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460-400 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 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 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 the 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 fail'd they to express how much they prais’d, 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 :

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As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north-wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element
Scowls o'er the darken’d landskip snow, or shower;
If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his evening-beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men ! Devil with Devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace: and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife,
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy :
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That, day and night, for his destruction wait.

The Stygian council thus dissolv’d; and forth
In order came the grand infernal Peers :
Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seem'd
Alone the antagonist of Heaven, nor less
Than Hell's dread Emperour, with pomp supreme,
And God-like imitated state : him round
A globe of fiery Seraphim enclos'd
With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result :

401-445 Towards the four winds four speedy Cherubum Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy, By herald's voice explain'd; the hollow abyss Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaim. Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat rais'd By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers Disband, and, wandering, each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice Leads him perplex'd, where he may likeliest find Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain The irksome hours, till his great Chief return. Part on the plain, or in the air sublime, Upon the wing, or in swift race contend, As at the Olympian games on Pythian fields; Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brígands form. As when, to warm proud cities, war appears Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battle in the clouds, before each van Prick forth the aery knights and couch their spears Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms From either end of Heaven the welkin burns. Others, with vast Typhæan rage more fell, Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar, As when Alcides, from Oechalia crown'd With conquest, felt the envenom'd robe, and tor

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Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw
Into the Euboick sea. Others more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroick deeds and hapless fall
By doom of battle; and complain that fate
Free virtue should enthrall to force or chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony
(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing ?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,)
Others apart sat on a hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,

Passion and apathy, and glory and shame, | Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy ;

Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm the obdured breast
With stubborn patience, as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide

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That dismal world, if any clíme perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream ; fierce Phlegethon,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; or else deep snow and ice,
A gulph profound, as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk : The parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire,
Thither by harpy-footed furies haild,
At certain revolutions, all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,

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