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Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
Inclines, here to continue', and build up here
A growing empire; doubtless ; while we dream, 315
And know not that the King of Heav'n hath doom'd
This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
From Heav'n's high jurisdiction, in new league
Banded against his throne, but to remain
In strictest bondage, though thus far remov'd
Under th' inevitable curb, reserv'd
His captive multitude : for he, be sure,
In height or depth, still first and last will reign
Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part

325 By our revolt, but over Hell extend His empire, and with iron sceptre

rule
Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.
What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determind us, and foil'd with loss
Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
Vouchsaf'd or sought; for what peace will be given
To us enslav’d, but custody severe,
And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted ? and what peace can we return,

335
But to our pow'r hostility and hate,
Untam'd reluctance, and revenge though slow,
Yet ever plotting how the conqu’ror least
May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
In doing what we most in suffering feel?

340 Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need With dang'rous expedition to inyade

330

Heav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or sicge,
Or ambush from the deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprise ? There is a place,

345
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven
Err not) another world, the happy seat
Of some new race call'd Man, about this time
To be created like to us, though less
In pow'r and excellence, but favour'd more 35°
Of him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounc'd among the Gods, and by an oath,
That shook Heav'n's whole circumference, confirm’d.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould

355 Or substance, how endued, and what their power, And where their weakness, how attempted best, By force or subtlety. Though Heav'n be shut, And Heav'n's high arbitrator sit secure In his own strength, this place may lie expos’d, 360 The utmost border of his kingdom, left To their defence who hold it: here perhaps Some advantageous act may be achiev'd By sudden onset, either with Hell fire To waste his whole creation, or possess

365 All as our own, and drive, as we were driven, The

puny habitants, or if not drive, Seduce them to our party, that their God May prove their foe, and with repenting hand Abolish his own works. This would surpass 370 Common revenge, and interrupt his joy In our confusion, and our joy upraise

380

In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurld headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Their frail original, and faded bliss,

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Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires. Thus Beëlzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devis'd
By Satan, and in part propos'd : for whence,
But from the author of all ill, could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race
Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator? But their spite still serves 385
His glory to augment. The bold design
Pleas’d highly those infernal States, and joy
Sparkled in all their eyes; with full assent
They vote : whereat his speech he thus renews.

Well have ye judg'd, well ended long debate, 390 Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are, Great things resolv’d, which from the lowest deep Will once more lift us up in spite of fate, Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view Of those bright confines, whence with neighb'ring arms And opportune excursion we may chance

396 Re-enter Heav'n ; or else in some mild zone Dwell not unvisited of Heav'n's fair light Secure, and at the brightning orient beam Purge off this gloom; the soft delicious air, To heal the scar of these corrosive fires, Shall breathe her balm. But first whom shall we send

400

In search of this new world? Whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt with wand'ring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,

405
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle? What strength, what art can then 410
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send, 415
The weight of all our last hope relies.

This said, he sat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt : but all sat mute,

420
Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In others count'nance read his own dismay
Astonish'd :

: none among the choice and prime Of those Heav'n-warring champions could be found So hardy as to proffer or accept

425
Alone the dreadful voyage ; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais'd
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride
Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.

O Progeny of Heav'n, empyreal Thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undismay'd : long is the way

430

And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light;
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round

435
Ninefold, and gates of burning adamant
Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being

440 Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf. If thence he ’scape into whatever world, Or unknown region, what remains him less Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape? But I should ill become this throne, O Peers, 445 And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd With splendour, arm'd with pow'r, if ought propos'd And judg'd of public moment, in the shape Of difficulty' or danger, could deter Me from attempting. Wherefore do' I assume These royalties, and not refuse to reign, Refusing to accept as great a share Of hazard'as of honour, due alike To him who reigns, and so much to him due Of hazard more, as he above the rest

455 High honour'd sits ? 'Go, therefore, mighty Powers, Terror of Heav'n, though fall’n; intend at home While here shall be our home, what best may ease The present misery, and render Hell More tolerable; if there be cure or charm To respite, or relieve, or slack the pain Of this ill mansion : intermit no watch

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