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What creatures there inhabit, of what mould, 355
Or substance, how endu'd, and what their power,
And where their weakness, how attempted best,
By force or subtilty. Though heaven be shut,
And heaven'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
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
In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurld 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 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

expos’d] Compare ver. 410, and consult Newton's note.


330 391


To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator ? but their spite still serves 335
His glory to augment. The bold design
Pleas’d highly those infernal states, and joy
Sparkld in all their eyes; with full assent
They vote : whereat his speech he thus renews.

Well have ye judg’d, well ended long debate,
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 [arms
Of those bright confines, whence with neighbouring
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 brightning orient beam
Purge off this gloom ; the soft delicious air
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires [send
Shall breathe her balm. But first whom shall we
In search of this new world ? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand'ring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,
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

406 palpable] The adjective obscure' used for a substantive, as 409, “the vast abrupt.' Newton. 409 arrive] Shakesp. Hen. VI. Part iii. act v.

those powers that the queen Hath rais'd in Gallia, have arriv'd our coast.'







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 appear’d
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
Pondering 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 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 rais’d
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.

O Progeny of heaven, empyreal Thrones, With reason hath deep silence and demur Seiz'd us, though undismay'd : long is the way And hard, that out of hell leads up to light ;

410 isle] The earth hanging in the sea of air. Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 66.

“Magnam quandam insulam, quam nos orbem terræ vocamus. Newton.

432 long] Dante Inf. c. xxxiv. 95, describes the ascent from hell.

'La via e lunga, e 'l cammino è malvagio.'


430 435


Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
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
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 power, if aught propos’d
And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume 150
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 honour'd sits ? Go, therefore, mighty Powers,
Terror of heaven, though fall'n, intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render hell
436 Ninefold] ' Et novies Styx interfusa coercet.'

Bentl. MS. 457 intend] Intende animum.' See Steevens' note on Shakesp. Timon of Athens, act ii. scene ii.

455 460




More tolerable; if there be cure or charm
To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain
Of this ill mansion. Intermit no watch
Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad
Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all : this enterprize
None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, lest from his resolution rais'd

the chief might offer now,
Certain to be refus’d, what erst they fear'd;
And so refus'd might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute,
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But

they Dreaded not more th' 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 faild they to express how much they prais’d, 480 That for the general safety he despis'd His

own ; for neither do the spirits damn'd Lose all their virtue, lest bad men should boast Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites, Or close ambition varnish'd o'er with zeal. Thus they their doubtful consultations dark Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief : As when from mountain tops the dusky clouds



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