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One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,
From a fat meadow-ground, or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs, over the plain,
Their booty ; scarce with life the shepherds fly, 650
But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray:
With cruel tournament the squadrons join ;
Where cattle pastured late, now scattered lies
With carcasses and arms the ensanguined field
Deserted. Others to a city strong
Lay siege, encamped, by battery, scale, and mine,
Assaulting ; others from the wall defend
With dart and javelin, stones and sulphurous fire ;
On each hand slaughter and gigantic deeds.
In other part the sceptred haralds call

660
To council in the city-gates: anon
Grey-headed men and grave, with warriors mixed,
Assemble, and harangues are heard ; but soon
In factious opposition, till at last
Of middle age one rising, eminent
In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, of religion, truth, and peace,
And judgment from above: him old and young
Exploded, and had seized with violent hands,
Had not a cloud descending snatched him thence, 670
Unseen amid the throng. So violence
Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law,
Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.
Adam was all in tears, and to his guide
Lamenting turned full sad “Oh, what are these?
Death's ministers, not men ! who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men, and multiply
Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew
His brother ; for of whom such massacre
Make they but of their brethren, men of men ? 680

But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven
Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost ?”

To whom thus Michaël :-" These are the product
Of those ill-mated marriages thou saw'st,
Where good with bad were matched; who of themselves
Abhor to join, and, by imprudence mixed,
Produce prodigious births of body or mind.
Such were these Giants, men of high renown;
For in those days might only shall be admired,
And valour and heroic virtue called.

690 To overcome in battle, and subdue Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite Manslaughter, shall be held the highest pitch Of human glory, and, for glory done, Of triumph to be styled great conquerors, Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of godsDestroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men. Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth, And what most merits fame in silence hid. But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheld'st 700 The only righteous in a world perverse, And therefore hated, therefore so beset With foes, for daring single to be just, And utter odious truth, that God would come To judge them with his Saints—him the Most High, Rapt in a balmy cloud, with winged steeds, Did, as thou saw'st, receive, to walk with God High in salvation and the climes of bliss, Exempt from death, to show thee what reward Awaits the good, the rest what punishment;

710 Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.”

He looked, and saw the face of things quite changed. The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar ; All now was turned to jollity and game, To luxury and riot, feast and dance,

Marrying or prostituting, as befell,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allured them; thence from cups to civil broils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declared,

720
And testified against their ways. He oft
Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,
Triumphs or festivals, and to them preached
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison, under judgments imminent;
But all in vain. Which when he saw, he ceased
Contending, and removed his tents far off;
Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk,
Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and highth, 730
Smeared round with pitch, and in the side a door
Contrived, and of provisions laid in large
For man and beast : when lo! a wonder strange!
Of every beast, and bird, and insect small,
Came sevens and pairs, and entered in, as taught
Their order ; last, the sire and his three sons,
With their four wives; and God made fast the door.
Meanwhile the South-wind rose, and, with black wings
Wide-hovering, all the clouds together drove
From under heaven; the hills to their supply 740
Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,
Sent up amain ; and now the thickened sky
Like a dark ceiling stood: down rushed the rain
Impetuous, and continued till the earth
No more was seen. The floating vessel swum
Uplifted, and secure with beakèd prow
Rode tilting o'er the waves; all dwellings else
Flood overwhelmed, and them with all their pomp
Deep under water rolled ; sea covered sea,
Sea without shore: and in their palaces,

750

Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelped
And stabled : of mankind, so numerous late,
All left in one small bottom swum embarked.
How did'st thou grieve then, Adam, to behold
The end of all thy offspring, end so sad,
Depopulation ! Thee another flood,
Of tears and sorrow a flood thee also drowned,
And sunk thee as thy sons; till, gently reared
By the Angel, on thy feet thou stood'st at last,
Though comfortless, as when a father mourns 760
His children, all in view destroyed at once,
And scarce to the Angel utter'dst thus thy plaint :-

“O visions ill foreseen! Better had I
Lived ignorant of future—so had borne
My part of evil only, each day's lot
Enough to bear. Those now that were dispensed
The burden of many ages on me light
At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth
Abortive, to torment me, ere their being,
With thought that they must be. Let no man seek 770
Henceforth to be foretold what shall befall
Him or his children—evil, he may be sure,
Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,
And he the future evil shall no less
In apprehension than in substance feel
Grievous to bear. But that care now is past ;
Man is not whom to warn ; those few escaped
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wandering that watery desert.
When violence was ceased and war on Earth, 780
All would have then gone well, peace would have

crowned
With length of happy days the race of Man ;
But I was far deceived, for now I see
Peace to corrupt no less than war to waste.

I had hope,

How comes it thus ? Unfold, Celestial Guide,
And whether here the race of Man will end.”
To whom thus Michael :-“Those whom last thou

saw'st
In triumph and luxurious wealth are they
First seen in acts of prowess eminent
And great exploits, but of true virtue void ;

790
Who, having spilt much blood, and done much waste,
Subduing nations, and achieved thereby
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey,
Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth,
Surfeit, and lust, till wantonness and pride
Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.
The conquered, also, and enslaved by war,
Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose,
And fear of God-from whom their piety feigned
In sharp contest of battle found no aid

800 Against invaders ; therefore, cooled in zeal, Thenceforth shall practise how to live secure, Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords Shall leave them to enjoy ; for the Earth shall bear More than enough, that temperance may be tried. So all shall turn degenerate, all depraved, Justice and temperance, truth and faith, forgot ; One man except, the only son of light In a dark age, against example good, Against allurement, custom, and a world Offended. Fearless of reproach and scorn, Or violence, he of their wicked ways Shall them admonish, and before them set The paths of righteousness, how much more safe And full of peace, denouncing wrath to come On their impenitence, and shall return Of them derided, but of God observed

The one just man alive : by his command VOL. II

810

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