« PreviousContinue »
Their state affairs. So thick the aery crowd 775
795 A thousand Demi-gods on golden seats, Frequent and full. After short silence then, And stimmons read, the great consult began
The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battle be
to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven; Some advise it, others dissuade: A third proposal is preferred, mentioned before by Satan, to search the truth of that prophecy or tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferior to themselves, about this time to be created : Their doubt, who shall be sent on this difficult search; Satan their chief undertakes alone the voyage, ishonoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways, and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his journey to Hell gates; finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them: by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new world which he sought.
High on a throne of royal state, which far
10 Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven! For since no deep within her gulf can hold Immortal vigour, though oppress'd and fallen, I give not Heaven for lost. From this descent Celestial virtues rising will appear
15 More glorious and more dread than from no fall, And trust themselves to fear no second fate. Me though just right and the fix'd laws of Heaven Did first create your Leader; next, free choice, With what besides, in counsel or in fight, Hath been achicved of merit ; yet this ioss,
Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more
30 For which to strive, no strife can grow up there From faction ; for none sure will claim in Hell Precedence; none,
whose portion is so small Of present pain, that with ambitious mind Will covet more. With this advantage then 35 To union, and firm faith, and firm accord, More than can be in Heaven, we now return To claim our just inheritance of old, Surer to prosper than prosperity Could have assured us; and, by what best way,
40 Whether of open war, or covert guile, We now debate: Who can advise may speak.
He ceased : and next to him Moloch, sceptred king, Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit That ght in Heaven, now fiercer by despair : 45 His trust was with the Eternal to be deem'd Equal in strength; and rather than be less Cared not to be at all; with that care lost Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse, He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake. 50
My sentence is for open war: Of wiles, More unexpert, I boast not: them let those Contrive who need, or when they need ; not now, For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest, Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait 55 The signal to asce sit lingering here Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling place Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame, The prison of his tyranny who reigns
By our delay ? No! let us rather choose
60 Arm'd with Hell flames and fury, all at once, O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way, Turning our tortures into horrid arms Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise Of his Almighty engine he shall hear
65 Infernal thunder ; and, for lightning, see Black fire and horror shot with equal rage Among his Angels; and his throne itself Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire, His own invented torments. But perhaps
70 The way seems difficult and steep to scale With upright wing against a higher foe. Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench Of that forgetful lake benumb not still, That in our proper motion we ascend
75 Up to our native seat: Descent and fall To us is adverse. Who but felt of late, When the fierce Foe hung on our broken rear Insulting, and pursued us through the deep, With what compulsion and laborious flight 80 We sunk thus low ? The ascent is easy then; The event is fear'd; should we again provoke Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may y find To our destruction ; if there be in Hell Fear to be worse destroy'd: What can be worse 85 That to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemn'd In this abhorred deep to utter woe ;) Where pain of unextinguishable fire Must exercise us without hope of end, The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
90 Inexorably, and the torturing hour Calls us to penance ! More destroy'd than thus, We should be quite abolish’d, and expire. What fear we then? what doubt we to incense His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged, 95 Will either quite consume us, and reduce To nothing this essential; happier far
'Thar. miserable to have eternal being • Or if our substance be indeed divine, And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
100 On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our power sufficient to disturb his heaven, And with perpetual inroads to alarm, Though inaccessible, his fatal throne · Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.
105 Ile ended frowning, and his look denounced Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous To less than Gods. On the other side uprose Belial, in act more graceful and humane : A fairer person lost not Heaven(; he seem'd 110 For dignity composed, and high exploit : But all was false and hollow; though his tongue Dropp'd manna, and could make the worse appear The better reason, to perplex and dash Maturest counsels) for his thoughts were low 115 'To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds simorous and slothful : yet he pleased the car, And with persuasive accent thus began.
I should be much for open war, O Peers, As not behind in hate; if what was urged 120 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, In what he counsels, and in what excels,
123 Mistrustful, grounds his courago on despair And utter dissolution, as the scope Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge ? The towers of Heaven are fill'd • With armed watch, that render all access
130 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 135