Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

From unsuccessful charge, be not dismay'd,
Nor troubled at these tidings from the earth,
Which your sincerest care could not prevent;
Foretold so lately what would come to pass,
When first this tempter cross'd the gulf from hell.
I told ye then he should prevail, and speed
On his bad errand; man should be seduced,
And flatter'd out of all, believing lies
Against his Maker; no decree of mine
Concurring, to necessitate his fall,

Or touch with lightest moment of impulse
His free-will, to her own inclining left

and now

In even scale. But fallen he is;
What rests, but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression, death denounced that day?
Which he presumes already vain and void,
Because not yet inflicted, as he fear'd,

By some immediate stroke; but soon shall find
Forbearance no acquittance, ere day end.
Justice shall not return as bounty scorn'd.

But whom send I to judge them? whom but thee,
Vicegerent Son? To thee I have transferr❜dd

All judgment, whether in heaven, or earth, or hell.
Easy it may be seen that I intend

Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee,
Man's friend, his Mediator, his design'd
Both ransom and Redeemer voluntary,

And destined man himself to judge man fallen.
So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright
Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son
Blazed forth unclouded deity: he full
Resplendent all his Father manifest
Express'd, and thus divinely answer'd mild:

Father Eternal, thine is to decree;

Mine, both in heaven and earth, to do thy will

Supreme that thou in me, thy Son beloved,

:

Mayst ever rest well pleased. I go to judge

On earth these thy transgressours; but thou know'st,
Whoever judged, 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

e Because not yet inflicted.

[blocks in formation]

So, in Eccles. viii. 11:-"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."—TODD. d To thee I have transferr'd.

From John v. 22:-"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment

to the Son."-HUME.

[blocks in formation]

On me derived yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy, as may illustrate most
Them fully satisfied, and thee appease.

Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none
Are to behold the judgment but the judged,
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 heaven-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,

[ocr errors]

To fan the earth now waked, and usher in

The evening cool; when he, from wrath more cool,
Came the mild Judge and Intercessour both,

[ocr errors]

To sentence man. The voice of God they heard
Now walking in the garden, by soft winds

Brought to their ears while day declined; they heard,
And from his presence hid themselves among

100

The thickest trees, both man and wife; till God
Approaching, thus to Adam call'd aloud :

Where art thou, Adams, wont with joy to meet

My coming seen far off? I miss thee here;
Not pleased, 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!

105

He came; and with him Eve, more loth, though first
To offend; discountenanced both and discomposed :
Love was not in their looks, either to God

110

Or to each other; but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy, and hate and guile.
Whence Adam, faltering long, thus answer'd brief:
I heard thee in the garden; and of thy voice
Afraid, being naked, hid myself. To whom
The gracious Judge without revile replied:

The sun in western cadence low.

115

This beautiful description is founded upon this verse :-" And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees in the garden," Gen. iii. 8. -NEWTON.

8 Where art thou, Adam?

See Gen. iii. 9, &c. It is curious to observe how the poet paraphrases and enlarges upon the divine historian.-NEWTON.

My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not fear'd,
But still rejoiced; 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 replied:
O heaven! in evil straith 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

Devolved; though, should I hold my peace, yet thou

Wouldst easily detect what I conceal,

This woman', whom thou madest to be my help,

Aud gavest 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 Sovran Presence thus replied:

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
She was indeed, and lovely, to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection; and her gifts

Were such, as under government well seem'd:

hO heaven! in evil strait.

120

125

130

135

140

145

150

Nothing shows Milton's judgment more than keeping to the very words of Scripture, as far as possible, in the preceding conference between God and Adam; but the poet thought himself here obliged to deviate from his rule of adhering strictly to the sacred text, in order to keep up some dignity in Adam, by putting an apology into his mouth for the accusation that was to follow.-STILLINGFLEET.

This woman.

Milton still preserves all that is in Scripture, though he intermixes other things that were likely enough to have been said and done. Adam speaks of Eve much in the same strain as he had done before to the angel, b. viii. 549 :

[ocr errors]

What she wills to do or say,

Seems wisest, &c.

and his unwillingness to accuse his wife, and yet the necessity of doing it, are finely imagined.-NEWTON.

Unseemly to bear rule; which was thy part
And person, hadst thou known thyself aright.
So having said, he thus to Eve in few :

Say, woman, what is this which thou hast done?
To whom sad Eve, with shame nigh overwhelm'd,
Confessing soon, yet not before her Judge
Bold or loquacious, thus abash'd replied:
The serpent me beguiled, and I did eat.

Which when the Lord God heard, without delay
To judgment he proceeded on the accused
Serpent, though brute; unable to transfer
The guilt on him who made him instrument
Of mischief, and polluted from the end
Of his creation: justly then accursed,
As vitiated in nature: more to know

Concern'd not man (since he no farther knew),
Nor alter'd his offence; yet God at last
To Satan, first in sin, his doom applied;

Though in mysterious terms, judged as then best:
And on the serpent thus his curse let fall:

Because thou hast done this, thou art accursed
Above all cattle, each beast of the field:
Upon thy belly grovelling thou shalt go,
And dust shalt eat all the days of thy life.
Between thee and the woman I will put
Enmity; and between thine and her seed:
Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel.
So spake this oracle, then verified',
When Jesus, son of Mary, second Eve,

Saw Satan fall", like lightning, down from heaven,
Prince of the air; then, rising from his grave,
Spoil'd principalities and powers, triumph'd
In open show; and, with ascension bright,
Captivity led captive through the air,

[blocks in formation]

1 Oracle, then verified.

135

103

170

175

180

183

Here is a manifest indication, that, when Milton wrote this passage, he thought Paradise was chiefly regained at our Saviour's resurrection. This would have been a copious and sublime subject for a second poem. The wonders then to be described, would have erected even an ordinary poet's genius; and, in episodes, he might have introduced his conception, birth, miracles, and all the history of his administration while on earth: and I │ much grieve, that, instead of this, he should choose for the argument of his Paradise Regained' the fourth chapter of Luke, the temptation in the wilderness :-a dry, barren, and narrow ground to build an epic poem on. In that work he has amplified his scanty materials to a surprising dignity; but yet, being cramped down by a wrong choice, without the expected applause.-BENTLEY.

m Saw Satan fall.

See Luke, 18, in ver. 184; Ephes. ii. 2; Col. ii. 15; Psalm lxviii. 18; Ephes. iv. &; Rom. xvi. 20.-TODD.

The realm itself of Satan, long usurp'd;
Whom he shall tread at last under our feet;
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 pronounced:
Because thou hast hearken'd to the voice of thy wife,
And eaten of the tree, concerning which

I charged thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat thereof;
Cursed 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 the 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 judged he man, both Judge and Saviour sent;
And the instant stroke of death, denounced that day,
Removed 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 P, 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 reassumed,

190

193

200

203

210

213

220

225

In glory, as of old: to him appeased,

All, though all-knowing, what had pass'd with man
Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.

Meanwhile, ere thus was sinn'd and judged on earth,

Within the gates of hell sat Sin and Death,

n And to the woman.

230

Milton is exact in reporting the sentences pronounced on our first parents. See Gen. iii. 16-19.-NEWTON.

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »