Page images
PDF
EPUB

Or thence, from Niger flood to Atlas mount
The kingdoms of Almansor, Fez and Sus,
Morocco and Algiers, and Tremisen ;
On Europe thence, and where Rome was to sway
The world: in spi'rit perhaps he also saw
Rich Mexico, the seat of Montezume,
And Cusco in Peru, the richer seat
Of Atabalipa, and yet unspoilid
Guiana, whose great city Geryon' sons 410
Call El Dorado: but io nobler sights
Michael from Adam's eyes the film remov'd,
Which that false fruit that promis'd clearer sight
Had bred; then purg'd with euphrasy and rue
The visual nerve, for he had much to see ;
And from the well of life three drops instill'd.
So deep the power of these ingredients pierc'd,
Een to the inmost seat of mental sight,
That Adam now enforc'd to close his eyes,
Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranc'd ;
But him the gentle Angel by the hard 421
Soon rais'd, and his attention thus recall'd :

Adam, now ope thine eyes, and first behold
Th' effects which thy origi’nal crime hath wrought
In some to spring from thee, who never touch'd
Th’excepted tree, nor with the snake conspir’d,
Nor sinn'd thy sin, yet from that sin derive
Corruption to bring forth more violent deeds.
His eyes

open'd, and beheld a field, Part arable and tilih, whereon were sheaves 430 New reap'd, the other part sheep-walks and folds ;

I'th' midst an altar as the land-mark stood
Rustic, of grassy sord; thither anon
A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought
First fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf,
Uncull’d, as came to hand; a shepherd next
More meck came with the firstlings of his flock
Choicest and best ; then sacrificing, laid
The inwards and their fat, with incense strow'd,
On the cleft wood, and all due rights perform’d.
His offering soon propitious fire from Heav'n 411
Consum'd with nimble glance, and grateful stream;
The other's not, for his was not sincere;
Whereat he inly rag'd, and as they talk'd,
Smote him into the midriff with a stone
That beat out life; he fell, and deadly pale
Groan'd out his soul with gushing blood effus’d.
Much at that sight was Adam in his heart
Dismay'd, and thus in haste to th’Angel cry’d:

O Teacher, some great inischief hath befall’n To that meek man, who well had sacritic'd; 451 Is piety thus and pure devotion paid ?

T' whom Michael thus, he also mov’d, reply'd: These two are brethren, Adam, and to come Oui of thy loins ; th' unjust the just hach siain For envy that his brother's offering found From Heav'n acceptance; but the bloody fact Will be aveng’d, and th’ other's faith approvid Lose no reward, though here thou see him die, Rolling in dust and gore.

To which our Sire: Alas, both for the deed and for the cause! 461

But have I now seen death? is this the way
I must return to native dust ? O sight
Of terror, foul and ugly to behold,
Horiid to think, how horrible to feel !
To whom thus Michaël : Death thou hast scen
In his first shape on man; but many shapes
Of Death, and many are the ways that lead
To this grim cave, all dismal ; yet to sepse
More terrible at th' entrance than within. 470
Some, as thou saw'st, by violent stroke shall die,
By fire, flood, famine, by intemp'rance more
In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring
Discases dire, of which a monstrous crew
Before thee shall appear; that thou may'st know
What misery th' inabstinence of Eve
Shall bring on inen. Immediately a place
Before his eyes appear'd, sad, noisome, dark,
A lazar-house it seem’d, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas’d, all maladies ; 480
Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms
Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, colic pangs,
Demoniac plirenzy, moaping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,
Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans ; Despair
Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch ; 490
And over them triumphant Death his dart

Shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invok'd
With vows, as their chief good, and final hope.
Sight so deform what heart of rock could long
Dry-ey'd behol? Adam could not, but wept,
Though not of woman born ; compassion quell'd
His best of man, and gave him up to tears
A space, till former thoughts restrain'd excess ;
And scarce recovering words his plaint renew'd:

O miserable Mankind, to what fall 500
Degraded, to what wretched state reserv'd !
Better end here unborn. Why is life given
To be thus wrested from us? rather why
Obtruded on us thus ? who, if we knew
What we receive, would either not accept
Life osser’d, or soon beg to lay it down,
Glad to be so dismiss'd in peace. Can thus
Th’image of God in man created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debas'd 510
Under inhuman pains ? Why should not man,
Retaining still divine similitude
In part, from such. deformities be free,
And for his Maker's image sake exempt?

Their Maker's image, answer'd Michael, then Forsook them, when themselves they vilify'd To serve ungovern'd appetite, and took His image whom they servd, a brutish vice, Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve. Therefore so abject is their punishment, 52Q Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own,

Or if his likeness, by themselves defac’d,
While they pervert pure Nature's healthful rules
To loathsome sickness, worthily, since they
God's image did not reverence in themselves.

I yield it just, said Adam, and submit.
But is there yet no other way, besides
These painful passages, how we may come
To death, and mix with our connatural dust?

There is, said Michael, if thou well observe 530
The rule of not too much, by temp'rance taught,
In what thou eat'st and drink'st, seeking from thence
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return :
So may'st thou live, tilllike ripe fruit thou drop
Into thy mother's lap, or be with ease
Gather’d, not harshly pluck'd, for death mature :
This is old age ; but then thou must outlive
Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty, which will

change To wither'd, weak, and gray ; thy senses then 540 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 À 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 530

« PreviousContinue »