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With me? How can they then acquitted stand
In fight of God? Him, after all disputes,
Forc'd I absolve: all my evasions vain,
And reasonings (though thro'mazes) lead me still
But to my own conviction : first and last
On me, me only (as the source and spring
Of all corruption, all the blame lights due :
So might the wrath! Fond wish! Coulåst thou support
That burden, heavier than the earth to bear ; 835
Than all the world much heavier; though divided
With that bad woman? Thus, what thou desirest,
And what thou fear'st, alike destroys all hope
Of refuge; and concludes thee miserable,
Beyond all past example, and future :
TO SATAN only like, both crime, and doom.
O Conscience ! into what abyss of fears
And horrors haft thou driven me ? Out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plung'd!
Thus ADAM to himself lamented loud,
Through the still night: not now (as ere man fell)
Wholsom, and cool, and mild; but with black air
Accompany'd ; with damps, and dreadful gloom :
Which to his evil conscience represented
All things with double terror. On the ground
Out-stretch'd he lay ; on the cold ground! and oft
Curs'd his creation; Death as oft accus'd
Of tardy execution, since denounc'd
The day of his offence. Why comes not Death,
(Said he) with one thrice acceptable stroke
To end me ? Shall truth fail to keep her word ?
Justice Divine not hasten to be just?
But death comes not at call; Justice Divine
Mends not her slowest pace for pray’rs, or cries !
woods, O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bow'rs!
With other echo late I taught your shades
To answer, and resound far other long !-
Whom thus afflicted when fad Eve beheld,
Defolate where she fat, approaching nigh,
Soft Words to his fierce passion fhe assay'd ;
But her with stern regard he thus repell'd.
Out of my fight, thou serpent ! --That name best Befits thee, with him leagu'd ; thy self as false And hateful! nothing wants, but that thy shape, Like his, and colour serpentine, may shew Thy inward fraud ; to warn all creatures from thee Henceforth; left that too heavenly form, pretended To hellish falfhood, snare them ! But for thee I had perfifted happy: had not thy pride And wand'ring vanity, when least was fafe, Rejected my forewarning, and disdain'd Not to be trusted ; longing to be seen, 'Though by the devil himself; him overweening To over-reach: but with the serpent meeting, Fool'd and beguild; by him thou, I by thee, 880 To trust thee from my side ; imagin'd wise, Constant, mature, proof against all affaults: And understood not all was but a shew, Rather than solid virtue ; all but a rib, Crooked by nature, bent (as now appears) More to the part finister from me drawn ; Well if thrown out, as supernumerary To my juft number found ! 0! why did God Creator wise! that peopl'd highest heav'n With spirits masculine, create at last This novelty on earth, this fair defect Of nature ? And not fill the World at once With men, as Angels, without feminine ? Or find some other way to generate Mankind ? This mischief had not then befal'n, And more that shall befal : innumerable Disturbances on earth through female snares, And straight conjunction with this sex! for either He never shall find out fit mate ; but such As some misfortune brings him, or mistakes 900 Or, whom he wishes most, fhail seldom gain Through her perverseness : but shall see her gain'd By a far worse : or if she love, witheld By parents ; or his happiest choice too late
Shall meet, already link'd, and wedlock-bound
To a fell adversary, his hate, or shame :
Which infinite calamity shall cause
To human life, and houshold peace
He added not, and from her turn'd
Not so repuls’d, with tears that ceas'd not flowing,
And tresses all disorder'd, at his feet
Fell humble; and, embracing them, befought
His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint.
Forsake me not thus, ADAM! Witness heav'n
What love sincere, and reverence in my heart
I bear thee, and unweeting have offended,
Unhappily deceiv'd! Thy suppliant
I beg, and clasp thy knees :: -bereave me not
(Whereon I live!) thy gentle looks, thy aid,
Thy counsel, in this uttermost distress,
My only strength, and stay! Forlorn of thee,
Whither shall I betake me,-- -where subfiit ?
While yet we live, (scarce one short hour perbaps)
Between us two let there be peace ! both joining
(As join'd in injuries) one enmity
Against a foe by doom express affign'd us,
That cruel serpent! On me exercise not
Thy hatred, for this misery befall’n ;
On me, already lost! Me, than thy self
More miserable! Both have sinn'd! but thou
Against God only ; I against God and thee:
And to the place of judgment will return,
There with my cries importune heav'n ; that all
The fentence, from thy head remov'd, may light
On me ; fole cause to thee of all this woe;
Me! me! only just object of His ire !
She ended weeping ; and her lowly plight
Immoveable, 'till peace obtain'd from fault
Acknowledg'd, and deplor'd, in ADAM wrought
Commiseration : foon his heart relented
Tow'rds her, his life so late, and fole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress!
Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking,
His counsel, (whom she had displeas'd) his aid !
At once disarm’d, his anger all he loft ;
945 And thus with peaceful words up-rais'd her soon.
Unwary! and too desirous (as before,
So now) of what thou know'lt not, who desir'it
The punishment all on thy self! Alas!
Bear thine own first; ill able to sustain
950 His full wrath, whose thou feel'st least
And my displeasure bear'ft so ill. If pray’rs
Could alter high decrees, I to that place
Would speed- before thee: and be louder heard,
That on my head all might be visited ;
Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiv'n ;
To me committed, and by me expos'd.
But rise! let us no more contend or blame
Each other ; blam'd enough elsewhere! but strive
In offices of love, how we may light'n
Each other's burden, in our share of woe:
Since this day's death denounc'd (if ought I see)
Will prove no sudden, but a slow pac'd evil;
A long day's dying to augment our pain :
And to our feed (Õ hapless feed !) deriv’d. 965
To whom thus Eve, recov’ring heart, reply'd.
ADAM! by fad experiment, I know
How little weight my words with thee can find,
Found fo erroneous ; thence by just event
Found so unfortunate : nevertheless,
Restor'd by thee (vile as I am!) to place
Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain
'Thy love (the sole contentment of my heart,
Living, or dying) from thee I will not hide
What thoughts in my unquiet breast are ris'n: 975
Tending to some reliet of our extremes,
Or end; though sharp, and fad, yet tolerable
As in our evils, end of easier choice.
If care of our descent perplex us mort,
Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd
By Death at last, (and miserable it is
To be to others cause of misery,
Our own begotten ; and of our loins to bring
Into this cursed world a woeful race ;
That, after wretched life, must be at last
Food for so foul a monster !) in thy pow'r
It lies yet, ere conception, to prevent
The race unbleft, to Being yet unbegot.
Childless thou art, childless remain : so DEATH
Shall be deceiv'd his glut: and with us two
Be forc'd to satisfy his rav'nous maw.
But if thou judge it hard and difficult,
Converfing, looking, loving, to abstain
From love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet ;
And with desire to languish without hope,
Before the present object languishing
With like defire ; (which would be misery,
And torment, less than none of what we dread)
Then (both ourselves and seed, at once to free
From what we fear for both) let us make short,-
Let us seek Death: -or, he not found, supply
With our own hands his office on ourselves.
Why stand we longer shivering under fears,
That shew no end but death ; and have the pow'r
Of many ways to die, the shortest chusing,
Destruction with destruction to destroy ?
She ended here, or vehement despair
Broke off the rest : so much of death her thoughts
Had entertain'd, as dy'd her cheeks with pale.
But Adam, with such counsel nothing sway'd,
To better hopes his more attentive mind
Lab'ring had rais'd; and thus to Eve reply'd.
Eve! thy contempt of life and pleasure, seems
To argue in thee something more fublime,
And excellent, than what thy mind contemns.
But felf-destruction therefore fought, refutes
That excellence thought in thee: and implies,