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210 “Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,

“One night or two with wanton growth derides,

Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise, “ Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present: “Let us divide our labours; thou, where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind “ The woodbine round this arbour, or direct The clasping ivy where to climb; while I, “ In yonder spring of roses intermix'd

“ With myrtle, find what to redress till noon: 220 For, while so near each other thus all day

“ Our task we choose, what wonder if so near
“ Looks intervene and smiles, or object new
“ Casual discourse draw on; which intermits

“Our day's work, brought to little, though begun 225 • Early, and the hour of supper comes unearn'd ?”

To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd: “Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond

Compare above all living creatures dear!

“ Well hast thou motion’d, well thy thoughts employ’d, 230 “How we might best fulfil the work which here

“God hath assign'd us; nor of me shalt pass
“Unprais'd; for nothing lovelier can be found
“In woman, than to study household good,

“ And good works in her husband to promote. 235 “Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos'd

“ Labour as to debar us, when we need
“Refreshment, whether food, or talk between,
Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse

“ Of looks and smiles; for smiles from reason flow, 240 “ To brute denied, and are of love the food

“Love, not the lowest end of human life.
“For not to irksome toil, but to delight,
“He made us, and delight to reason join'd.

“These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands 245 “ Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide As we need walk, till younger hands ere long

But if much converse perhaps

6. Assist us.

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265

“ Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield ;

“ For solitude sometimes is best society,
250 " And short retirement urges sweet return.

“But other doubt possesses me, lest harm
“ Befal thee sever'd from me ; for thou know'st
" What hath been warn’d us, what malicious foe

“Envying our happiness, and of his own
255 Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame

By sly assault, and somewhere nigh at hand
“ Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find
“ His wish and best advantage-us asunder;

“ Hopeless to circumvent us join'd, where each
260 “ To other speedy aid might lend at need.

" Whether his first design be to withdraw
“Our feälty from God, or to disturb

Conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss

Enjoy'd by us excites his envy more;
Or this, or worse: leave not the faithful side
“ That gave thee being, still shades thee, and protects.
“ The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,
“ Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
“Who guards her, or with her the worst endures."

To whom the virgin majesty of Eve,
As one who loves and some unkindness meets,
With sweet austere composure thus replied:

Offspring of heaven and earth, and all earth's lord !
“ That such an enemy we have, who seeks
275 “ Our ruin, both by thee inform'd I learn,

And from the parting angel overheard,
“ As in a shady nook I stood behind,
“ Just then return'd at shut of evening flowers.
“ But that thou shouldst

my

firmness therefore doubt " To God, or thee, because we have a foe

May tempt it, I expected not to hear.
“ His violence thou fear'st not, being such
“ As we, not capable of death or pain,

“Can either not receive, or can repel.
285 “ His fraud is then thy fear; which plain infers

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Thy equal fear, that my firm faith and love
“Can by his fraud be shaken, or seduc'd :
Thoughts, which, how found they harbour in thy

“breast,
Adam, mis-thought of her to thee so dear?"

To whom with healing words Adam replied:
“Daughter of God and man, immortal Eve!
“ For such thou art, from sin and blame entire:
“Not diffident of thee do I dissuade

“ Thy absence from my sight; but to avoid 295 “ The attempt itself, intended by our foe.

“For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses
“ The tempted with dishonour foul, suppos'd
“Not incorruptible of faith, not proof

Against temptation. Thou thyself with scorn
300
And
anger

wouldst resent the offer'd wrong,
“ Though ineffectual found: misdeem not, then,
“If such affront I labour to avert
“ From thee alone, which on us both at once
“ The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare ;
“Or daring, first on me the assault shall light.
“ Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;

(Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce
“ Angels,) nor think superfluous others' aid.
" I, from the influence of thy looks, receive
“ Access in every virtue ; in thy sight
“More wise, more watchful; stronger, if need were
“Of outward strength: while shame, thou looking on,
“ Shame to be overcome, or over-reach'd,

“ Would utmost vigour raise, and rais'd unite.
315 Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel

“When I am present, and thy trial choose
“ With me, best witness of thy virtue tried ?"

So spake domestic Adam, in his care

And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought 320 Less attributed to her faith sincere,

Thus her reply with accent sweet renew'd:

“If this be our condition, thus to dwell

305

310

“ In narrow circuit, straiten'd by a foe

“ Subtle or violent, we not endued
325 “Single with like defence wherever met,

“How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
“But harm precedes not sin: only our foe,
“ Tempting, affronts us with his foul esteem

“ Of our integrity: his foul esteem
330 “ Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns

“Foul on himself; then wherefore shunn'd or fear'd
“By us? who rather double honour gain
“From his surmise prov'd false-find peace within-

“Favour from heaven, our witness, from the event. 335 “ And what is faith, love, virtue, unassay'd

Alone; without exterior help sustain'd ?
“Let us not then suspect our happy state
“Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,

“ As not secure to single, or combin'd: 340 “ Frail is our happiness, if this be so:

“ And Eden were no Eden, thus expos'd."

To whom thus Adam fervently replied :
“O woman! best are all things as the will

“ Of God ordain'd them : his creating hand 345 “ Nothing imperfect or deficient left

“ Of all that he created, much less man,
“Or aught that might his happy state secure-
Secure from outward force; within himself

“ The danger lies; yet lies within his power : 350 “ Against his will he can receive no harm.

“ But God left free the will ; for what obeys
“Reason, is free ; and reason he made right,
“ But bid her well beware, and still erect;

Lest, by some fair-appearing good surpris'd, 355 “She dictate false, and misinform the will,

“ To do what God expressly hath forbid.
“Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins
“ That I should mind thee oft; and mind thou me.
“ Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve ;
“ Since reason not impossibly may meet

360

365

“Some specious object, by the foe suborn'd,
And fall into deception unaware,
“ Not keeping strictest watch as she was warn'd.
“Seek not temptation then ; which to avoid
“ Were better, and most likely if from me
“ Thou sever not: trial will come unsought.
“ Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
“ First thy obedience : the other who can know?

“Not seeing thee attempted—who attest? 370 “But, if thou think trial unsought may find

• Us both securer than thus warn'd thou seem'st,
“Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more-
Go in thy native innocence; rely

On what thou hast of virtue; summon all ! 375 “For God towards thee hath done his part: do thine.”

So spake the patriarch of mankind : but Eve
Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied:

“ With thy permission then, and thus forewarn’d,

Chiefly by what thy own last reas'ning words 380 “ Touch only, that our trial, when least sought,

“ May find us both perhaps far less prepar'd,
“ The willinger I go: nor much expect
A foe so proud will first the weaker seek;

“So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.” 385 Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand

Soft she withdrew; and, like a wood-nymph light,
Oread, or Dryad, or of Delia's train,
Betook her to the groves ; but Delia's self

In gait surpass'd, and goddess-like deport;
390 Though not, as she, with bow and quiver arm’d,

But with such gardening-tools as art, yet rude,
Guiltless of fire, had form'd, or angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorn'd,

Likest she seem'd-Pomona, when she fled 395 Vertumnus-or to Ceres in her prime,

Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.

Her long with ardent look his eye pursued
Delighted, but desiring more her stay.

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