Billeder på siden


The happy ifle? What flrength, what art can then
Suffice, or what evafion bear him safe
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumfpection, and we now no less

Choice in our fuffrage; for on whom we fend, 415
The weight of all and our laft hope relies.
This faid, he fat; and expectation held
His look fufpenfe, awaiting who appear'd
To fecond, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all fat mute,


Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's count'nance read his own dismay,
Aftonish'd. None among the choice and prime
Of thofe heav'n-warring champions could be found
So hardy, as to profer, or accept

Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last

Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais'd
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Confcious of highest worth, unmov'd thus fpake.
O progeny of heav'n, empyréal thrones,
With reafon hath deep filence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undifmay'd: long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light;
Our prifon ftrong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,
Barr'd over us, prohibit all egrefs.
Thefe pafs'd, if any pafs, the void profound
Of uneffential night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter lofs of being
Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'fcape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him lefs
Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?






But I fhould ill become this throne, O peers,
And this imperial fov'reignty, adorn'd


With splendour, 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 affume 450
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refufing to accept as great a fhare

Of hazard as of honour, due alike

To him who reigns, and fo much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest


High honour'd fits? Go therefore, mighty powers,
Terror of heav'n, though fall'n; intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The prefent mifery, and render hell
More tolerable; if there be cure, or charm,


[ocr errors]

To refpite, or deceive, or flack the pain

Of this ill manfion: intermit no watch
Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad

Through all the coafts of dark deftruction feek
Deliv'rance for us all: this enterprise


None fhall partake with me. Thus faying role
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, left, from his refolution rais'd,
Others among the chief might offer now
(Certain to be refus'd,) what erft they fear'd;
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 more th' adventure, than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rofe:
Their rifing all at once was as the found


Of thunder heard remote. Tow'ards him they bend With awful reverence prone; and as a god

Extol him equal to the High'eft in heav'n:


Nor fail'd they to exprefs how much they prais'd,
That for the general fafety he defpis'd

His own for neither do the spirits damn'd



Lofe all their virtue; leaft bad men fhould boaft
Their fpecious deeds on earth, which glory' excites,
Or clofe ambition varnish'd o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful confultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain-tops the dufky clouds
Afcending, while the north-wind fleeps, o'erfpread
Heav'n's cheerful face, the louring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landfcape fnow, or fhower;
If chance the radiant fun with farewell sweet
Extend his evening-beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Atteft their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O fhame 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,
Wafting the earth, each other to deftroy:
As if (which might induce us to accord,)
Man had not hellish foes enow befides,



That day and night for his destruction wait.


The Stygian council thus diffolv'd; and forth

In order came the grand infernal peers:

'Midft came their mighty paramount, and feem'd Alone th' antagonist of heav'n, nor lefs

Than hell's dread emperor with pomp fupreme, 510 And God like imitated ftate; him round

A globe of fiery Seraphim inclos'd.

With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their feffion ended they bid cry


With trumpets regal found the great refult:
Tow'ards the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the founding alchemy,
By heralds voice explain'd; the hollow' abyfs
Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
With deaf'ning fhout return'd them loud acclaim. 520
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat
By falfe prefumptuous hope, the ranged powers [rais'd
Disband, and wand'ring, each his several way
Purfues, as inclination or fad choice



Leads him perplex'd, where he may likelieft find $25
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irkfome hours, till his great chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air fublime,
Upon the wing, or in fwift race contend,
As at th' Olympian games or Pythian fields;
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 rufh
To battle in the clouds, before each van
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their fpears
Till thickeft legions clofe; with feats of arms
From either end of heav'n the welkin burns.
Others, with vaft Typhean rage more fell,
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind; hell fcarce 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
Into th' Euboic fea. Others more mild,
Retreated in a filent valley, fing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall




By doom of battle; and complain that fate
Free virtue fhould inthrall to force or chance.
Their fong was partial; but the harmony
(What could it lefs when fpi'rits immortal fing?)
Sufpended hell, and took with ravishment


The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet, 555 (For eloquence the foul, fong charms the sense,) Others apart fat on a hill retir'd,

In thoughts more elevate, and reafon'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge abfolute,
And found no end, in wand'ring mazes loft.
Of good and evil much they argu'd then,
Of happiness and final misery,

Paffion and apathy, and glory' and shame;
Vain wisdom all, and falfe philofophy:
Yet, with a pleafing forcery, could charm
Pain for a while, or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breaft
With ftubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part, in fquadrons and grofs bands,
On bold adventure to difcover wide




That difmal world, if any clime perhaps

Might yield them eafier habitation, bend

Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that difgorge


Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;,
Sad Acheron, of forrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud

Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon, 580
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from thefe a flow and filent ftream,

Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls

Her wat'ry labyrinth, whereof who drinks,

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »