THE State of Innocence, AND FALL of MAN: AN OPERA.

Written in Heroique Verse, And Dedicated to Her Royal Highness, THE DUTCHESS.

By John Dryden, Servant to His Majesty.

—Utinam modo dicere possem
Carmina digna Deâ: certè est Dea Carmine digna,
Ovid. Metam.

LONDON: Printed by T. N. for Henry Herringman, at the Anchor in the Lower Walk of the New Exchange. 1677.

TO HER Royal Highness, THE DUTCHESS.


AMBITION is so far from being a Vice in Poets, that tis almost impossible for them to succeed without it. Imagination must be rais'd, by a desire of Fame, to a desire of Pleasing: And they whom in all Ages Poets have endeavour'd most to please, have been the Beautiful and the Great. Beauty is their Deity to which they Sacrifice, and Greatness is their Guardian-Angel which protects them. Both these are so eminently join'd in the Person of Your Royal Highness, that it were not easie for any, but a Poet, to deter­mine [Page] which of them out-shines the other. But I confess, MADAM, I am already byass'd in my choice: I can easily resign to others the Praise of Your Illustrious Family, and that Glory which You derive from a long-continu'd Race of Princes, famous for their Actions both in Peace and War: I can give up to the Historians of Your Country, the Names of so many Generals and Heroes which croud their Annals; and to our own, the hopes of those which You are to produce for the British Chronicle. I can yield, without envy, to the Na­tion of Poets, the Family of Este to which Ariosto and Tasso have ow'd their Patronage; and to which the World has ow'd their Poems: But I could not without extream reluctance re­sign the Theme of Your Beauty to another Hand. Give me leave, MADAM, to acquaint the World that I am Jea­lous of this Subject; and let it be no dishonour to You, that after having rais'd the Admiration of Mankind, You have inspir'd one Man to give it voice. But with whatsoever Va­nity this new Honour of being Your Poet has fill'd my mind, I confess my self too weak for the Inspiration; the Priest was always unequal to the Oracle: The God within him was too mighty for his Breast: He labour'd with the Sacred Revela­tion, and there was more of the Mystery left behind than Di­vinity it self could inable him to express. I can but discover a part of Your Excellencies to the World; and that too ac­cording to the measure of my own weakness. Like those who have survey'd the Moon by Glasses, I can only tell of a new and shining World above us, but not relate the Riches and Glories of the Place. 'Tis therefore that I have already wav'd the Subject of Your Greatness, to resign my self to the Contemplation of what is more peculiarly Yours. Greatness is indeed communicated to some few of both Sexes; but Beauty is confin'd to a more narrow compass: 'Tis only in Your Sex, 'tis not shar'd by many, and its Supreme Perfection is in You alone. And here, MADAM, I am proud that I cannot flatter: You have reconcil'd the differing Judgments of Mankind: for all Men are equal in their Judgment of what is eminently best. The Prize of Beauty was disputed [Page] only till You were seen; but now all Pretenders have with­drawn their Claims: There is no Competition but for the se­cond place. Even the fairest of our Island (which is fam'd for Beauties) not daring to commit their Cause against You, to the Suffrage of those who most partially adore them. Fortune has, indeed, but render'd Justice to so much Excellence, in setting it so high to publick view: or rather Providence has done Justice to it self, in placing the most perfect Workman­ship of Heaven, where it may be admir'd by all Beholders. Had the Sun and Stars been seated lower, their Glory had not been communicated to all at once; and the Creator had want­ed so much of His Praise, as He had made Your condition more obscure. But He has plac'd You so near a Crown, that You add a Lustre to it by Your Beauty. You are join'd to a Prince who only could deserve You: whose Conduct, Courage, and Success in War, whose Fidelity to His Royal Brother, whose Love for His Country, whose Constancy to His Friends, whose Bounty to His Servants, whose Justice to Merit, whose Invio­lable Truth, and whose Magnanimity in all His Actions, seem to have been rewarded by Heaven by the gift of You. You are never seen but You are blest: and I am sure You bless all those who see You. We think not the Day is long enough when we behold You: And You are so much the business of our Souls, that while You are in sight, we can neither look nor think on any else. There are no Eyes for other Beauties: You only are present, and the rest of Your Sex are but the unregarded parts that fill Your Triumph. Our sight is so intent on the Object of its Admiration, that our Tongues have not leisure even to praise you: for Language seems too low a thing to express your Excellence; and our Souls are speaking so much within, that they despise all for­reign conversation. Every man, even the dullest, is think­ing more than the most Eloquent can teach him how to ut­ter. Thus MADAM, in the midst of Crouds you Reign in Solitude; and are ador'd with the deepest Veneration, that of Silence. 'Tis true, you are above all mortal wishes: no man desires impossibilities, because they are beyond the reach of [Page] Nature: To hope to be a God, is folly exalted into mad­ness: but by the Laws of our Creation we are oblig'd to Adore him; and are permitted to love him too, at Hu­mane distance. 'Tis the nature of Perfection to be attractive; but the Excellency of the object refines the nature of the love. It strikes an impression of awful reverence; 'tis indeed that Love which is more properly a Zeal than Passion. 'Tis the rapture which Anchorites find in Prayer, when a Beam of the Divinity shines upon them: that which makes them despise all worldly objects, and yet 'tis all but contemplation. They are seldom visited from above; but a single vision so trans­ports them, that it makes up the happiness of their lives. Mor­tality cannot bear it often: it finds them in the eagerness and height of their Devotion, they are speechless for the time that it continues, and prostrate and dead when it departs. That extasie had need be strong, which without any end, but that of Admiration, has power enough to destroy all other Passi­ons. You render Mankind insensible to other Beauties: and have destroy'd the Empire of Love in a Court which was the seat of his Dominion. You have subverted (may I dare to accuse you of it) even our Fundamental Laws; and Reign absolute over the hearts of a stubborn and Free-born people tenacious almost to madness of their Liberty. The brightest and most victorious of our Ladies make daily complaints of revolted Subjects: if they may be said to be revolted, whose servitude is not accepted: for your Royal Highness is too Great, and too Just a Monarch, either to want or to receive the Homage of Rebellious Fugitives. Yet if some few among the multitude, continue stedfast to their first preten­sions, 'tis an Obedience so luke-warm and languishing, that it merits not the name of Passion: their addresses are so faint, and their vows so hollow to their Sovereigns, that they seem only to maintain their Faith; out of a sence of Honor: they are asham'd to defist, and yet grow careless to obtain. Like despairing Combatants they strive against you as if they had beheld unveil'd, the Magical Shield of your Ariosto, which dazled the Beholders with too much bright­ness: [Page] they can no longer hold up their Arms, they have read their destiny in your Eyes.

Splende lo Scudo a guisa di Piropo;
E Luce altra non é tanto lucente:
Cader in terra a lo splendor fu d'vopo,
Con gli occhi abbacinati, esenza mente.

And yet, Madam, if I could find in my self the power to leave this argument of your incomparable Beauty, I might turn to one which would equally oppress me with its great­ness. For your Conjugal Virtues have deserv'd to be set as an example, to a less-degenerate, less-tainted Age. They ap­proach so near to Singularity in Ours,, that I can scarcely make a Panegyric to your Royal Highness, without a Satyr on many others: but your Person is a Paradice, and your Soul a Cherubin within to guard it. If the excellence of the out­side invite the Beholders, the Majesty of your Mind deters them from too bold approaches; and turns their Admiration into Religion. Moral perfections are rais'd higher by you in the softer Sex: as if Men were of too course a mould for Heaven to work on, and that the Image of Divinity could not be cast to likeness in so harsh a Metall. Your Person is so admirable, that it can scarce receive addition, when it shall be glorify'd: and your Soul, which shines thorough it, finds it of a substance so near her own, that she will be pleas'd to pass an Age within it, and to be confin'd to such a Palace.

I know not how I am hurried back to my former Theme: I ought, and purpos'd to have celebrated those indowments and qualities of your Mind, which were sufficient, even with­out the Graces of your Person, to render you, as you are, the Ornament of the Court, and the object of Wonder to three Kingdoms: but all my praises are but as a Bull-rush cast upon a stream, if they sink not, 'tis because they are born up by the strength of the Current, which supports their light­ness; but they are carry'd round again, and return on the Eddy where they first began. I can proceed no farther than your [Page] Beauty: and even on that too; I have said so little confider­ing the greatness of the Subject; that, like him, who would lodge a Bowl upon a Precipice, either my praise falls back, by the weakness of the delivery, or staies not on the top, but rowls over, and is lost on the other side. I intended this a Dedication, but how can I consider what belongs to my self, when I have been so long contemplating on you! Be pleas'd then, Madam, to receive this Poem, without Intituling so much Excellency as yours, to the faults and imperfections of so mean a Writer: And instead of being favourable to the Piece, which merits nothing, forgive the presumption of the Author; who is, with all possible veneration,

Your ROYAL Highness's Most Obedient, Most Humble, Most Devoted Servant, JOHN DRYDEN.


FOrgive me, awful Poet, if a Muse,
Whom artless Nature did for plainness chuse,
In loose attire presents her humble thought,
Of this best POEM, that you ever wrought.
This fairest labor of your teeming brain
I wou'd embrace, but not with flatt'ry stain;
Something I wou'd to your vast Virtue raise,
But scorn to dawb it with a fulsome praise;
That wou'd but blot the Work I wou'd commend,
And shew a Court-Admirer, not a Friend.
To the dead Bard, your fame a little owes,
For Milton did the Wealthy Mine disclose,
And rudely cast what you cou'd well dispose:
He roughly drew, on an old fashion'd ground,
A Chaos, for no perfect World was found,
Till through the heap, your mighty Genius shin'd;
His was the Golden Ore which you refin'd.
He first beheld the beauteous rustic Maid,
And to a place of strength the prize convey'd;
You took her thence: to Court this Virgin brought
Drest her with gemms, new weav'd her hard spun thought
And softest language, sweetest manners taught.
Till from a Comet she a star did rise,
Not to affright, but please our wondring eyes.
Betwixt ye both is fram'd a nobler peice,
Than ere was drawn in Italie or Greece.
Thou from his source of thoughts ev'n Souls dost bring
As smileing gods, from sullen Saturn spring.
When nights dull Mask the face of Heav'n does wear,
'Tis doubtful light, but here and there a Star,
Which serves the dreadful shadowes to display,
That vanish at the rising of the day;
[Page]But then bright robes the Meadows all adorn,
And the World looks as it were newly born.
So when your Sense his mystic reason clear'd,
The melancholy Scene all gay appear'd;
New light leapt up, and a new glory smil'd,
And all throughout was mighty, all was mild.
Before this Palace which thy wit did build
Which various fancy did so gawdy gild
And judgment has with solid riches fill'd.
My humbler Muse begs she may centry stand,
Amongst the rest that guard this Eden Land.
But there's no need, for ev'n thy foes conspire
Thy praise, and hating thee, thy Work admire.
On then O mightiest of the inspir'd men,
Monarch of Verse; new Theams employ thy Pen.
The troubles of Majestick CHARLES set down,
Not David vanquish'd more to reach a Crown,
Praise him, as Cowly did that Hebrew King,
Thy Theam's as great, do thou as greatly sing.
Then thou mayst boldly to his favor rise
Look down and the base serpent's hiss despise,
From thund'ring envy safe in Lawrel sit,
While clam'rous Critiques their vile heads submit
Condemn'd for Treason at the bar of Wit.

The Authors Apology for Heroique Poetry; and Poetique Licence.

TO satisfie the Curiosity of those who will give themselves the trouble of reading the ensuing POEM, I think my self oblig'd to render them a Reason, why I publish an OPERA which was never acted. In the first place I shall not be asham'd to own, that my chiefest Mo­tive, was the Ambition which I acknowledg'd in the Epistle. I was desirous to lay at the feet of so Beautiful and Excellent a Princess, a Work which I confess was unwor­thy her, but which I hope she will have the goodness to forgive. I was also induc'd to it in my own defence: many hundred Copies of it being dispers'd, abroad without my knowledge or consent: so that every one gathering new faults, it became at length a Libel against me; and I saw, with some disdain, more nonsence than either I, or as bad a Poet, could have cram'd into it, at a Months warning, in which time 'twas wholly Written, and not since Revis'd. After this, I cannot without injury to the deceas'd Author of Paradice Lost, but acknowledge that this POEM has receiv'd its entire Foundation, part of the Design, and many of the Ornaments, from him. What I have borrow'd, will be so easily discern'd from my mean Productions, that I shall not need to point the Rea­der to the places: And, truly, I should be sorry, for my own sake, that any one should take the pains to compare them together: The Original being undoubtedly, one of the greatest, most noble, and most sublime POEMS, which either this Age or Nation has produc'd. And though I could not refuse the partiality of my Friend, who is pleased to commend me in his Verses, I hope they will rather be esteem'd the effect of his love to me, than of his deliberate and sober judgment. His Genius is able to make [Page] beautiful what he pleases: Yet, as he has been too favorable to me, I doubt not but he will hear of his kindness from many of our Contemporaries. For, we are fallen into an Age of Illiterate, Censorious, and Detracting people, who thus qualified, set up for Critiques.

In the first place I must take leave to tell them, that they whol­ly mistake the Nature of Criticism, who think its business is prin­cipally to find fault. Criticism, as it was first instituted by Ari­stotle, was meant a Standard of judging well. The chiefest part of which is to observe those Excellencies which should delight a reasonable Reader. If the Design, the Conduct, the Thoughts, and the Expressions of a POEM, be generally such as pro­ceed from a true Genius of Poetry, the Critique ought to pass his judgement in favor of the Author. 'Tis malicious and unmanly to snarl at the little lapses of a Pen, from which Virgil himself stands not exempted. Horace acknowledges that honest Homer nods sometimes: He is not equally awake in every Line: But he leaves it also as a standing Measure for our judgments,

—Non, Ubi plura nitent in Carmine, paucis
Offendi maculis, quas aut incuria fudit
Aut humana p [...]rùm cavit Natura.—

And Longinus, who was undoubtedly, after Aristotle, the grea­test Critique amongst the Greeks, in his twenty seventh Chapter [...], has judiciously preferr'd the sublime Genius that some­times erres, to the midling or indifferent one which makes few faults, but seldome or never rises to any Excellence. He com­pares the first to a Man of large possessions, who has not leisure to consider of every slight expence, will not debase himself to the management of every trifle: particular summs are not layd out or spar'd to the greatest advantage in his Oeconomy: but are some­times suffer'd to run to waste, while he is only careful of the Main. On the other side, he likens the Mediocrity of Wit, to one of a mean fortune, who manages his store with extream frugality, or rather parsimony: but who with fear of running into profuseness, [Page] never arrives to the magnificence of living. This kind of Genius writes, indeed correctly. A wary man he is in Grammar; ve­ry nice as to Solaecism or Barbarism, judges to a hair of little decencies, knows better than any Man what is not to be writ­ten: and never hazards himself so far as to fall: but plods on deliberately, and, as a grave Man ought, is sure to put his staff before him; in short, he sets his heart upon it; and with won­derful care makes his business sure: that is, in plain English, neither to be blam'd, nor prais'd.—I could, sayes my Author, find out some blemishes in Homer: and am perhaps, as naturally in­clin'd to be disgusted at a fault as another Man: But, after all, to speak impartially, his faillings are such, as are only marks of humane frailty: they are little Mistakes, or rather Negligences, which have escap'd his pen in the fervor of his writing; the sub­limity of his spirit carries it with me against his carelesness: And though Apollonius his Argonautes, and Theocritus, his Eidul­lia, are more free from Errors, there is not any Man of so false a judgment, who would choose rather to have been Apollonius or Theocritus, than Homer.

'Tis worth our consideration, a little to examine how much these Hypercritiques of English Poetry, differ from the opinion of the Greek and Latine Judges of Antiquity: from the Italians and French who have succeeded them; and, indeed, from the ge­neral tast and approbation of all Ages. Heroique Poetry, which they contemn, has ever been esteem'd, and ever will be, the greatest work of humane Nature: In that rank has Aristotle plac'd it, and Longinus is so full of the like expressions, that he abundantly confirms the others Testimony. Horace as plainly delivers his opinion, and particularly praises Homer in these Verses.

Trojani Belli Scriptorem, Maxime Lolli,
Dum tu declamas Romae, praeneste relegi:
Qui quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non,
Plenius ac melius Chrysippo & Crantore dicit.

[Page]And in another place modestly excluding himself, from the num­ber of Poets, because he only writ Odes and Satyres, he tells you a Poet is such an one,

—Cui mens Divinior, atque os [...]
Magna Sonaturum.

Quotations are superfluous in an establish'd truth: othern ise I could reckon up amongst the Moderns, all the Italian Commen­tators on Aristotle's Book of Poetry; and amongst the French, the greatest of this Age, Boileau and Rapin: the latter of which is alone sufficient, were all other Critiques lost, to teach anew the rules of writing. Any Man who will seriously consider the nature of an Epique Poem, how it agrees with that of Poetry in general, which is to instruct and to delight; what actions it describes, and what persons they are chiefly whom it insorms, will find it a work which indeed is full of difficulty in the attempt, but admirable when 'tis well performed. I write not this with the least intention to undervalue the other parts of Poetry: for Co­medy is both excellently instructive, and extreamly pleasant: Sa­tyre lashes Vice into Reformation, and humor represents folly, so as to render it ridiculous. Many of our present Writers are emi­nent in both these kinds; and particularly the Author of the Plain Dealer, whom I am proud to call my Friend, has oblig'd all honest and vertuous Men, by one of the most bold, most general, and most useful Satyres which has ever been presented on the Eng­lish Theater. I do not dispute the preference of Tragedy; let every Man enjoy his tast: but 'tis unjust, that they who have not the least notion of Heroique writing, should therefore condemn the pleasure which others receive from it, because they cannot com­prehend it. Let them please their appetites in eating what they like: but let them not force their dish on all the Table. They who would combat general Authority, with particular Opinion, must first establish themselves a reputation of understanding better, than other men. Are all the flights of Heroique Poetry, to be concluded bombast, unnatural, and meer madness, because they [Page] are not affected with their Excellencies? 'Tis just as reasonable as to conclude there is no day, because a blind Man cannot distin­guish of Light and Colours? ought they not rather, in modesty, to doubt of their own judgments, when they think this or that ex­pression in Homer, Virgil, Tasso, or Milton's Paradice, to be too far strain'd, than positively to conclude, that 'tis all fustian, and meer nonsence? 'Tis true, there are limits to be set betwixt the boldness and rashness of a Poet; but he must understand those limits who pretends to judge, as well as he who undertakes to write: and he who has no liking to the whole, ought in reason to be excluded from censuring of the parts. He must be a Lawyer before he mounts the Tribunal: and the Judicature of one Court too, does not qualifie a man to preside in another. He may be an excellent Pleader in the Chancery, who is not fit to rule the Common Pleas. But I will presume for once to tell them, that the boldest strokes of Poetry, when they are manag'd Art­fully, are those which most delight the Reader.

Virgil and Horace, the severest Writers of the severest Age, have made frequent use of the hardest Metaphors, and of the strongest Hyperboles: And in this case the best Authority is the best Argument. For generally to have pleas'd, and through all ages, must bear the force of Universal Tradition. And if you would appeal from thence to right Reason, you will gain no more by it in effect, than First, to set up your Reason against those Authors; and Secondly, against all those who have admir'd them. You must prove why that ought not to have pleas'd, which has pleas'd the most Learn'd, and the most Judicious: and to be thought knowing, you must first put the fool upon all Mankind. If you can enter more deeply, than they have done, into the Causes and Res­sorts of that which moves pleasure in a Reader, the Field is open, you may be heard: but those Springs of humane Nature are not so easily discover'd by ever superficial Judge: It requires Philosophy as well as Poetry, to sound the depth of all the Pas­sions; what they are in themselves, and how they are to be pro­vok'd: and in this Science the best Poets have excell'd. Aristotle rais'd the Fabrique of his Poetry, from observation of those [Page] things, in which Euripides, Sophocles, and AEschylus pleas'd: He consider'd how they rais'd the Passions, and thence has drawn rules for our Imitation. From hence have sprung the Tropes and Figures, for which they wanted a name, who first practis'd them, and succeeded in them, Thus I grant you, that the know­ledge of Nature was the Original Rule; and that all Poets ought to study her; as well as Aristotle and Horace her Inter­pretors. But then this also undeniably follows, that those things which delight all Ages, must have been an imitation of Nature; which is all I contend. Therefore is Rhetorick made an Art: therefore the Names of so many Tropes and Figures were invent­ed: because it was observ'd they had such and such an effect upon the Audience. Therefore Catachreses and Hyperboles have found their place amongst them; not that they were to be avoided, but to be us'd judiciously, and plac'd in Poetry, as heightnings and shadows are in Painting, to make the Figure bolder, and cause it to stand off to sight.

Nec retia Cervis
Ulla, dolum meditantur;

sayes Virgil in his Eclogues: and speaking of Leander in his Georgiques,

Caecâ nocte natat serus freta, quem super, ingens
Porta tonat Coeli; & scopulis illisa reclamant

In both of these you see he fears not to give Voice and Thought to things inanimate.

Will you arraign your Master Horace, for his hardness of Ex­pression, when he describes the death of Cleopatra? and sayes she did Asperos tractare serpentes, ut atrum corpore combibe­ret venenum? because the Body in that action, performs what is proper to the mouth?

As for Hyperboles, I will neither quote Lucan, nor Statius, Men of an unbounded imagination, but who often wanted the [Page] Poyze of Judgement. The Divine Virgil was not liable to that exception; and yet he describes Polyphemus thus:

—Graditurque per aequor
Jam medium; nec dum fluctus latera ardua tingit.

In imitation of this place, our Admirable Cowley thus paints Goliah.

The Valley, now, this Monster seem'd to fill;
And we, methought, look'd up to him from our Hill.

Where the two words seem'd, and methought, have mollify'd the Figure: and yet if they had not been there, the fright of the Israelites might have excus'd their belief of the Giants Stature.

In the 8th of the AEneids, Virgil paints the swiftness of Ca­milla thus:

Illa vel intactae segetis per summa volaret
Gramina, nec teneras cursu laesisset aristas;
Vel Mare per medium, fluctu suspensa tumenti,
Ferret iter, celeres nec tingeret aequore plantas.

You are not oblig'd, as in History, to a literal belief of what the Poet says; but you are pleas'd with the Image, without being couzen'd by the Fiction.

Yet even in History, Longinus quotes Herodotus on this occasi­on of Hyperboles. The Lacedemonians, sayes he, at the straights of Thermopylae, defended themselves to the last extremity: and when their Arms fail'd them, fought it out with their Nails and Teeth: till at length, (the Persians shooting continually upon them) they lay buried under the Arrows of their enemies. It is not reasonable, (continues the Critique) to believe that Men could defend themselves with their Nails and Teeth from an arm'd multitude: nor that they lay buried under a pile of Darts and Arrows; and yet there wants not probability for the Figure: [Page] because the Hyperbole seems not to have been made for the sake of the description; but rather to have been produc'd from the occasion.

'Tis true, the boldness of the Figures are to be hidden, sometimes by the address of the Poet; that they may work their effect upon the Mind, without discovering the Art which caus'd it. And therefore they are principally to be us'd in passion; when we speak more warmly, and with more precipitation than at other times: for then, Si vis me flere dolendum est primùm ipsi tibi; the Poet must put on the Passion he endeavours to represent: A man in such an occasion is not cool enough, either to reason rightly, or to talk calmly. Aggravations are then in their proper places, Interoga­tions, Exclamations, Hyperbata, or a disorder'd connection of discourse, are graceful there, because they are Natural. The summ of all depends on what before I hinted, that this boldness of ex­pression is not to be blam'd; if if be manag'd by the coolness and discretion, which is necessary to a Poet.

Yet before I leave this subject, I cannot but take notice how dis-ingenuous our Adversaries appear: All that is dull, insipid, languishing and without sinews in a Poem, they call an imitation of Nature: they onely offend our most equitable Judges, who think beyond them; and lively Images and Elocution, are never to be forgiven.

What Fustian, as they call it, have I heard these Gentlemen find out in Mr. Cowley's Odes? I acknowledge my self unworthy to defend so excellent an Author; neither have I room to do it here: onely in general I will say, that nothing can appear more beautiful to me, than the strength of those Images which they condemn.

Imaging is, in it self, the very heighth and life of Poetry. 'Tis, as Loginus describes it, a Discourse, which, by a kind of Enthusi­asm, or extraordinary emotion of the Soul, makes it seem to us, that we behold those things which the Poet paints, so as to be pleas'd with them, and to admire them.

[Page]If Poetry be imitation, that part of it must needs be best, which describes most lively our Actions and Passions; our Vir­tues and our Vices; our Follies and our Humors: for neither is Comedy without its part of Imaging: and they who do it best, are certainly the most excellent in their kind. This is too plainly prov'd to be denied: but how are Poetical Fictions, how are Hippocentaures and Chymaeras, or how are Angels and immaterial Substances to be Imag'd? which some of them are things quite out of Nature: others, such whereof we can have no notion? this is the last refuge of our Adversaries; and more than any of them have yet had the wit to object against us. The answer is easie to the first part of it. The fiction of some Beings which are not in Nature, (second Notions as the Logicians call them) has been founded on the conjunction of two Natures, which have a real separate Being. So Hippocentaures were imagin'd, by joyning the Natures of a Man and Horse together; as Lucretius tells us, who has us'd this word of Image oftner than any of the Poets.

Nam certé ex vivo, Centauri non fit Imago,
Nulla fuit quoniam talis natura animai:
Verùm ubi equiatque hominis, casu, convenit imago,
Haerescit facilè extemplò, &c.

The same reason may also be alledg'd for Chymaera's and the rest. And Poets may be allow'd the like liberty, for describing things which really exist not, if they are founded on popular be­lief: of this nature are Fairies, Pigmies, and the extraordina­ry effects of Magick: for 'tis still an imitation, though of other mens fancies: and thus are Shakespeare's Tempest, his Midsum­mer nights Dream, and Ben. Johnson's Masque of Witches to be defended. For Immaterial Substances we are authoriz'd by Scripture in their description: and herein the Text accommodates it self to vulgar apprehension, in giving Angels the likeness of beau­tiful young men. Thus, after the Pagan Divinity, has Homer drawn his Gods with humane Faces: and thus we have notions of things [Page] above us, by describing them like other beings more within our knowledge.

I wish I could produce any one example of excellent imaging in all this Poem: perhaps I cannot: but that which comes nearest it, is in these four lines, which have been sufficiently canvas'd by my well-natur'd Censors.

Seraph and Cherub, careless of their charge,
And wanton, in full ease now live at large:
Unguarded leave the passes of the Sky;
And all dissolv'd in Hallelujahs lye.

I have heard (sayes one of them) of Anchove's dissolv'd in Sauce; but never of an Angel in Hallelujahs. A mighty Witty­cism, (if you will pardon a new word!) but there is some diffe­rence between a Laugher and a Critique. He might have Burlesqu'd Virgil too, from whom I took the Image. Invadunt urbem, somno vinoque sepultam. A Cities being buried is just as pro­per an occasion, us an Angels being dissolv'd in Ease, and Songs of Triumph. Mr. Cowley lies as open too in many places:

Where there vast Courts the Mother Waters keep, &c. for if the mass of Waters be the Mothers, then their Daughters, the lit­tle streams, are bound in all good manners, to make Court'sie to them, and ask them Blessing. How easie 'tis to turn into ridicule, the best descriptions, when once a man is in the humor of laughing, till he wheezes at his own dull jest! but an Image which is strong­ly and beautifully set before the eyes of the Reader, will still be Poetry, when the merry fit is over: and last when the other is for­gotten.

I promis'd to say somewhat of Poetique Licence, but have in part anticipated my discourse already. Poetique Licence I take to be the Liberty, which Poets have assum'd to themselves in all ages, of speaking things in Verse, which are beyond the se­verity [Page] of Prose. 'Tis that particular character, which distinguishes and sets the bounds betwixt Oratio soluta, and Poetry. This, as to what regards the thought, or imagination of a Poet, consists in Fiction: but then those thoughts must be express'd; and here arise two other branches of it: for if this Licence be included in a single word, it admits of Tropes: if in a Sentence or Propo­sition, of Figures: bath which are of a much larger extent, and more forcibly to be us'd in Verse than Prose. This is that Birth­right which is deriv'd to us from our great Forefathers, even from Homer down to Ben. and they who would deny it to us, have, in plain terms, the Foxes quarrel to the Grapes; they can­not reach it.

How far these Liberties are to be extended, I will not presume to determine here, since Horace does not. But it is certain that they are to be varied, according to the Language and Age in which an Author writes. That which would be allow'd to a Grecian Poet, Martial tells you, would not be suffer'd in a Roman. And 'tis evident that the English, does more nearly follow the strictness of the latter, than the freedoms of the former. Con­nection of Epithetes, or the conjunction of two words in one, are frequent and elegant in the Greek, which yet Sir Philip Sidney, and the Translator of Du Bartas, have unluckily attempted in the English; though this I confess, is not so proper an Instance of Poetique Licence, as it is of variety of Idiom in Languages.

Horace a little explains himself on this subject of Licentia Poetica; in these Verses,

—Pictoribus atque Poetis
Quidlibet audendi, semper fuit aequa potestas:
Sed non, ut placidis coeant immitia, non ut
Serpentes avibus geminentur, Tygribus Haedi.

He would have a Poem of a piece: not to begin with one thing and end with another: he restrains it so far, that Thoughts of an unlike Nature, ought not to be joyn'd together: That were indeed [Page] to make a Chaos. He tax'd not Homer, nor the Divine Virgil, for interessing their gods in the Wars of Troy and Italy; nei­ther had he now liv'd, would he have tax'd Milton, as our false Critiques have presum'd to do, for his choice of a super­natural Argument: but he would have blam'd my Author, who was a Christian, had he introduc'd into his Poem Heathen Dei­ties, as Tasso is condemn'd by, Rapin on the like occasion: and as Camoens, the Author of the Lusiads, ought to be cen­sur'd by all his Readers, when he brings in Bacchus and Christ into the same Adventure of his Fable. From that which has been said, it may be collected, that the definition of Wit (which has been so often attempted, and ever unsuccessfully by many Poets,) is only this: That it is a propriety of Thoughts and Words; or in other terms, Thought and Words, elegantly adapted to the Subject. If our Critiques will joyn issue on this Definition, that we may convenire in aliquo tertio; if they will take it as a granted Principle, 'twill be easie to put an end to this dispute: No man will disagree from anothers judgement, concerning the dig­nity of Style, in Heroique Poetry: but all reasonable Men will conclude it necessary, that sublime Subjects ought to be adorn'd with the sublimest, and (consequently often) with the most figura­tive expressions. In the mean time I will not run into their fault of imposing my opinions on other men, any more than I would my Writings on their tast: I have onely laid down, and that superficially enough, my present thoughts; and shall be glad to be taught better, by those who pretend to reform our Poetry.

The State of Innocence, and Fall of Man. An OPERA.

The first Scene represents a Chaos, or a confus'd Mass of Matter; the Stage is almost wholly dark: A symphony of Warlike Music is heard for some time; then from the Heavens, (which are opened) fall the rebellious Angels wheeling in the Air, and seeming transfix'd with Thun­derbolts: The bottom of the Stage being opened, receives the Angels, who fall out of sight. Tunes of Victory are play'd, and an Hymn sung; Angels discover'd above, brandishing their Swords: The Music ceasing, and the Heavens being clos'd, the Scene shifts, and on a sudden represents Hell: Part of the Scene is a Lake of Brimstone or rowling Fire; the Earth of a burnt colour: The fall'n Angels appear on the Lake, lying prostrate; a Tune of Horrour and Lamentation is heard.

Act I.

Scene 1.

Lucifer raising himself on the Lake.
IS this the Seat our Conqueror has given?
And this the Climate we must change for Heaven?
These Regions and this Realm my Wars have got;
This Mournful Empire is the Loser's Lot:
In Liquid Burnings or on Dry to dwell,
Is all the sad Variety of Hell.
But see, the Victor has recall'd, from far,
Th' Avenging Storms, his Ministers of War:
[Page 2]His Shafts are spent, and his tir'd Thunders sleep;
Nor longer bellow through the Boundless Deep.
Best take th' occasion, and these Waves forsake,
While time is giv'n. Ho, Asmoday, awake,
If thou art he: but Ah! how chang'd from him,
Companion of my Arms! how wan! how dim!
How faded all thy Glories are! I see
My self too well, and my own change, in thee.
Prince of the Thrones, who, in the Fields of Light,
Led'st forth th' imbattel'd Seraphim to fight,
Who shook the Pow'r of Heavens Eternal State,
Had broke it too, if not upheld by Fate;
But now those hopes are fled: thus low we lie,
Shut from his day, and that contended Skie,
And lost, as far as Heav'nly Forms can die;
Yet, not all perish'd: we defie him still,
And yet wage War, with our unconquer'd Will.
Strength may return.
Already of thy Vertue I partake,
Erected by thy Voice.
—See on the Lake
Our Troops like scatter'd Leaves in Autumn, lie:
First let us raise our selves, and seek the drie,
Perhaps more easie dwelling.
—From the Beach,
Thy well-known Voice the sleeping Gods will reach,
And wake th' Immortal Sence with Thunders noise
Had quell'd, and Lightning, deep had driv'n within 'em.
With Wings expanded wide, our selves we'll rear,
And fly incumbent on the dusky Air:
Hell thy new Lord receive.
Heaven cannot envy me an Empire here.
[Both fly to dry Land.]
Thus far we have prevail'd; if that be gain
Which is but change of place, not change of pain.
Now fummon we the rest.
Dominions, Pow'rs, ye Chiefs of Heav'n's bright Host,
(Of Heav'n, once yours; but now, in Battel, lost)
[Page 3]Wake from your slumber: Are your Beds of Down?
Sleep you so easie there? or fear the frown
Of him who threw you thence, and joys to see
Your abject state confess his Victory?
Rise, rise, ere from his Battlements he view
Your prostrate postures, and his Bolts renew,
To strike you deeper down.
—They wake, they hear,
Shake off their slumber first, and next their fear;
And only for th' appointed Signal stay.
Rise from the Flood, and hither wing your way.
Moloch from the Lake.
Thine to command; our part 'tis to obey.
[The rest of the Devils rise up and fly to the Land.]
So, now we are our selves again, an Host
Fit to tempt Fate, once more, for what we lost.
T' o'erleap th' Etherial Fence, or if so high
We cannot climb, to undermine his Skie,
And blow him up, who justly Rules us now,
Because more strong: should he be forc'd to bow,
The right were ours again: 'Tis just to win
The highest place; t' attempt, and fail, is sin.
Chang'd as we are, we 're yet from Homage free;
We have, by Hell, at least, gain'd liberty:
That's worth our fall; thus low tho' we are driven,
Better to Rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven.
There spoke the better half of Lucifer!
'Tis fit in frequent Senate we confer,
And then determine how to steer our course;
To wage new War by Fraud, or open Force.
The Doom's now past; Submission were in vain.
And, were it not, such baseness I disdain.
I would not stoop, to purchase all above;
And should contemn a Pow'r whom Pray'r could move,
As one unworthy to have conquer'd me.
Moloch, in that, all are resolv'd like thee.
The means are unpropos'd; but 'tis not fit
Our dark Divan in publick view should sit:
[Page 4]Or what we plot against the Thunderer,
Th' Ignoble Crowd of Vulgar Devils hear.
A Golden Palace let be rais'd on high;
To imitate? No, to out-shine the Skie!
All Mines are ours, and Gold above the rest:
Let this be done; and quick as 'twas exprest.
[A Palace rises, where sit, as in Council, Lucifer, Asmoday, Moloch, Belial, Beelzebub and Sathan.]
Most high and mighty Lords, who better fell
From Heav'n, to rise States-General of Hell,
Nor yet repent, though ruin'd and undone,
Our upper Provinces already won,
(Such pride there is in Souls created free,
Such hate of Universal Monarchy;)
Speak, (for we therefore meet)—
If Peace you chuse, your Suffrages declare;
Or means propound, to carry on the War.
My sentence is for War; that open too:
Unskill'd in Stratagems; plain Force I know:
Treaties are vain to Losers; nor would we,
Should Heav'n grant Peace, submit to Sovereignty.
We can no caution give we will adore;
And He above is warn'd to trust no more.
What then remains but Battel?
I agree,
With this brave Vote; and if in Hell there be
Ten more such Spirits, Heav'n is our own again:
We venture nothing, and may all obtain.
Yet who can hope but well, since ev'n Success
Makes Foes secure, and makes our danger less.
Seraph. and Cherub. careless of their charge,
And wanton, in full ease-now live at large,
Ungarded leave the passes of the Skie,
And all dissolv'd, in Hallelujahs lie.
Grant that our hazardous attempt prove vain;
We feel the worst; secur'd from greater pain:
[Page 5]Perhaps we may provoke the Conqu'ring Foe
To make us nothing; yet, ev'n then, we know
That not to be, is not to be in woe.
That knowledge which, as Spirits, we obtain,
Is to be valu'd in the midst of pain:
Annihilation were to lose Heav'n more:
We are not quite exil'd where thought can soar.
Then cease from Arms;—
Tempt him not farther to pursue his blow;
And be content to bear those pains we know.
If what we had we could not keep, much less
Can we regain what those above possess.
Heav'n sleeps not; from one wink a breach would be
In the full Circle of Eternity.
Long pains, with use of bearing, are half eas'd;
Heav'n unprovok'd, at length may be appeas'd.
By War, we cannot scape our wretched lot;
And may, perhaps, not warring, be forgot.
Could we repent, or did not Heav'n well know
Rebellion once forgiv'n, would greater grow:
I should, with Belial, chuse ignoble ease;
But neither will the Conquerour give Peace,
Nor yet so lost in this low state we are,
As to despair of a well-manag'd War.
Nor need we tempt those heights which Angels keep,
Who fear no force, or ambush from the Deep.
What if we find some easier Enterprize?
There is a place, if antient Prophecies
And Fame in Heav'n not err, the blest abode
Of some new Race, call'd Man, a Demy-God,
Whom, near this time, th' Almighty must create;
He swore it, shook the Heav'ns, and made it Fate.
I heard it; through all Heav'n the rumour ran,
And much the talk of this intended Man:
Of form Divine; but less in excellence
Than we; indu'd with Reason lodg'd in Sence:
The Soul pure Fire, like ours, of equal force;
But, pent in Flesh, must issue by discourse:
[Page 6]We see what is; to Man Truth must be brought
By Sence, and drawn by a long Chain of thought:
By that faint light, to will and understand;
For made less knowing, he's at more command.
Though Heav'n be shut, that World if it be made
As nearest Heav'n, lies open to invade:
Man therefore must be known, his Strength, his State.
And by what Tenure he holds all of Fate.
Him let us then seduce or overthrow:
The first is easiest; and makes Heav'n his Foe.
Advise, if this attempt be worth our care.
Great is th' advantage, great the hazards are.
Some one (but who that task dares undertake?)
Of this new Creature must discovery make.
Hell's Brazen Gates he first must break, then far
Must wander through old Night, and through the War
Of antique Chaos; and, when these are past,
Meet Heav'n's Out-guards who scout upon the waste:
At every Station must be bid to stand,
And forc'd to answer every strict demand.
This Glorious Enterprise—
[Rising up.]
—Rash Angel, stay;
[Rising, and laying his Scepter on Moloch his head.]
That Palm is mine, which none shall take away.
Hot Braves, like thee, may fight; but know not well
To manage this, the last great Stake of Hell.
Why am I rank'd in State above the rest,
If while I stand of Sovereign Pow'r possest,
Another dares, in danger, farther go?
Kings are not made for ease, and Pageant-show.
Who would be Conquerour, must venture all:
He merits not to rise, who dares not fall.
The praise, and danger, then, be all your own.
On this Foundation I erect my Throne:
Through Brazen Gates, vast Chaos, and old Night,
I'll force my way; and upwards steer my flight:
Discover this new World, and newer Man;
Make him my Foot-step to mount Heav'n again:
[Page 7]Then, in the clemency of upward Air,
We'll scour our spots, and the dire Thunders scar,
With all the remnants of th' unlucky War,
And once again grow bright, and once again grow fair.
Mean time the Youth of Hell strict guard may keep,
And set their Centries to the utmost deep,
That no Etherial Parafite may come
To spie our ills, and tell glad tales at home.
Before yon' Brimstone-Lake thrice ebb and flow,
(Alas, that we must measure Time by woe!)
I shall return: (my mind presages well)
And outward lead the Colonies of Hell.
Your care I much approve; what time remains,
With Sports and Music, in the Vales and Fields,
And whate'er Joy so sad a Climate yields,
Seek to forget, at least divert your pains.
Betwixt the first Act and the second, while the Chiefs sit in the Palace, may be expressed the Sports of the Devils; as Flights and Dancing in Grotesque Figures: and a Song expressing the change of their condition; what they enjoy'd before; and how they fell bravely in Battel, having deserv'd Victory by their Valour; and what they would have done if they had Conquer'd.

Act II.

Scene 1. A Champaign Country.

Adam, as newly created, laid on a Bed of Moss and Flowers, by a Rock.
WHat am I? or from whence? For that I am
I know, because I think; but whence I came,
Or how this Frame of mine began to be,
What other Being can disclose to me?
I move, I see; I speak, discourse, and know,
Though now I am, I was not always so.
Then that from which I was, must be before:
Whom, as my Spring of Being, I adore.
How full of Ornament is all I view
In all its parts! and seems as beautiful as new:
O goodly order'd Work! O Pow'r Divine,
Of thee I am; and what I am is thine!
Raphael descends to Adam in a Cloud.
First of Mankind, made o'er the World to Reign,
Whose Fruitful Loins an Unborn Kind contein,
Well hast thou reason'd; of himself is none
But that Eternal Infinite, and One,
VVho never did begin, who ne'er can end;
On Him all Beings, as their Source, depend.
We first, who of his Image most partake,
Whom He all Spirit, Immortal, Pure, did make.
Man next; whose Race exalted, must supply
The place of those who, falling, lost the Sky.
Bright Minister of Heav'n, sent here below
To me, who but begin to think and know,
If such could fall from bliss, who knew and saw
By near admission, their Creator's Law,
What hopes have I, from Heav'n remote so far,
To keep those Laws, unknowing when I err?
[Page 9]
Right Reason's Law to every humane heart
Th'Eternal, as his Image, will impart:
This teaches to adore Heaven's Majesty:
In pray'r and praise, does all devotion lye:
So doing, thou and all thy race are blest.
Of every creeping thing, of Bird, and Beast,
I see the kinds: in pairs distinct they go;
The Males their loves, their lovers Females know.
Thou nam'dst a race which must proceed from me,
Yet my whole Species in my self I see:
A barren sex, and single, of no use;
But full of forms which I can ne'r produce.
Think not the pow'r, who made thee thus, can find
No way like theirs to propagate thy kind.
Mean time, live happy, in thy self alone;
Like him who, single, fills th'Etherial Throne.
To study Nature will thy time employ:
Knowledge and Innocence, are perfect Joy.
If solitude were best, th'allwise above
Had made no Creature for himself to love.
I add not to the pow'r he had before;
Yet to make me, extends his goodness more.
He would not be alone, who all things can;
But peopled Heav'n with Angels, Earth with Man.
As Man and Angels to the Deity,
So all inferiour creatures are to thee.
Heav'n's greatness no society can bear;
Servants he made, and those thou want'st not here.
Why did he Reason in my Soul implant,
And speech, th'effect of reason; to the mute
My speech is lost; my reason, to the Brute.
Love, and society, more blessings bring
To them, the slaves, than pow'r to me their King.
Thus far, to try thee; but, to Heav'n, 'twas known
It was not best for man to be alone;
An equal, yet thy subject, is design'd.
For thy soft hours, and to unbend thy mind.
[Page 10]Thy stronger soul shall her weak reason sway;
And thou, through love, her beauty shalt obey:
Thou shalt secure her helpless sex from harms;
And she thy cares shall sweeten, with her charms.
What more can Heav'n bestow, or man require?
Yes; he can give, beyond thy own desire.
A mansion is provided thee, more fair
Than this; and worthy Heav'n's peculiar care:
Not fram'd of common Earth, nor fruits, nor flowers,
Of vulgar growth; but like Celestial Bowers:
The soil luxuriant, and the fruit divine,
Where golden Apples, on green branches shine,
And purple grapes dissolve into immortal wine.
For noon day's heat, are closer Arbors made;
And for fresh ev'ning Ayr, the op'ner glade.
Ascend: and, as we go,
More wonders thou shalt know.
And, as we go, let Earth and Heav'n above
Sound our great Maker's pow'r and greater love.
They ascend to soft Musick and a Song is sung.
The Scene changes; and represents above, a Sun, gloriously rising, and moving orbicularly: at a distance, below, is the Moon; the part next the Sun enlightened, the other dark. A black cloud comes whirling from the adverse part of the Heavens, bearing Lucifer in it; at his nearer approach, the body of the Sun is dark'ned.
Am I become so monstrous? so disfigur'd,
That nature cannot suffer my approach,
Or look me in the face? but stands agast;
And that fair light which gilds this new made Orb,
Shorn of his beams, shrinks in, Accurst ambition!
And thou, black Empire of the neather World,
How dearly have I bought you! But, 'tis past:
I have already gone too far to stop,
And must push on my dire revenge, in ruin
Of this gay frame, and Man, my upstart rival;
In scorn of me created. Down, my pride,
[Page 11]And all my swelling thoughts; I must forget,
A while, I am a Devil; and put on
A smooth, submissive face; else I, in vain
Have past through Night and Chaos to discover
Those envy'd skies again, which I have lost.
But stay; far off; I see a Chariot driv'n,
Flaming with beams, and in it Uriel,
One of the seaven; (I know his hated face)
Who stands in presence of th'Eternal Throne.
And seems the Regent of that glorious light.
From that part of the Heavens, where the Sun appears, a Cha­riot is discovered, drawn with white horses; and in it Uriel the Regent of the Sun. The Chariot moves swiftly, towards Lucifer; and at Uriel's approach, the Sun recover's his light.
Spirit, who art thou? and from whence arriv'd?
(For I remember not thy face, in Heav'n)
Or by command, or hither led by choice?
Or wander'st thou within this lucid Orb,
And stray'd from those fair fields of light above,
Amidst this new creation want'st a guide,
To reconduct thy steps?
—Bright Uriel,
Chief of the seaven, thou flaming Minister,
Who guard'st this new created Orb of light,
(The world's eye that, and thou the eye of it)
Thy favor, and high Office, make thee known:
An humble Cherub I, and of less note,
Yet, bold, by thy permission, hither come,
On high discoveries bent.
—Speak thy design.
Urg'd by renown of what I heard above
Divulg'd by Angels nearest Heav'n's high King,
Concerning this new World, I came to view
(If worthy such a favor) and admire
This last effect of our great Maker's pow'r:
Thence, to my wond'ring fellows I shall turn,
[Page 12]Full fraught with joyful tidings of these works,
New matter of his Praise, and of our Songs.
Thy business is not what deserves my blame,
Nor thou, thy self, unwelcome; see, fair Spirit,
Below yon' Sphere, (of matter not unlike it,)
There hangs the ball of Earth and Water mixt,
Self-Center'd, and unmov'd.
—But where dwells Man?
On yonder Mount; thou seest it fenc'd with Rocks,
And round th' ascent a Theatre of Trees,
A sylvane Scene, which rising by degrees,
Leads up the eye below, nor gluts the sight
With one full prospect, but invites by many,
To view, at last the whole: there his abode,
Thither direct thy flight.
—O blest be thou
Who, to my low converse, hast lent thy Ear,
And favour'd my request: hail, and farewel.
[Flies downward out of sight.
Not unobserv'd thou goest, who e'r thou art;
Whether some Spirit, on Holy purpose bent,
Or some fall'n Angel from below broke loose,
Who com'st with envious eyes, and curst intent,
To view this World, and its created Lord:
Here will I watch, and, white my Orb rouls on,
Pursue from hence, thy much suspected flight;
And, if disguis'd, pierce through with beams of light.
[The Chariot drives forward out of sight.

The Scene Paradise.

Trees [...]ut out on each side, with several Fruits upon them: a Fountain in the midst: at the far end, the Prospect ter­minates in Walks.
If this be dreaming, let me never wake;
But still the joyes of that sweet sleep partake.
Methought—but why do I my bliss delay
By thinking what I thought? Fair, Vision stay;
[Page 13]My better half, thou softer part of me,
To whom I yield my boasted Soveraignty,
I seek my self, and find not, wanting thee.
Enter Eve.
Tell me ye Hills and Dales, and thou fair Sun,
Who shin'st above, what am I? whence begun?
Like my self, I see nothing: from each Tree
The feather'd kind peep down, to look on me;
And Beasts, with up-cast eyes, forsake their shade,
And gaze, as if I were to be obey'd.
Sure I am somewhat which they wish to be,
And cannot: I my self am proud of me.
Looks into a Fountain.
What's here? another Firmament below,
Spread wide, and other trees that downward grow?
And now a Face peeps up, and now draws near,
With smiling looks, as pleas'd to see me here.
As I advance, so that advances too,
And seems to imitate what e're I do:
When I begin to speak, the lips it moves;
Streams drown the voice, or it would say it loves.
Yet when I would embrace, it will not stay:
Stoops down to embrace.
Lost e'r 'tis held; when nearest, far away.
Ah, fair, yet false; ah Being, form'd to cheat,
By seeming kindness, mixt with deep deceipt.
Enter Adam.
O Virgin, Heav'n begot, and born of Man,
Thou fairest of thy great Creator's Works;
Thee, Goddess, thee th'Eternal did ordain
His softer Substitute on Earth to Reign:
And, wheresoe'r thy happy footsteps tread,
Nature, in triumph, after thee is led.
Angels, with pleasure, view thy matchless Grace,
And love their Maker's Image in thy Face.
O, only like my self, (for nothing here
So graceful, so majestick does appear:)
[Page 14]Art thou the Form my longing eyes did see,
Loos'd from thy Fountain, and come out to me?
Yet, sure thou art not, nor thy Face, the same;
Nor thy Limbs moulded in so soft a frame:
Thou look'st more sternly, dost more strongly move;
And more of awe thou bear'st, and less of love.
Yet pleas'd I hear thee, and above the rest;
I, next my self, admire and love thee best.
Made to command, thus freely I obey,
And at thy feet the whole Creation lay.
Pity that love thy beauty does beget:
What more I shall desire, I know not yet.
First let us lock'd in close embraces be;
Thence I, perhaps, may teach my self, and thee.
Somewhat forbids me, which I cannot name;
For ignorant of guilt, I fear not shame:
But some restraining thought, I know not why,
Tells me, you long should beg, I long deny.
In vain! my right to thee is seal'd above;
Look round and see where thou canst place thy Love:
All creatures else are much unworthy thee;
They match'd, and thou alone art left for me.
If not to love, we both were made in vain:
I my new Empire would resign again,
And change, with my dumb slaves, my nobler mind;
Who, void of reason, more of pleasure find.
Methinks, for me they beg, each, silently,
Demands thy Grace, and seems to watch thy Eye.
I well fore-see, when e'r thy suit I grant,
That I my much-lov'd Soveraignty shall want:
Or like my self, some other may, be made;
And her-new Beauty may thy heart invade.
Could Heav'n some greater Master-piece devise,
Set out with all the glories of the Skies:
That beauty yet in vain he should decree,
Unless he made another heart for me.
With how much ease I, whom I love, believe!
Giving my self, my want of worth I grieve.
[Page 15]Here, my inviolable Faith I plight,
So, thou be my defence, I, thy delight.
Exeunt he leading her.

Act III.

Scene 1. Paradise.

FAir place; yet what is this to Heav'n, where I
Sate next, so almost equall'd the most high,
I doubted, measuring both, who was more strong;
Then, willing to forget time since so long,
Scarce thought I was created: vain desire
Of Empire, in my thoughts still shot me higher,
To mount above his sacred Head: ah why,
When he so kind, was so ungrateful I?
He bounteously bestow'd unenvy'd good
On me: in arbitrary Grace I stood:
T'acknowledge this, was all he did exact;
Small Tribute, where the Will to pay was act.
I mourn it now, unable to repent,
As he, who knows my hatred to relent,
Jealous of pow'r once question'd: hope, farewel;
And with hope, fear; no depth below my Hell
Can be prepar'd: then, ill be thou my good;
And vast destruction, be my envy's food.
Thus I, with Heav'n, divided Empire gain;
Seducing Man, I make his project vain.
And, in one hour, destroy his six days pain.
They come again; I must retire.
Enter Adam and Eve.
Thus shall we live in perfect bliss, and see,
Deathless our selves, our num'rous progeny.
Thou young and beauteous, my desires to bless;
I, still desiring, what I still possess.
Heav'n, from whence Love (our greatest Blessing came)
Can give no more, but still to be the same.
[Page 16]Thou more of pleasure may'st with me partake;
I, more of pride, because thy bliss I make.
When to my Arms thou broughtst thy Virgin Love,
Fair Angels, sung our Bridal Hymn above:
Th' Eternal, nodding, shook the Firmament,
And conscious Nature gave her glad consent.
Roses unbid, and ev'ry fragrant Flow'r,
Flew from their stalks, to strow thy Nuptial Bower:
The furr'd and feather'd kind, the triumph did pursue,
And Fishes leapt above the streams, the passing Pomp to view.
When your kind Eyes look'd languishing on mine,
And wreathing Arms did soft embraces joyn,
A doubtful trembling seiz'd me first all o'r;
Then, wishes; and a warmth, unknown before:
What follow'd, was all extasie and trance;
Immortal pleasures round my swimming eyes did dance,
And speechless joys, in whose sweet tumult tost,
I thought my Breath, and my new Being lost.
O Death to hear! and a worse Hell on Earth:
What mad profufion on this clod-born Birth:
Abyss of joyes, as if Heav'n meant to shew
What, in base matters; such a hand could do:
Or was his Virtue spent, and he no more
With Angels could supyly th' exhausted store
Of which I swept the Sky?
And wanting Subjects to his haughty Will,
On this mean Work, employ'd his trifling skill.
Blest in our selves, all pleasures else abound;
Without our care, behold th' unlabour'd Ground,
Bounteous of Fruit, above our shady Bowers
The creeping Jess'min thrusts her fragrant Flowers;
Thy Myrtle, Orange, and the blushing Rose,
With bending heaps so nigh their blooms disclose,
Each seems to smell the flavor which the other blows:
By these the Peach, the Guava, and the Pine,
And creeping 'twixt 'em all, the mant'ling Vine,
Does round their trunks, her purple clusters twine.
[Page 17]
All these are ours, all nature's excellence
Whose tast or smell can bless the feasted sence.
One only fruit, in the mid garden plac'd,
(The tree of knowledge,) is denys our tast;
(Our proof of duty to our Maker's will.)
Of disobedience, death's the threatned ill.
Death is some harm, which, though we know not yet
Since threatned, we must needs imagine great:
And sure he merits it, who disobeys
That one command, and one of so much ease.
Must they then dye, if they attempt to know
He sees they would rebel, and keeps them low.
On this foundation I their ruine lay.
Hope to know more shall tempt to disobey
I fell by this, and, since their strength is less,
Why should not equal means give like success?
Come, my fair love, our mornings task we lose;
Some labor ev'n the easiest life would choose:
Ours is not great; the dangling boughs to crop,
Whose too luxuriant growth our Alleys stop,
And choak the paths: this our delight requires,
And Heav'n no more of daily work desires
With thee to live, is Paradise alone:
Without the pleasure of thy sight, is none.
I fear small progress will be made this day;
So much our kisses will our task delay.
Why have not I like these, a body too,
Form'd for the same delights which they pursue?
I could (so variously my passions move)
Enjoy and blast her, in the act of love.
Unwillingly I hate such excellence;
She wrong'd me not; but I revenge th'offence
Through her, on Heav'n whose thunder took away
My birth-right-skyes! live happy whilst you may,
Blest pair, y'are not alow'd another day!
[Page 18]Gabriel and Ithuriel descend, carried on bright Clouds; and flying cross each other, then light on the ground.
Ithuriel, since we two Commission'd are
From Heav'n the Guardians of this new-made pair,
Each mind his charge, for, see, the night draws on,
And rising mists pursue the setting Sun.
Blest is our lot to serve; our task we know:
To watch, least any, from th'Abyss below,
Broke loose, disturb their sleep with dreams; or worse,
Assault their beings with superior force.
Uriel flies down from the Sun.
Gabriel, if now the watch be set, prepare
With strictest guard, to show thy utmost care.
This morning came a spirit, fair he seem'd,
Whom, by his face, I some young Cherub deem'd,
Of Man he much inquir'd and where his place,
With shews of zeal to praise his maker's grace;
But I, with watchful eyes, observ'd his flight,
And saw him on you steepy Mount alight,
There, as he thought unseen, he lay'd aside
His borrow'd masque, and reaslum'd his pride:
I mark'd his looks, averse to Heav'n and good;
Dusky he grew, and long revolving stood
On some deep, dark design; thence shot with hast,
And or'e the mounds of Paradise he past:
By his proud port, he seem'd the Prince of hell;
And here he lurcks, in shades, till night: search well
Each grove and thicket, pry in every shape,
Left, hid in some, th'arch hypocrite escape.
If any spirit come t'invade, or scout
From hell, what earthy fence can keep him out?
But rest secure of this, he shall be found,
And taken, or proscrib'd this happy ground.
Thou to the East, I westward walk the round;
And meet we in the midst
Heav'n your design.
Succeed, your charge requires you, and me mine.
[Page 19]Uriel flies forward out of sight: the two Angels Exeunt severally.
A night-piece of a pleasant Bower: Adam and Eve asleep in it.
Enter Lucifer.
So, now they lye, secure in love, and steep
Their sated sences in full draughts of sleep.
By what sure means can I their bliss invade?
By violence? No; for they're immortal made.
Their Reason sleeps; but Mimic fancy wakes.
Supply's her parts, and wild Idea's takes
From words and things, ill sorted, and misjoyn'd;
The Anarchie of thought and Chaos of the mind:
Hence dreams confus'd and various may arise;
These will I set before the Woman's eyes;
The weaker she, and made my easier prey;
Vain shows, and Pomp, the softer sex betray.
Lucifer sits down by Eve, and seems to whisper in her ear.
A Vision, where a Tree rises loaden with Fruit; four Spirits rise with it, and draw a canopie out of the tree, other Spirits dance about the Tree in deform'd shapes, after the Dance an Angel enters, with a Woman, habited like Eve.
Angel, singing.
Look up, look up, and see
What Heav'n prepares for thee;
Look up, and this fair fruit behold,
Ruddy it smiles, and rich with streaks of gold.
The loaded branches downward bend,
Willing they stoop, and thy fair hand attend
Fair Mother of Mankind, make haste
And bless, and bless thy senses with the taste.
[Page 20]
No; tis forbidden, I
In tasting it shall dye.
Say who injoyn'd this harsh command.
'Twas Heav'n; and who can Heav'n withstand?
Why was it made so fair, why plac'd in sight?
Heav'n is too good to envy man's delight.
See, we before thy face will try,
What thou so fear'st and will not dye.
The Angel takes the fruit and gives to the Spirits, who danc'd, they immediately put off their deform'd shapes, and appear Angels.
Angels singing.
Behold what a change on a sudden is here!
How glorious in beauty how bright they appear!
From spirits deform'd they are Deities made
Their pinions at pleasure, the clouds can invade,
[The Angel gives to the Woman who eats.
Till equal in honor they rise
With him who commands in the skies:
Then taste without fear, and be happy and wise.
Ah, now I believe; such a pleasure I find
As enlightens my eyes, and enlivens my mind.
[The spirits who are turn'd Angels fly up, when they have tasted.
I only repent
I deferr'd my content.
Now wiser experience has taught you to prove
What a folly it is,
Out of fear to shun bliss.
To the joy that's forbidden we eagerly move;
It inhances the price, and increases the love
Chorus of both.
To the joy, &c.
[Page 21]Two Angels descend, they take the Woman each by the hand, and fly up with her out of sight. The Angel who sung, and the Spi­rits who held the Canopy at the same instant, sink down with the Tree.
Enter Gabriel and Ithuriel to Lucifer who remains.
What art thou? speak thy name, and thy intent.
Why here alone? and on what errand sent?
Not from above: no, thy wan looks betray
Diminish'd light, and eyes unus'd to day.
Not to know me, argues thy self unknown:
Time was when, shining next th'Imperial throne,
I sate in awful state; while such as thou
Did, in th'ignoble crow'd at distance bow.
Think'st thou, vain spirit, thy glories are the same?
And seest not sin obscures thy God-like frame?
I know thee now, by thy ungrateful Pride;
That shows me what thy faded looks did hide.
Traytor to him who made, and set thee high;
And fool, that pow'r which form'd thee to defie.
Go, slaves, return, and fawn in Heav'n again;
Seek thanks from him whose quarel you maintain.
Vile wretches! of your servitude to boast:
You basely keep the place I bravely lost.
Freedome is choice of what we will and do:
Then blame not servants who are freely so.
'Tis base, not to acknowledge what we owe.
Thanks, how er'e due, proclame subjection yet:
I fought for pow'r to quit th'upbraided debt.
Who er'e expects our thanks himself repaies;
And seems but little, who can want our praise.
What in us duty, shows not want in him:
Blest in himself alone—
To whom no praise we, by good deeds, can add;
Nor can his glory suffer from our bad.
[Page 22]Made for his use; yet he has form'd us so
We, unconstrain'd, what he commands us do.
So praise we him and serve him freely best:
Thus thou, by choice, art fall'n, and we are blest.
This, lest thou think thy plea unanswer'd, good;
Our question thou evad'st, how did'st thou dare
To break Hell bounds, and near this humane pair
In nightly ambush lye?
Lives there who would not seek to force his way
From pain, to ease; from darkness, to the day?
Should I, who found the means to scape, not dare
To change my sulphu'rous smoak, for upper Ayr?
When I, in fight, sustain'd your Thunderer,
And Heav'n on me, alone spent half his war,
Think'st thou those wounds were light? should I not seek
The clemency of some more temp'rate Clime
To purge my gloom; and by the Sun refin'd,
Bask in his beams, and bleach me in the wind?
If pain to shun, be all thy business here,
Methinks, thy fellows the same course should steer.
Is their pain less who yet behind thee stay?
Or thou less hardy to endure than they?
Nor one, nor t'other; but as leaders ought,
I ventur'd first alone; first danger sought;
And first explor'd this new created frame,
Which fill'd our dusky Regions with its fame:
In hopes my fainting Troops to settle here,
And to defend, against your Thunderer,
This spot of earth; or nearer Heav'n repair,
And forrage to his gates from Middle Ayr.
Fool, to believe thou any part eanst gain
From him, who could'st not thy first ground maintain.
But whether that design, or one as vain,
T'attempt the lives of these, first drew thee here;
Avoid the place; and never more appear
Upon this Hallow'd earth else prove our might.
Not that I fear, do I decline the fight:
[Page 23]You I disdain; let me with him contend
On whom your limitary power's depend.
More honour from the sender than the sent:
Till then, I have accomplish'd my intent;
And leave this place, which but augments my pain
Gazing to wish, yet hopeless to obtain.
[They following him.

Act IV.

Scene 1. Paradise.

Adam and Eve.
STrange was your dream, and full of sad portent;
Avert it, Heav'n, (if it from Heav'n were sent:)
Let on thy foes the dire presages fall;
To us be good and easy, when we call.
Behold, from far a breaking Cloud appears,
Which, in it, many winged wariours bears.
Their glory shoots upon my aking sense;
Thou stronger may'st endure the floud of light,
And while in shades I chear my fainting sight
Encounter the descending excellence.
The Cloud descends with six Angels in it; and when it's near the ground, breaks; and on each side, discovers six more: they des­cend out of the Cloud. Raphael and Gabriel discourse with Adam, the rest stand at distance.
First of mankind, that we, from Heav'n are sent
Is from Heav'n's care thy ruine to prevent.
Th'Apostate Angel has, by night, been here,
And whisper'd through thy sleeping consorts ear
Delusive dreams, thus warn'd by us, beware;
And guide her frailty, by thy timely care.
These, as thy guards from outward harms, are sent:
Ills, from within, thy reason must prevent.
Natives of Heav'n, who, in compassion deign
To want that place where joyes immortal reign,
[Page 24]In care of me; what praises can I pay
Defended in obedience; taught t'obey?
Praise him alone who, God-like, form'd thee free,
With will unbounded, as a Diety;
Who gave thee reason, as thy Aid, to chuse
Apparent good, and evil to refuse.
Obedience is that good; This Heav'n exacts
And Heav'n, all just, from man requires not acts
Which man wants pow'r to do: pow'r then is giv'n
Of doing good; but not compell'd by Heav'n.
Made good; that thou dost to thy Maker owe:
But to thy self, if thou continu'st so.
Freedome of will, of all good things is best;
But can it be by finite man possest?
I know not how Heav'n can communicate
What equals man to his Creators state.
Heav'n cannot give his boundless pow'r away;
But boundless libertie of choice he may.
So Orbs, from the first mover, motion take;
Yet each their proper revolutions make.
Grant Heav'n could once have given us liberty;
Are we not bounded, now, by firm decree,
Since what so er'e is preordain'd, must be?
Else Heav'n, for man, events might preordain,
And man's free will might make those orders vain.
Th'Eternal, when he did the world create,
All other agents did necessitate:
So, what he order'd, they by nature do;
Thus light things mount, and heavy downward go.
Man only boasts an arbitrary state.
Yet causes their effects necessitate
In willing agents: where is freedom then?
Or who can break the chain which limits men
To act what is unchangeably forecast.
Since the first cause gives motion to the last?
Heav'n by fore-knowing what will surely be,
Does only, first, effects in causes see;
And finds, but does not make necessity.
[Page 25]Creation, is of pow'r and will th'effect,
Foreknowledge only of his Intellect;
His prescience makes not, but supposes things;
Infers necessity to be; not brings.
Thus thou art not constrain'd to good or ill;
Causes which work th'effect, force not the will.
The force unseen, and distant I confess;
But the long chain makes not the bondage less.
Ev'n Man himself may to himself seem free,
And think that choice which is necessity.
And who but man should judge of man's free state?
I find that I can chuse to love, or hate;
Obey, or disobey; do good, or ill:
Yet such a choice is but consent; not will.
I can but chuse what he has first design'd,
For he before that choice, my will confin'd.
Such impious fancies, where they entrance gain,
Make Heav'n, all pure, thy crimes to preordain.
Far, far from me be banish'd such a thought:
I argue only to be better taught.
Can there be freedom, when what now seems free
Was founded on some first necessity?
For what ere cause can move the will t'elect
Must be sufficient to produce th'effect:
And what's sufficient must effectual be;
Then how is man, thus forc'd by causes free?
Sufficient causes, only work th'effect
When necessary agents they respect.
Such is not man; who, though the cause suffice,
Yet often he his free assent denies.
What causes not, is not sufficient still.
Sufficient in it self; not in thy will.
When we see causes join'd t'effects at last,
The chain but shows necessity that's past.
That what's done, is: (ridiculous proof of fate!)
Tell me which part it does necessitate?
I'll chuse the other; there I'll link th'effect.
O chain, which fools, to catch themselves, project!
[Page 26]
Though no constraint from Heav'n, or causes, be;
Heav'n may prevent that ill he does foresee:
And, not preventing, though he does not cause,
He seems to will that man should break his laws.
Heav'n may permit, but not to ill consent;
For hind'ring ill, he would all choice prevent.
'Twere to unmake, to take away thy will.
Better constrain'd to good, than free to ill.
But what reward or punishment could be
If man to neither good nor ill were free?
Th'Eternal justice could decree no pain
To him whose sins it self did first ordain;
And good compell'd, could no reward exact:
His pow'r would shine in goodness, not thy act.
Our task is done: obey; and, in that choice,
Thou shalt be blest, and Angels shall rejoyce.
[Raphael and Gabriel fly up in the Cloud: the other Angels go off.
Hard state of life! since Heav'n fore-knows my will,
Why am I not ty'd up from doing ill?
Why am I trusted with my self at large,
When hee's more able to sustain the charge?
Since Angels fell, whose strength was more than mine,
'Twould show more grace my frailty to confine.
Fore-knowing the success, to leave me free,
Excuses him, and yet supports not me.
[To him, Eve.
Behold my heart's dear Lord, how high the Sun
Is mounted, yet our labor not begun.
The ground, unbid, gives more than we can ask;
But work is pleasure when we chuse our task.
Nature, not bounteous now, but lavish growes;
Our paths with flow'rs, she prodigally strowes;
With pain we lift up our intangled feet,
While cross our walks the shooting branches meet.
Well has thy care advis'd; 'tis fit we hast;
Natur's too kind, and follows us too fast;
[Page 27]Leaves us no room her treasures to possess,
But mocks our industry with her excess;
And wildly wanton wears by night away
The sign of all our labors done by day.
Since, then, the work's so great, the hands so few,
This day let each a several task pursue.
By thee, my hands to labor will not move,
But round thy neck, employ themselves in love.
When thou would'st work, one tender touch, one smile
(How can I hold?) will all thy task beguile.
So hard we are not to our labor ty'd
That smiles, and soft endearements, are deny'd.
Smiles, not allow'd to Beasts, from reason move,
And are the priviledge of humane love:
And if, sometimes, each others eyes we meet,
Those little vacancies, from toil, are sweet.
But you, by absence, would refresh your joyes,
Because perhaps my conversation cloyes.
Yet this, would prudence grant, I could permit.
What reason makes my small request unfit?
The fall'n Archangel, envious of our state,
Pursues our Beings with immortal hate.
And hopeless to prevail by open force,
Seeks hid advantage to betray us worse:
Which when asunder, will not prove so hard;
For both together are each others guard.
Since he, by foree, is hopeless to prevail
He can by fraud alone our minds assail:
And to believe his wiles my truth can move
Is to misdoubt my reason or my love.
Call it my care, and not mistrust of thee;
Yet thou art weak, and full of Art is he;
Else how could he that Host seduce to sin
Whose fall has left the Heav'nly nation thin?
I grant him arm'd with subtilty, and hate;
But why should we suspect our happy state?
Is our perfection of so frail a make;
As ev'ry plot can undermine or shake?
[Page 28]Think better both of Heav'n, thy self, and me:
Who always fears, at ease can never be.
Poor state of bliss, where so much care is shown
As not to dare to trust our selves alone!
Such is our state, as not exempt from fall;
Yet firm, if reason to our ayd we call:
And that, in both, is stronger than in one;
I would not; why would'st thou, then, be alone?
Because thus warn'd, I know my self secure,
And long my little trial to endure:
T'approve my faith; thy needless fears remove;
Gain thy esteem, and so deserve thy love.
If all this shake not thy obdurate will,
Know that, ev'n present, I am absent still:
And then what pleasure hop'st thou in my stay
When I'm constrain'd, and wish my self away.
Constraint does ill with love and beauty sute;
I would persuade; but not be absolute.
Better be much remiss than too severe;
If pleas'd in absence, thou wilt still be here:
Go; in thy native innocence proceed,
And summon all thy reason at thy need.
My Soul, my eyes delight; in this I find
Thou lov'st; because to love is to be kind.
[Embracing him.
Seeking my trial, I am still on guard:
Tryals less fought, would find us less prepar'd.
Our foe's too proud the weaker to assail;
Or doubles his dishonour if he fail.
In love, what use of prudence can there be?
More perfect I, and yet more pow'rful she.
Blame me not, Heav'n if thou love's pow'r had'st try'd,
What could be so unjust to be deny'd?
One look of hers my resolution breaks;
Reason it self turns folly when she speaks:
And aw'd by her whom it was made to sway,
Flatters her pow'r, and does its own betray.
[Page 29]The middle part of the Garden is represented, where four Ri­vers meet: on the right side of the Scene, is plac'd the Tree of life, on the left, the Tree of Knowledge.
Enter Lucifer.
Methinks the beauties of this place should mourn;
Th'immortal fruits, and Flow'rs at my return
Should hang their wither'd heads; for sure my breath
Is now more poys'nous, and has gather'd death
Enough, to blast the whole Creation's frame:
Swoln with despite, with sorrow, and with shame,
Thrice have I beat the wing, and rid with night
About the world, behind the globe of light,
To shun the watch of Heav'n; such care I use:
(What pains will malice, rais'd like mine, refuse
Not the most abject form of Brutes to take.)
Hid in the spiry volumes of the snake,
I lurk'd within the covert of a Brake;
Not yet descry'd. But, see, the woman here
Alone! beyond my hopes! no guardian near.
Good Omen that: I must retire unseen,
And, with my borrow'd shape, the work begin.
Enter Eve.
Thus far, at least, with leave; nor can it be
A sin to look on this Celestial tree:
I would not more; to touch a crime may prove:
Touching is a remoter tast in love.
Death may be there, or poyson in the smell,
(If death in any thing so fair can dwell:)
But Heav'n forbids: I could be satisfy'd
Were every tree but this, but this deny'd.
[Page 30]A Serpent enters on the Stage, and makes directly to the Tree of Knowledge, on which winding himself, he plucks an apple; then descends and carries it away.
Strange sight! did then our great Creator grant
That priviledge, which we their Masters want,
To these inferiour beings? or was it chance?
And was he blest with bolder ignorance?
I saw his curling crest the trunk infold:
The ruddy fruit, distinguish'd ore with gold,
And smiling in its native wealth, was torn
From the rich bough, and then in triumph born:
The vent'rous victor march'd unpunish'd hence,
And seem'd to boast his fortunate offence.
To her Lucifer in a humane shape.
Hail, Soveraign of this Orb! form'd to possess
The world, and, with one look, all nature bless.
Nature is thine; thou, Empress, dost bestow
On fruits, to blossom; and on flowers, to blow.
They happy, yet insensible to boast
Their bliss: more happy they who know thee most.
Then happiest I, to humane reason rais'd,
And voice, with whose first accents thou art prais'd.
What art thou, or from whence? for on this ground,
Beside my Lord's, ne're heard I humane sound.
Art thou some other Adam, form'd from Earth,
And com'st to claim an equal share, by birth,
In this fair field? or sprung of Heav'nly race?
An humble native of this happy place,
Thy vassal born, and late of lowest kind,
Whom Heav'n neglecting made, and scarce design'd
But threw me in, for number to the rest,
Below the mounting bird, and grazing beast;
By chance not prudence, now superior grown.
To make thee such, what miracle was shown:
[Page 31]
Who would not tell what thou vouchsaf'st to hear:
Saw'st thou not late a speckled serpent rear
His gilded spires to climb on yon'fair tree?
Before this happy minute I was he.
Thou speak'st of wonders: make thy story plain.
Not wishing then, and thoughtless to obtain,
So great a bliss; but, led by sence of good,
Inborn to all, I sought my needful food:
Then, on that Heav'nly tree, my sight I cast;
The colour urg'd my eye, the scent my tast.
Not to detain thee long; I took, did eat:
Scarce had my palate touch'd th'immortal meat,
But on a sudden, turn'd to what I am:
God-like, and, next to thee, I fair became:
Thought, spake, and reason'd; and, by reason found
Thee, Nature's Queen, with all her graces crown'd.
Happy thy lot; but far unlike is mine:
Forbidd to eat, not daring to repine.
'Twas Heav'n's command; and should we disobey,
What rais'd thy Being, ours must take away.
Sure you mistake the precept, or the tree:
Heav'n cannot envious of his blessings be.
Some chance-born plant he might forbid your use,
As wild, or guilty of a deadly juice:
Not this, whose colour, scent divine, and tast,
Proclaim the thoughtful Maker not in hast.
By all these signs, too well I know the fruit,
And dread a pow'r severe, and absolute.
Severe, indeed; ev'n to injustice hard;
If death, for knowing more, be your reward:
Knowledge of good, is good; and therefore fit;
And to know ill, is good; for shunning it.
What, but our good, could he design in this,
Who gave us all, and plac'd in perfect bliss?
Excuse my zeal, fair Soveraign in your cause,
Which dares to tax his arbitrary laws.
[Page 32]Tis all his aym to keep you blindly low,
That servile fear from ignorance may flow:
We scorn to worship whom too well we know.
He knows that eating you shall god-like be;
As wife, as fit to be ador'd, as he.
For his own int'rest he this Law has giv'n;
Such Beauty may raise factions in his Heav'n.
By awing you, he does possession keep,
And is too wise to hazard partnership.
Alass who dares dispute with him that right?
The power which form'd us must be infinite.
Who told you how your form was first design'd?
The Sun and Earth, produce of every kind;
Grass, Flow'rs, and Fruits; nay, living creatures too:
Their mould was base; 'twas more refin'd in you:
Where vital heat, in purer Organs wrought,
Produc'd a nobler kind rais'd up to thought;
And that perhaps, might his begining be:
Something was first; I question if 'twere he.
But grant him first, yet still suppose him good,
Not envying those he made, immortal food.
But death, our disobedience must pursue.
Behold, in me, what shall arrive to you.
I tasted; yet I live: nay, more; have got
A state more perfect than my native lot.
Nor fear this petty fault his wrath should raise:
Heav'n rather will your dauntless virtue praise,
That sought, through threat'ned death, immortal good:
Gods are immortal only by their food.
Tast and remove
What diff'rence does 'twixt them and you remain:
As I gain'd reason, you shall God-head gain.
He eats, and lives, in knowledge greater grown:
Was death invented then for us alone?
Is intellectual food to man deny'd
Which Brutes have, with so much advantage try'd?
Nor only try'd themselves, but frankly, more,
To me have offer'd their unenvi'd store?
[Page 33]
Be bold, and all your needless doubts remove:
View well this Tree, (the Queen of all the grove,)
How vast her bole, how wide her arms are spread,
How high above the rest she shoots her head,
Plac'd in the mid'st; would Heav'n his works disgrace,
By planting poyson in the happiest place?
Hast; you lose time and God-head by delay.
Plucking the Fruit.
Eve looking about her.
Tis done; I'll venture all and disobey.
Perhaps, far hid in Heav'n, he does not spy,
And none of all his Hymning guards are nigh.
To my dear lord, the lovely fruit I'll bear;
He to partake my bliss, my crime shall share.
[Exit hastily.
She flew, and thank'd me not, for hast: t'was hard
With no return such counsel to reward.
My work is done, or much the greater part;
She's now the tempter, to ensnare his heart.
He, whose firm faith no reason could remove,
Will melt before that soft seducer, love.

Act. V.

Scene. I. Paradise.

Eve, with a bough in her hand.
MEthinks, I tread more lightly on the ground;
My nimble feet, from unhurt flow'rs rebound:
I walk in Ayr, and scorn this Earthly seat;
Heav'n is my palace; this my base retreat.
Take me not Heav'n, too soon; 'twill be unkind
To leave the partner of my bed behind.
I love the wretch; but stay, shall I afford
Him part? already he's too much my Lord.
'Tis in my pow'r to be a Soveraign now;
And, knowing more, to make his manhood bow.
Empire is sweet; but how if Heav'n has spy'd?
If I should dye, and he above provide
[Page 34]Some other Eve, and place her in my stead?
Shall she possess his love, when I am dead?
No; he shall eat, and dye with me, or live:
Our equal crimes shall equal fortune give.
Enter Adam.
What Joy, without your sight, has earth in store!
While you were absent, Eden was no more.
Winds murmur'd, through the leaves, your long delay;
And fountains, or'e their pebles, chid your stay.
But with your presence cheer'd, they cease to mourn,
And walks wear fresher green, at your return.
Henceforth you never shall have cause to chide;
No future absence shall our joys divide:
'Twas a short death my love ne'r try'd before,
And therefore strange; but yet the cause was more.
My trembling heart forbodes some ill; I fear
To ask that cause which I desire to hear.
What means that lovely fruit? what means (alass!)
That blood, which flushes guilty in your face?
Speak—do not—yet, at last, I must be told.
Have courage then: 'tis manly to be bold.
This fruit—why dost thou shake? no death is nigh:
'Tis what I tasted first; yet do not dye.
Is it—(I dare not ask it all at first;
Doubt is some ease to those who fear the worst:)
Say, 'tis not.
—'Tis not what thou need'st to fear:
What danger does in this fair fruit appear?
We have been cozen'd; and had still been so,
Had I not ventur'd boldly first to know.
Yet, not I first; I almost blush to say
The serpent eating taught me first the way.
The serpent tasted, and the god-like fruit
Gave the dumb voice; gave reason, to the Brute.
O fairest of all creatures, last, and best,
Of what Heav'n made, how art thou dispossest
[Page 35]Of all thy native Glories! faln! Decay'd!
(Pity so rare a frame so frail was made)
Now cause of thy own ruine; and with thine,
(Ah, who can live without thee!) cause of mine.
Reserve thy pity, till I want it more:
I know my self much happier than before;
More wise, more perfect, all I wish to be,
Were I but sure Alass! of pleasing thee,
Y'have shown how much you my content design:
Yet ah! would Heav'n's displeasure pass like mine.
Must I without you, then, in wild woods dwell?
Think, and but think of what I lov'd so well
Condemn'd to live with subjects ever mute;
A salvage Prince, unpleas'd though absolute.
Please then your self with me, and freely tast,
Lest I, without you, should to Godhead hast:
Lest diff'ring in degree, you claim too late
Unequal love, when 'tis deny'd by fate.
Cheat not your self, with dreams of Deity;
Too well, but yet too late, your crime I see:
Nor think the fruit your knowledge does improve;
But you have beauty still, and I have love.
Not cozen'd, I; with choice, my life resign:
Imprudence was your sault, but love is mine,
[Takes the Fruit and eats it.
Eve embracing him.
O wond'rous pow'r of matchless love ex­prest:
Why was this trial thine, of loving best?
I envy thee that lot; and could it be,
Would venture something more than death, for thee.
Not that I fear, that death th'event can prove;
W'are both immortal, while so well we love.
What e're shall be the event, the lot is cast:
Where appetites are giv'n, what sin to tast?
Or if a sin, 'tis but by precept such;
Th'offence so small, the punishment's too much,
To seek so soon his new made world's decay:
Nor we, nor that, were fashion'd for a day.
[Page 36]
Give to the winds thy fear of death, or ill;
And think us made but for each others will.
I will, at least, defer that anxious thought,
And death, by fear, shall not be nigher brought:
If he will come, let us to joyes make hast;
Then let him seize us when our pleasure's past.
We'll take up all before; and death shall find
We have drain'd life, and lefta void behind.
Enter Lucifer.
'Tis done,
Sick nature, at that instant, trembled round;
And Mother Earth, sigh'd, as she felt the wound,
Of how short durance was this new-made state!
How far more mighty than Heav'ns love, Hells hate!
His project ruin'd, and his King of clay:
He form'd, an Empire for his foe to sway.
Heav'n let him rule, which by his arms he got;
I'm pleas'd to have obtain'd the second lot.
This Earth is mine; whose Lord I made my thrall;
Annexing to my Crown, his conquer'd Ball
Loos'd from the lakes, my Legions I will lead,
And, o're the darkned Ayr, black Banners spread:
Contagious damps, from hence, shall mount above,
And force him to his inmost Heav'n's remove.
A Clap of thunder is heard.
He hears already, and I boast too soon;
I dread that Engine which secur'd his Throne.
I'll dive below his wrath, into the deep,
And waste that Empire, which I cannot keep.
[Sinkes down.
Raphael and Gabriel descend.
As much of grief as happiness admits
In Heav'n, on each Celestial forehead sits:
[Page 37]Kindness for man, and pity for his fate,
May mixt with bliss, and yet not violate.
Their Heav'nly harps a lower strain began;
And in soft Music, mourn'd the fall of man.
I saw th'Angelic guards, from earth ascend,
(Griev'd they must now no longer man attend:)
The beams about their Temples dimly shone;
One would have thought the crime had been their own.
Th'Etherial people flock'd for news in hast,
Whom they, with down cast lookes, and scarce saluting past:
While each did, in his pensive brest, prepare
A sad accompt of their successess care.
Th'Eternal yet, in Majesty severe,
And strictest justice, did mild pity bear:
Their deaths deferr'd; and banishment, (their doom)
In penitence forseen, leaves mercy room.
That message is thy charge: mine, leads me hence;
Plac'd 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.
In what dark cavern shall I hide my head?
Where seek retreat, now innocence is fled?
Safe in that guard, I durst ev'n Hell defy;
Without it, tremble now, when Heav'n is nigh.
What shall we do? or where direct our flight
Eastward as far as I could cast my sight,
From op'ning Heavens, I saw descending light.
Its glitt'ring through the Trees, I still behold;
The Cedar tops seem all to burn with gold.
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,
[...][Page 36] [...][Page 37]
[Page 38]And fenc'd from day, by night's eternal skreen;
Unknown to Heav'n, and to my self unseen.
In vain: what hope to shun his piercing sight
Who, from dark Chaos, stroke the sparks of light?
These should have been your thoughts when parting hence,
You trusted to your guideless innocence.
See now th'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.
Such might have been thy hap, alone assail'd;
And so, together, might we both have fail'd.
Curs'd vassallage of all my future kind:
First Idolis'd, till loves hot fire be o're,
Then slaves to those who courted us before.
I counsel'd you to stay; your pride refus'd:
By your own lawless will you stand accus'd.
Have you that priviledge of only wise,
And would you yield to her you so despise?
You should have shown th'Authority you boast,
And, Soveraign-like, my headlong will have crost:
Counsel was not enough to sway my heart;
An absolute restraint had been your part.
Ev'n 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 shar'd the curse which did that crime pursue.
Hard fate of love! which rigor did forbear,
And now 'tis tax'd, because 'twas not severe.
You have, your self, your kindness overpay'd:
He ceases to oblige, who can upbraid.
On womens 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 your selves so left, if ill ensues,
You first our weak indulgence will accuse.
Curst be that hour—
[Page 39]When, sated with my single happiness,
I chose a partner, to controle my bliss,
Who wants that reason which her will should sway,
And knowes but just enough to disobey.
Better with Brutes my humble lot had gone;
Of reason void, accountable for none:
Th'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.
Add, that she's proud, fantastick, 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 Quires divine,
Peopled his Heavn 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 ayd 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 joyn'd:
The worthiest men, their wishes ne'r 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.
Unkind! wilt thou forsake me, in distress,
For that which now is past me to redress?
I have misdone; and I endure the smart:
Loath to acknowledge; but more loath to part.
The blame be mine; you warn'd, and I refus'd:
What would you more? I have my self accus'd.
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.
[Page 40]
Y'are grown much humbler; than you were before:
I pardon you; but see my face no more.
Vain pardon, which includes a greater ill:
Be still displeas'd; but let me see you still.
Without your much-lov'd sight, I cannot live:
You more than kill me if you so forgive.
The Beasts, since we are faln, 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.
Your penitence does my compassion move;
As you deserve it, I may give my love.
On me, alone, let Heav'n's displeasure fall:
You merit none, and I deserve it all.
You all Heav'n's wrath! how could you 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.
Enter Raphael.
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.
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-manag'd trust.
Why seek you death? consider ere you speak:
The laws were hard; the pow'r to keep 'em, weak.
Did we solicite Heav'n to mould our clay?
From darkness, to produce us to the day?
[Page 41]Did we sollicite Heav'n 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 plac'd us here;
The laws we did not chuse, why should we bear?
Seek not, in vain, our maker to accuse:
Terms were propos'd; pow'r left us to refuse.
The good we have enjoy'd from Heav'n'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?
Heav'n's right, in us, is more: first form'd to serve;
The good, we merit not; the ill, deserve.
Death is defer'd, and penitence has room
To mitigate, if not reverse the doom:
But, for your crime, th'Eternal does ordain
In Eden, you no longer shall remain.
Hence, to the lower world, you are exil'd:
This place, with crimes, shall be no more defil'd.
Must we this blissful Paradise forego?
Your lot must be where Thorns and Thistles grow,
Unbid, as Balme and Spices did at first;
For man, the earth, of which he was is curst.
To Adam.
By thy own toil procur'd, thou food shalt eat;
And know no plenty, but from painful sweat.
She, by a curse, of future wives abhorr'd,
Shall pay obedience to her lawful Lord:
And he shall rule, and she in thraldome live;
Defiring more of love than man can give.
Heav'n is all mercy; labor I would chuse;
And could sustain this Paradise to lose:
The bliss; but not the place: here could I say
Heav'n's winged messenger did pass the day;
Under this Pine the glorious Angel stay'd:
Then, show my wondring progeny the shade.
In woods and lawnes, where er'e thou dist appear,
Each place some Monument of thee should bear.
[Page 43]I, with green turfs, would grateful Altars raise,
And Heav'n, with Gums and offer'd Incense praise.
Where er'e thou art; he is; th'Eternal mind
Acts through all places; is to none confin'd:
Fills Ocean, Earth, and Ayr, and all above,
And through the Universal Mass does move.
Thou canst be no where distant: yet this place
Had been thy Kingly seat, and here thy race,
From all the ends of peopled-Earth, had come
To rev'rence thee, and see their native home.
Immortal, then; now sickness, care, and age,
And war, and luxury's more direful rage,
Thy crimes have brought, to shorten mortal breath,
With all the num'rous family of Death.
My spirits faint, while I these ills foreknow:
And find my self the sad occasion too.
But what is death?
In vision, thou shalt see his griesly face,
The King of Terrors, raging in thy race.
That, while in future fate thou shar'st thy part,
A kind remorse, for sin, may seize thy heart.
The Scene shifts, and discovers deaths of several sorts. Abattle at land, and a Naval fight.
O wretched off-spring! O unhappy state
Of all mankind, by me betray'd to fate!
Born, through my crime, to be offenders first;
And, for those sins they could not shun, accurst.
Why is life forc'd on man; who might he choose,
Would not accept, what he, with pain, must lose?
Unknowing, he receives it, and, when known,
He thinks it his, and values it, 'tis gone.
Behold of ev'ry age; ripe manhood see,
Decrepit years, and helpless infancy:
Those who, by lingring sickness, lose their breath;
And those who, by despair, suborn their death:
See yon'mad fools who, for some trivial Right,
F' or love, or for mistaken honour [...]ght:
[Page 42]See those, more mad, who throw their lives away
In needless wars; the Stakes which Monarchs lay,
When for each others Provinces they play.
Then as if earth too narrow were for fate,
On open Seas their quarrels they debate;
In hollow wood they floating Armies bear;
And force imprison'd winds to bring 'em near.
Who would the miseries of man foreknow?
Not knowing; we but share our part of woe:
Now, we the fate of future Ages bear;
And, ere their birth, behold our dead appear.
The deaths, thou show'st, are forc'd and full of strife;
Cast headlong from the precipice of life.
Is there no smooth descent? no painless way
Of kindly mixing with our native clay?
There is; but rarely shall that path be trod
Which, without horror, leads to deaths abode.
Some few, by temp'rance taught, approaching slow,
To distant fate, by easy journeys, go:
Gently they lay 'em down, as ev'ning sheep
On their own woolly fleeces, softly sleep.
So noiseless would I live, such death to find,
Like timely fruit, not shaken by the wind,
But ripely dropping from the sapless bough
And, dying, nothing to my selfwould owe.
Thus, daily changing, with a duller tast
Of less'ning joyes, I, by degrees, would wast:
Still quitting ground, by unperceiv'd, decay,
And steal my felf from life, and melt away.
Death you have seen: now see your race revive,
How happy they in deathless pleasures live.
Far more than I can show, or you can see,
Shall crown the blest with immortality.
[Page 44]Here a Heaven descends, full of Angels and blessed Spirits, with soft Music, a Song and Chorus.
O goodness infinite! whose Heav'nly will
Can so much good produce, from so much ill!
Happy their state!
Pure, and unchang'd, and needing no defence,
From sins, as did my frailer Innocence.
Their joy sincere, and with no sorrow mixt:
Eternity stands permanent, and fixt,
And wheels no longer on the Poles of time:
Secure from fate, and more secure from crime.
Ravish'd, with Joy, I can but half repent
The sin which Heav'n makes happy in th'event,
Thus arm'd, meet firmly your approaching ill:
For, see, the guards, from yon' far eastern hill,
Already move, nor longer stay afford;
High, in the Ayr, they wave the flaming sword,
Your signal to depart: Now, down amain
They drive, and glide, like meteors through the plain.
Then farewel all; I will indulgent be
To my own ease, and not look back to see.
When what we love we ne'r must meet again,
To lose the thought, is to remove the pain.
Farewell, you happy shades!
Where Angels first should practice Hymns, and string.
Their tuneful Harps, when they to Heav'n wou'd sing.
Farewell, you flow'rs, whose buds, with early care,
I watch'd, and to the chearful sun did rear:
Who now shall bind your stems? or, when you fall,
With fountain streams, your fainting souls recall?
A long farewell to thee, my nuptial bow'r,
Adorn'd with ev'ry fair and flagrant flow'r.
And last, farewell, farewell my place of birth;
I go to wander in the lower earth,
As distant as I can; for, disposest,
Farthest from what I once enjoy'd, is best.
[Page 45]
The rising winds urge the tempestuous Ayr;
And on their wings, deformed Winter bear:
The beasts already feel the change; and hence,
They fly, to deeper coverts, for defence:
The feebler herd, before the stronger run;
For now the war of nature is begun:
But, part you hence in peace, and having mourn'd your sin,
For outward Eden lost, find Paradise within.

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