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T'whom Michael thus, he also mov'd, reply'd.
"These two are brethren, Adam, and to come
Out of thy loins; th' unjust the just hath slain,
For envy that his brother's offering found
From Heav'n acceptance; but the bloody fact
Will be aveng'd, and the other's faith, approv'd,
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!
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,
Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!"
To whom thus Michaël. "Death thou hast seen In his first shape on man; but many shapes Of Death, and many are the ways that lead To his grim cave, all dismal; yet to sense More terrible at th' entrance than within. 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 Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew
Before thee shall appear; that thou may'st know 475
What misery th' inabstinence of Eve
Shall bring on men." 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
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 phrenzy, 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
Th' 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," then Forsook them, when themselves they vilify'd 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 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 #30
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, till, like ripe fruit, thou drop 535
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 grey; 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 rend'ring up, and patiently attend
My dissolution." Michaël reply'd.
"Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st
Live well; how long or short, permit to Heav'n:
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 pursu'd transverse the resonant fugue. In other part stood one who, at the forge Lab'ring, two massy clods of ir'on and brass Had melted, (whether found where casual fire Had wasted woods in 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 prepar'd; from which he form'd
First his own tools; then, what might else be wrought
Fusil or grav'n in metal. After these,
But on the hither side, a different sort
From the high neighb'ring 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 th' harp they sung
Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on:
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 th' 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, flow`rs,
And charming symphonies, attach'd the heart
Of Adam, soon inclin'd t' 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; 600
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 bis 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 appetence, to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye: 620
To these that sober race of men, whose lives
Religious title 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 indirect, or in the mid way faint!
But still I see the tenor of man's woe
Holds on the same, from woman to begin."
"From man's effeminate slackness it begins,"
Said th' angel," who should better hold his place 635
By wisdom, and superior gifts receiv'd.
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 tow'rs,
Concourse in arms, fierce faces threat'ning war,
Giants of mighty bone, and bold emprise;
Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed,
Single, or in array of battle rang'd,
Both horse and foot, nor idly must'ring stood; 645
One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,