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Went all his fear: of God, or hell, or worse,
He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake:

My sentence is for open war: of wiles,
More unexpert, I boast not: them let those
Contrive who need, or when they need, not now:
For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
Millions that stand in arms and longing wait
The signal to ascend, sit ling’ring here
Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place
Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,
The prison of his tyranny who reigns
By our delay ? no, let us rather choose,
Arm’d with hell flames and fury, all at once
O’er heaven's high tow’rs to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against the torturer; when to meet the noise
Of his almighty engine he shall hear
Infernal thunder, and for lightning see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his angels; and his throne itself



54 sit contriving] See Milton's Prose Works, vol. ii. 380, iii. 24. • But to sit contriving.' 67 Black fire) See Æschyli Prometheus, ver. 930.

"Ος δή κεραυνού κρέισσον ευρήσει φλόγα

Βροντής θ' υπερβάλλοντα καρτερον κτύπον. . and see Statii Theb. iv. 133. “furiarum lampade nigra.' Silv. i. iv. 64. "fulminis atri.' Lucan Ph. ii. 301. "ignes atros.

'I talk of flames, and yet I call hell dark;
Flames I confess they are,

but black.' See M. Stevenson's Poems (1654), p. 113, (A Guesse at Hell.)




Mixt with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our proper motion we ascend
Up to our native seat: descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear
Insulting, and pursu'd us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sunk thus low? th' ascent is easy then;
Th' event is fear'd; should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
To our destruction, if there be in hell
Fear to be worse destroy’d: What can be worse 85
Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemn'd
In this abhorred deep to utter woe;
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorable, and the torturing hour
Call us to penance ? more destroy'd than thus


69 strange fire] See Nonni Dionysiaca, lib. xliv. ver. 153.

Ει δέ κε πειρήσαιτο και ημετέροιο κεραυνού, ,
γνωσέται, οίον έχω χθόνιος σέλας: ουρανίου γάρ

θερμοτέρους σπινθήρας εμού λαχές αντίτυπον πύρ. . 89 exercise] Vex, trouble: v. Virg. Georg. iv. 453.

'Non te nullius exercent numinis iræ.' Neuton.


We should be quite abolish'd and expire.
What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which, to the highth enrag'd, 95
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential ; happier far,
Than miserable to have eternal being.
Or, if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
Our power sufficient to disturb his heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
Desperate revenge and battel dangerous
To less than gods. On th’ other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer person lost not heaven ; he seem'd
For dignity compos'd and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Dropp'd manna{and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest counsels ;) for his thoughts were low ; 115
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds



113 worse] Val. Flacc. Arg. lib. iii. ver. 645.

Rursum instimulat, ducitque faventes Magnanimus Calydone satus; potioribus ille Deteriora fovens, semperque inversa tueri Durus.'

114 better] Tòv hóyov Tòv ÝTTW KPELTTW TOLETV. Bentley.



Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began.

I should be much for open war, 0 Peers,
As not behind in hate, if what was urg'd,
Main reason to persuade immediate war,
Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast
Ominous conjecture on the whole success ;
When he, who most excels in fact of arms,
In what he counsels and in what excels
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? the tow’rs of heaven are fill’d
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable ; oft on the bordering deep
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
Scout far and wide into the realm of night,
Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all hell should rise, 135
With blackest insurrection to confound
Heaven's purest light, yet our great enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and th' ethereal mould
Incapable of stain would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repuls’d, our final hope



131 bordering deep] See Wither's Campo Musæ, p. 25. .

"And to possess the bordering hills.' 142 our hope] Shakesp. K. Hen. VI. act ii. scene iii.

• Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair.' Malone.



Is flat despair : we must exasperate
Th' almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us, that must be our cure, 145
To be no more: sad cure! for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense and motion ? and who knows,
Let this be good, whether our angry foe
Can give it, or will ever? how he can,
Is doubtful; that he never will, is sure.
Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence or unaware,
To give his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger whom his anger saves
To punish endless ? Wherefore cease we then ?
Say they who counsel war ;-We are decreed, 160
Resery'd, and destin'd 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, pursu'd and struck 165
With heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The deep to shelter us? this hell then seem'd
A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay
Chain’d on the burning lake? that sure was


What if the breath that kindled those grim fires 170 Awak'd should blow them into sevenfold rage,

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