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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; wakens Eve, who all this while had slept, but with gentle dreams composed to quietness of mind and submission. Michael 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 th' archangel paus'd
Betwixt the world destroy'd and world restor❜d,
If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;
Then with transition sweet new speech resumes. 3
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
As one] When the last book was divided into two, in the second edition, these first five lines were added.
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.
This second source of men, while yet but few,
And while the dread of judgment past remains
Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,
With some regard to what is just and right
Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace,
Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,
Corn, wine, and oil; and from the herd, or flock,
Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid,
With large wine-offerings pour'd, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblam'd, 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 undeserv'd
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of nature from the earth;
Hunting, and men not beasts shall be his
With war and hostile snare such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous.
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styl'd
Before the Lord, as in despite of heav'n,
Or from heav'n claiming second sov❜reignty;
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 tow'r, whose top may reach to heav'n,
And get themselves a name, lest far disperst
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 heav'n tow'rs, 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 heav'n,
And looking down, to see the hubbub strange 60
42 mouth] Type. i. 405. Bentl. MS. In this twelfth book, Bentley says, the editor has seldom mixed his pebbles among the author's diamonds.
43 mouth of hell] Virg. Georg. iv. 467.
'Tænarias etiam fauces, alta ostia Ditis.'
52 Obstruct] Approach the clouds. Bentl. MS.
jo hubbub] v. F. Queen. iii. x. 43.
And shrieking hubbubs them approaching nere.'
And hear the din; thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion nam'd.
Whereto thus Adam fatherly displeas'd.
O execrable son! so to aspire
Above his brethren, to himself assuming
Authority usurp'd, from God not giv'n.
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 thus 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 Twinn'd, and from her hath no dividual being: 85 Reason in man obscur'd, or not obey'd,
82 Rational] National. Bentl. MS.
83 thy] So in Milton's own edition. In Fenton's, Bentley's, and others, it is 'Since by original lapse.' Newton. 85 Twinn'd] Some editions read 'twin'd.' Newton.
Immediately inordinate desires
And upstart passions catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce
Man till then free. Therefore, since he permits 90
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 annex'd,
Deprives them of their outward liberty,
Their inward lost: witness th' 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 invok'd,
A nation from one faithful man to spring:
103 this] So in Milton's own ed.; but in others, his heavy curse.' The corruption first occurs in Tonson's ed. 1711, and is followed by Tickell, Fenton, and Bentley.