Page images
PDF
EPUB

And hateful; nothing wants, but that thy shape,
Like his, and colour serpentine, may show

870
Thy inward fraud, to warn all creatures from thee
Henceforth; lest that too heav'nly form, pretended
To hellish falsehood, share them. But for thee
I had persisted happy'; had not thy pride
And wand'ring vanity, when least was safe, 875
Rejected my forewarning, and disdain'd
Not to be trusted, longing to be seen,
Though by the dev'il himself, him overweening
To over-reach; but with the serpent meeting,
Fool'd and beguil'd; by him thou, I by thee,

880
To trust thee from my side, imagin'd 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,

885
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 Heav'n
With spirits masculine, create at last

890
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 befall'n, 895
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; 900
Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain
Through her perverseness, but shall see her gain'd
By a far worse; or, if she lore, withheld
By parents; or his happiest choice too late
Shall meet, already link'd and wedlock-bound 905
To a fell adversary', his bate or shame:
Which infinite calamity shall cause
To human life, and household peace confound.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

He added not, and from her turn'd; but Eve, Not so repuls'd, with tears that ceas'd not flowing, And tresses all disorder'd, at his feet

911 Fell humble; and, embracing them, besought His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint.

“Forsake me not thus, Adam! witness Heav'n What love sincere, and reverence in my

heart 915 I bear thee, and unwteting 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,

920 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 join'd in injuries, one enmity

925 Against a foe by doom express assign d us, That cruel serpent: on me exercise not Thy hatred for this misery befall'n; On me already lost, me than thyself More miserable; both have sinn'd; but thou

930 Against God only', I against God and thee; And to the place of judgment will return, There with my cries importune Heav'n, that all The sentence, from thy head remov'd, may light On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe,

935 Me, me only, just object of his ire !"

She ended weeping; and her lowly plight, Immoveable, till peace obtain'd from fault Acknowledg'd and deplor'd, in Adam wrought Commist ration: soon his heart relented

940 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 displeas'd, his aid: As one disarmd, his anger all he lost,

945 And thus with peaceful words uprais'd her soon,

"Unwary', and too desirous, as before, So now of what thou know'st not, who desir*st

The punishinent all on thyself; alas!
Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain

950
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,

955 Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiven, To me committed, and by me expos'd. But rise; let us no more contend, nor blame Each other, blam'd enough elsewhere; but strive In offices of love, how we may lighten

960
Each other's burden, in our share of woe;
Since this day's death denounc'd, if ought I see,
Will prove no sudden, but a slow-pac'd eril,
A long day's dying, to augment our pain,
And to our seed (O hapless seed !) deriv'd." 965

To whom thus Eve, recovering heart, reply'd.
* Adam, by sad experiment I know
How little weight my words with thee can find,
Found so erroneous; thence, by just event,
Found so unfortunate; nevertheless,

970
Restor'd by thee, vile as I am, to place
Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain
Thy love, the sole contentment of my heart
Living or dying, from thee I will not hide
What thoughts in my unquiet breast are risen, 975
Tending to some relief of our extremes,
Or end; though sharp and sad, yet tolerable,
As in our evils, and of easier choice.
If care of our descent perplex us most,
Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd 980
By Death at last; and miserable it is
To be to others cause of misery,
Our own begotten, and of our loins to bring
Into this cursed world a woeful race,
That after wretched life must be at last

985 Food for so foul a monster; in thy power It lies, yet ere eonception to prevent The race unblest, to be'ing yet unbegot.

M

Childless thou art, childless remain: so Death
Shall be deceiv'd his glut, and with us two 990
Be fore'd to satisfy his ravenous maw.
But if thou judge it hard and difficult,
Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain
From love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet,
And with desire to languish without hope, 995
Before the present object languishing
With like desire, which would be misery
And torment less than none of what we dread;
Then, both ourselves and seed at once to free
From what we fear for both, let us make short, 1000
Let us seek Death, or, he not found, supply
With our own hands his office on ourselves :
Why stand we longer shivering under fears,
That show no end but death, and have the power,
Of many ways to die the shortest choosing, 1005
Destruction with destruction to destroy ?"

She ended here, or vehement despair
Broke off the rest; so much of death her thoughts
Had entertain'd, as dy'd her cheeks with pale.
But Adam, with such counsel nothing sway'd, 1010
To better hopes his more attentive mind
Lab'ring had rais'd, and thus to Eve reply'd.

"Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems To argue in thee something more sublinie And excellent than what thy mind contemns; 1015 But self-destruction therefore sought, refutes That excellence thought in thee, and inplies, Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret For loss of life and pleasure overlov'd. Or if thou covet death, as utmost end

1020 Of misery, so thinking to evade The penalty pronounc'd; doubt not but God Hath wiselier arm'd his vengeful ire, than so To be forestall’d; much more I fear lest death, So snatch'd, will not exempt us from the pain 1025 We are by doom to pay; rather such acts Of contumacy'will provoke the Highest To make death in us live: then let us seek

[ocr errors][merged small]

Some safer resolution, which methinks
I have in view, calling to mind with heed 1030
Part of our sentence, that thy seed shall bruise
The serpent's head; piteous amends! unless
Be meant, whom I conjecture, our grand foe,
Satan, who, in the serpent, hath contriv'd
Against us this deceit: to crush his head

1035
Would be retenge indeed! which will be lost
By death brought on ourselves, or childless days
Resolv'd, as thou proposest; so our foe
Shall 'scape his punishment ordain’d, and we
Instead shall double ours upon our heads, 1040
No more be mention'd then of violence
Against ourselves, and wilful barrenness,
'That cuts us off from hope, and savours only
Rancour and pride, impatience and despite,
Reluctance against God and his just yoke 1045
Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild
And gracious temper he both heard and judg'd,
Without wrath or reviling; we expected
Immediate dissolution, which we thought
Was meant by death that day; when lo, to thee 1050
Pains only in child-bearing were foretold,
And bringing forth, soon recompens d with joy,
Fruit of thy womb: on me the curse aslope
Glanc'd on the ground; with labour I must earn
My bread; what harm ? Idleness had been worse;
My labour will sustain me; and, lest cold 1056
Or heat should injure us, his timely care
Hath, unbesought, provided, and his hands
Cloth'd us unworthy, pitying while be judgd;
How much more, if we pray him, will his ear 1060
Be open, and his heart to pity'incline,
And teach us further by what means to shyn
Th’inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail, and snow!
Which now the sky with various face begins
To show us in this mountain, while the winds 1065
Blow moist and keen, shattering the graceful locks
of these fair spreading trees; which bids us seek
Some better shroud, some better warmth to cherish

« PreviousContinue »