Page images

The vassals of his anger, when the scourge Inexorably, and the torturing hour Calls us to penance ? more destroy'd than thus We should be quite abolisht and expire. What fear we then ? what doubt we to incense His utmoft ire? which to the highth enrag'd, Will either quite consume us, and reduce To nothing this effential, happier far Than miserable to have eternal being : Or if our substance be indeed divine, And cannot cease to be, we are at worst On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our power sufficient to disturb his heav'n, And with perpetual inrodes to allarm, Though inaccessible, his fatal throne : Which if not victory is yet revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous To less than gods. On th’other side up rose Belial, in act more graceful and humane ; A fairer person loft not heav'n ; he seem'd For dignity compos'd and high exploit : But all was falfe and hollow; though his tongue Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear The better reason, to perplex and darh Matureft counsels : for his thoughts were low; To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds Timorous and Nothful ; yet he pleas'd the ear, And with perswafive accent thus began.

I should be much for open war, O Peers, As not behind in hate ; if what was urg'd

Main reason to perswade immediate war,
Did not diffwade me most, and seem to caft
Ominous conjecture on the whole success :
When he who most excells in fact of arms,
In what he counsels and in what excells
Miftruftful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter diffolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge ? the towrs of heav'n are fill'd
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable; oft on the bordering deep
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
Scout far and wide into the realm of night,
Scorning surprize. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all hell should rise
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heav'n's purest light, yet our great enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted, and th'ethereal mould
Incapable of stain would soon expell
Her mischief, and purge off the baser 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 ; fad cure ; for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense 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 wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence, or unaware,
To give his enemies their with, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless ? wherefore cease we then ?
Say they who counsel war, we are decreed,
Referv'd and destin'd to eternal woe ;
Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
What can we suffer worse? is this then worst,
Thus fitting, thus consulting, thus in arms ?
What when we fled amain, purfu’d and strook -
With heav'ns afflicting thunder, and befought.
The deep to shelter us ? this hell then feem'd
A refuge from those wounds : or when we lay
Chain'd on the burning lake ? that fure was worse,
What if the breath that kindl'd thofe grim fires
Awak'd should blow them into sevenfold 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 stores were open'd, and this firmament
Of hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impending horrors, threatning hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps .
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fierie tempeft Thall be hurld
Each on his rock transfixt, the sport and prey
Of racking whirlwinds, or for ever funk“

Under yon boyling ocean, wrapt in chains ;

There to converse with everlasting groans, Unrespited, unpitied, unrepriv’d, Ages of hopeless end ; this would be worse. War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike My voice diffwades ; for what can force or guile With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye Views all things at one view ? he from heav'ns highth All these our motions vain, fees and derides; Not more almighty to resist our might Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles. Shall we then live thus vile, the race of heav'n Thus trampl'd, thus expelld to suffer here Chains and these torments ? better these than worfe By my advice ; fince fate inevitable Subdues us, and omnipotent decree, The victor's will. To suffer as to do, Our strength is equal, nor the law unjust That so ordains : this was at first resolv'd, If we were wise, against so great a foe Contending, and so doubtful what might fall. I laugh, when those who at the spear are bold And vent'rous, if that fail them, shrink and fear What yet they know must follow, to endure Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain, The sentence of their conqueror : this is now : Our doom ; which if we can sustain and bear, con Our supream foe in time may much remit His anger, and perhaps thus far remov'd Not mind us not offending, fatisfi'd With what is punish't; whence these raging fires

............ B 5

Will Nack’n, if his breath ftir not their flames.
Our purer effence then will overcome
Their noxious vapour, or enur'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,
Besides what hope the never-ending flight
Of future days may bring, what chance, what change
Worth waiting, fince our present lot appears
For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
If we procure not to ourselves more woe.

Thus Belial with words cloath'd in reason's garb
Counsel'd ignoble ease, and peaceful noth,
Not peace : and after him thus Mammon spake.

Either to disenthrone the king of 'heav'n
We war, if war be beft, or to regain
Our own right loft : him to unthrone we then
May hope, when everlasting fate Tall yield
To fickle chance, and chaos judge the strife :
The former vain to hope argues as vain
The latter : for what place can be for us
Within heav'n's bound, unless heav'n's lord supream
We overpower? suppose he should relent
And publish grace to all, on promise made
Of new subjection ; with what eyes could we
Stand in his presence humble, and receive
Stri&t laws impos'd, to celebrate his throne
With warbl'd hymns, and to his godhead fing
Forc't halleluias; while he lordly fits
Our envied foy'ran, and his altar breaths

« PreviousContinue »