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The happy ifle ? What strength, what art can then Suffice, or what évafion bear him fafe

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Through the strict lenteries and Itations thick
Of angels watching round ? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our fuffrage ; for on whom we send, 415
The weight of all and our last hope relies.

This said, he fat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all fat mute,

420
Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's count'nance read his own dismay,
Astonish’d. None among the choice and prime
Of those heav'n-warring champions could be found
So hardy, as to profer, 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 fpake. O progeny of heav'n, empyreal thrones,

430 With reason hath deep filence 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

435 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 440 Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf. If thence he 'fcape into whatever world, Or unknown region, what remains bim lefs Tban unknown dangers, and as hard escape ?

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460

But I fhould ill become this throne, O peers, 445
And this imperial fou'reignty, adorn'd
With fplendour, arm'd with power, if ought propos'd
And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do' I alume 450
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a fhare
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

455
High honour'd fits? Go therefore, mighty powers,
Terror of heav'n, though fallin; intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present mifery, and render hell
More tolerable; if there be cure, or charm,
To respite, or deceive, or flack 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
None shall partake with me. Thus faying rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, left, from his resolution rais'd,
Others among the chief might offer now
(Certain to be refus’d,) what erst they fear'd; 470
And, fo refus'd, might in opinion stand
His rival; winning cheap the high repute,
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
Dreaded not niore th’adventure, than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose : 475
Their rifing all at once was as the found
Of thunder heard remote. Towards hina they bend
With awful reverence prone ; and as a god
Extol him equal to the High'est in heav'n:

Nor

465

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Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd,
That for the general safety he despis’d
His own : for neither do the spirits damn'd
Lofe all their virtge; least 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 fleeps, o'eripread
Heav'n's cheerful face, the louring element 499
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape snow, or shower;,
If chance the radiant fun with farewell fweet
Extend his evening-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 hold's, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heav'nly grace: and God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife

500
Among themselves, and levý 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. 505

The Stygian council thus diffolv'd; and forth In order came the grand infernal peers: 'Midit came their mighty paramount, and seem'd Alone th'antagonist of heav'n, nor less Than hell's dread emperor with pomp supreme, 510 And God like imitated state; hini round A globe of fiery Seraphim inclos'd. With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms. Then of their feliion ended they bid cry

With trumpets regal sound the great result:

515 Tow’ards the four winds four speedy Cherubim Put to their mouths the founding alchemy, By heralds voice explain'd; the hollow’abyss Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell With deafʼning shout return'd them loud acclaim. 520

Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers (rais'd 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 th’Olympian games or Pythian fields; 530 Part curb their fiery steeds, or thun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form. As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Wag'd in the troubled fky, and armies ruth To battle in the clouds, before each van

535 Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears Till thickest legions close; with feat; of arms From either end of heav'n the welkin burns. Orhers, with vast Typhæan rage more fell, Hend up

both rocks and hills, and ride the air 540 In whirlwind ; hell scarce holds the wild uproar. As when Alcides, from Oechalia crown'd With conqueft, felt th' invenom'd robe, and tore Through pain up by the roots Theffalian pines, And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw 545 Into th’Euboic sea. Others more mild, Retreated in a filent valley, fing With notes angelical to many a harp Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall

By

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 spi'rits immortal fing?) Suspended hell, and took with ravithment The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet, 555 (For eloquence the foul, fong 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, 360 And found no end, in wand'ring mazes loft. Of good and evil much they argu'd then, Of happiness and final misery, Passion and apathy, and glory' and shame; Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy:

565 Yet, with a pleasing forcery, could charm Pain for a white, or anguish, and excite Fallacious hope, or arm th’obdured breast With stubborn patience as with triple steel. Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,

570 On bold adventure to discover wide That dismal world, if any clime perhaps Might yield them eafier habitation, bend Four ways their flying march, along the banks Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge

575. Into the burning lake their baleful streams; Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate ; Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud Heard on the rueful stream ; fierce Phlegethon, 380 Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls Her wat'ry labyrinth, whereof who drinks,

Forthwith

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