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This downfall; since by fjate1 the strength of gods
So spake the apostate angel, though in pain,
"O prince, O chief of many throned powers,
1 Satan supposes the angels to subsist by fate and necessity, and he represents them of an empyreal, that is a fiery substance, as the Scripture itself doth: "He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire," Psalm civ. 4, Heb. i. 7. Satan disdains to submit, since the angels (as he says) are necessarily immortal, and cannot be destroyed, and since, too, they are now improved in experience, and may hope to carry on the war more successfully, notwithstanding the present triumph of their adversary in Heaven.—Newto'i.
Or do his errands in the gloomy deep;
What can it then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminished, or eternal heing
To undergo eternal punishment?"
Whereto with speedy words the arch fiend replied.
"Fall'n cherub, to be weak is miserable
1 Dr. Bentley has really made a very material objection to this and some other passages of the poem, wherein the good angels are represented as pursuing the rebel host with fire and thunderbolts down through Chaos even to the gates of Hell; as being contrary to the account which the angel Raphael gives to Adam in the Sixth Book. And it is certain that there the good angels are ordered to " stand still only and behold," and the Messiah alone expels them out of Heaven; and after he has expelled them, and Hell has closed upon them, vi.880
"Sole victor from the expulsion of his foes,
These accounts are plainly contrary the one to the other; but the author does not therefore contradict himself, nor is one part of his scheme inconsistent with another. For it should be considered, who are the persons that give these different accounts. In Book vi., the angel Raphael is the speaker, and therefore his account may be depended upon as the genuine and exact truth of the matter. But in the other passages Satan himself or some of his angels are the speakers; and they were too proud and obstinate ever to acknowledge the Messiah for their conqueror; as their rebellion was raised on his account, they would never own his superiority; they would rather ascribe their defeat to the whole host of Heaven than to him alone; or if they did indeed imagine their pursuers to be so many Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice
Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder,
Winged 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 slip the occasion, whether scorn
Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.
Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
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 re-assembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most 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,
in number, their fears multiplied them, and it serves admirably to express how much they were terrified and confounded. In Book vi., 830, the noise of his chariot is compared to the "sound of a numerous host; " and perhaps they might think that a numerous host were reallv pursuing. In one place, indeed, we have Chaos speaking thus, ii. 998—
"and Heaven gates Poured out by millions her victorious bands Pursuing."
Bat what a condition was Chaos in during the fall of the rebel angels 1
See vi. 871—
"Nine days they fell; confounded Chaos roared,
We must suppose him therefore to speak according to his own frighted
and disturbed imagination.—Newton.
By ancient Tarsus held,1 or that sea-heast
Leviathan,2 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-foundered3 skiff
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays:
So stretched out huge in length the arch-fiend lay,
Chained on the burning lake, nor ever thence
Had risen or heaved 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 sought
Evil to others, and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace and mercy shown
On man by him seduced; but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance poured.
Forthwith upright he rears, from off the pool,
His mighty nature; on each hand the flames,
Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and rolled
In billows, leave i' the midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air4
1 Typhon is the same with Typhoeus. That the den of Typhoeus was in Cilicia, of which Tarsus was a celebrated city, we are told by Pindar and Pomponius Mela.
2 Milton seems to regard the leviathan as identical with the whale. The various and conflicting opinions on the subject are well detailed .by Barnes on Job, xli. 1. General, conclusion seems in favour of the crocodile. As far as Milton is concerned, I think he had in mind the stories of the kraken, or some other gigantic species of cuttle-fish, which have been said to appear in the Norwegian seas. The reader will call to mind the similar story in " Sinbad the Sailor." See line's Arabian Nights.
3 i. e. overtaken by night, and thereby hindered from proceeding.
4 This conceit of the " air's feeling unusual weight" is borrowed from Spenser, who, speaking of the old dragon, says, b. i. cant. ii. st. 18—
"Then with his waving wings displayed wide,
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights, if it were land that ever hurned
With solid, as the lake with liquid fire;
And such appeared in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind1 transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus,3 or the shattered side
Of thundering Etna, whose combustible
And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singed bottom all involved
With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate,
Both glorying to have 'scaped the Stygian flood
As gods, and by their own recovered strength,
Nbt by the sufferance of supernal power.
"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime," Said then the lost archangel, " this the seat That wo must change for Heaven, this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be it so, since he Who now is Sovran3 can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest from him is best, Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme Above his equals. Farewell happy fields Where joy for ever dwells! Hail horrors, hail Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell Receive thy new possessor; one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place,4 and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all buts less than he Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
1 Rather read "winds," with Pearce.
3 The Cape di Faro, a promontory of Sicily, about a mile and a half from Italy.—See Virg. Mn. iii. 6 and 7.
3 So Milton rightly spells it, according to its derivation from the Italian sovrano.
4 These are some of the Stoical extravagances, placed by Milton in the mouth of Satan, by way of ridicule.
5 Some read " albeit."