« AnteriorContinua »
“ Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve, expressed
Immutable when thou wert lost, not I ;
Who might have lived, and joyed immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing? not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint! What could I more
I warned thee, I admonished thee, foretold
The danger, and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this had been force,
And force upon free will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on, secure
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial ; and perhaps
I also erred in overmuch admiring
What seemed in thee so perfect that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee. But I rue
That error now,
which is become my crime,
And thou the accuser. Thus it shall befall
Him who, to worth in woman overtrusting,
I.ets her will rule : restraint she will not brook;
And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse."
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,
And of their vain contest appeared no end.
Man's transgression known, the guardian angels forsake Paradise, and return up to Heaven to approve their vigilance, and are approved ; God declaring that the entrance of Satan could not be by them prevented. He sends His Son to judge the transgressors; who descends, and gives sentence accordingly; then, in pity, clothes them both, and reascends. Sin and Death, sitting till then at the gates of Hell, by wondrous sympathy feeling the success of Satan in this new world, and the sin by man there committed, resolve to sit no longer confined in Hell, but to follow Satan, their sire, up to the place of man: to make the way easier from Hell to this world to and fro, they pave a broad highway or bridge over Chaos, according to the track that Satan first made ; then, preparing for earth, they meet him, proud of his success, returning to Hell; their mutual gratulation. Satan arrives at Pandemonium ; in full assembly relates, with boasting, his success against man; instead of applause is entertained with a general hiss by all his audience, transfornied, with himself also, suddenly into serpents, according to his doom given in Paradise ; then, deluded with a show of the Forbidden Tree springing up before them, they, greedily reaching to take of the fruit, chew dust and bitter ashes. The proceedings of Sin and Death : God foretells the final victory of His Son over them, and the renewing of all things; but, for the present, commands His angels to make several alterations in the heavens and elements. Adam, more and more perceiving his fallen condition, heavily bewails, rejects the condolement of Eve; she persists, and at length appeases him : then, to evade the curse likely to fall on their offspring, proposes to Adam violent ways; which he approves not, but, conceiving better hope, puts her in mind of the late promise made them, that her seed should be revenged on the serpent, and exhorts her, with him, to seek peace of the offended Deity by repentance and supplication.
MEANWHILE the heinous and despiteful act
Of Satan done in Paradise, and how
He, in the serpent, had perverted Eve,
Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,
Was known in Heaven ; for what can 'scape the eye
Of God all-seeing, or deceive His heart
Omniscient? Who, in all things wise and just,
Hindered not Satan to attempt the mind
Of man, with strength entire and free will armed,
Complete to have discovered and repulsed
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.
For still they knew, and ought to have still remembered,
The high injunction not to taste that fruit,
Whoever tempted; which they not obeying
Incurred (what could they less ?) the penalty,
And, manifold in sin, deserved to fall.
Up into Heaven from Paradise in haste
The angelic guards ascended, mute and sad
For man; for of his state by this they knew,
Much wondering how the subtle fiend had stolen
Soon as the unwelcome news
From earth arrived at Heaven-gate, displeased
All were who heard ; dim sadness did not spare
That time celestial visages, yet, mixed
With pity, violated not their bliss.
About the new-arrived, in multitudes,
The ethereal people ran, to hear and know
How all befell. They towards the throne supreme,
Accountable, made haste, to make appear,
With righteous plea, their utmost vigilance,
And easily approved; when the Most High,
Eternal Father, from His secret cloud
Amidst, in thunder uttered thus His voice :
“ Assembled angels, and ye powers returned
From unsuccessful charge, be not dismayed
Nor troubled at these tidings from the earth,
Which your sincerest care could not prevent,
Foretold so lately what would come to pass,
When first this tempter crossed the gulf from Hell.
I told ye then he should prevail, and speed
On his bad errand-man should be seduced,
And flattered out of all, believing lies
Against his Maker; no decree of Mine,
Concurring to necessitate his fall,
Or touch with lightest moment of mpulse
His free will, to her own inclining left
In even scale. But fallen he is; and now
What rests, but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression, death denounced that day?
Which he presumes already vain and void,
Because not yet inflicted, as he feared,
By some immediate stroke ; but soon shall find
Forbearance no acquittance ere day end.
Justice shall not return, as bounty, scorned.
But whom send I to judge them ? whom but Thee,
Vicegerent Son ? To Thee I have transferred
All judgment, whether in Heaven, or earth, or Hell.
Easy it may be seen that I intend
Mercy colleague with justice, sending Thee,
Man's Friend, his Mediator, his designed
Both Ransom and Redeemer voluntary,
And destined man Himself to judge man fallen."
So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright
Toward the right hand His glory, on the Son
Blazed forth unclouded Deity. He full
Resplendent all His Father manifest
Expressed, and thus divinely answered mild :-
“Father Eternal, Thine is to decree;
Mine both in Heaven and earth to do Thy will
Supreme, that Thou in Me, Thy Son beloved,
May'st ever rest well pleased. I go to judge
On earth these Thy transgressors; but Thou know'st,
Whoever judged, the worst on Me must light,
When time shall be; for so I undertook
Before Thee, and, not repenting, this obtain
Of right, that I may mitigate their doom
On Me derived. Yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy as may illustrate most
Them fully satisfied, and Thee appease.
Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none
Are to behold the judgment but the judged,
Those two; the third, best absent, is condemned,
Convict by flight, and rebel to all law;
Conviction to the serpent none belongs.'
Thus saying, from His radiant seat He rose
Of high collateral glory. Him thrones and powers,
Princedoms, and dominations ministrant,
Accompanied to Heaven-gate, from whence
Eden and all the coast in prospect lay.
Down He descended straight; the speed of gods
Time counts not, though with swiftest minutes winged.
Now was the sun in western cadence low
From noon, and gentle airs due at their hour
To fan the earth now waked, and usher in
The evening cool, when He, from wrath more cool,
Came, the mild Judge and Intercessor both,
To sentence man. The voice of God they heard
Now walking in the garden, by soft winds
Brought to their ears, while day declined ; they heard,
And from His presence hid themselves among
The thickest trees, both man and wife, till God,
Approaching, thus to Adam called aloud :-
“Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet
My coming, seen far off? I miss thee here,
Not pleased, thus entertained with solitude,
Where obvious duty erewhile appeared unsought.
Or come I less conspicuous, or what change
Absents thee, or what chance detains ? Come forth !”
He came, and with him Eve, more loth, though first
To offend, discountenanced both, and discomposed.
Love was not in their looks, either to God
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy, and hate, and guile.
Whence Adam, faltering long, thus answered brief :-
“I heard Thee in the garden, and, of Thy voice
Afraid, being naked, hid myself.” To whom
The gracious Judge, without revile, replied :-
“My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not feared,
But still rejoiced ; how is it now become
So dreadful to thee? That thou art naked who
Hath told thee? Hast thou eaten of the tree