The State of Innocence
and the Fall of Man

By John Dryden

Edited by Jack Lynch,
Rutgers University — Newark

The text comes from Act I and Act II, Scene II of The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man (London, 1674). The full text is also available. Please send corrections and suggestions to Jack Lynch.

Act I.

Scene 1.

Lucifer raising himself on the Lake.

Lucifer.

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:
His Shafts are spent, and his tir'd Thunders sleep;
Nor longer bellow through the Boundless Deep. [10]
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.

Asmoday.

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; [20]
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.

Lucif.

Strength may return.

Asm.

Already of thy Vertue I partake,
Erected by thy Voice.

Lucif.

— See on the Lake
Our Troops like scatter'd Leaves in Autumn, lie: [30]
First let us raise our selves, and seek the drie,
Perhaps more easie dwelling.

Asm.

— 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.

Lucif.

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. [40]

[Both fly to dry Land.]

Asm.

Thus far we have prevail'd; if that be gain
Which is but change of place, not change of pain.
Now summon we the rest.

Lucif.

Dominions, Pow'rs, ye Chiefs of Heav'n's bright Host,
(Of Heav'n, once yours; but now, in Battel, lost)
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 [50]
Your prostrate postures, and his Bolts renew,
To strike you deeper down.

Asm.

— They wake, they hear,
Shake off their slumber first, and next their fear;
And only for th'appointed Signal stay.

Lucif.

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.]

Lucif.

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 [60]
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.

Mol.

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.

Lucif.

There spoke the better half of Lucifer! [70]

Asm.

'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.

Mol.

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.

Beelzebub.

Moloch, in that, all are resolv'd like thee.
The means are unpropos'd; but 'tis not fit [80]
Our dark Divan in publick view should sit:
Or what we plot against the Thunderer,
Th'Ignoble Crowd of Vulgar Devils hear.

Lucif.

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, [90]
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.

Mol.

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. [100]
We can no caution give we will adore;
And He above is warn'd to trust no more.
What then remains but Battel?

Sathan.

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, [110]
And wanton, in full ease now live at large,
Ungarded leave the passes of the Skie,
And all dissolv'd, in Hallelujahs lie.

Mol.

Grant that our hazardous attempt prove vain;
We feel the worst; secur'd from greater pain:
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.

Belial.

That knowledge which, as Spirits, we obtain,
Is to be valu'd in the midst of pain: [120]
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.

Beelzebub.

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; [130]
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.

Asm.

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, [140]
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.

Lucif.

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 [150]
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;
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.

Asm.

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, [160]
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.

Belial.

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, [170]
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.

Mol.

This Glorious Enterprise —

[Rising up.]

Lucif.

— 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, [180]
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.

Asm.

The praise, and danger, then, be all your own.

Lucif.

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: [190]
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.

Asm.

Mean time the Youth of Hell strict guard may keep,
And set their Centries to the utmost deep,
That no Etherial Parasite may come
To spie our ills, and tell glad tales at home.

Lucif.

Before yon' Brimstone-Lake thrice ebb and flow,
(Alas, that we must measure Time by woe!) [200]
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 2

The Scene Paradise.

Trees cut out on each side, with several Fruits upon them: a Fountain in the midst: at the far end, the Prospect terminates in Walks.

Adam.

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;
My better half, thou softer part of me,
To whom I yield my boasted Soveraignty,
I seek my self, and find not, wanting thee.

Exit.

Enter Eve.

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 [10]
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.
What's here? another Firmament below,

Looks into a Fountain.

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, [20]
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.

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 [30]
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.

Eve.

O, only like my self, (for nothing here
So graceful, so majestick does appear:)
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; [40]
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.

Adam.

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; [50]
Thence I, perhaps, may teach my self, and thee.

Eve.

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.

Adam,

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: [60]
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.

Eve.

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.

Adam.

Could Heav'n some greater Master-piece devise, [70]
Set out with all the glories of the Skies:
That beauty yet in vain he should decree,
Unless he made another heart for me.

Eve.

With how much ease I, whom I love, believe!
Giving my self, my want of worth I grieve.
Here, my inviolable Faith I plight,
So, thou be my defence, I, thy delight.

Exeunt he leading her.