Page images

By a far worse, or if she love, withheld
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 household peace confound.

He added not, and from her turn'd; but Eve Not so repuls'd, with tears that ceas'd not flowing, 910 And tresses all disorder'd, at his feet Fell humble, and embracing them, besought His peace, ,

and thus proceeded in her plaint. FORSAKE me not thus, Adam, witness Heaven What love sincere, and reverence in my heart 915 1 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 subsist? While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps, Between us two let there be

peace, both joining, As join'd in injuries, one enmity

925 Against a foe by doom express assign'd us, That cruel Serpent: On me exercise not 'Thy hatred for this misery befall’n, On me already lost, me than myself More miserable; both have sinn'd, but thou Against God only', I against God and thee, And to the place of judgment will return,


930 940

There with my cries importune Heav'n, that all
The sentence from thy head remov'd may light
On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe,

935 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; soon his heart relented
Towards her, his life so late and sole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress,
Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking,
His council whom she had displeas’d, his aid:
As one disarm’d, his anger all he lost,

945 And thus with peaceful words uprais'd her soon.

UNWARY', and too desirous, as before,
So now of what thou know'st not, who desir’st
The punishment all on thyself; alas,
Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain

His full wrath, whose thou feel’st as yet least part,
And my displeasure bear'st so ill. If prayers
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 forgiven,
To me committed and by me expos’d.
But rise, let us no more contend, nor blame
Each other, blam'd enough elsewhere, but strive
In offices of love, how we may lighten
Each other's burden, in our share of woe;
Since this day's death denounc'd, if ought I sce,


960 265



Will prove no sudden, but a slow-pac'd evil,
A long day's dying to augment our pain,
And to our seed (o hapless seed !) deriv'd.

To whom thus Eve, recovering heart, reply'd.
Adam, by sad experiment I know
How little weight my words with thee can find,
Found so 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 risen,
Tending to some relief of our extremes,
Or end, though sharp and sad, yet tolerable,
As in our evils, and of easier choice.
If care of our descent perplex us most,
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 woful race,
That after wretched life must be at last
Food for so foul a monster; in thy power
It lies, yet ere conception to prevent
The race unblest, to be’ing 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 ravenous maw.
But if thon judge it bard and difficult,




Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain
From love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet,
And with desire to languish without hope, 995
Before the present object languishing
With like desire, which would be misery
And torment less than none of what we dread;
Then both ourselves and sced at once to free
From what we fear for both, let us make short, 1000
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 power,
Of many ways to die the shortest choosing, ICOS
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 sublime
And excellent than what thy mind contemns; 1015
But self-destruction therefore sought, refutes
That excellence thought in thce, and implies
Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret
For loss of life and pleasure overlov’d.
Or if thou covet death, as utmost end
Of misery, so thinking to evade
The penalty pronounc'd, doubt not but Cod


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Hath wiselier arm'd his vengeful ire than sa
To be forestall’d; much more I fear lest death
So snatch'd will not exempt us from the pain
We are by doom to pay; rather such acts
Of contumacy will provoke the Highest
To make death in us live: Then let us seek
Some safer resolution, which methinks
I have in view, calling to mind with heed

Part of our sentence, that thy seed shall bruise
The Serpent's head; piteous amends, unless
Be meant, whom I conjecture, our grand foe
Satan, who in the serpent hath contriv'd
Against us this deceit : to crush his head

1035 Would be revenge indeed; which will be lost By death brought on ourselves, or childless days Rcsolv'd as thou proposest ; so our foe Shall 'scape his punishment ordain'd, and we Instead shall double ours upon our heads.

1040 No more be mention'd then of violence Against ourselves, and wilful barrenness, That cuts us off from hope, and savours only Rancour and pride, impatience and despite, Reluctance against God and his just yoke

1045 Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild And gracious tem per he both heard and judg'd Without wrath or reviling; we expected Immediate dissolution, which we thought Was meant by death that day, when lo, to thee 1050 Pains only in child-bearing were foretold, And bringing forth, soon recompens’d with joy,

« PreviousContinue »