Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

105

Which, if not victory, is yet revenge."

He ended frowning, and his look denounced
Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous
To less than gods. On the other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer

person lost not Heaven; he seemed
For dignity composed, and high exploit :
But all was false and hollow ; though his tongue
Dropped manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, for his thoughts were low:
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful; yet he pleased the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began:

110

BELIAL

115

1 26

“I should be much for open war, O Peers,
As not behind in hate; if what was urged
Main reason to persuade immediate war,
Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast
Ominous conjecture on the whole success ;
When he, who most excels in fact of arms!,

120
In what he counsels, and in what excels,
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge ? The towers of Heaven are filled
With armèd watch, that render all access
Impregnable : oft on the bordering deep
Encamp their legions; or, with obscure wing,
Scout far and wide into the realm of Night,
Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heaven's purest light; yet our great Enemy,
All incorruptible, would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and the ethereal mould,

135 Incapable of stain, would soon expel Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire, Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope Is flat despair : we must exasperate The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,

140 And that must end us :

that must be our cure, 1 An Italian idiom; fatto d'arme, a battle.

130 150

To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallowed up and lost

145
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense and motion ? And who knows,
Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
Can give it, or will ever? How he can,
Is doubtful; that he never will, is sure.
Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence, or unaware,
To give his enemies their wish, and end
Thém in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless ? Wherefore cease we then ? 155
Say they who counsel war; we are decreed,
Reserved and destined to eternal woe ;
Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
What can we suffer worse? Is this then worst,
Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms ?

160 What! when we fled amain, pursued, and struck With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought The deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed A refuge from those wounds: or when we lay Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse. 165 What if the breath, that kindled those grim fires, Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage, And plunge us in the flames? or, from above, Should intermitted vengeance arm again His red right hand 2 to plague us ? What if all 170 Her stores were opened, and this firmament Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire, Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall One day upon our heads; while we perhaps, Designing or exhorting glorious war, Caught in a fiery tempest shall be hurled Each on his rock transfixed 3, the

prey Of wracking whirlwinds; or for ever sunk Under yon boiling ocean, wrapped in chains ; There to converse with everlasting groans, Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved *, 1 See book i. line 186.

posed of three negative qualities; as 2 See Horace, od. 2. lib. i.

here: - 80 Shakspere: “ Unhou3 See Virgil, Æneid, lib. i. line 45. seled, disappointed, unanneled.”. 4 Milton frequently has lines com- Hamlet, act i. scene 1.

175

sport and

180

Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.
Shall we then live thus vile, the race of Heaven
Thus trampled, thus expelled to suffer here
Chains and these torments ? Better these than worse,
By my advice; since fate inevitable

186
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,
Our strength is equal, nor the law unjust
That so ordains : this was at first resolved,

190 If we were wise, against so great a Foe Contending, and so doubtful what might fall. I laugh, when those who at the spear are bold And venturous, if that fail them, shrink and fear What yet they know must follow, to endure

195 Exile, or ignominy', or bonds, or pain, The sentence of their Conqueror : this is now Our doom ; which, if we can sustain and bear, Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit His anger; and perhaps, thus far removed, Not mind us not offending, satisfied With what is punished; whence these raging fires Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames. This horror will grow mild, this darkness light; Besides what hope the never-ending flight

205
Of future days may bring, what chance, what change
Worth waiting ; since our present lot appears
For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
If we procure not to ourselves more woe.'

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,
Counselled ignoble ease, and peaceful sloth,
Not peace: and after him thus Mammon spake : -

200

210

MAMMON.

“Either to disenthrone the King of Heaven We war, if war be best, or to regain Our own right lost: Him to unthrone we then 215 May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife : The former, vain to hope, argues as vain The latter; for what place can be for us Within Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord Supreme

1 The y in ignominy is here cut off in the scanning.

221

225

230

235

240

*

*

We overpower? Suppose he should relent,
And publish grace to all, on promise made
Of new subjection ; with what eyes could we
Stand in his presence humble, and receive
Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing
Forced hallelujahs; while he lordly sits
Our envied Sovran, and his altar breathes
Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,
Our servile offerings? This must be our task
In Heaven, this our delight; how wearisome
Eternity so spent, in worship paid
To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue
By force impossible, by leave obtained
Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek
Our own good from ourselves, and, from our own,
Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,
Free, and to none accountable, preferring
Hard liberty before the easy yoke
Of servile
pomp

* This deep world
Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling Sire
Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
And with the majesty of darkness round

245
Covers his thronel; from whence deep thunders roar
Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell?
As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please ? This desert soil
Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold ;

250 Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more? Our torments also may in length of time Become our elements ; these piercing fires As soft as now severe, our temper changed Into their temper, which must needs remove The sensible? of pain. All things invite To peaceful counsels, and the settled state Of order, how in safety best we may Compose our present evils, with regard Of what we are, and where; dismissing quite 1 See Psalm xviii. 11. 13.; and 2 The neuter adjective used as a Psalm xcvii. 2.

noun. (A Greek idiom.)

255

260 265

280

All thoughts of war :-ye have what I advise."

He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled
The assembly, as when hollow rocks retain
The sound of blustering winds, which all night long
Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
Sea-faring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance,
Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay
After the tempest : such applause was heard
As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased,

270
Advising peace : for such another field
They dreaded worse than Hell: so much the fear
Of thunder and the sword of Michaël
Wrought still within them; and no less desire
To found this nether empire, which might rise 275
By policy, and long process of time,
In emulation opposite to Heaven.
Which when Beëlzebub perceived, than whom,
Satan except, none higher sat, with grave
Aspéct he rose, and in his rising seemed
A pillar of state ; deep on his front engraven
Déliberation sat, and public care ;
And princely counsel in his face yet shone,
Majestic, though in ruin : sage he stood
With Atlantéan 1 shoulders fit to bear

285 The weight of mightiest monarchies ; his look Drew audience and attention still as night Or summer's noon-tide air, while thus he spake :

BEËLZEBUB.
“ Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven,
Ethereal Virtues ! or these titles now
Must we renounce, and, changing style, be called
Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
Inclines, here to continue, and build up

here
A growing empire, doubtless! while we dream,
And know not that the King of Heaven hath doomed
This place our dungeon; not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league

290

296

1 Atlas, according to some of the the form of a globe. Hence the sayancient writers, was a powerful king, ing that heaven rested on his shoulwho possessed great knowledge of the ders was regarded as a mere figuracourses of the stars, and was the first tive mode of expression. who taught men that heaven had

« PředchozíPokračovat »