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We should be quite abolish'd and expire.
What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which, to the highth enrag'd, 95
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential ; happier far,
Than miserable to have eternal being.
Or, if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
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.

He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
Desperate revenge and battel dangerous
To less than gods. On th' other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer person lost not heaven; he seem'd
For dignity compos'd 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

T To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds

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110

118 worse] Val. Flacc. Arg. lib. iii. ver. 645.

- Rursum instimulat, ducitque faventes Magnanimus Calydone satus; potioribus ille Deteriora fovens, semperque inversa tueri

Durus.' 114 better] Tòv Nóyov TÒV ÝTTW KPELTTW TTOLETV. Bentley.

120

125

Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began.

I should be much for open war, 0 Peers,
As not behind in hate, if what was urg'd,
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
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? the tow’rs of heaven are filld
With armed 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, 135
With blackest insurrection to confound
Heaven's purest light, yet our great enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and th’ ethereal mould
Incapable of stain would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repuls’d, our final hope

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140

181 bordering deep] See Wither's Campo Musæ, p. 25.

* And to possess the bordering hills.' 142 our hope] Shakesp. K. Hen. VI. act ii. scene iii.

• Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair.' Malone.

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155

Is flat despair : we must exasperate
Th'almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us, that must be our cure, 145
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, swallow'd up and lost
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
Them in his anger whom his anger saves
To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then?
Say they who counsel war ;-We are decreed, 100
Resery'd, and destin'd 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 ?
What, when we fled amain, pursu'd and struck 165
With heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The deep to shelter us? this hell then seem'd
A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay
Chain’d on the burning lake? that sure was

worse. What if the breath that kindled those grim fires 170 Awak'd should blow them into sevenfold

rage,

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180

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And plunge us in the flames ? or from above
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague us? what, if all
Her stores were open'd 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 hurld
Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and prey
Of racking whirlwind; or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains ;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unrepriev'd,
Ages of hopeless end ? this would be worse.
War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view ? He from heaven's

highth
All these our motions vain sees and derides;
Not more almighty to resist our might,
Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
Shall we then live thus vile, the race of heaven,

174 His] Consult Bentley, and Newton's Notes on the application of the Relative. “Red right hand ’ is the rubente dextera' of Hor. Od. I. ii. 2. 181 Each on his rock] “ Illum exspirantem,' &c.

Bentl. MS. 185 Unrespited] Consult the notes of Mr. Thyer, and Mr. Todd on this line.

190 195

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Thus trampled, thus expell’d, to suffer here
Chains and these torments? better these than worse
By my advice; since fate inevitable
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 resolvid,
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 vent'rous, if that fail them, shrink and fear
What yet they know must follow, to endure
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 remov'd
Not mind us not offending, satisfy'd
With what is punish’d: whence these raging fires
Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames.
Our purer essence then will overcome
Their noxious vapor, or enur'd not feel ;
Or chang’d at length, and to the place conform’d
In temper and in nature, will receive
Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain ;
This horror will grow mild, this darkness light: 220

210

215

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220 The commentators have not observed that this and the following line rhyme together:

• This horror will grow mild, this darkness light:

Besides what hope the never-ending flight,' &c. VOL. I.

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