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On earth these thy transgressors; but thou know'st,
Whoever judg'd, the worst on me must light,
When time shall be; for so I undertook
Before thee'; and, not repenting, this obtain
Of right, that I may mitigate their doom
On me deriv'd; yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy', as may illustrate most
Them fully satisfy'd, and thee appease.
Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none
Are to behold the judgment, but the judg'd,
Those two; the third best absent is condemn'd,
Convict by flight, and rebel to all law:
Conviction to the serpent none belongs."
Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose
Of high collateral glory': him thrones, and powers,
Princedoms, and dominations ministrant
Accompanied to Heav'n gate; from whence
Eden and all the coast in prospect lay.
Down he descended straight; the speed of gods
Time counts not, though with swiftest minutes wing'd.
Now was the sun in western cadence low
From noon, and gentle airs, due at their hour,
To fan the earth now wak'd, and usher in
The evening cool; when he, from wrath more cool,
Came the mild judge and intercessor both
To sentence man: the voice of God they heard,
Now walking in the garden,
Brought to their ears, while day declin'd; they heard,
And from his presence hid themselves among
The thickest trees, both man and wife; till God,
Approaching, thus to Adam call'd aloud.
"Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet
My coming seen far off? I miss thee here,
Not pleas'd, thus entertain'd with solitude,
Where obvious duty' erewhile appear'd unsought:
Or come I less conspicuous, or what change
Absents thee, or what chance detains? Come forth!"
He came, and with him Eve, more loth, though first
To' offend, discount'nanc'd both, and discompos'd;
Love was not in their looks, either to God
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy', and hate, and guile.
Whence Adam, falt'ring long, thus answer'd brief. 115
"I heard thee in the gard'n, and of thy voice
Afraid, being naked, hid myself." To whom
The gracious Judge, without revile reply'd.
"My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not fear'd,
But still rejoic'd; how is it now become
So dreadful to thee? that thou' art naked, who
Hath told thee? hast thou eaten of the tree,
Whereof I gave thee charge thou shouldst not eat?"
To whom thus Adam, sore beset, reply'd.
"O Heav'n! in evil strait this day I stand
Before my Judge, either to undergo
Myself the total crime, or to accuse
My other self, the partner of my life;
Whose failing. while her faith to me remains,
I should conceal, and not expose to blame
By my complaint; but strict necessity
Subdues me, and calamitous constraint,
Lest on my head both sin and punishment,
However insupportable, be all
Devolv'd; though, should I hold my peace, yet thou
Wouldst easily detect what I conceal.
This woman, whom thou mad'st to be my help,
And gav'st me as thy perfect gift, so good,
So fit, so acceptable, so divine,
That from her hand I could suspect no ill,
And what she did, whatever in itself,
Her doing seem'd to justify the deed;
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
To whom the sov'reign Presence thus reply'd.
"Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey
Before his voice, or was she made thy guide,
Superior, or but equal, that to her
Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
Wherein God set thee' above her made of thee,
And for thee, whose perfection far excell❜d
Hers in all real dignity? Adorn'd
Ev'n he who now foretold his fatal bruise;
And to the woman thus his sentence turn'd.
"Thy sorrow I will greatly multiply
By thy conception; children thou shalt bring
In sorrow forth; and to thy husband's will
Thine shall submit; he over thee shall rule."
On Adam last thus judgment he pronounc'd. "Because thou' hast harken'd to the' voice of thy wife, And eaten of the tree, concerning which I charg'd thee, saying, 'Thou shalt not eat thereof:' Curs'd is the ground for thy sake; thou in sorrow Shalt eat thereof all the days of thy life; Thorns also' and thistles it shall bring thee forth Unbid; and thou shalt eat th' herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, Till thou return unto the ground; for thou Out of the ground wast taken, know thy birth, For dust thou art, and shalt to dust return."
So judg'd he man, both judge and saviour sent, And th' instant stroke of death, denounc'd that day, Remov'd far off; then, pitying how they stood Before him naked to the air, that now Must suffer change, disdain'd not to begin Thenceforth the form of servant to assume, As when he wash'd his servants' feet; so now, As father of his family, he clad Their nakedness with skins of beasts, or slain, Or as the snake with youthful coat repaid; And thought not much to clothe his enemies: Nor he their outward only with the skins Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much more Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness Arraying, cover'd from his Father's sight. To him with swift ascent he up return'd, Into his blissful bosom reassum'd In glory, as of old; to him appeas'd
All, though all-knowing, what had pass'd with man Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.
Meanwhile ere thus was sinn'd and judg'd on Earth, Within the gates of Hell sat Sin and Death,
In counterview within the gates, that now
Stood open wide, belching outrageous flame
Far into Chaos, since the fiend pass'd through,
Sin opening, who thus now to Death began.
"O son, why sit we here each other viewing
Idly, while Satan, our great author, thrives
In other worlds, and happier seat provides
For us, his offspring dear? It cannot be
But that success attends him; if mishap,
Ere this he had return'd, with fury driven
By his avengers, since no place like this
Can fit his punishment, or their revenge.
Methinks I feel new strength within me rise,
Wings growing, and dominion given me large
Beyond this deep; whatever draws me on,
Or sympathy, or some connatural force,
Pow'rful at greatest distance to unite,
With secret amity, things of like kind,
By secretest conveyance. Thou, my shade
Inseparable, must with me along:
For Death from Sin no pow'r can separate.
But lest the difficulty of passing back
Stay his return perhaps over this gulf
Impassable, impervious, let us try
Advent'rous work, yet to thy pow'r and mine
Not unagreeable, to found a path
Over this main from Hell to that new world,
Where Satan now prevails; a monument
Of merit high to all th' infernal host,
Easing their passage hence, for intercourse,
Or transmigration, as their lot shall lead.
Nor can I miss the way, so strongly drawn
By this new felt attraction and instinct."
Whom thus the meagre shadow answer'd soon.
"Go whither fate and inclination strong
Leads thee; I shall not lag behind, nor err
The way, thou leading; such a scent I draw
Of carnage, prey innumerable, and taste
The savour of death from all things there that live: