Page images

As when he wash'd his servants' feet, so now, 915
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 220
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 re-assumed

In glory, as of old; to him appeased
All, tho' 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, 230 In cointerview 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 235 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 240 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, 245 Or sympathy, or some connat'ral 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;

250 For Death from Sin no power can separate.

216. It was formerly believed that some animals shed their skins like snakes : but the most common supposition is, that the skins mentioned in this part of Scripture history were those of animals offered in sacrifice, which it is generally supposed were nstituted in the earliest period of man's existence.

222. Isaiah lxi. 10.
229. Sinn'd and judged, impersonal verbs.

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 255
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 260
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:
Nor shall I to the work thou enterprisest 270
Be wanting, but afford thee equal aid.

So saying, with delight he snuff'd the smell
Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock
Of ravenous fowl, though many a league remote,
Against the day of battle, to a field

Where armies lie encamp’d, come flying, lured
With scent of living carcases design'd
For death the following day, in bloody fight;
So scented the grim Feature, and upturn'd
His nostril wide into the murky air,

280 Sagacious of his quarry from so far. Then both from out Hell-gates into the waste Wide anarchy of Chaos, damp and dark, Flew diverse, and with pow'r (their pow'r was great) Hov'ring upon the waters, what they met, 285 Solid or slimy, as in raging sea Tost up and down, together crowded drove From each side shoaling towards the mouth of Hell: As when two polar winds, blowing adverse Upon the Cronian sea, together drive

290 Mountains of ice, that stop th' imagined way

266. Nor err, not mistake. 290. Cronian sea, the wurthern frozen ocean.-Petsora, a province on the north eastern extremity of Muscovy. --Cáthaian toast, the north of China

Beyond Petsora eastward, to the rich
Cathaian coast. The aggregated soil
Death with his mace petrific, cold and dry,
As with a trident smote, and fix'd as firm
As Delos floating once ; the rest his look
Bound with Gorgonian rigour not to move ;
And with Asphaltic slime, broad as the gate,
Deep to the routs of Hell the gather'd beach
They fasten'd, and the mole immense wrought on 300
Over the foaming deep high arch'd, a bridge
Of length prodigious, joining to the wall
Immoveable of this now fenceless world
Forfeit to Death: from hence a passage broad,
Smooth, easy, inoffensive down to Hell.

So, if great things to small may be compared,
Xerxes, the liberty of Greece to yoke,
From Susa bis Memnonian palace high
Came to the sea, and over Hellespont
Bridging his way, Europe with Asia join'd, 310
And scourged with many a stroke th’indignant waves.
Now had they brought the work by wondrous art
Pontifical, a ridge of pendent rock,
Over the vex'd abyss, following the track
Of Satan to the self-same place where he 315
First lighted from his wing, and landed safe
From out of Chaos, to the outside bare
Of this round world. With pins of adamant
And chains they made all fast, too fast they made
And durable ; and now in little space

320 The confines met of Empyréan Heav'n And of this World, and on the left hand Hell Wi..h long reach interposed : three sev'ral ways In sight, to each of these three places led. And now their way to Earth they had descry'd, 325 To Paradise first tending, when, behold, Satan, in likeness of an Angel bright,

296. After it became the birth-place of Apollo, Delos ceased, it is said, to roat as formerly.

304. Matt. vii. 13.

306. Xerres, ue king of Persia, built a bridge over the Hellespont to invade Greece.-Susa was the capital of Susiana, & province of Persia.

312. The art of raising bridges was among the most wonderful in antiquity; and the high-priest of the Romans derived his name Pontifex, from pons, a bridge, and facere, to make.

322. Hell is placed on the left hand according to our Saviour's account, Matt. xxv. 41.

Betwixt the Centaur and the Scorpion steering
His zenith, while the sun in Aries rose.
Disguised he came; but those his children dear 330
Their parent soon discern'd, though in disguise.
He, after Eve seduced, unminded slunk
Into the wood fast by, and changing shape
T' observe the sequel, saw his guileful act
By Eve, though all unweeting, seconded 335
Upon her husband, saw their shame that sought
Vain covertures ; but when he saw descend
The Son of God to judge them, terrify'd
He fled, not hoping to escape, but shun
The present, fearing guilty what his wrath 840
Might suddenly inflict; that pass’d, return'd
By night, and list’ning where the hapless pair
Sat in their sad discourse, and various plaint,
Thence gather'd his own doom, which understood
Not instant, but of future time, with joy

And tidings fraught, to Hell he now return'd,
And at the brink of Chaos, near the foot
Of this new wondrous pontifice, unhoped
Met who to meet him came, his offspring dear.
Great joy was at their eting, and at sight 350
Of that stupendous bridge his joy increased.
Long he admiring stood, till Sin, his fair
Enchanting daughter, thus the silence broke:

O Parent, these are thy magnific deeds, Thy trophies, which thou view'st as not thine own! Thou art their author and prime architect : 356 For I no sooner in my heart divined, My heart, which by a secret harmony Still moves with thine, join'd in connexion sweet, That thou on earth hadst prosper'd, which thy looks Now also evidence, but straight I felt,

361 Tho' distant from thee worlds between, yet felt That I must after thee with this thy son; Such fatal consequence unites us three: Hell could no longer hold us in her bounds, 365 Nor this unvoyageable gulf obscure Detain from following thy illustrious track. Thou hast achieved our liberty, confined Within Heli-gates till now; thou us impower'd

328. To avoid the observation of Uriel, the constellations through Which Satan passed being the most distant from Aries.

To fortify thus far, and overlay

370 With this portentous bridge the dark abyss. Thine now is all this world ; thy virtue' hath won What thy hands builded not; thy wisdom gain'd With odds what war hath lost, and fully 'venged 374 Our foil in Heav'n: here thou shalt monarch reign; There didst not; there let him still victor sway, As battle hath adjudged, from this new world Retiring, by his own dooin alienated, And henceforth monarchy with thee divide Of all things parted by th' empyreal bounds, 380 His quadrature, from thy orbicular world, Or try thee now more dangerous to his throne.

Whom thus the Prince of darkness answer'd glad; Fair Daughter, and thou Son and Grandchild both, High proof ye now have given to be the race 385 Of Satan (for I glory in the name, Antagonist of Heav'n s Almighty King); Amply have merited of me, of all Th’infernal empire, that so near Heav'n's door Triumphal with triumphal act have met,

390 Mine with this glorious work, and made one realm Hell and this world, one realm, one continent Of easy thoroughfare. Therefore, while I Descend through darkness, on your road with ease, To my associate Pow'rs, them to acquaint With these successes, and with them rejoice, You two this way, among these numerous orbs All yours, right down to Paradise descend; There dwell and reign in bliss, thence on the earth Dominion exercise, and in the air,

400 Chiefly on Man, sole lord of all declared ; Him first make sure your thrall, and lastly kill. My substitutes I send ye, and create Plenipotent on earth, of matchless might Issuing from me. On your joint vigour now 405 My hold of this new kingdom all depends, Through Sin to Death exposed by my exploit. If your joint pow'r prevail, th' affairs of Hell No detriment need fear. Go, and be strong.

So saying, he dismiss'd them; they with speed 410 Their course through thickest constellations held,


34". Antagonist, the meaning of the Hebrew woru Satan

« PreviousContinue »