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To punish endless ? "Wherefore cease we, then ?'
Say they who counsel war; 'we are decreed, 160
Reserved, and destined 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 strook
With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed
A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay
Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse.
What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, 170
Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold 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 opened, and this firmament
Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impending horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps,
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled, 180
Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey
Of racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains,
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
Ages of hopeless end ? This would be worse.
War, therefore, open or concealed, alike
My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With Him, or who deceive His mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view? He from Heaven's highth
All these our motions vain sees and derides, 191
Not more almighty to resist our might
Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
Shall we, then, live thus vile-- the race of Heaven

210

Thus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer here
Chains and these torments ? Better these than worse,
By my advice; since fate inevitable
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,
Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust

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That so ordains. This was at first resolved,
If we were wise, against so great a foe
Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.
I laugh when those who at the spear are bold
And venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fear
What yet they know must follow,—to endure
Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,
The sentence of their conqueror.

This is now Our doom ; which if we can sustain and bear, Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed, Not mind us not offending, satisfied With what is punished; whence these raging fires Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames. Our purer essence then will overcome Their noxious vapour ; or, inured, not feel ; Or, changed at length, and to the place conformed In temper and in nature, will receive Familiar the fierce heat; and, void of pain, 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, If we procure not to ourselves more woe."

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb, Counselled 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

230

220

VOL. II.

H

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 240
Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing
Forced Halleluiahs, while he lordly sits
Our envied sovran, and his altar breathes
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,
By force impossible, by leave obtained

250
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 soe'er

260 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 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

270
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

280 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 finished, when such murmur filled 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 Seafaring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance, Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay After the tempest. Such applause was heard 290 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 Michaël Wrought still within them; and no less desire To found this nether empire, which might rise, By policy and long process of time, In emulation opposite to Heaven. Which when Beëlzebub perceived--than whom, Satan except, none higher sat—with grave 300 Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed A pillar of state. Deep on his front engraven

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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 noontide air, while thus he spake :-

“Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven, Ethereal Virtues ! or these titles now

311 Must we renounce, and, changing style, be called Princes of Hell ? for so the popular vote Inclines—here to continue, and build up here A growing empire ; doubtless ! while we dream, And know not that the King of Heaven hath doomed 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

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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 foiled with loss

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Irreparable ; terms of peace yet none
Voutsafed 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

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