Page images

Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I know;
For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since, with sorrow and heart's distress,
Wearied I fell asleep: but now lead on;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me
Art all things under Heaven, all places thou,
Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.
This further consolation, yet secure,
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favour I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the promised Seed shall all restore !"

So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard,
Well pleased, but answered not; for now too nigh
The archangel stood, and from the other hill
To their fixed station, all in bright array,
The cherubim descended; on the ground,
Gliding metéorous, as evening mist,
Risen from a river, o'er the marisha glides,
And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heel,
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandished sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet, which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Lybian air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat,
In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate,
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:

1 Heliodorus, in his Ethiopics, acquaints us that the motion of the gods differs from that of mortals, as the former do not stir their feet, nor proceed step by step, but slide o'er the surface of the earth by an uniform swimming of the whole body. The reader may observe with how poetical a description Milton has attributed the same kind of motion to the angels who were to take possession of Paradise.Addison.

2 An old word for marsh, of the French marais, and of the Latin mariscus, rushes commonly growing there. The word occurs in 1 Maccab. ix. 42.

Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon ;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.


[blocks in formation]

I, who erewhile the happy garden sung,
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recovered Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried
Through all temptation, and the tempter foiled
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste wilderness.

Thou Spirit, who ledst this glorious eremite?
Into the desert, his victorious field,
Against the spiritual foe, and brought him thence,
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute,
And bear through height or depth of nature's bounds,
With prosperous wing full summed, to tell of deeds
Above heroic, though in secret done,
And unrecorded left through many an age;
Worthy to have not remained so long unsung.

Now had the great proclaimer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried

1 "Paradise Regained,” observes Jortin, “has not met with the approbation that it deserves. It has not the harmony of numbers, the sublimity of thought, and the beauties of diction, which are in • Paradise Lost.' It is composed in a lower and less striking style, a style suited to the subject." Artful sophistry, false reasoning, set off in the most specious manner, and refuted by the Son of God with strong unaffected eloquence, is the peculiar excellence of this poem. Satan there defends a bad cause with great skill and subtlety, as one thoroughly versed in that craft.”

2 The same as our "hermit.”

3 So in Paradise Lost, vii. 421:-"They summed their pens." The term is properly applied to a hawk in full feather.


Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand,
To all baptized:' to his great baptism Hocked
With awe the regions round, and with them came
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deemed
To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure,
Unmarked, unknown; but him the Baptist soon
Descried, divinely warned, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resigned
To him his heavenly office, nor was long
His witness unconfirmed: on him baptized
Heaven opened, and, in likeness of a dove,
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.
That heard the adversary, who, roving still
About the world, at that assembly famed
Would not be last; and with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-strick, the exalted Man, to whom
Such high attest was given, a while surveyed
With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds, and dark, tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:

“O ancient powers of air3 and this wide world,
For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation; well ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possessed, and ruled,
In manner at our will, the affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me, though since
With dread attending 4 when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head : long the decrees of Heaven
Delay, for longest time to him is short;
And now, too soon for us, the circling hours
This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we

li. e. to such as were baptized, since by John's baptism they were prepared for the reception of the Gospel.

? Milton probably uses this term with a sly reference to the meet. ings of the Pope and his Cardinals, under the same name. 3 Cf. Eph. ii. 2; vi. 12

4 Awaiting.

Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound,
At least, if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infringed, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air :
For this ill news I bring, the woman's seed
Destined to this, is late of woman born;
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
Purified to receive him pure, or, rather,
To do him honour as their king; all come,
And he himself among them was baptized,
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of Heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw
The prophet do him reverence; on him rising
Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant;
And out of Heaven the sovran voice I heard,
• This is my Son beloved, in him am pleased.'
His mother then is mortal, but his Sire
He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven,
And what will he not do to advance his Son ?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep;
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
In all his lineaments, though in his face
The glimpses of his Father's glory shine.
Ye see our danger on the utmost edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be opposed
(Not force, but well-couched fraud, well woven sna

nares) 1 Our author favours the opinion of Ignatius and others, who believed that the devil, though he might know Jesus to be some extraordinary person, yet knew him not to be the Messiah, the Son of God; and thie words of the devil, “ if thou be the Son of God," seem to express his uncertainty concerning that matter.— Newton.

« PreviousContinue »