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Banded against his throne, but to remain
In strictest bondage, though thus far removed
Under the inevitable curb, reserved
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
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 determined us, and foiled with loss
Irreparable; * * What if we find
Some easier enterprise? There is a place
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven
Err not,) another world, the happy seat
Of some new race called Man, about this time
To be created like to us, though less
In power and excellence, but favoured more
Of Him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounced among the gods, and by an oath
That shook Heaven's whole circumference2 confirmed.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould,
Or substance, how endued, and what their power,
And where their weakness, how attempted best,
By force or subtlety. Though Heaven be shut,
And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure

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In his own strength, this place may lie exposed,
The utmost border of his kingdom, left
To their defence who hold it: Here perhaps
Some advantageous act may be achieved
By sudden onset ; either with Hell fire

330 To waste his whole creation, or possess All as our own, and drive, as we were driven, The puny: inhabitants ; or, if not drive, Seduce them to our party, that their God May prove their foe, and with repenting hand

335 Abolish his own works. This would surpass Common revenge, and interrupt his joy In our confusion, and our joy upraise

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1 See above, line 88.
2 See Iliad, lib. i. 530.
3 “ Puny," in its original sense,

meant, “ born afterwards or since;'
puis (depuis) né; Fr.

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In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Their frail original, and faded bliss,
Faded so soon. Advise, if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires.” — Thus Beelzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devised
By Satan, and in part proposed :

The bold design
Pleased 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 judged, well ended long debate,
Synod of gods ! and, like to what ye are,
Great things resolved, 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 neighbouring arms
And opportune excursion, we may chance
Re-enter Heaven ; or else in some mild zone
Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light,
Secure ; and at the brightening orient beam
Purge off this gloom : But first, whom shall we send
In search of this new world ? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt2 with wandering feet
The dark, unbottomed, infinite abyss,
And through the palpable obscure 3 find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt 3, ere he arrive 4
The happy isle? What strength, what art, can then
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,
The weight of all, and our last hope, relies.”

This said, he sat; and expectation held His look suspense, awaiting who appeared

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1 Darling, a diminutive of “ dear.” 4 Arrive; literally, “ to come to the 2 Attempt.

shore.” 3 “ Palpable obscure .... vast abrupt.” Græcisms; see line 257.

To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt : but all sat mute,
Pondering the danger with deep thoughts ; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonished: none among the choice and prime
Of those Heaven-warring champions could be found
So hardy, as to proffer or accept,
Alone, the dreadful voyage; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake :-

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SATAN.

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“O Progeny of Heaven, empyreal. Thrones !
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismayed : long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light;
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,

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Barred over us, prohibit all egress.
These passed, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plunged 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,
And this imperial sovranty, adorned
With splendour, armed with power, if aught proposed
And judged 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
High honoured sits ? Go, therefore, mighty Powers, 415

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1 “ Empyreal,” from “ Empyrean," element supposed to exist above the the highest heaven; the word was ethereal. applied by philosophers to the fiery

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Terror of Heaven, though fallen ! intend 1 at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render Hell
More tolerable; intermit no watch
Against a wakeful Foe, while I abroad

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Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all : this enterprise
None shall partake with me :"— Thus saying, rose
The Monarch, and prevented all reply ;
Prudent, lest, from his resolution raised,

425 Others among the chief might offer now (Certain to be refused) what erst 2 they feared ; And, so refused, might in opinion stand His rivals; winning cheap the high repute Which he through hazard huge must earn.

But they
Dreaded not more the adventure than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose :
Their rising all at once, was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone ; and as a god
Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven :
Nor failed they to express how much they praised
That for the general safety he despised
His own : for neither do the Spirits damned
Lose all their virtue ; lest bad men should boast
Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
Or close ambition, varnished o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless Chief :
As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element
Scowls o'er the darkened landscape snow, or shower ;
If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet
Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men! Devil with devil damned
Firm concord holds ; men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace: and, God proclaiming peace,

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1 Consider.

2 “Up to the present time.”

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Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife,
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroył:
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That, day and night, for his destruction wait.

The Stygian council thus dissolved ; and forth
In order came the grand infernal Peers :
Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seemed
Alone the Antagonist of Heaven, nor less
Than Hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme,
And god-like imitated state : him round
A globe of fiery Seraphim enclosed
With bright emblazonry, and horrent? arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets' regal sound the great result:
Towards the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explained ; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim.
Thence, more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the rangèd Powers
Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great Chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air sublime,

485 Upon the wing, or in swift race contend, As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields" ; Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form. As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battle in the clouds, before each van Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears Till thickest legions close ; with feats of arms 1 An allusion to the civil war be- nected with it; as here the metal for tween Charles I. and the parliament. the instrument. 2 Rough, bristling.

4 Celebrated Grecian games; the 9 Alchemy, used for trumpets, by Olympian held at Olympia, in Elis ; the figure metonymy, when a thing the Pythian, near the temple of is expressed by circumstances con- Apollo at Delphi, in Phocis.

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