Page images

Kindness for man, and pity for his fate,
May mix with bliss, and yet not violate.
Their heavenly harps a lower strain began;
And, in soft music, mourn'd the fall of man.

Gab. I saw the angelic guards from earth ascend, (Grieved they must now no longer man attend :) The beams about their temples dimly shone; One would have thought the crime had been their


The ethereal people flock'd for news in haste, Whom they, with down-cast looks, and scarce saluting, past:

While each did, in his pensive breast, prepare
A sad account of their successless care.

Raph. The Eternal yet, in majesty severe And strictest justice, did mild pity bear: Their deaths deferr'd; and banishment (their doom,) In penitence foreseen, leaves mercy room.

Gab. That message is thy charge: Mine leads me hence;

Placed at the garden's gate, for its defence,
Lest man, returning, the blest place pollute,
And 'scape from death, by life's immortal fruit.
[Another clap of thunder. Exeunt severally.

Enter ADAM and EVE, affrighted.

Adam. In what dark cavern shall I hide my head? Where seek retreat, now innocence is fled? Safe in that guard, I durst even hell defy; Without it, tremble now, when heaven is nigh.

Eve. What shall we do? or where direct our flight?

Eastward, as far as I could cast my sight,
From opening heavens, I saw descending light.
Its glittering through the trees I still behold;
The cedar tops seem all to burn with gold.

Adam. Some shape divine, whose beams I cannot bear!

Would I were hid, where light could not appear.
Deep into some thick covert would I run,
Impenetrable to the stars or sun,

And fenced from day, by night's eternal skreen;
Unknown to heaven, and to myself unseen.

Eve. In vain: What hope to shun his piercing sight,

Who from dark chaos struck the sparks of light? Adam. These should have been your thoughts, when, parting hence,

You trusted to your guideless innocence.
See now the effects of your own wilful mind:
Guilt walks before us; death pursues behind.
So fatal 'twas to seek temptations out:
Most confidence has still most cause to doubt.
Eve. Such might have been thy hap, alone as-

And so, together, might we both have fail'd.
Cursed vassalage of all my future kind!
First idolized, till love's hot fire be o'er,
Then slaves to those who courted us before.
Adam. I counsell'd you to stay; your pride re-

By your own lawless will you stand accused.
Eve. Have you that privilege of only wise,
And would you yield to her you so despise?
You should have shewn the authority you boast,
And, sovereign-like, my headlong will have crost:
Counsel was not enough to sway my heart;
An absolute restraint had been your part.

Adam. Even such returns do they deserve to find,
When force is lawful, who are fondly kind.
Unlike my love; for when thy guilt I knew,
I shared the curse which did that crime pursue.

[ocr errors]

Hard fate of love! which rigour did forbear,
And now 'tis tax'd, because 'twas not severe.

Eve. You have yourself your kindness overpaid: He ceases to oblige, who can upbraid.

Adam. On women's virtue, who too much rely, To boundless will give boundless liberty. Restraint you will not brook; but think it hard Your prudence is not trusted as your guard: And, to yourselves so left, if ill ensues, You first our weak indulgence will accuse. Curst be that hour,

When, sated with my single happiness,
I chose a partner, to controul my bliss!
Who wants that reason which her will should sway,
And knows but just enough to disobey.

Eve. Better with brutes my humble lot had gone; Of reason void, accountable for none: The unhappiest of creation is a wife, Made lowest, in the highest rank of life; Her fellow's slave; to know, and not to chuse : Curst with that reason she must never use.

Adam. Add, that she's proud, fantastic, apt to change,

Restless at home, and ever prone to range:
With shows delighted, and so vain is she,
She'll meet the devil, rather than not see.
Our wise Creator, for his choirs divine,
People his heaven with souls all masculine.-
Ah! why must man from woman take his birth?
Why was this sin of nature made on earth?
This fair defect, this helpless aid, call'd wife;
The bending crutch of a decrepit life?
Posterity no pairs from you shall find,
But such as by mistake of love are join'd:
The worthiest men their wishes ne'er shall gain;
But see the slaves they scorn their loves obtain.

Blind appetite shall your wild fancies rule;
False to desert, and faithful to a fool.

[Turns in anger from her, and is going off. Eve. Unkind! wilt thou forsake me, in distress, [Kneeling.

For that which now is past me to redress?
I have misdone, and I endure the smart,
Loth to acknowledge, but more loth to part.
The blame be mine; you warn'd, and I refused:
What would you more? I have myself accused.
Was plighted faith so weakly seal❜d above,
That, for one error, I must lose your love?
Had you so err'd, I should have been more kind,
Than to add pain to an afflicted mind.

Adam. You're grown much humbler than you were before:

I pardon you; but see my face no more.

Eve. Vain pardon, which includes a greater ill; Be still displeased, but let me see you still. Without your much-loved sight I cannot live; You more than kill me, if you so forgive. The beasts, since we are fall'n, their lords despise ; And, passing, look at me with glaring eyes: Must I then wander helpless, and alone? You'll pity me, too late, when I am gone.

Adam. Your penitence does my compassion move; As you deserve it, I may give my love.

Eve. On me, alone, let heaven's displeasure fall; You merit none, and I deserve it all.

Adam. You all heaven's wrath! how could bear a part,


Who bore not mine, but with a bleeding heart?
I was too stubborn, thus to make you sue;
Forgive me I am more in fault than you.
Return to me, and to my love return ;
And, both offending, for each other mourn.



[ocr errors]


Raph. Of sin to warn thee I before was sent ; For sin, I now pronounce thy punishment : Yet that much lighter than thy crimes require; Th' All-good does not his creatures' death desire: Justice must punish the rebellious deed; Yet punish so, as pity shall exceed.

Adam. I neither can dispute his will, nor dare: Death will dismiss me from my future care, And lay me softly in my native dust, To pay the forfeit of ill-managed trust.

Eve. Why seek you death? consider ere you speak, The laws were hard, the power to keep them, weak. Did we solicit heaven to mould our clay? From darkness to produce us to the day? Did we concur to life, or chuse to be? Was it our will which form'd, or was it He? Since 'twas his choice, not ours, which placed us here, The laws we did not chuse why should we bear?

Adam. Seek not, in vain, our Maker to accuse; Terms were proposed; power left us to refuse. The good we have enjoy'd from heaven's free will, And shall we murmur to endure the ill? Should we a rebel son's excuse receive, Because he was begot without his leave? Heaven's right in us is more: first, form'd to serve; The good, we merit not; the ill, deserve.

Raph. Death is deferr'd, and penitence has room To mitigate, if not reverse the doom: But, for your crime, the Eternal does ordain In Eden you no longer shall remain. Hence, to the lower world, you are exiled ;: This place with crimes shall be no more defiled. Eve. Must we this blissful paradise forego? Raph. Your lot must be where thorns and thistles grow, .i

« PreviousContinue »