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Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit
That fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair:
His trust was with the Eternal to be deem'd
Equal in strength; and rather than be less
Car'd 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.

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 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,
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
Infernal thunder; and for lightning, see
Black fire and horrour shoot with equal rage
Among his Angels; and his throne itself
Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur, and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep to scale

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With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumm 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 bróken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We surik thus low? The ascent is easy then;
The evenit is fear'd; should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
To our destruction; if there be in Heli
Fear to be worse destroy'd: What can be worse
Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemn'd
In this abhorred deep to utter woė;
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise uś without hope of end,
The Vássals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorable, 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 highth enrag'd,
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,

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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 battle dangerous
To less than Gods. On the 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 Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear The better reason to perplex and dash Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low; To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear, And with persuasive accents thus began.

I should be much for open war, O 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

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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
Impregnable: oft on the bordering deep
Encamp'd their legions; or, with obscure wings,
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
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heaven's purest light; yet our great enemy,
All incorruptible, would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and the ethereal mould,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hope
Is flat despair : we must exasperate
The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us; that must be our cure,
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,

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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, Reserv'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, pursued, and struck 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, Awak'd, should blow them into seven, fold rage, 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 horrours, threatening hideous fall One day upon our heads; while we perhaps, Designing or exhorting glorious war, Caught in a fiery tempest shall be huri'd Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and prey Of wracking whirlwinds; or for ever sunk Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains;

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