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Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew
Before thee shall appear; that thou may'st know
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 seein'd, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas'd, all maladies
Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms
Of heart-sick agony, all fev'rous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, cholic 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-eyed 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.
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, “them Forsook them, when themselves they vilified 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-
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.
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 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 cumb'rous charge,
Which I must keep till my appointed day
Of rend'ring up, and patiently attend
My dissolution." Michael replied:
"Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st Live well; how long or short permit to heaven: And now prepare tice 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 were 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 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 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, tho' grave, eyed them, and let their eyes-
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, flowers,
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 bless'd! 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, 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.
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 athiests, 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 midway 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
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 towers;
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:
One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen, and fair kine,
From a fat meadow-ground; or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs, over the plain,.
Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly,
But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;
With cruel tournament the squadrons join;
Where cattle pastur'd late, now scatter'd lies
With carcasses and arms, th' ensanguin'd field
Deserted: others to a city strong
Lay siege, encamp'd; by battery, scale, and mine,
Assaulting; others from the wall defend
With dart and javelin, stones, and sulph'rous fire;
On each hand slaughter and gigantic deeds.
In other part the sceptred heralds call
To council in the city gates; anon
Gray-headed men and grave, with warriors mix'd
Assemble, and harangues are heard, but soon
In factious opposition; till at last
Of middle age one rising, eminent
In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, of religion, truth and peace,
And judgment from above: him old and young
Exploded, and had seiz'd with violent hands
Had not a cloud descending snatch'd him thence-
Unseen amid the throng: so violence
Proceeded, and oppression and sword-law,
Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.
Adam was all in tears, and to his guide
Lamenting turn'd full sad: "O what are these,
Death's ministers, not men, who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men, and multiply
Ten thousand-fold the sin of him who slew