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Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, colic-pangs,
Demoniac phrensy, moping 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 ;
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 behold ? 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 firmer thoughts restrain'd excess;
And, scarce recovering words, his plaint renew'd.
“ O miserable mankind, to what fall
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 offer'd, or soon beg to lay it down;
Glad to be so dismiss'd in peace. Can thus
The image of God in Man, created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debas'd
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,
Forsook them, when themselves they vilified
To serve ungovernd 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 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 The rule of Not too much ; by temperance taught, In what thou eat’st and drink'st; seeking from
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return :
So may'st thou live ; till, like 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
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 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
Of rendering up, and patiently attend
My dissolution.” Michaël replied.
“ 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 mov’d Their stops and chords, was 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 underground ;) the liquid ore he drain’d Into fit moulds prepar'd; from which he form'd First his own tools; then, what might else be
wrought Fusil or graven in metal. After these, But on the hither side, a different sort
From the high neighbouring hills, which was their
seat, 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 and wanton dress; to the harp they sung Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on: [eyes The men, though grave, ey'd them; and let their Rove without rein ; till, in the amorous net Fast caught, they lik'd; 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 invok'd ; With feast and music all the tents resound. Such happy interview, and fair event Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers, And charming symphonies, attach'd the heart Of Adam, soon inclin'd to admit delight, The bent of nature; which he thus express’d.
“ True opener of mine eyes, prime angel blest; Much better seems this vision, and more hope Of peaceful days portends, than those two past; Those were of hate and 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, inventers rare;
Unmindful of their Maker, though his spirit (none.
Taught them; but they his gifts acknowledg'd
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 appetence, to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and 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 and shame, that they, who to live well
Enter'd so fair, should turn aside to tread
Paths ect, or in the mid way faint !
But still I see the tenour of man's woe
Holds 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 receiv'd.
But now prepare thee for another scene."