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“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 vapour; or, inur’d, not feel ;
"Or, chang'd at length, and to the place conformid
“In temper and in nature, will receive

“ Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;
220 “ This horror will grow mild, this darkness light;

“ Besides what hope the never-ending flight
“Of future days may bring, what chance—what change
“ Worth waiting; since our present lot appears

“ For happy, though but ill ; for ill not worst, 225 “ If we procure not to ourselves more woe."

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,
Counsellid ignoble ease, and peaceful sloth-
Not peace: and after him thus Mammon spake.

“Either to disenthrone the King of heaven
“ We war, if war be best, or to regain
“Our own right lost : him to unthrone we then

May hope, when everlasting fate shall yield
“ To fickle chance, and Chaos judge the strife :
“ The former vain to hope argues as vain
“ The latter : for what place can be for us
“ Within heaven's bound, unless heaven's Lord supreme
“ We overpower? Suppose he should relent,
“ And publish grace to all, on promise made
“Of new subjection ; with what eyes could we
“ Stand in his presence humble, and receive
“Strict laws impos'd, to celebrate his throne
“ With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing
“ Forc'd hallelujahs? while he lordly sits

“Our envied Sovereign, and his altar breathes 245 “ Ambrosial odours, and ambrosial flowers,

“Our servile offerings ! This must be our task
“In heaven,—this our delight! How wearisome

Eternity so spent, in worship paid

“ To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue, 250 “ By force impossible, by leave obtain'd

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Unacceptable, though in heaven, our state
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek
“ Our own good from ourselves, and from our own

“ Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess, 255 “ Free, and to none accountable; preferring

“Hard liberty before the easy yoke
“Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear
Then most conspicuous, when great things of small,

“ Useful of hurtful, prosperous of advérse, 260 “We can create; and in what place soe'er

“ Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain,
“Through labour and endurance. This deep world
“Of darkness do we dread ? How oft amidst

“ Thick clouds and dark doth heaven's all-ruling sire 265“ Choose to reside, (his glory unobscur'd,)

“And with the majesty of darkness round
“Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar

Must'ring their rage, and heaven resembles hell?
“ As he our darkness, cannot we his light
“ Imitate when we please ? This desert soil
- Wants not her hidden lustre, gems, and gold;
“Nor want we skill, or art, from whence to raise

Magnificence; and what can heaven show more?

“Our torments also may, in length of time, 275 " Become our elements; these piercing fires

“ As soft, as now severe; our temper changed,
“ Into their temper ; which must needs remove
“The sensible of pain. All things invite

To peaceful counsels, and the settled state 280 “Of order, how in safety best we may

“Compose our present evils, with regard
“ 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 285 The assembly, as when hollow rocks retain

The sound of blustering winds, which all night long
Had rous'd the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
Seafaring men o'er-watch'd, whose bark by chance,

270

Or pinnace anchors in a craggy bay,
290 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 Michaël,
295 Wrought still within them; and no less desire

To found this nether empire, which might rise,
By policy, and long procéss of time,
In emulation opposite to heaven.

Which when Beelzebub perceiv'd, than whom, 300 Satan except, none higher sat, with grave

Aspéct he rose, and in his rising seem'd
A pillar of state: deep on his front engrav'n
Deliberation sat, and public care ;

And princely counsel in his face yet shone, 305 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 noontide air; while thus he spake. 310 “ Thrones, and Imperial Powers, offspring of heaven,

“ Ethereal Virtues! Or these titles now
“ Must we renounce, and, changing style, be call’d
“ Princes of hell? for so the popular vote

“ Inclines, here to continue, and build up here 315 “A growing empire ; doubtless, while we dream,

“ And know not that the King of heaven hath doom'd “ This place our dungeon ; not our safe retreat

Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt

“From heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league 320 “ Banded against his throne ; but to remain

"In strictest bondage, though thus far remov'd,
“ Under the inevitable curb, reserv'd
“ His captive multitude: for he, be sure,

“ In height or depth, still first and last will reign, 325 “Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part

“By our revolt; but over hell extend

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“ His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
“ Us here, as with his golden, those in heaven.
“ What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determin'd us, and foil'd with loss

Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
- Vouchsaf'd, or sought; for what peace will be giv'n
“ To us enslav'd, but custody severe,

And stripes, and arbitrary punishment 335 “ Inflicted ? and what peace can we return,

“But, to our power, hostility, and hate,
“ Untam'd reluctance, and revenge; though slow,
“Yet ever plotting how the conqueror least

May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice 340 “In doing what we most in suffering feel?

“ Nor will occasion want; nor shall we need,
“ With dangerous expedition, to invade
“Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault, or siege,

“Or ambush from the deep. What if we find 345 “Some easier enterprise ? There is a place,

“ (If ancient and prophetic fame in heaven
“Err not,) another world, the happy seat
Of some new race call’d Man, about this time

“ To be created like to us, though less
350 “ In power 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 heaven's whole circumference, confirm d.
“ Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
“What creatures there inhabit,- of what mould,
“Or substance,-how endued,--and what their power,
“And where their weakness,-how attempted best,
“By force or subtlety. Though heaven be shut,
“ And heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure
“ 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 achiev'd

By sudden onset; either with hell fire

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365 “ 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 work. 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 375 “ 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 Beëlzebub

Pleaded his dev'lish counsel, first devis'd
380 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
385 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 395 “Of those bright confines, whence, with neighb'ring arms

“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 bright'ning orient beam 400 “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

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