صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego,
To what thou hast; and, for the air of youth,
Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reign
A melancholy damp of cold and dry

To weigh thy spirits down, and last consume
The balm of life." To whom our ancestor.

"Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolong
Life much; bent rather how I may be quit
Fairest and easiest of this cumbrous charge;
Which I must keep till my appointed day
Of rendering up, and patiently attend

My dissolution." Michael replied.

Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers,
And charming symphonies, attached the heart
Of Adam, soon inclined to admit delight,
The bent of nature; which he thus expressed.

"True opener of mine eyes, prime angel blest,
Much better seems this vision, and more hope
Of peaceful days portends, than those two past;
Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse;
Here nature seems fulfilled in all her ends."

To whom thus Michael. "Judge not what is

By pleasure, though to nature seeming meet;

"Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou Created, as thou art, to nobler end,


Live well; how long or short, permit to Heaven:
And now prepare thee for another sight."

He looked, and saw a spacious plain, whereon
Were tents of various hue; by some, were herds
Of cattle grazing; others, whence the sound
Of instruments that made melodious chime
Was heard, of harp and organ; and, who moved
Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch,
Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.
In other part stood one who, at the forge
Labouring, two massy clods of iron and brass
Had melted, (whether found where casual fire
Had wasted woods on mountain or in vale,
Down to the veins of earth; thence gliding hot
To some cave's mouth; or whether wash'd



From under ground;) the liquid ore be drained
Into fit moulds prepared; from which he formed
First his own tools; then, what might else be

Fusil or graven in metal. After these,
But on the hither side, a different sort

[ocr errors]

Holy and pure, conformity divine.

Those tents thou saw'st so pleasant, were the tents
Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his race
Who slew his brother; studious they appear
Of arts that polish life, inventors rare;
Unmindful of their Maker, though his spirit
Taught them; but they his gifts acknowledged


Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget,
For that fair female troop thou saw'st, that seemed
Of goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay,
Yet empty of all good wherein consists
Woman's domestic honour and chief praise;
Bred only and completed to the taste
Of lustful appetance, to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye:
To these that sober race of men, whose lives
Religious titled them the sons of God,
Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame
Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles
Of these fair atheists; and now swim in joy,
Ere long to swim at large; and laugh, for which
The world ere long a world of tears must weep."
To whom thus Adam, of short joy bereft.

From the high neighbouring hills, which was their "O pity and shame, that they, who to live well


Down to the plain descended: by their guise
Just men they seemed, and all their study bent
To worship God aright, and know his works
Not hid; nor those things last which might pre-


Freedom and peace to men: they on the plain
Long had not walked, when from the tents, behold!
A bevy of fair women, richly gay
In gems and wanton dress; to the harp they sung
Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on:
The men, though grave, eyed them, and let their


Rove without rein; till in the amorous net
Fast caught, they liked; and each his liking chose;
And now of love they treat, till the evening star,
Love's harbinger, appeared; then, all in heat
They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke
Hymen, then first to marriage rites invoked:
With feast and music all the tents resound.
Such happy interview, and fair event

Entered so fair, should turn aside to tread
Paths indirect, or in the mid way faint!
But still I see the tenor of man's wo
Holds on the same, from woman to begin."

"From man's effeminate slackness it begins,"
Said the angel," who should better hold his place
By wisdom, and superior gifts received.
But now prepare thee for another scene.

He looked, and saw wide territory spread
Before him, towns, and rural works between
Cities of men with lofty gates and towers,
Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatening war,
Giants of mighty bone, and bold emprise;
Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed,
Single, or in array of battle ranged,
Both horse and foot, nor idly mustering stood;
One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,
From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs, over the plain,
Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly,

But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;
With cruel tournament the squadrons join;
Where cattle pastured late, now scattered lies
With carcasses and arms the ensanguined field,
Deserted: others to a city strong

Lay siege, encamped; by battery, scale, and mine,
Assaulting; others from the wall defend
With dart, and javelin, stones and sulphurous fire,
On each hand slaughter, and gigantic deeds.
In other part the sceptred heralds call
To council, in the city gates: anon

Gray headed men and grave, with warriors mix'd,
Assemble, and harangues are heard; but soon
In factious opposition; till at last
Of middle age one rising, eminent

In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, of religion, truth, and peace,
And judgment from above: him old and young
Exploded, and had seized with violent hands,
Had not a cloud descending snatched him thence
Unseen amid the throng: so violence
Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law,
Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.
Adam was all in tears, and to his guide
Lamenting turned full sad; "O! what are these,
Death's ministers, not men? who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men and multiply

Ten thousand fold the sin of him who slew
His brother; for of whom such massacre
Make they, but of their brethren; men of men?
But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven
Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost?"

To whom thus Michael. "These are the product
Of those ill-mated marriages thou sawest;
Where good with bad were matched, who of them-

Abhor to join; and, by imprudence mixed,
Produce prodigious births of body or mind.
Such were these giants, men of high renown;
For in those days might only shall be admired,
And valour and heroic virtue called;
To overcome in battle, and subdue
Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
Manslaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
Of human glory; and for glory done
Of triumph, to be styled great conquerors,
Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods;
Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth;
And what most merits fame in silence hid.

High in salvation and the climes of bliss,
Exempt from death; to show thee what reward
Awaits the good, the rest what punishment;
Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold."
He looked, and saw the face of things quite

The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar;
All now was turned to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance,
Marrying or prostituting, as befell,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allured them; thence from cups to civil broils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declared,
And testified against their ways; he oft
Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,
Triumphs or festivals; and to them preached
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison under judgments imminent :
But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceased.
Contending, and removed his tents far off;
Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk,
Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and

Smeared round with pitch, and in the side a door
Contrived, and of provisions laid in large
For man and beast: when lo, a wonder strange!
Of every beast, and bird, and insect small,
Came sevens, and pairs, and entered in as taught
Their order: last the sire and his three sons,
With their four wives; and God made fast the

Meanwhile the southwind rose, and, with black

Wide hovering, all the clouds together drove
From under Heaven; the hills to their supply
Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,
Sent up amain; and now the thickened sky
Like a dark ceiling stood; down rushed the rain
Impetuous, and continued till the earth

No more was seen; the floating vessel swum
Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow
Rode tilting o'er the waves; all dwellings else
Flood overwhelmed, and them with all their pomp
Deep under water rolled; sea covered sea,
Sea without shore; and in their palaces,
Where luxury late reigned, sea monsters whelped
And stabled; of mankind, so numerous late,
All left, in one small bottom swum embarked.

But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou be- How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold


The only righteous in a world perverse,
And therefore hated, therefore so beset
With foes, for daring single to be just,
And utter odious truth, that God would come
To judge them with his saints; him the most High,
Rapt in a balmy cloud, with winged steeds
Did, as thou saw'st, receive, to walk with God

The end of all thy offspring, end so sad,
Depopulation! thee another flood,

Of tears and sorrow a flood thee also drowned,
And sunk thee as thy sons; till, gently reared
By the angel, on thy feet thou stood'st at last,
Though comfortless; as when a father mourns
His children, all in view destroyed at once;
And scarce to the angel utteredst thus thy plaint.

"O visions ill foreseen! better had I
Lived ignorant of future! so had borne
My part of evil only, each day's lot
Enough to bear; those now that were dispensed
The burden of many ages, on me light
At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth
Abortive, to torment me ere their being,

Of them derived, but of God observed
The one just man alive; by his command
Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou beheld'st,
To save himself and household from amidst
A world devote to universal wrack.

No sooner he, with them of man and beast
Select for life, shall in the ark be lodged,

With thought that they must be. Let no man And sheltered round, but all the cataracts

[blocks in formation]


Subduing nations, and achieved thereby
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey;
Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and

Surfeit, and lust; till wantonness and pride
Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.
The conquered also, and enslaved by war,
Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose
And fear of God; from whom their piety feigned
In sharp contest of battle found no aid
Against invaders; therefore, cooled in zeal,
Thenceforth shall practise how to live secure,
Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords
Shall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bear
More than enough, that temperance may be tried:
So all shall turn degenerate, all depraved;
Justice and temperance, truth and faith forgot;
One man except, the only son of light
In a dark age, against example good,
Against allurement, custom, and a world
Offended; fearless of reproach and scorn,
Or violence, he of their wicked ways
Shall them admonish, and before them set
The paths of righteousness, how much more safe,
And full of peace; denouncing wrath to come
On their impenitence; and shall return

Of Heaven set open on the earth shall pour
Rain, day and night; all fountains of the deep,
Broke up, shall heave the ocean to usurp
Beyond all bounds; till inundation rise
Above the highest hills: then shall this mount
Of Paradise by might of waves be moved
Out of his place, pushed by the horned flood,
With all his verdure spoiled, and trees adrift,
Down the great river to the opening gulf,
And there take root, an island salt and bare,
The haunt of seals and orcs, and seamews clang:
To teach thee that God attributes to place
No sanctity, if none be thither brought
By men who there frequent or therein dwell.
And now, what further shall ensue, behold."

He looked, and saw the ark hull on the flood,
Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,
Driven by a keen northwind, that, blowing dry,
Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decayed;
And the clear sun on his wide watery glass
Gazed hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew,
As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink
From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole
With soft foot towards the deep, who now had stopt
His sluices, as the Heaven his windows shut.
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground
Fast on the top of some high mountain fixed.
And now the tops of hills as rocks appear:
With clamour, thence the rapid currents drive
Towards the retreating sea their furious tide.
Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies,
And after him the surer messenger,
A dove sent forth once and again to spy
Green tree or ground whereon his foot may light;
The second time returning, in his bill
An olive leaf he brings, pacific sign:
Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark
The ancient sire descends with all his train;
Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,
Grateful to heaven, over his head beholds
A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Conspicuous with three listed colours gay,
Betokening peace from God, and covenant new.
Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad,
Greatly rejoiced, and thus his joy broke forth.

"O thou, who future things canst represent
As present, heavenly instructor! I revive
At this last sight, assured that man shall live,
With all the creatures, and their seed preserve.
Far less I now lament with one whole world
Of wicked sons destroyed, than I rejoice

For one man found so perfect and so just, That God vouchsafes to raise another world From him, and all his anger to forget.

This second source of men, while yet but few, And while the dread of judgment past remains Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,

But say, what mean those coloured streaks in Hea- With some regard to what is just and right


Distended, as the brow of God appeased?
Or serve they as a flowery verge, to bind
The fluid skirts of that same watery cloud,
Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth?"
To whom the archangel. Dexterously thou

So willingly doth God remit his ire,
Though late repenting, him of man depraved;
Grieved at his heart, when looking down he saw
The whole earth filled with violence, and all flesh
Corrupting each their way; yet, those removed,
Such grace shall one just man find in his sight
That he relents not to blot out mankind;
And makes a covenant never to destroy
The earth again by flood; nor let the sea
Surpass his bounds; nor rain to drown the world,
With man therein or beast; but when he brings
Over the earth a cloud, will therein set
His triple-coloured bow, whereon to look,
And call to mind his covenant: day and night,
Seed time and harvest, heat and hoary frost,
Shall hold their course, till fire purge all things


Both Heaven and earth, wherein the just shall dwell.



The angel Michael continues, from the flood, to relate what shall succeed; then in the mention of Abraham, comes by degrees to explain, who that seed of the woman shall be, which was promised Adam and Eve in the fall; his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; the state of the church till his second coming. Adam, greatly satisfied and recomforted by these relations and promises, descends the hill with Michael; awakens Eve, who all this while had slept, but with gentle dreams composed to quietness of mind and submission. Mi

chael in either hand leads them out of Paradise, the fiery sword waving behind them, and the cherubim taking their stations to guard the place.

As one, who in his journey bates at noon, Though bent on speed; so here the archangel paused

Betwixt the world destroyed and world restored,
If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;
Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes.
"Thus thou hast seen one world begin and end;
And man, as from a second stock proceed.
Much thou hast yet to see; but I perceive
Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine
Must needs impair and weary human sense;
Henceforth what is to come I will relate;
Thou therefore give due audience and attend.

Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace;
Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,
Corn, wine, and oil; and from the herb or flock,
Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid,
With large wine offerings poured, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joys unblamed; and dwell
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule; till one shall rise
Of proud ambitious heart; who not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserved
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of nature from the earth;
Hunting (and men, not beasts, shall be his game)
With war and hostile snares such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous:
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled
|Before the Lord; as, in despite of Heaven,
Or from Heaven claiming second sovereignty;
And from rebellion shall derive his name,
Though of rebellion others he accuse.
He with a crew whom like ambition joins
With him or under him to tyrannize,
Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find
The plain wherein a black bituminous gurge
Boils out from under ground, the mouth of hell:
Of brick, and of that stuff they cast to build
A city and tower, whose top may reach to Heaven,
And get themselves a name; lest, far dispersed
In foreign lands, their memory be lost;
Regardless whether good or evil fame.
But God, who oft descends to visit mon
Unseen, and through their habitations walks
To mark their doings, them beholding soon,
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven's towers, and in derision sets
Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase
Quite out their native language; and, instead,
To sow a jangling noise of words unknown:
Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud
Among the builders; each to other calls
Not understood; till hoarse, and all in rage,
As mock'd they storm: great laughter was in

And looking down, to see the hubbub strange
And hear the din: thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work confusion named."

Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased.
"O execrable son! so to aspire
Above his brethren, to himself assuming
Authority usurped, from God not given:
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over men
He made not lord; such title to himself

Reserving human left from human free.
But this usurper his encroachment proud
Stays not on man: to God his tower intends
Siege and defiance: wretched man! what food
Will he convey up thither to sustain
Himself and his rash army, where thin air
Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,
And famish him of breath, if not of bread?"
To whom thus Michael. "Justly thou

That son, who on the quiet state of men
Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue
Rational liberty: yet know withal,
Since thy original lapse, true liberty


Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being:
Reason in man obscured, or not obeyed,
Immediately inordinate desires

And upstart passions catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce
Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits
Within himself unworthy powers to reign
Over free reason, God, in judgment just,
Subjects him from without to violent lords;
Who oft as undeservedly inthral

His outward freedom: tyranny must be;
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.
Yet sometimes nations will decline so low
From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice, and some fatal curse annexed,
Deprives them of their outward liberty,

Their inward lost: witness the irreverent son
Of him who built the ark, who, for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
Servant of servants, on his vicious race.
Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Still tend from bad to worse, till God at last,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes; resolving from thenceforth
To leave them to their own polluted ways;
And one peculiar nation to select
From all the rest, of whom to be invoked,
A nation from one faithful man to spring:
Him on this side Euphrates yet residing,
Bred up in idol-worship; O, that men
(Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown,
While yet the patriarch lived who 'scaped the

As to forsake the living God, and fall

To worship their own work in wood and stone
For gods! yet him God the most high vouchsafes
To call by vision from his father's house,
His kindred, and false gods, into a land

I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith
He leaves his gods, his friends, and native soil,
Ur of Chaldæa, passing now the ford
To Haran; after him a cumbrous train
Of herds and flocks, and numerous servitude,
Not wandering poor, but trusting all his wealth
With God, who called him, in a land unknown.
Canaan he now attains; I see his tents

Pitched about Sechem, and the neighbouring plain
Of Moreh; there by promise he receives
Gift to his progeny of all that land,

From Hamath northward to the desert south;
(Things by their names I call, though yet un-

From Hermon east to the great western sea;
Mount Hermon, yonder sea; each place behold
In prospect, as I point them; on the shore
Mount Carmel; here the double founted stream
Jordan, true limit eastward; but his sons
Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.
This ponder, that all nations of the earth
Shall in his seed be blessed by that seed
Is meant thy great deliverer, who shall bruise
The serpent's head; whereof to thee anon
Plainlier shall be revealed. This patriarch blest
Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call,
A son, and of his son a grandchild leaves,
Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown;
The grandchild, with twelve sons increased, de-

From Canaan, to a land hereafter called
Egypt, divided by the river Nile;

See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths
Into the sea: to sojourn in that land
He comes, invited by a younger son

In time of dearth; a son, whose worthy deeds
Raise him to be the second in that realm
|Of Pharaoh: there he dies, and leaves his race
Growing into a nation; and now grown,
Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks
To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests
Too numerous; whence of guests he makes them

Inhospitably, and kills their infant males:

Till by two brethren (these two brethren called
Moses and Aaron) sent from God to claim
His people from inthralment, they return
With glory and spoil, back to their promised land,
But first the lawless tyrant, who denies
To know their God, or message to regard,
Must be compelled by signs and judgments dire;
To blood unshed the rivers must be turned;
Frogs, lice, and flies must all his palace fill
With loathed intrusion, and fill all the land;

Which he will show him, and from him will raise His cattle must of rot and murrain die;

A mighty nation, and upon him shower
His benediction so, that in his seed

All nations shall be blest: he straight obeys,
Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes:

Botches and blains must all his flesh emboss,
And all his people; thunder mixed with hail,
Hail mixed with fire, must rend th' Egyptian sky,
And wheel on th' earth, devouring where it rolls:

« السابقةمتابعة »