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Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw
The number of thy worshippers. Who seeks
To lessen thee, against his purpose serves
To manifest the more thy might: his evil
Thou usest, and from thence creat'st more good.
Witness this new-made world, another heaven
From heaven gate not far, founded in view
On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea ;
Of amplitude almost immense, with stars
Numerous, and every star perhaps a world
Of destin'd habitation ; but thou know'st
Their seasons: among these the seat of men,
Earth, with her nether ocean circumfus’d,
Their pleasant dwelling place. Thrice happy men, 625
And sons of men, whom God hath thus advanc'd,
Created in his image, there to dwell
And worship him; and in reward to rule
Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air,
And multiply a race of worshippers
Holy and just: thrice happy, if they know
Their happiness, and persevere upright.
So sung they, and the empyrean rung
With Hallelujahs: thus was Sabbath kept.
And thy request think now fulfill'd, that ask'd
How first this world and face of things began,
And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning, that posterity
Inform’d by thee might know. If else thou seek'st
Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.
Adam inquires concerning celestial motions, is doubtfully answer'd, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge. Adam assents; and still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remember'd since his own creation; his placing in Paradise; his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society; his first meeting and nuptials with Eve; his discourse with the angel thereupon; who, after admonitions repeated, departs.
The angel ended, and in Adam's ear
So charming left his voice, that he awhile
Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear :
Then, as new wak’d, thus gratefully replied.
What thanks sufficient, or what recompence
Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian ? who thus largely hast allay'd
1 The angel] In the first edition of this poem in ten books, here was only this line,
To whom thus Adam gratefully replied.
This would have been too abrupt a beginning for a new book.
5 What thanks] See Beaumont's Psyche, c. xii. st. 171.
“My soule's sweet friend, what thanks can I repay
For all this honey which thy tongue hath shed.'
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafd
This friendly condescension to relate
Things else by me unsearchable, now heard
With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,
With glory attributed to the high
Creator: something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of heaven and earth consisting, and compute
Their magnitudes, this earth a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compar'd
And all her number'd stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible, (for such
Their distance argues, and their swift return
Diurnal,) merely to officiate light
Round this opacous earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night, in all their vast survey
Useless besides ; reasoning I oft admire,
How nature wise and frugal could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
So many nobler bodies to create,
Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For aught appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution day by day
8 The thirst] See Dante Il Purgator. c. xviii. ver. 4.
• Ed io, cui nuova sete ancor frugava,
Di fuor taceva, e dentro dicea.' 9 condescension] Conversation, ver. 649. Bentl. MS. 14 solution] Decision. Bentl. MS. goodly] Hamlet, act ii. scene ii.
• This goodly frame the Earth.'
Repeated, while the sedentary earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails.
So spake our sire, and by his count'nance seem'd
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse ; which Eve
Perceiving where she sat retir'd in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosperid, hud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And touch'd by her fair tendance gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high : such pleasure she reserv'd, 50
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferr’d
Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
46 sprung] So Marino Adon. c. iii. st. 65, and c. vi. st. 146.
• Tutto al venir d'Adon par che ridenti
Rivesta il bel giardin novi colori.' Thyer. 53 to ask] In accordance with St. Paul, Corinth. i. xiv. 35. 'And if they (women) will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.'
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses; from his lip
Not words alone pleas'd her. O when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour join'd?
With goddess-like demeanour forth she went;
Not unattended, for on her as queen
A pomp of winning graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now to Adam's doubt propos'd
Benevolent and facile thus replied.
To ask or search I blame thee not, for heav'n
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years.
This to attain, whether heaven move or earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest
From man or angel the great
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets to be scann’d by them who ought
Rather admire; or if they list to try
55 solve] ‘Sic ait, ac mediis interserit oscula verbis.'
Ovid. Met. x. 559. and Epist. xiii. ver. 119, ed. Burm. vol. i. p.
«Quæ mihi dum referes, quamvis audire juvabit ;
Multa tamen capies oscula, multa dabis.
Semper in his apte narrantia verba resistunt.
Promtior est dulci lingua retenta mora.'
62 shot] See Greene's Never too late, P. act 2. (1616.)
• His bow of steele, darts of fire
He shot amongst them sweet desire.'