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The image of God, in man created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debased
Under inhuman pains ? why should not man,
Retaining still divine similitude
In part, from such deformities be free,
Anđ for his Maker's image-sake exempt ?".
“ Their Maker's image,” answer'd Michael,“ then
Forsook them, when themselves they vilified,
To serve ungovern'd appetite, and took
His image whom they serv'd, a brutish vice,
Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.
Therefore so abject is their punishment,
Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own;
Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced,
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
The rule of not too much, by temperance taught
In what thou eatest and drinkest, seeking from
Due nourishment, no gluttonous delight (thence
Till many years over thy head return : [drop
So mayest thou live, tili, like ripe fruit, thou
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
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 J 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. [livest,
“Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven :
And now prepare thee for another sight.”
He look'd, 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 & chords, were 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 by stream From under ground, the liquid ore he drain'd Into fit moulds prepared : from which he form’d, First, his own tools; then, what might else be Fusil, or graven in metal. After these, [wrought, But on the hither side, a different sort
seat, From the high neighbouring hills, which was their Down to the plain descended : by their guise Just men they seem'd, and all their study bent To worship God aright, and know his works Not hid, nor those things last which might preserve Freedom and peace to men; they on the plain Long had not walk'd, when from the tents, behold A bevy of fair women richly gay In gems & 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 [eyes Fast caught, they liked, and each his liking chose : And now of love they treat, till the evening star, Love's harbinger, appear'd; 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, Of love & youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers, And charming symphonies, attach'd the heart Of Adam, soon inclined to admit delight, The bent of nature; which he thus expressed.
“True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel bless'd, Much better seems this vision, and‘more hope Of peaceful days portends, than those two past; Those were of hate, & death, or pain, much worse,
Here nature seems fulfill'd in all her ends."
To whom thus Michael. “ Judge not what is best
By pleasure, though to nature seeming meet,
Created, as thou art, to nobler end,
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 acknowledg'd none.
Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget;
For that fair female troop thou saw'st, that seem'd
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, & troll the tongue, & 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.
"O pity & shame, that they, who to live well
Enter'd so fair should turn aside to tread
Paths indirect, or in the midway faint !
But still I see the tenor of man's wo
Hold 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 look'd, 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 & 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 scatter'd lies
With carcases, & arms, the ensanguined field
Deserted. Others to a city strong
Lay siege, encamped ; by battery, scale, & mine,
Assaulting; others from the wall defend
With dart, & javelin, stones, & sulphurous fire;
On each hand slaughter, and gigantic deeds.
In other part, the scepter'd heralds call
To council in the city gates : anon
Gray-headed men & 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 & 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, & refuge none was found.
Adam was all in tears, and, to his guide
Lamenting, turn'd 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 saw'st ;
Where good with bad were match’d, who of them-
Abhor to join ; and by imprudence mix'd, [selves
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 call’d;
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 callid, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth;
And what most merits fame in silence hid.
But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheld'st
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,
Wrapt in a balmy cloud, with winged steeds
Did, as thou saw'st, receive, to walk with God,
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 look'd, & saw the face of things quite chang'll.
The brazen throat of war had ceas'd to roar;
And all was turn'd to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance,
Marrying, or prostituting, as befel,
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 preach'd
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison, under judgments imminent:
But all in vain : which when he saw, he ceas'd
Contending, and removed his tents far off.
Then from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge hulk,
Measured by cubit, length, & breath, and highth,
Smear'd round with pitch, & in the side a door
Contriyed; and of provisions laid in large
For man & beast : when, lo, a wonder strange!
Of every beast and bird, and insect small,
Came sevens, & pairs, & enter'd in, as taught
Their order; last the sire, and his three sons,
With their four wives ; & God made fast the door.
Meanwhile the south wind rose, with black wings
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 sicken'd sky