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36

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK II.

THE ARGUMENT.

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, is honoured 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
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous east with richest hand

1 High] Compare with this the opening of the second book of Ovid's Metam.

• Regia solis erat,' &c. 2 Ormus] See View of Ormus, in Buckingham's Travels in Assyria, p. 428, 4to.

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Showers on her kings Barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'd
To that bad eminence; and, from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
Vain war with heaven, and by success untaught
His proud imaginations thus display'd.

Powers and Dominions, Deities of heaven,
For since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigor, though oppress'd and fall'n,
I give not heaven for lost: from this descent
Celestial virtues rising will appear
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 council or in fight,
Hath been achiev'd of merit; yet this loss,
Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more
Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne,
Yielded with full consent. The happier state
In heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferior ; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thund'rer's aim
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share

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4 Barbaric] Lucret. lib. ii. 500. Barbaricæ vestes.' Euripid. Iph. Aul. 73. de Paride:

χρυσώ τε λάμπρος, βαρβάρω χλιδήματι. and Virg. Æn. ii. 504.

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Of endless pain ? Where there is then no good 20
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 cover more. With this advantage then
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 assur'd us; and by what best way,
Whether of open war or covert guile,
We now debate ; who can advise, may speak.

He ceas’d; and next him Moloch, scepter'd king, Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest spirit That fought in heaven, now fiercer by despair: 45 His trust was with th' Eternal to be deem'd Equal in strength, and rather than be less Car'd not to be at all ; with that care lost

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88 our just inheritance) See Crashaw's Steps to the Temple, p. 64. (1646.)

And for the never ng fields of light,

My fair inheritance, he confines me here:' and Beaumont's Psyche, c. i. st. 24. • Was't not enough against the righteous law Of primogeniture to throw us down, From that bright home which all the world does know Was by confest inheritance our own.'

40 best way] Compare Spenser's F. Queen, vii. vi. 21. and ii. xi. 7. Toda.

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Went all his fear: of God, or hell, or worse,
He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake:

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
The signal to ascend, sit ling’ring 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,
Arm’d with hell flames and fury, all at once
O’er heaven's high tow’rs 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
Infernal thunder, and for lightning see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his angels ; and his throne itself

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54 sit contriving] See Milton's Prose Works, vol. ii. 380, iii. 24. But to sit contriving.' 67 Black fire) See Æschyli Prometheus, ver. 930.

"Ος δή κεραυνού κρέισσον ευρήσει φλόγα

Βροντής θ' υπερβάλλοντα καρτερον κτύπον. and see Statii Theb. iv. 133. “furiarum lampade nigra.' Silv. i. iv. 64. "fulminis atri.' Lucan Ph. ii. 301. 'ignes atros.'

'I talk of flames, and yet I call hell dark;

Flames I confess they are, but black.' See M. Stevenson's Poems (1654), p. 113, (A Guesse at Hell.)

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Mixt with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
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
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 pursu'd us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sunk thus low? th' ascent is easy then;
Th' event is fear’d; should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way

his wrath may

find To our destruction, if there be in hell Fear to be worse destroy’d: What can be worse 85 Than 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 Inexorable, and the torturing hour Call us to penance ? more destroy'd than thus

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69 strange fire) See Nonni Dionysiaca, lib. xliv. ver. 153.

Ει δέ κε πειρήσαιτο και ημετέροιο κεραυνού,
γνωσέται, οίον έχω χθόνιος σέλας: ουρανίου γαρ

θερμοτέρους σπινθήρας εμού λαχές αντίτυπον πυρ. 89 exercise] Vex, trouble: v. Virg. Georg. iv. 453.

Non te nullius exercent numinis iræ.' Newton.

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