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435

440

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 Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being 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 splendour, arm'd with power, if aught propos'd And judg'd of public moment, in the shape Of difficulty or danger, could deter Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume 450 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

455

436 Ninefold] ' Et novies Styx interfusa coercet.'

Bentl. MS.

457 intend] 'Intende animum.' See Steevens' note on Shakesp. Timon of Athens, act ii. scene ii.

460

465

470

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
Deliverance for us all : this enterprize
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;
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. Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a god
Extol him equal to the highest in heaven :
Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd, 450
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,
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

475

485 490

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500

Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the low'ring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape 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.
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,
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,
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 seem'd
Alone th' antagonist of heaven, nor less
Than hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme 510
And God-like imitated state : him round
A globe of fiery seraphim inclos'd

505

489 sleeps] Hom. Il. v. 524.

όφρ' εύδησι μένος Βορέαο. Νewton. 490 cheerful] Spens. F. Q. ii. xii. 34.

' And heaven's cheerful face enveloped. Thyer. 512 globe] Virg. Æn. X. 373.

Qua globus ille virûm densissimus urget. Newton.

515

521

With bright imblazonry and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result :
Toward the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchymy,
By haralds 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
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
Disband, and wand'ring each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplex’d, where he may likeliest find 525
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,
As at the Olympian games, or Pythian fields : 530
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form.

513 horrent] Virg. Æn. i. “Horrentia Martis arma,' and Æn. x. 178. Horrentibus hastis.'

528 Part, on the plain] Compare Ovid. Metam. iv. 445, and Fasti. vi. 327. * Hi temere errabant in opacæ vallibus Idæ:

Pars jacet et molli gramine membra levat.
Hi ludunt, hos somnus habet; pars brachia nectit,

Et viridem celeri ter pede pulsat humum.'
531 curb] ‘How got they steeds and harps ? ' v. 548.

Bentl. MS. 532 rapid] “rapid even before the race.' Bentl. MS.

535

545

As when to warn proud cities war appears
Wag'd in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battel 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
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air 540
In whirlwind : hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides from Echalia 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 Eta 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
By doom of battel; 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
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,
Others apart sat on a hill retird,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high

550

557

557 others apart] Compare Horat. Od. ii. 13. 23.

Sedesque discretas piorum.' 558 elevate] Compare Ovidii Metam. xii. 157.

'Non illos Citharæ, non illos carmina vocum,

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