Page images
PDF

300

Seafaring men o'erwatch'd, whose bark by chance, Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay After the tempest: Such applause was heard 290 As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased, Advising peace : for such another field They dreaded worse than Hell: so much the fear Of thunder and the sword of Michaol Wrought still within them; and no less desire 295 To found this nether empire, which might rise By policy, and long process of time, In emulation opposite to Heaven. Which when Beelzebub perceived, than whom Satan except none higher sat, with grave Aspéct he rose, and in his rising seem'd A pillar of state ; deep on his front engraven Deliberation sat, aad public care ; And princely counsel in his face yet shone, Majestic though in ruin : sage he stood

305 With Atlantean shoulders fit to bare The weight of mightiest monarchies ; his look Drew audience and attention still as night Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake.

Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven, Ethereal Virtues ! or these titles now

311 Must we renounce, and, changing style, be call'd Princes of Hell ! for so the popular vote Inclines, here to continue, and build up here? A growing empire ; doubtless! while we dream, 315 And know not that the King of Heaven hath doom'd This place our dungeon ; not our safe retreat Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league Banded against his throne, but to remain

320 In strictest bondage, though thus far removed Under the inevitable curb, reserved His captive multitude : For he, be sure In height or depth, still first and last will reign Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part

[ocr errors]

By our revolt; but over Hell extend
His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven and
What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determined us, and foil'd with loss 330
Irreparable ; terms of peace yet none
Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given
To us enslaved, but custody severe,
And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted ? and what peace can we return, 335
But to our power hostility and hate,
Untamed reluctance, and revenge though slow,
Yet ever plotting how the conqueror least
May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
In doing what we most in suffering feel?

340
Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
With dangerous expedition to invade
Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault nor siege,
Or ambush from the deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprise ? There is a place

345 (If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven Err not,) another world, the happy seat Of some new race call'd Man, about this time To be created like to us, though less In power and excellence, but favour'd more .350 Of Him who rules above ; so was his will Pronounced among the Gods, and by an oath, ** That shook Heaven's whole circumference, confirm'd. Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn What creatures there inhabit, of what mould, 355 Or substance, how endued, and what their power And where their weakness, how attempted best, By force or subtlety. Though Heaven be shut, And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure In his own strength, this place may lie exposed, 360 The utmost border of his kingdom, left To their defence who hold it: Here perhaps Some advantageous act may be achieved

By sudden onset ; either with Hell fire
To waste his whole creation, or possess
All as our own, and drive, as we were driven,
The puny habitants; or, if not drive,
Seduce them to our party, that their God
May prove their foe, and with repenting hand
Abolish his own works. This would surpass 370
Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
In our confusion, and our joy upraise
In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Harld headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Their frail original, and faded bliss,

375
Faded so soon. Advise, if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires. Thus Beëlzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devised
By Satan, and in part proposed : For whence, 350
But from the author of all ill, could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race
Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator ? But their spite still serves 385
His glory to augment. The bold design
Pleased highly those infernal States, and joy
Sparkled in all their eyes ; with full assent
They vote : whereat his speech he thus renews :

Well have ye judged, well ended long debate, 390 Synod of Gods! and, like to what ye are, Great things resolved, which, from the lowest deep, Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate, Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view

[arms Of those bright confines, whence, with neighbouring And opportune excursion, we may chance

396 Reenter Heaven; or else in some mild zone Dwell, not unvisited of Ileaven's fair light, Secure; and at the brightening orient beam Purge off this gloom : the soft delicious air, To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,

400

Shall breathe her balm. But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world ? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,

405
And through the palpable obscure find out
llis uncouth way, or spread his aery flight
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle ? What strength, what art can then
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe **411
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
All circuinspection; and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage ; for on whoin we send, 415
The weight of all, and our last hope, relies.

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

420
Pordering the danger with deep thought; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonishd: None among the choice and prime
Of those heaven-warring champions could be found
So hardy as to proffer or accept,

425 Alone, the dreadful voyage ; till at last Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised Above his fellows, with monarchal pride, Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake : '.

O Progeny of Heaven, empyreal Thrones : 430 With reason hath deep silence and demur Seized us, though undismay'd : Long is the ways And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light; Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire, Outrageous to devour, immures us round Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant, Barrd over us, prohibit all egress. These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound Of unessential Night receives him next

[ocr errors]

455

Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being 440
Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.
If thence he scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknowu 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 proposed
And judged 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 fallen ! intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render Hell
More tolerable ; if there be cure or charm 460
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 sees
Deliverance for us all : This enterprise
None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
The Monarch, and prevented all reply ;
Prudent, lest, from his resolution raised,
Others among the chief might offer now
(Certain to be refused) what erst they fear'd; 470
And, so refused, might in opinion stand
His rivals; winning cheap the high reputo
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
Dreaded not more the adventure than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose: 47%
Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend

« PreviousContinue »