Page images
PDF
EPUB

To wage by force or guile eternal war,
Irreconcileable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the tyranny of heav'n.
So spake th'apostate angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rack’d with deep despair :
And him thus answer'd foon his bold compeer.
prince, O chief of many thironed powers,
That led th'imbattell'd seraphim to war
Under thy conduct, and in dreadful deeds
Fearless, endanger'd heav'n's perpetual king ;
And put to proof his high fupremacy,
Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate,
Too well I fee and rue the dire event,
That with fad overthrow and foul defeat
Hath loft us heav'n, and all this mighty hoft
In horrible destruction laid thus low,
As far as gods and heav'nly essences
Can perish ; for the mind and spirit remains
Invincible, and vigour soon returns,
Though all our glory extinct, and happy Atats
Here swallow'd up in endless mifery,
But what if he our conqueror, (whom I now
Of force believe almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'erpow'r'd such force as ours)
Have left us this our spirit and strength intire
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service as his thralls
By right of war, whate'er his business be
Here in the heart of hell to work in fire,

Or do his errands in the gloomy deep;
What can it then avail though yet we feel
Strength undeminisht, or eternal being
To undergo eternal punishment ?
Whereto with speedy words th’arch-fiend reply'd.

Fall'n cherub, to be weak is miserable
Doing or suffering : but of this be sure,
To do ought good never will be our talk,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which oft times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost councils from their destin'd aim.
But see the angry victor hath recall’d
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of heav'n: the sulphurous hail
Shot after us in storm, o’reblown hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice
Of heav'n receiv'd us falling, and the thunder,
Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage,
Perhaps has spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless deep.
Let us not nip th’occasion, whether scorn,
Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.
Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wilde,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames

Casts pale and dreadful ? thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves,
There rest, if any rest can harbour there,
And reassembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth moft offend
Our enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from hope,
If not what resolution from despair.

Thus-Satan talking to his nearest mate
With head up-lift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blaz’d, his other parts besides,
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous fize,
Titanian, or earth-born, that warr'd on Jove,
Briareos or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream:
Him haply slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-founder'd skift,
Deeming some isand, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his skaly rind,
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays :
so stretcht out huge in length the arch-fiend lay,
Chain'd on the burning lake, nor ever thence
Had ris’n or heav'd his head, but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,

That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he fought
Evil to others, and enrag'd might see
How all his malice ferv'd but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace and mercy thew'n
On man by him seduc'd, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance pour d.
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flamesi
Driv’n backward Nope their pointing spires and rowld
In billows, leave i'th' midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights, if it were land that ever burn'd
With folid, as the lake with liquid fire;
And such appear’d in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the fhatter'd fide
Of thundring Aetna, whose combustible
And feweld intrals thence conceiving fire,
Sublim'd with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a finged bottom all involv'd
With stench and smoak: such resting found the fole
Of unbleft feet. Him followed his next mate,
Both glorying to have fcap't the Stygian flood
As gods, and by their own recover'd strength,
Not by the sufferance of fupernal power.
Is this the region, this the foil, the clime,
Said then the loft arch-angel, this the seat
That we must change for heav'n, this mournful gloom

For that celeftial light ? be it fo, fince he
Who now is sov'rain can dispose and bid
.What shall be right : farthest from him is best
Whom reafon hath equal'd, force hath made fupream
Above his equals. Farewell happy fields,
Where joy for ever dwells : hail horrors, haił
Infernal world, and thou profoundeft hell
Receive thy new poffeffor : one who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by pface or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itfelf
Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I fhould be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater ? here at least
We Thall be free; th'almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence :
Here we may reign fecure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition tho' in hell :
Better to reign in helf, than ferve in heav'n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th’affociates and copartners of our loss,
Ly thus astonish't on th'oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion, or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regain'd in heav'n, or what more lost in hell ?
So Satan fpake, and him Beelzebub
Thus answer'đ. Leader of those armies bright,
Which but th’Omnipotent none could have foyl’d,
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft

A S

« PreviousContinue »