Page images

could we

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb, Counsell'd 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, [preme Within Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord SuWe overpower ? Suppose he should relent, And publish grace to all, on promise made Of new subjection; with what

eyes Stand in his presence, humble, and receive Strict laws imposed to celebrate his throne, With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing Forced Halleluiahs; while he lordly sits Our envied Sovereign, and his altar breathes Ambrosial odors, 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 By force impossible, by leave obtain'd 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, 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 adverse, We can create; and in what place so e'er Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain, Through labor and endurance. This deep world Of darkness do we dread ? How oft, amidst Thick clouds and dark, doth Heaven's all-ruling Sire Choose to reside, his glory unobscured, And with the majesty of darkness round Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar, Mustering 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,
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
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 fillid
The assembly, as when hollow rocks retain
The sound of blustering winds, which all night long
Had roused the sea ; now with hoarse cadence lull
Sea-faring men, o'er-watch’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 pleased,
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 .ong process of time,
In emulation opposite to Heaven.
Which when Beelzebub perceived ; than whom,
Satan except, none higher sat, with grave
Aspect he rose; and in his rising seem'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 Powers! Offspring of Ethereal Virtues ! or, these titles now [Heaven! Must we renounce, and changing style, be callid Princes of Hell ? for so the popular vote Inclines, here to continue, and build


here 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, .

Banded against his throne; but to remain
In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,
Under the inevitable curb, reserved
His captive multitude. For he, be sure,
In highth 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 Heaven.
What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determined us, and foil'd with loss
Irreparable: terms of peace yet none
Vouchsafed or sought. For what peace will be given
To us enslaved, but custody severe,
And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted ? and what peace can we return?
But to our power hostility and hate,
Untamed reluctance, and revenge, though slow;
Yet ever plotting, how the conqueror least
May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
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
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
In power and excellence, but favor'd more
Of Him who rules above. So was his will
Pronounced 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 would
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 exposed
The utmost border of his kingdom, left
To their defence who hold it. Here, perhaps,
Some advantageous act may be achieved,
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 devised
By Satan, and in part proposed. 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
Pleased 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 judged, well ended long debate,
Synod of Gods; and, like to what ye are,
Great things resolved : which, from the lowest deep,
Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate,
Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view [arms,
Of those bright confines, whence, with neighb’ring
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
Purge off this gloom : the soft delicious air,
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires, [send
Shall breathe her balm. But first, whom shall we
In search of this new world? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt, with wandering 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 suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
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
So hardy, as to proffer or accept,
Alone, the dreadful voyage; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved, thus spake.

O progeny of Heaven ! empyreal thrones ! With reason hath deep silence and demur Seized 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, immures us round Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant, Barred 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, plunged 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 sovereignty, adorn'd [posed, With splendor, arm'd with power, if aught proAnd judged 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 honor'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

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »