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So hardy as to proffer or accept

425

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 Heav'n, empyreal Thrones, 430
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,
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

435

Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being 440
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?
But I should ill become this throne, O Peers, 445
And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd
With splendor, arm'd with pow'r, if aught
propos'd

And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter

Me from attempting. Wherefore d'I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share

Of hazard as of honour; due alike

451

455

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 Pow'rs,
Terror of Heav'n, 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 460
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
Deliv'rance for us all. This enterprise
465
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; 470
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 th' 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. Tow'rds him they

bend

With awful rev'rence prone; and as a God
Extol him equal to the High'st in Heav'n:

476

Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd, That for the gen'ral safety he despis'd

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481

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. 485
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'er-
spread

Heav'n's cheerful face, the low'ring element 490
Scowls o'er the darken'dlandskip snow, or show'r;
If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet
Extend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings. 495
O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heav'nly 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 enough besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait. 505
The Stygian council thus dissolv'd; and forth
In order came the grand infernal peers:
'Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd
Alone th' antagonist of Heav'n, nor less

500

Than Hell's dread emperor with pomp supreme, And God-like imitated state; him round

A globe of fiery Seraphim inclos'd

511

With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result :515
Tow'rds the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy
By heralds' voice explain'd; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deaf'ning shout return'd them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat

rais'd

521 By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Pow'rs Disband, and wand'ring, each his sev'ral way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

Leads him perplex'd, where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain 526
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 th' Olympian games or Pythian fields; 530
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form.
As when to warn proud cities war appears
Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battle in the clouds, before each van
Prick forth the airy knights, and couch their
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of Heav'n the welkin burns.

535

spears

Others, with vast Typhoean rage more fell, 539
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 th' envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw
Into th' 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

545

By doom of battle; and complain that Fate 550
Free virtue should inthrall to force or chance.
Their song was partial, but the harmony
(What could it less when Sp'rits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment 554
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, 560
And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, 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 th' obdured breast

565

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