Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

5

The vertue of that fruit, in the first provid:
But say, where grows the tree, from bence how far ?
For many are the trees of God that grow
In Paradise, and various" yet upknown
To us, in such abundance lies our choice,
As leaves a greater kore of fruit untoucht,
Still hanging uncorruptible, till men,
Grow up to their provifion, and more hands
Help to disburden nature of her beanth,

To whom the wilie' adder blithe and glad.
Empress, the way is ceadię, and not ikong,
i Beyond a row of myrtles, on: a Aąts:

Fast by a fountain, zone small thicket past
Of blowing myrrh and balmez if thou accept
My conduct, I can-bring thee thither Loon's i

Lead then," said Eve. He leading {wiftly rowl'd
In tangles, and made intricate feem (trait,
To mischief fwift, Hope elevates, and jay
Brightens his creft, as when a wandring fire,
Compact of punctuous, vapor;i which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs pound; 1.
Kindld through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they Say, fome evil spirit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive light, -
Misleads th'amaz’d night-wanderer from his way
To boggs.and mires, and oft through pond, or poo!,
There {walļow'd up and loft, from fuccour far.
So glifter'd the dire snake, and into fraud
Led Eve our credulous mother, to the tree
Of prohibition, root of all our woe;}
Whichavhen he saw, thus to her guide the spake.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither,
Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,
The credit of whose vertue rest with thee,
Wondrous indeed, if cause of fuch effects,
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God fo commanded, and left that command
Sole daughter of his voice ; the rest, we live
Law to ourselves, our reason is our law.

To whom the tempter guilefully repli'd.
Indeed ? hath God then said that of the fruit
Of all these garden trees ye Naalt not eat,
Yet lords declar'd of all in earth or air?

To whom thus Eve yet finless. Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat,
But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
The garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat
Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, left ye die.

She scarce had said, though brief, when now more bold
The tempter, but with few of zeal and love
To man, and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on, and as to passion movid,
Fluctuats difturb’d, yet comely, and in act
Rais'd, a

as of some great matter to begin. As when of old some orator renown'd In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence Flourish'd, since mute, to some great cause addreft, Stood in himself collected, while each part, Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue, Sometimes in highth began, as no delay Of preface brooking through his zeal of right. So standing, moving, or to highth upgrown

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The tempter all impassion'd thus began.

O sacred, wises and wisedom-giving plant, Mother of science, now I feel thy power. Within me cleere, not only to discern Things in their caufes, but to trace the wayes Of highest agents, deemd, however wise. Queen of this universe, do not believe Those rigid threats of death; ye shall not die : How should'ye? by the fruit ? it gives you life To knowledge ?, by the threatner, look on me, Me who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live, And life more perfect have attain'd than fate Meant me, by ventring higher than my lot. Shall that be shut to man, which to the beastIs open ? or will God incense bis ire For such a petty trespass, and not praise Rather: your dauntless yirtue, whom the pain Of death denounc't, whatever thing death be, Deterr'd not from atchieving what might lead To happier life, knowledge of good and evil ; Of good, how just ? of evil, if what is evil Be real, why not known, since easier Thunn'd? God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just; Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd : Your fear itself of death removes the fear. Why then was this forbid ? why but to awe, Why but to keep ye low and ignorant, His worshippers.; he knows that in the day Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so cleere, Yet are but dim, Mall perfectly be then Open'd and cleer'd, and ye shall be as gods,

Knowing both good and evil as they know.
That ye should be as gods, fince I as man,
Internal man, is but proportion meet,
I of brute human, ye of human gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on gods, death to be witht,
Though threat'n'd, which no worse than this can bring,
And what are gods that mari may not become
As they, participating god-like food ?
The gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds ;
I question it, for this fair earth I see,
Warm'd by the sun, producing every kind,
Them nothing : if they all things, who enclos'd
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies
Th’offence, that man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Impart against his will if all be his ?
Or is it envie, or can envie dwell
In heav'nly breasts ? these, these and many more
Causes import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste.

He ended, and his words replete with guile
Into her heart too easie entrance won :
Fixt on the fruit the gaz'd, which to behold
Might tempt alone, and in her ears the found
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth;
Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd

[ocr errors]

An eager appetite, rais'd by the smell
So favorie of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch or tafte,
Sollicited her longing eye ; yet first
Pausing a while, thus to herfelf she mus d.

Great are thy virtues, doubtless, beft of fruits,
Though kept from man, and worthy to be admir'd,
Whose taste too long forborn, at firft assay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise :
Thy praise he also who forbids thy use,
Conceales not from us, naming thee the trec
Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to taste, but his forbidding
Commends the more, while it inférrs the good
By thee communicated, and our want ;
For good unknown, sure is not had, or had.
And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?
Such prohibitions bind not. But if death
Bind us with after bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom ? in the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we mall die.
How dies the serpent ? he hath eat'n and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discernes,
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented ? or to us deni'd
This intellectual food, for beasts reservd ?
For beasts it seems : yet that one beaft which first
Hath tasted, envies not, but brings with joy

« НазадПродовжити »