網頁圖片
PDF

Of what we are, and where; dismissing quite
All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise.

He scarce had finish'd, when such murmur fill'd
Th'assembly, as when hollow rocks retain
The sound of blust'ring winds, which all night long
Had rous'd the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
Seafaring men o'erwatch'd, whose bark by chance,
Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay
After the tempest: such applause was heard
As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleas'd,
Advising peace; for such another field
They dreaded worse than hell: so much the fear
Of thunder and the sword of Michael
Wrought still within them; and no less desire
To found this nether empire, which might rise
By policy, and long process of time,
In emulation opposite to heaven,
Which when Beelzebub perceiv'd, than whom,
Satan except, none higher sat, with grave
Aspect he rose, and in his rising seein'd
A pillar of state ; deep on his front engraven,
Deliberation sat, and public care ;
And princely counsel in his face yet shone,
Majestic though in ruin: sage he stood
With Atlantean shoulders fit to bear
The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look
Drew audience and attention still as night.
Or summer's noon-tide air, while thus he spake :

Thrones and imperial pow'rs, offspring of heaven, Ethereal virtues; or these titles now Must we renounce, and, changing style, be calld Princes of hell; for so the popular vote Inclines, here to continue, and build up here A growing empire; doubtless while we dream, And know not that the King of heav'n hath doom'd This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat Beyond his potent arm to live exempt From heav'n's high jurisdiction, in new league Banded against his throne; but to remain

In strictest bondage, though thus far remord,
Under th' inevitable curb, reserv'd
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 heav'n.
What sit we then projecting, peace and war?
War hath determind us, and foild with loss
Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
Vouchsafd or sought; for what peace will be given
To us ensiav’d, but custody severe,
And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted? and what peace can we return,
But, to our pow'r hostility and hate,
Untam'd reluctance, and revenge, though slow,
Yet ever plotting how the conqu’ror least
May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
In doing what we most in suffrance feel?
Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
With dang 'rous expedition to invade
Heav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,
Or ainbush from the deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprize? There is a place,
(If ancient and prophetic fame in heaven,
Err not), another world, the happy seat
Of some new race calld Man, about this time
To be created, like to us, though less
In pow'r and excellence, but favour'd more
Of him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounc'd among the gods, and by an oath,
That shook heav'n's whole circumference, confirm'd.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould
Or substance, how endu'd, and what their power,
And where their weakness, how attempted best,
By force or subtlety. Though heav'n be shut,
And heav'n's high arbitrator sit sccure

In his own strength, this place may lie 'expos'd,
The utmost border of his kingdom, left
To their defence who hold it: here perhaps
Some advantageous act may be atchiev'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
Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
In our confusion, and our joy upraise
In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurl'd 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
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator? But their spite still serves
His glory to augment. The bold design
Pleas'd 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 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
Of those bright confines, whence with neighb'ringarms
And opportune exertions, we may chance
Re-enter heav'n; or else in some mild zone
Dwell not unyisited of heav'n's fair light

[ocr errors]

Secure, and at the bright'ning orient beam
Purge off this gloom : the soft delicious air,
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,
Shall breathe her balm. But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world; whoin 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
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 suspence, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
Pond'ring the danger with deep thought; and each
In others count'nance read his own dismay,
Astonish'd. None among the choice and prime
of those heav'n-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 heav'n, empyreal thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and deinur
Seiz'd us, though undismay'd? 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, iminures 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, And this imperial sov'reignty, adornd With splendour, arm'd with pow'r, if ought propos'd And judg'd 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 honour'd sits? Go therefore, mighty pow'rs, Terror of heav'n, though fallin; intend at home, While here shall be our home, what best may ease The present misery, and render hell 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 Deliv'rance for us all: this enterprise None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose The monarch, and prevented all reply; Prudent, lest from his resolution rais'd, Others among the chiefs might offer now (Certain to be refus'd) what erst they fear'd; And so refus’d, might in opinion stand Uis 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

« 上一頁繼續 »