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“ In search of this new world ? whom shall we find

“Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet 405 “ The dark, unbottom'd, infinite abyss,

" And through the palpable obscure find out
“ His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight,

Upborne with indefatigable wings,

“Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive 410 “ 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
415 “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,
420 The perilous attempt : but all sat mute,

Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonish'd : none, among the choice and prime

Of those heaven-warring champions, could be found 425 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:

“Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,
435 “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

430

410

66

455

“ 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 ? 445 “ But I should ill become this throne, O peers,

And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd
“ With splendour, arm’d with pow'r, if aught propos'd
“And judg’d of public moment in the shape

“Of difficulty, or danger, could deter
450 “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 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 “ 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
465 “ 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
470 (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.

Dreaded not more the adventure, than his voice 475 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

460

But they With awful reverence prone; and as a god

Extol him equal to the Highest in heaven: 480 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, 485 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

Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread 490 Heaven's cheerful face, the lowering element

Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape 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 495 Attest their joy, that hill and valley ring.

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, 500 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,
505 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 seemd

Alone the antagonist of heaven, nor less
510 Than hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme,

And god-like imitated state: him round
A globe of fiery Seraphim enclos'd,
With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.

Then of their session ended they bid cry
515 With trumpets' regal sound the great result :

Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchymy,
By herald's voice explain'd: the hollow abyss

Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
520 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,
525 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,
530 As at the Olympian games, or Pythian fields :

Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brígades form:
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears

Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush 535 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,
540 Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air

In whirlwind : hell scarce holds the wild uproar:
As when Alcides, from (Echalia crown'd
With conquest, felt the envenom'd robe, and tore

Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines, 545 And Lichas from the top of ta threw

Into the Euboic sea. Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp

Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
550 By doom of battle; and complain that fate

Free virtue should inthral 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 555 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 560 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; 565 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 obdúred breast

With stubborn patience, as with triple steel. 570 Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,

On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, (if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation,) bend

Four ways their flying march, along the banks 575 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
580 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, 585 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 590 Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems

Of ancient pile, or else deep snow and ice;

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