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THE FIRST PAIR AT THEIR EVENING DEVOTIONS.
Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood, Both turned, and under open sky adored The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven, Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe, And starry pole: “Thou also madest the night, Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day Which we, in our appointed work employed, Have finished, happy in our mutual help And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss Ordained by thee; and this delicious place For us too large, where thy abundance wants Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground. But thou hast promised from us two a race To fill the earth, who shall with us extol Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake, And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep." The cherubim appointed to watch, unseen, the garden of Eden, are warned by a messenger from heaven, that one of the infernal spirits had escaped from prison and had been seen directing his way towards Paradise, probably bound for mischief. They instantly search the garden, and at length find Satan, in the dead of night, disguised in the form of a toad, crouching at the ear of Eve, as she and Adam lie sleeping in the bower.
DISCOVERY OF SATAN IN THE NUPTIAL BOWER.
These to the bower direct
In search of whom they sought: him there they found
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
Assaying by his devilish art to reach
The organs of her fancy, and with them forge
Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise
At least distempered, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits engendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness: up he starts
Discovered and surprised. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun, some magazine to store
Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,
With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;
So started up in his own shape the fiend.
Back stepped those two fair angels, half amazed
So sudden to behold the grisly king;
Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon:
" Which of those rebel spirits adjudged to hell
Comest thou, escaped thy prison ? and transformed.
Why satt'st thou like an enemy in wait,
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?"
“ Know ye not then,” said Satan, filled with scorn “ Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar: Not to know me, argues yourselves unknown, The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know, Why ask ye, and superfluous begin Your message, like to end as much in vain ?"
This scene naturally prepares the mind of the reader for the sad story which follows. In no part of the book, perhaps, does Milton display more consummate skill than in the manner in which the temptation is conducted. The melancholy tale, however, need not be here repeated.
Her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat!
Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.
Among the first fruits of this miserable fall, may be reckoned the loss of that perfect love and harmony which had heretofore bound together the happy pair, and the growth, instead, of bitter dissensions and mutual recriminations. What language could so effectually describe the wretched change wrought in poor human nature, as to behold Adam, the model of all that was generous and noble, giving utterance to the following cruel reproaches !
ADAM'S REPROACHES TO EVE.
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 glooni ;
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.
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 :
“Out of my sight, thou serpent! That name best
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 overreach; 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 understood 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. O! why did God,
Creator wise, that peopled highest heaven
With spirits masculine, create at last
This novelty on earth, this fair defect
Uf 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 shall never 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
The guilty pair were not left to despair. Faint intimations of a Redeemer to come, raised in them the hope of reconciliation with their offended Creator. They become reconciled also with each other, and resolve to seek the forgiveness of their Maker, on the spot where he had pronounced sentence against them.
REPENTANCE OF ADAM AND EVE.
They, forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judged them, prostrate fell
Before him reverent; and both confessed
Humbly their faults, and pardon begged; with tears
Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek.
Thus they, in lowliest plight, repentant stood
Praying; for from the mercy-seat above
Prevenient grace descending had removed