Page images

Book the fourth.

THE ARGUMENT. Satan, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place

where he must now attempt the bold enterprize which he undertook alone against God and man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions, fiar, 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 highest in the garden, to look 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; overhears their discourse, thence gathers that the tree of knowledge was forbidden them to eat of, under penalty of death, and thereon intends to found his tomptation, by seducirrg them to transgress: then leaves them awhile, to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile Uriel, descending on a sun-beam, 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 after by his furious gestures on 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 night-watch 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 scornfully answers, prepares resistance, but hindered by a sign from heaven, fiies out of Paradise.


FOR that warning voice, which he who saw

Th’Apocalyps heard cry in heav'n aloud, Then when the Dragon put to second rout, Came furious down to be reveng'd on men, Woe to th' inabitants on earth! that now, While time was, our first parents had been warn'd The coming of their sacred fue, and scap’d, Haply so scap'd, liis inortal snare: for now Satan, now first inflam'd with rage, came down, The tempter ere the accuser of mankind, To wreak on innocent frail man his loss Of that first batile, and his flight to hell: Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold, Far oft, and fearless, nor with cause to boast, Begins his dire atteinpt; which nigh the birth Now rolling boils in his tumultuous breast, And like a dev'lish engine back recoils Upon 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 inore than from himself, can fly By change of place: now conscience wakes despair, That slamber'd; wakes the bitter meinery Of what he was, what is, and what must be Worse; of worse deeds worse suff'rings inust ensue. Sometimes tow'rds Eden, which now in his view Lay pleasant, his griev'd look he fixes sad; Suinetimes tow'rds 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 deserv'd 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 recompense, and pay him thanks, How due! yet all his good prov'd ill in me, And wrought but malice; lifted up so high I 'sdain'd subjection, and thought one step higher Would set me high'st, and in a moinent quit The debt immense of endless gratitude, So burdensome still paying, still to owe, Forgetful what from him I still receiv’d; And understood not that a grateful mind By owing owes not, but still pays, at once Indebted and discharg'd; what burden then! O had his pow'rful destiny ordain'd Me some inferior angel! I had stood Then happy; no unbounded hope had rais'd Ambition. Yet why not? some other pow'r A great might have aspir'd, and me, though mean, Drawn to his part; but other pow’rs as great Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within Or from without, to all temptations arınd. Hadst thou the same free-will and pow'r to stand! Thou hadst. Whom hast thou then, or what, l'accue, But heav'n's free love, dealt equally to all! Be then his love accurs'd, since love, or bate,

To mé alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay curs'd 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?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am liell;
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?
None left but by subinission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and iny dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduc'd
With other promises, and other vaunts
Than to subinit, 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 advanc’d,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery; such joy ambition tinds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain,
By act of grace, my former state; how soon
Would height recal high thoughts; how soon unsay
What feign'd submission swore? ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierc'd so deep:
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse,
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short interinission bought with double smart.
This knows iny punisher: therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging peace:
All hope excluded thus, behold instead
Of us outcast, exil'd, his new delight,
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So far well hope, and with hope farewell fear,

Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;
Evil be thou my good! by thee at least
Divided empire with heav'n's King I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As man ere long, and this new world, shall know.

Thus while he spake, each passion diınmd his face,
Thrice chang'd with pale ire, envy and despair ;
Which marr'd his borrow'd visage, and betray'd
Himn counterfeit, if any eye beheld.
For heav'nly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware,
Each perturbation sinooth'd with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud; and was the first
That practis'd falshood under saintly show,
Deep malice to conceal, couch'd with revenge:
Yet not enough had pracus'd to deceive
Uriel once waru?d; whose eye parsu'd him down
The way he went, and on th’Assyrian inount
Saw him disfigur'd, more than could befal
Spirit of happier sort: his gestures fierce
He markd, and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he suppos'd, all'unobserv’d, unseen.
So on he fares, and to the border comes
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,
As with a rural mound, the chainpain head
of a steep wilderness; whose hairy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
Access deny'd; and over head up grew
Insuperable height of lofuiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,
A sylvan scene, and as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stațeliest view. Yet higher than their tops
The verd'rous wall of Paradise up sprung:
Which to our gen'ral sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighb'ring round.
And higher than that wail a circling row
Of goodliest trees, doaden with fairesi fruit,

« PreviousContinue »