuries, one enmity
Against a foe by doom express assigned us,
That cruel serpent: on me exercise not
Thy hatred for this misery befallen,
On me already lost, me than thyself
More miserable; both have sinned, but thou
Against God only, I against God and thee,
And to the place of judgment will return,
There with my cries importune Heaven, that all
The sentence, from thy head removed, may light
On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe,
Me, me only, just object of his ire."

She ended weeping, and her lowly plight, Immoveable till peace obtained from fault Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought Commiseration; soon his heart relented Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight, Now at his feet submissive in distress, Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking, His counsel whom she had displeased, his aid; As one disarmed, his anger all he lost, And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon:

"Unwary, and too desirous, as before, So now of what thou know'st not, who desir'st The punishment all on thyself; alas! Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain His full wrath, whose thou feel'st as yet least part, And my displeasure bear'st so ill. If prayers Could alter high decrees, I to that place

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