Imatges de pÓgina

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 snare 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 men
Unseen, and through their habitations walks,
To mark their doings, them beholding soon,
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven-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 mocked they storm. Great laughter was in Heaven,



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 abhorr❜st


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 enthral
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-Oh, that men
(Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown,
While yet the patriarch lived who 'scaped the flood,
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

Which He will show him, and from him will raise
A mighty nation, and upon him shower

His benediction so, that in his seed

All nations shall be blessed. He straight obeys;
Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes.
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





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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 unnamed),
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 blessed,
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, departs
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 slaves
Inhospitably, and kills their infant males:
Till, by two brethren (those two brethren call
Moses and Aaron) sent from God to claim



His people from enthralment, 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;
His cattle must of rot and murrain die ;
Botches and blains must all his flesh emboss,
And all his people; thunder mixed with hail,
Hail mixed with fire, must rend the Egyptian sky,
And wheel on the earth, devouring where it rolls;
What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,
A darksome cloud of locusts swarming down
Must eat, and on the ground leave nothing green;
Darkness must overshadow all his bounds,
Palpable darkness, and blot out three days;
Last, with one midnight stroke, all the first-born
Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds,
The river-dragon, tamed, at length submits
To let his sojourners depart, and oft
Humbles his stubborn heart, but still as ice
More hardened after thaw; till, in his rage
Pursuing whom he late dismissed, the sea
Swallows him with his host, but them lets pass
As on dry land, between two crystal walls,
Awed by the rod of Moses so to stand
Divided till his rescued gain their shore:

Such wondrous power God to His saint will lend,
Though present in His angel, who shall go
Before them in a cloud, and pillar of fire-
By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire-
To guide them in their journey, and remove
Behind them, while the obdurate king pursues.
All night he will pursue, but his approach
Darkness defends between till morning-watch;




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