« ForrigeFortsæt »
By our delay? No, let us rather chufe,
Arm'd with hell flames and fury, all at once
O'er heav'n's high tow'rs to force refiftlefs way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against the Torturer; when to meet the noife
Of his almighty engine he fhall hear
Infernal thunder; and, for lightning, fee.
Black fire and horror fhot with equal rage
Among his angels; and his throne itself.
Mix'd with Tartarean fulphur, and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way feems difficult and steep to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let fuch bethink them, if the fleepy drench:
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our proper motion we afcend
Up to our native feat: defcent and fall?
To us is adverfe. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear-
Insulting, and purfu'd us through the deep,
With what compulfion and laborious flight
We funk thus low? Th' afcent is eafy then;
Th' event is fear'd; fhould we again provoke
Our stronger, fome worfe way his wrath may find
To our deftruction; if there be in hell
Fear to be worse destroy'd: what can be worse
Than to dwell here, driv'n out from blifs, condemn'da
In this abhorred deep to utter woe;
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Muft exercife us without hope of end,
The vaffals of his anger, when the fcourge
Inexorably, and the tort'ring hour
Calls us to penance? More deftroy'd than thus,
We should be quite abolish'd and expire.
What fear we then ?what doubt we to incenfe
His utmost ire? which, to the height enrag'd,
Will either quite confume us, and reduce
To nothing this effential; happier far,
Than miferable to have eternal being:.
Or if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
On this fide nothing; and by proof we feel
Our pow'r fufficient to disturb his heav'n,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inacceffible, his fatal throne:
Which if not victory, is yet revenge.
He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
Defp'rate revenge, and battle dangerous-
To lefs than gods. On th' other fide uprofe
Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer perfon loft not heav'n; he seem'd
For dignity compos'd, and high exploit:
But all was falfe and hollow; tho' his tongue
Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reafon, to perplex and dash
Matureft counfels; for his thoughts were low; 145
To vice induftrious, but to nobler deeds
Tim'rous and flothful; yet he pleas'd the ear,
And with perfuafive accent thus began.
I fhould be much for open war, O peers,
As not behind in hate; if what was urg'd
Main reason to perfuade immediate war,
Did not diffuade me most, and feem to caft
Ominous conjecture on the whole fuccefs;
When he who most excels in fact of arms,.
In what he counfels, and in what excels
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter diffolution, as the fcope
Of all his aim, after fome dire
First, what revenge? The tow'rs of heav'n are fill'd
With armed watch, that render all accefs,
Impregnable: oft on the bord'ring deep
Incamp their legions; or, with obfcure wing,
Scout far and wide into the realms of night,
Scorning furprife. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all hell fhould rife
With blacket infurrection, to confound
Heav'n's pureft light; yet our great enemy,
All incorruptible, would on his throne
Sit upolluted; and th' ethereal mould,
Incapable of ftain, would foon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the bafer fire,
Victorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hope
Is flat despair: we must exasperate
Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us; that must be our cure,
To be no more. Sad cure for who would lofe,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Thofe thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perifh rather, fwallow'd up and loft
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of fenfe 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 fure.
Will he, fo wife, let loofe at once his ire,
Belike through impotence, or unaware,
To give his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger faves
To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then?
Say they who counsel war; we are decreed,
Referv'd, and deftin'd to eternal woe;
Whatever doing, what can we fuffer more,
What can we suffer worfe? Is this then worst,
Thus fitting, thus confulting, thus in arms?
What, when we fled amain, pursu’d, and struck
With Heav'n's afflicting thunder, and befought.
The deep to fhelter us? this hell then feem'd'
A refuge from thofe wounds: or when we lay
Chain'd on the burning lake? that fure was worse.
What if the breath that kindled thofe grim fires, 170
Awak'd, fhould blow them into fev❜nfold 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 ftores were open'd, and this firmament
Of hell fhould 'fpout her cataracts of fire,
Impendent horrors, threat'ning hideous falls
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps
Defigning or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempeft fhall be hurl'd
Each on his rock transfix'd, the fport and prey:
Of wracking whirlwinds; or forever funk
Under you boiling. ocean, wrapt in chains;.
There to converfe with everlafting groans,
Unrefpited, unpitied, unrepricv'd,
Ages of hopeless end? this would be worfe.
War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
My voice diffáades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whofe eyer
Views all things at one view? he from heav'n's height:
All these our motions vain fees and derides;
Not more almighty to refift our might
Than wife to frustrate all our plots and wilės.
Shall we then live thus vile, the race of heav'n
Thus trampled, thus expell'd, to fuffer here
Chains and thefe torments? Better thefe than worse, By my advice; fince fate inevitable
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The Victor's will. To fuffer, as to do,
Our ftrength is equal, nor the law unjust
That fo ordains: this was at first refolv'd,
If we were wife, against so great a foe
Contending, and fo doubtful what might fall.
I laugh, when those who at the spear are bold
And vent'rous, if that fail them, fhrink and fear 205
What yet they know muft follow, to endure
Exile, or ingnominy', or bonds, or pain,
The fentence of their Conqu'ror: this is now
Our doom; which if we can fuftain and bear,
Our fupreme foe in time may much remit
His anger; and perhaps, thus far remov'd,
Not mind us not offending, fatisfy'd
With what is punish'd; whence these raging fires
Will flacken, if his breath ftir not their flames.
Our purer effence then will overcome
Their noxious vapour; or inur'd, not feel;
Or chang'd at length, and to the place conform'd
In temper, and in nature, will receive
Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;
This horror will grow mild, this darkness light; 220
Befides what hope the never-ending flight
Of future days may bring, what chance, what change
Worth waiting, fince our prefent lot appears
For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
If we procure not to ourselves more woe.
Thus Belial, with words cloth'd in reafon's garb, Counfel'd ignoble eafe, and peaceful floth, Not peace and after him thus Mammon spake. Either to difinthrone the King of Heav'n We war, if war be best, or to regain Our own right loft: him to unthrone we then May hope, when everlasting Fate fhall yield To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the ftrife: The former vain to hope, argues as vain.