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None arguing stood; innumerable hands
Were ready; in a moment up they turned
Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
The originals of nature in their crude
Conception; sulphurous and nitrous foam1
They tound, they mingled, and, with subtle art
Concocted and adjusted, they reduced
To blackest grain, and into store conveyed:
Part hidden veins digged up (nor hath this earth
Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,
Whereof to found their engines and their halls
Of missive ruin; part incentive reed
Provide, pernicious2 with one touch to fire.
So all ere day-spring, under conscious night,
Secret they finished, and in order set,
With silent circumspection, unespied.

"Now when fair morn orient in Heaven appeared,
Up rose the victor angels, and to arms
The matin trumpet sung: in arms they stood
Of golden panoply, refulgent host,
Soon banded; others from the dawning hills
Looked round, and scouts each coast light-armed scour,
Each quarter, to descry the distant foe,
Where lodged, or whither fled, or if for fight,
In motion or in halt: him soon they met
Under spread ensigns moving nigh, in slow
But firm battalion; back with speediest sail
Zophiel,3 of cherubim the swiftest wing,
Came flying, and in mid air aloud thus cried:

"' Arm, warriors, arm for fight! the foe at hand, Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit This day; fear not his flight; so thick a cloud

1 Bentley observes that only two materials are here mentioned, and these without charcoal can never make gunpowder. This is true; hut is it necessary that a poet should be as exact as a writer about arts and sciences? If so, not only Milton but Spenser must be blamed, who has done the same thing as Milton has done; for in his Faerie Queen, b. i. o. vii. s. 13, describing a cannon charged with gunpowder, he says—

"With windy nitre and quick mlphur fraught,"

where it is observable that he takes no notice of charcoal, though gunpowder cannot be without it.—Pearce.

Pernix, i. e. mischievously ready.

3 The spy oj God.

He comes, and settled in his face I see
Sad resolution and secure: let each
His adamantine coat gird well, and each
Fit well his helm, gripe fast his orbed shield,
Borne even or high ; for this day will pour down,
Jf I conjecture aught, no drizzling shower,
But rattling storm of arrows barbed with fire.'

"So warned he them, aware themselves, and soon
In order, quit of all impediment,
Instant without disturb they took alarm,
And onward moved embattled: when, behold,
Hot distant far, with heavy pace, the foe
Approaching gross and hvige, in hollow cube
Training his devilish enginery, impaled
On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
Awhile; hut suddenly at head appeared
Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud:

"' Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold;
That all may see who hate us, how we seek
Peace and composure, and with open breast
Stand ready to receive them, if they like
Our overture, and turn not back perverse;
But that I doubt; however, witness Heaven,
Heaven witness thou anon, while we discharge1
Freely our part; ye who appointed stand,
Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch
AVhat we propound, and loud, that all may hear.'

"So scoffing, in ambiguous words, he scarce
Had ended, when to right and left the front
Divided, and to either flank retired:
"Which to our eyes discovered, new and strange,
A triple mounted row of pillars laid
On wheels (for like to pillars most they seemed,
Or hollowed bodies made of oak or fir,
With branches lopped, in wood or mountain felled)
Brass, iron, stony mould,3 had not their mouths
With hideous orifice gaped on us wide,
Portending hollow3 truce: at each behind

1 Some of the puna (if such they be) are hs discreditable to Milton's taste as to poetry. I have ventured to italicise them, lest they should perish unperceived. 2 Substance, mass.

3 Another vile pun, scarcely sufficient to tempt an angel into so vile a habit .

A seraph stood, and in his hand a reed

Stood waving, tipped with fire: while we, suspense,

Collected stood within our thoughts amused,

Not long; for sudden all at onee their reeds

Put forth, and to a narrow vent applied

With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,

But soon obscured with smoke, all Heaven appeared,

From those deep-throated engines1 belched, whose roai"

Embowelled with outrageous noise the air,

And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul

Then- devilish glut, chained thunderbolts and hail

Of iron globes; which, on the victor host

Levelled, with such impetuous fury smote,

That whom they hit, none on their feet might stand,

Though standing else as rocks, but down they fell

By thousands, angel on archangel rolled,

The sooner for their arms: unarmed they might

Have easily, as spirits, evaded swift

By quick contraction or remove; but now

Foul dissipation followed, and forced rout;

Nor served it to relax their serried3 files.

What should they do? if on they rushed, repulss

Repeated, and indecent overthrow

Doubled, would render them yet more despised,

And to their foes a laughter; for in view

Stood ranked of seraphim another row,

In posture to displode their second tire

Of thunder: back defeated to return

They worse abhorred. Satan beheld their plight,

And to his mates thus in derision called:

"' O friends, why come not on these victors proud? Erewhile they fierce were coming; and when we, To entertain them fair with open front And breast (what could we more ?) propounded terms Of composition, straight they changed their minds, Flew off, and into strange vagaries tell, As they would dance; yet for a dance they seemed Somewhat extravagant and wild, perhaps For joy of offered peace: but I suppose,

1 So Shakespeare, in Othello, act iii.:—

"And oh, you mortal engines, whose rude throats
The immortal Jove's dread clamours counterfeit."


* Close, compact, from the Italian terrato.

If our proposals once again were heard,
We should compel them to a quick result.'

"To whom thus Belial, in like gamesome mood:
* Leader, the terms we sent were terms of weight,
Of hard contents, and full of force urged home,
Such as we might perceive amused them all,
And stumbled many; who receives them right,
Had need from head to foot well understand;
Not understood, this gift they have besides,
They show us when our foes walk not upright.'

"So they among themselves, in pleasant vein,
Stood scoffing, heightened in their thoughts beyond
All doubt of victory; eternal might
To match with their inventions they presumed
So easy, and of his thunder made a scorn,
And all his host derided, while they stood
Awhile in trouble: but they stood not long;
Rage prompted them at length, and found them arms
Against such hellish mischief fit to oppose.
Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power,
Which God hath in his mighty angels placed)
Their arms away they threw, and to the hills
(For earth hath this variety from Heaven
Of pleasure situate in hill and dale)
Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew;
From their foundations loosening to and fro
They plucked the seated hills with all their load,
Bocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
Uplifting bore them in their hands: amaze,
Be sure, and terror, seized the rebel host,
When coming towards them so dread they saw
The bottom of the mountains upward turned;
Till on those cursed engines' triple row
They saw them whelmed, and all their confidence
Under the weight of mountains buried deep;
Themselves invaded next, and on their heads
Main promontories flung, which in the air
Came shadowing, and oppressed whole legions armed;
Their armour helped their harm,1 crushed in and bruised
Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain
Implacable, and many a dolorous groan,

1 Newton compares Spenser, F. Q. i. 2 27—

"That erst him goodly armed, now most of all him harmed."

Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind
Out of such prison, though spirits of purest light,
Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown.
The rest in imitation to like arms
Betook them, and the neigbouring hills uptore;
So hills amid the air encountered hills
Hurled to and fro with jaculation dire,
That under ground they fought in dismal shade;
Infernal noise! war seemed a civil game
To this uproar; horrid confusion heaped
Upon confusion rose: and now all Heaven
Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread,
Had not the Almighty Father, where he sits
Shrined in his sanctuary of Heaven secure,
Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen
This tumult, and permitted all, advised:
That his great purpose he might so fulfil,
To honour his anointed Son avenged
Upon his enemies, and to declare
All power on him transferred: whence to his Son,
The assessor of his throne, he thus began:
"' Effulgence of my glory, Son beloved,
Son in whose face invisible is beheld
Visibly, what by deity I am,
And in whose hand what by decree I do,
Second Omnipotence! two days are past,
Two days, as we compute the days of Heaven,
Since Michael and his powers went forth to tame
These disobedient; sore hath been their fight,
As likeliest was, when two such foes met armed;
For to themselves I left them; and thou knowest
Equal in their creation they were formed,
Save what sin hath impaired, which yet hath wrought
Insensibly, for I suspend their doom;
Whence in perpetual fight they needs must last
Endless, and no solution will be found:
War wearied hath performed what war can do,
And to disordered rage let loose the reins,
With mountains as with weapons armed, which makes
Wild work in Heaven, and dangerous to the main.
Two days are therefore past, the third is thine;
For thee I have ordained it, and thus far
Have suffered, that the glory may be thine
Of ending this great war, since none but thou

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