Page images

Perfections; in himself was all his state,
More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits
On princes, when their rich retinue long
Of horses led, and grooms besmear'd with

Dazzles the croud, and sets them all a gape.
Nearer his presence Adam though not aw'd,
Yet with submis approach and reverence meck,
As to a superior nature, bowing low,

Thus said. Native of Heav'n, for other place
None can than Heav'n such glorious shape

Since by descending from the thrones above,
Those happy places thou hast deign'd a while
To want, and honour these, vouchsafe with


Two only, who yet by sov'reign gift possess
This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower
To rest, and what the garden choicest bears
To sit and taste, till this meridian heat
Be over, and the sun more cool decline.

Whom thus th' angelic Virtue answer'd


Adam, I therefore came, nor art thou such
Created, or such place hast here to dwell,
As may not oft invite, though Spirits

To visit thee; lead on then where thy bower
O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening

I have at will. So to the sylvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbour smil'd
With flow'rets deck'd and fragrant smells; but

Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair Than Wood-Nymph, or the fairest Goddess feign'd

Of three that in mount Ida naked strove, Stood to entertain her guest from Heav'n; no veil


(Whose praise be ever sung) to man in part
Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found
No ingrateful food and food alike those pure
Intelligential substances require,

As doth your rational; and both contain
Within them every lower faculty

Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch,

Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
And corporeal to incorporeal turn.
For know, whatever was created, needs
To be sustain'd and fed; of elements
The grosser feeds the purer, earth the sea,
Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires
of Ethereal, and as lowest first the moon ;

Whence in her visage, round thos spots, un-

Vapours not yet into her substance turn'd.
Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale
From her moist continent to higher orbs.
The sun, that light imparts to all, receives
From all his alimental recompense
In humid exhalations, and at even

Sups with the ocean. Though in Heav'n the

[blocks in formation]

All perfect good, unmeasur'd out, descends,
To us for food and for delight hath caus'd
The earth to yield; unsavoury food perhaps
To spiritual natures; only this I know,
That one celestial Father gives to all.

To whom the Angel. Therefore what he

Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines
Yield nectar; though from off the boughs
each morn

She needed, virtue proof; no thought infirm
Alter'd her cheek. On whom the Angel hail
Bestow'd, the holy salutation us'd
Long after to blest Mary, second Eve.

We brush mellifluous dews, and find the
Cover'd with pearly grain: yet God hath here
Varied his bounty so with new delights,
As may compare with Heaven; and to taste
Think not I shall be nice.
So down they sat,
And to their viands fell; nor seemingly

Hail Mother of Maukind, whose fruitful

Shall fill the world more numerous with thy The Angel, nor in mist, the common gloss
Of Theologians; But with keen dispatch


Than with these various fruits the trees of Of real hunger, and concoctive heat


Have heap'd this table. Rais'd of grassy turf
Their table was, and mossy seats had round,
And on her ample square from side to side
All autumn pil'd, though spring and autumn
Danc'd hand in hand. A while discourse they

No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began

To transubstantiate: what redounds, tran-
Through spirits with ease; nor wonder; if by

Of sooty coal th' empyric alchemist
Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold
As from the mine. Mean while at table Eve
Minister'd naked, and their flowing cups

With pleasant liquors crown'd: O innocence
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,

Then had the son of God excuse to have been
Enamour'd at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reigu'd, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injur'd lover's Hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they had

Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let th' occasion pass
Giv'n him by this great conference to know
Of things above his world, and of their being
Who dwell in Heav'n, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms
Divine effulgence, whose high pow'r so far
Exceeded buman, and his wary speech
Thus to th' empyreal minister he fram'd.

Inhabitant with God, now know I well
Thy favour, in this honour done to Man,
Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd
To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,
Food not of Angels, yet accepted so,

As that more willingly thon couldst not seem
At Heav'n's high feasts to have fed: yet what

To whom the winged hierarch reply'd.
O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom
All things proceed, and up to him return,
If not deprav'd from good, created all
Such to perfection, one first matter all,
Endued with various forms, various degrees
Of substance, and in things that live, of life;
But more refin'd, more spiritous, and pure,
As nearer to him plac'd or nearer tending
Each in their several active spheres assign'd,
Till body up to spirit work, in bounds
Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence
the leaves

More airy, last the bright consummate flower
Spirits odorous breathes; flow'rs and their

Improv'd by tract of time, and wing'd asceud
Ethereal, as we, or may at choice
Here or in heav'nly Paradises dwell,
If ye be found obedient, and retain
Unalterably firm his love entire,
Whose progeny you are. Mean while enjoy
Your fill what happiness this happy state
Can comprehend, incapable of more.

To whom the Patriarch of Maukind reply'd:
O favourable Spirit, propitious guest,
Well hast thou taught the way that might di-


Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd,
To vital spirits aspire, to animal,
To intellectual; give both life and sense,
Fancy and understanding; whence the soul
Reason receives, and reason is her being,
Discursive, or intuitive; discourse
Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,
Differing but in degree, of kind the same.
Wonder not, then, what God for you saw good
If I refuse not, but convert, as you,


Willing or no, who will but what they must
By destiny, and can no other chuse?
Myself, and all th' angelic host, that stand
In sight of God enthron'd, our happy state
Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds;
On other surety none; freely we serve,
Because we freely love, as in our will
To love or not; in this we stand or fall:
And some are fall'n, to disobedience fall'n,
Aud so from Heav'n to deepest Hell; O fall,
From what high state of bliss into what woe!
To whom our great Progenitor. Thy words
Attentive, and with more delighted ear,

To proper substance: time may come, when Divine Instructor, I have heard, than when
Cherubic songs by night from neighb'ring hill
Acreal music send: nor knew I not


With angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare;
And from these corporal nutriments perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,

Our knowledge, and the scale of Nature set
From center to circumference whercon,
In contemplation of created things,
By steps we may ascend to God. But say,
What meant that caution join'd, If ye be found
Obedient? Can we want obedience then
To him, or possibly his love desert,
Who form'd us from the dust, and plac'd us


Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend?

To whom the angel. Son of Heav'n and

Attend; that thou art happy, owe to God;
That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.
This was that caution giv'n thee; be advis'd;
God made thee perfect, not immutable;
And good he made thee, but to persevere
He left it in thy power; ordain'd thy will
By nature free, not over-rul'd by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity:
Our voluntary service he requires,
Not our necessitated; such with him
Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how
Can hearts, not free, be try'd whether they

To be both will and deed created free;
Yet that we never shall forget to love
Our Maker, and obey him whose command.

Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts Assur'd me, and still assure: though what

thou tell'st

Hath pass'd in Heav'n, some doubt within me


But more desire to hear, if thou consent,
The full relation, which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred silence to be heard;
And we have yet large day, for scarce the Sun
Hath finish'd half his journey, and scarce be-


Sad task and hard; for how shall I relate
To human sense th' invisible exploits
Of warring spirits, how, without remorse?
The ruin of so many, glorious once
And perfect while they stood? how last unfold
The secrets of another world, perhaps
Not lawful to reveal? yet for thy good
This is dispens'd; and what surmounts the

His other half in the great zone of Heav'n.

Thus Adam made request; and Raphael, After short pause, assenting, thus began : High matter thou injoin`st me, O Prime of For ever happy: him who disobeys,

Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By likening spiritual to corporeal forms,
As may express them best; though what if

Be but the shadow of Heav'n, and things


Brightness had made invisible, thus spake. Hear, all ye Angels, progeny of Light, Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues,

Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?

As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild Reign'd where these Heav'ns now roll, where

Earth now rests

Upon her center pois'd; when on a day
(For time, though in eternity, apply'd
To motion, measures all things durable
By present, past, and future) on such day
As Heav'n's great year brings forth, th' empy-

real host

Of angels by imperial summons call'd,
Innumerable before th' Almighty's throne
Forthwith from all the ends of Heav'n ap-

Under their hierarchs in orders bright:
Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanc'd
Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear
Stream in the air, and for distinction serve
Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees;
Or in their glittering tissues bear imblaz'd
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus, when in orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb, the Father infinite,
By whom in bliss imbosom'd sat the Son,
Amidst, as from a flaming mount whose top


Hear my decree, which unrevok'd shall stand,
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand; your head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn to him shall bow
All knees in Heav'n, and shall confess him

Under his great vice-gerent reign abide United as one individual soul

Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls Into utter darksess, deep ingulf'd, his place Ordain'd without redemption, without end.

So spake th' Omnipotent, and with his words All seem'd well pleas'd; all seem'd, but were not all.

That day, as other solemn days, they spent
In song and dance about the Sacred Hill;
Mystical dance, which youder starry sphere
Of planets and of fix'd in all her wheels
Resembles nearest, mazcs intricate,
Eccentric, intervolv'd, yet regular
Then most, when most irregular they seem;
And in their motions, Harmony divine

So smooths her charming tones, that God's

[blocks in formation]

All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rest,
Wide over all the plain, and wider far
Than all this globous earth in plain outspread,
(Such are the courts of God) th' angelic throng
Dispers'd in bands and files, their camp ex-

By living streams among the trees of life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden rear'd,
Celestial tabernacles, where they slept
Faun'd with cool winds; save those who in
their course

Melodious hymns about the sov'reign throne
Alternate all night long: but not so wak'd
Satan; so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in Heav'n; he of the first,
If not the first arch angel, great in power,
In favour and pre-eminence, yet franght
With envy against the Son of God, that day
Honour'd by his great Father, and proclaim'd
Messiah King anomied, could not bear
Through pride that sight, and thought him-
self impair'd.

Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour
Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolv'd,
With all his legions, to dislodge, and leave
Unworshipt, unobey'd the throne supreme
Contemptuous, and his next subordinate
Awak'ning, thus to him in secret spake:

Sleep'st thou, Companion dear; what sleep
can close

Thy eye-lids? and remember'st what decree
Of yesterday, so late hath pass'd the lips
Of Heav'n's Almighty. Thou to me thy

Wast wont, I mine to thee was wont to impart;
Both waking we were one; how then can now
Thy sleep dissent? New laws thou seest im

New laws from him who reigns, new minds
may raise

In us who serve, new counsels, to debate
What doubtful may ensue: more in this place
To utter is not safe. Assemble thou
Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;
Tell them that by command, cre yet dim night
Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward with flying march where we pos-

Or several one by one, the regent powers,
Under him regent; tells, as he was taught,
That the Most High commanding, now ere

Now ere dim Night had disincumber'd Heav'n,
The great hierarchal standard was to move;
Tells the suggested cause, and casts between
Ambiguous words and jealousies, to sound
Or taint integrity but all obcy'd
The wonted sigual, and superior voice

Of their great Potentate; for great indeed
His name,
and high was his degree in Heav'n;
His count'nance, as the morning star that


The quarters of the North; there to prepare
Fit entertainment to receive our King
The great Messiah, and bis new commands,
Who speedily through all the hierarchies
Intends to pass triumphant and give laws.

So spake the false arch-angel, and infus'd
Bad influence into the unwary breast
Of his associate; he together calls,

The starry flock, allur'd them, and with lies
Drew after him the third part of Heav'n's host.
Meau while th' Eternal Eye, whose sight dis-


Abstrusest thoughts, from forth his holy

And from within the golden lamps that burn
Nightly before him, saw without their light
Rebellion rising; saw in whom, how spread
Among the sons of Morn, what multitudes
Were banded to oppose his high decree;
And smiling, to his only Son thus said:

Son, thou in whom my glory I behold
In full resplendence, heir of all my might,
Nearly it now concerns us to be sure
Of our omnipotence, and with what arms
We meau to hold what auciently we claim
Of deity or empire; such a foe

Is rising, who intends to erect his throne
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious North;
Nor so content, bath in his thought to try
In battle, what our power is, or our right.
Let us advise, and to this hazard draw
With speed what force is left, and all employ
In our defence, lest, unawares, we lose
This our high place, our sanctuary, our hill.

To whom the Son with calm aspect and clear,
Lightning divine, ineffable, serene,
Made auswer. Mighty Father! thou thy foes
Justly hast in derision, and secure
Laugh'st at their vain designs and tumults

Matter to me of glory, whom their hate
Illustrates, when they sce all regal power
Giv'u me to quell their pride, and in event
Know whether I be dextrous to subdue
Thy rebels, or be found the worst in Heav'n.

So spake the Son; but Satan, with his

Far was advanc'd on winged speed, an host
Junumerable as the stars of night,

Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
Regions they pass'd, the mighty regencies

Of Seraphim and Potentates and Thrones
In their triple degrees; regions to which
All thy dominion, Adam, is no more
Than what this garden is to all the earth,
And all the sea, from one entire globose
Stretch'd into longitude; which having pass'd,
At length into the limits of the North
They came, and Satan to his royal seat
High on a bill, far blazing, as a mount
Rais'd on a mount, with pyramids and towers
From diamond quarries, hewn, and rocks of

The palace of great Lucifer, (so call
That structure in the dialect of men
Interpreted) which not long after, he
Affecting all equality with God,
In imitation of that mount whereon
Messiah was declar'd in sight of Heav'n,
The Mountain of the Congregation call'd;
For thither he assembled all his train,
Pretending so commanded, to consult
About the great reception of their King,
Thither to come, and with calumnious art
Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears.
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues,

Had audience, when among the Seraphim
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal ador'd
The deity, the divine commands obey'd,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus oppos'd.

If these magnific titles yet remain
Not merely titular, since by decree
Another now hath to himself engross'd
All power, and us eclips'd, under the name
Of King Anointed, for whom all this haste
Of midnight march, and hurried meeting here,
This only to consult how we may best
With what may be devis'd of honours new
Receive him coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile,
Too much to one, but double how endur'd
To one and to his image now proclaim'd?
But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and chuse to bend
The supple knee? ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves,
Natives and sons of Heav'n, possess'd before
By none, and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then or right assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals, if in pow'r and splendour less,
In freedom equal? Or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? Much less for this to be our Lord,
And look for adoration to th' abuse
Of those imperial titles, which assert
Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve."
Thus far his bold discourse without con-


O argument blasphemous, false and proud; Words which no ear ever to hear in Heav'n Expected, least of all from thee, Ingrate, In place thyself so high above thy peers. Caust thou with impious obloquy condemn The just decree of God, pronoune'd and sworn, That to his only son by right endued With regal sceptre, every soul in Heaven Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due Confess him rightful King? Unjust, thou say'st, Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free, And equal over equals to let reign, One over all with unsucceeded power. Shalt thou give law to God, shalt thou dispute With him the points of liberty, who made Thee what thou art, and form'd the pow'rs of Heaven

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »