Page images
PDF
EPUB

Solace in her return, so long delay'd:
Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill,
Misgave him, he the faltering measure felt;
And forth to meet her went, the way she took
That morn when first they parted: by the tree
Of knowledge he must pass; there he her met,
Scarce from the tree returning; in her hand
A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smiled
New gather'd, and ambrosial smell diffused.
To him she hasted; in her face excuse
Came prologue, and apology too prompt;
Which, with bland words at will, she thus address’d:
• Hast thou not wonder'd, Adam, at my stay?
Thee I have miss'd, and thought it long, deprived
Thy presence; agony of love till now
Not felt, nor shall be twice; for never more
Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought,
The pain of absence from thy sight.
Thus Eve with countenance blithe her story told;
But in her cheek distemper flushing glow'd.
On the other side, Adam, soon as he heard
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed,
Astonied stood and blank, while horror chill
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relax'd ;
From his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve
Down dropt, and all the faded roses shed;
Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length
First to himself he inward silence broke:
"O! fairest of creation, last and best
Of all God's works, creature in whom excell'd
Whatever can to sight or thought be form'd,
Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost,
Defaced, deflowr’d, and now to death devote;
Rather, how hast thou yielded to transgress
The strict forbiddance, how to violate
The sacred fruit forbidden ! Some cursed fraud
Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown,
And me with thee hath ruin'd; for with thee
Certain my resolution is to die :
How can I live without thee! how forego
Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly join'd,
To live again in these wild woods forlorn!
Should God create another Eve, and I

Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart: no, no! I feel
The link of nature draw me; flesh of flesh,
Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.-id.
Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,
That with exhilarating vapour bland
About their spirits had play'd, and inmost powers
Made err, was now exhaled; and grosser sleep,
Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams
Encumber'd, now had left them; up they rose
As from unrest; and, each the other viewing,
Soon found their eyes how open’d, and their minds
How darken'd! innocence, that as a veil
Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone ;
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
And honour, from about them, naked left
To guilty shame; he cover'd, but his robe
Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson, from the barlot lap
Of Philistéan Delilah, and waked
Shorn of his strength; they destitute and bare
Of all their virtue: silent, and in face
Confounded, long they sat, as stricken mute:
Till Adam, though not less than Eve abashid,
At length gave utterance to these words constrain's :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

*

How shall I behold the face Henceforth of God or angel, erst with joy And rapture so oft beheld? Those heavenly 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 sunlight, 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!'-id. So counsellid he, and both together went Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose The fig-tree, not that kind for fruit renown'd, But such as at this day, to Indians known, In Malabar or Decan spreads ber 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 over-arch'd, and echoing walks between:
There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loop-boles cut through thickest shade.-id.
Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve
The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek
Sucb proof, conclude they then begin to fail.-id.

What can 'scape the eye
Of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart
Omniscient ?-Book X.
Nor be their outward only with the skins
Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much more
Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness
Arraying, cover'd from his Father's sight.-id.
He ended, and the heavenly audience loud
Sung balleluiah, as the sound of seas,
Through multitude that sung : Just are thy ways,
Righteous are thy decrees on all thy works ;
Who can extenuate thee ?-id.

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 did'st thou beget me? I sought it not: Would'st thou admit for his contempt of thee That proud excuse ? 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.

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 !-id. He added not, and from her turn'd; but Eve,

Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing,
And tresses all disorder'd, 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,
Unbappily 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;
She ended weeping; and her lowly plight,
Immoveable, till peace obtain'd 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 disarm’d, 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 desirest
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
Would speed before thee, and be louder heard,
That on my head all might be visited ;
Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiven,
To me committed, and by me exposed.
But rise; let us no more contend, nor blame
Each

other, blamed enough elsewhere ; but strive In offices of love, how we may lighten Each other's burden, in our share of woe. What better can we do, than to the place Repairing where he judged us, prostrate fall Before him reverent; and there confess Humbly our faults, and pardon beg; with tears

Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeign'd and humiliation meek ?
Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn
From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
When angry most he seemed and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy shone ?'-id.
Thus they in lowliest plight repentant stood,
Praying; for from the mercy-seat above
Prevenient grace descending, had removed
The stony from their hearts, and made new flesh
Regenerate grow instead ; that sighs now breath'd
Unutterable; which the spirit of prayer
Inspired, and winged for heaven with speedier flight
Than loudest oratory.-Book II.

Now therefore bend thine ear
To supplication; hear his sighs, though mute ;
Unskilful with what words to pray,
Interpret for him ; me, his advocate
And propitiation; all his works on me,
Good or not good, ingraft; my merit those
Shall perfect, and for these my death shall pay.

me

[ocr errors]

Let him live
Before thee reconciled, at least his days
Number'd, though sad; till death, his doom.

To better life shall yield him;
To whom the Father, without cloud, serene :
All thy request for man, accepted Son,
Obtain; all thy request was my decree:
But, longer in that Paradise to dwell,
The law I gave to nature him forbids :
Those pure immortal elements that know
No gross, no unharmonious mixture foul,
Eject him, tainted now; and purge him off,
As a distemper, gross, to air as gross,
And mortal food; as may dispose him best
For dissolution wrought by sin, that first
Distemper'd all things, and of incorrupt
Corrupted.'-id.

Eve, now expect great tidings, which perhaps
Of us will soon determine, or impose
New laws to be observed: for I descry,

« PreviousContinue »