Page images
[ocr errors]

All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise.

He scarce had finish'd, when such murmur fill'd
Th' assembly, as when hollow rocks retain 285
The sound of blust'ring winds, which all night


[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Had rous'd the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
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 pleas’d,
Advising peace; for such another field
They dreaded worse than Hell: so much the fear
Of thunder and the sword of Michael
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 Heav'n:
Which when Beelzebub perceiv’d, than whom,
Satan except, none higher sat, with


Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem'd
A pillar of state: deep on his front engraven,
Deliberation sat and public care;
And princely counsel in his face yet shone
Majestic, though in ruin : sage he stood, 305
With Atlantean shoulders fit to bear
The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look
Drew audience and attention still as night
Or summer's noon-tide air, while thus he spake:
Thrones and Imperial Pow'rs, Offspring of



Ethereal Virtues; or these titles now
Must we renounce, and changing stile be call’d
Princes of Hell ? for so the pop'lar vote
Inclines here to continue, and build up here
A growing empire; doubtless, while we dream,
And know not that the King of Heav'n hath

This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
From Heav'n's high jurisdiction, in new league
Banded against his throne, but to remain 320
In strictest bondage, though thus far remov’d,
Under th' inevitable curb, resery'd
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 325
By our revolt; but over Hell extend
His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
Us here, as with his golden those in Heav'n.
What sit we then projecting? peace and war?
War hath determin'd us, and foil'd with loss 330
Irreparable: terms of peace yet none
Vouchsaf'd or sought; for what peace will be giv'n
To us enslav’d, but custody severe,
And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted? And what peace can we return, 335
But to our pow'r hostility and hate,
Untam'd reluctance, and revenge though slow,
Yet ever plotting how the Conqu’ror least
his conquest, and


least rejoice

May reap

In doing what we most in sufføring feel? 340
Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
With dang'rous expedition to invade
Heav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,
Or ambush from the deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprize? There is a place, 345
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n
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 pow'r and excellence, but favour'd more 350
Of Him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounc'd among the Gods, and by an oath,
That shook Heav'n's whole circumference, con-

Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould 355
Or substance, how endu'd, and what their pow'r,
And where their weakness; how attempted best,
By force or subtlety. Though Heav'n be shut,
And Heav'n's high Arbitrator sit secure
In his own strength, this place may lie expos’d,
The utmost border of this kingdom, left

To their defence who hold it. Here perhaps
Some advantageous act may be atchiev'd
By sudden onset, either with Hell fire
To waste his whole creation, or possess 365
All as our own, and drive, as we were driv'n,
The puny habitants; or if not drive,
Seduce them to our party, that their God

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

May prove their Foe, and with repenting hand
Abolish his own works. This would surpass
Common revenge, and interrupt his joy 371
In our confusion, and our joy upraise
In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurl'd 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 Beelzebub Pleaded his dev’lish counsel, first devis'd By Satan, and in part propos’d: for whence, 380 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?

Creator? But their spite still serves His glory to augment. The bold design 386 Pleas'd 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 judg’d, well ended long debate, Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are, 391 Great things resolv’d, which from the lowest deep Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate, Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view Of those bright confines, whence with neighb'ring arms

395 And opportune excursion, we may chance

nter Heav'n; or else in some mild zone

[ocr errors]

Dwell not unvisited of Heav'n's fair light
Secure, and at the brightning orient beam
Purge off this gloom : the soft delicious air, 400
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,
Shall breathe her balm. But first, whom shall we


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

In search of this new world? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall 'tempt with wand'ring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,

And through the palpable obscure find out
His 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

Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send,
The weight of all and our last hope relies. 416

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
Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and

[ocr errors][merged small]


In other's count'nance read his own dismay
Astonish’d. None among the choice and prime
Of those Heav'n-warring champions could be


« PreviousContinue »