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Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more
Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne,
Yielded with full consent. T'he happier state
In heaven, which follows dignity, might draw

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Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim,
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Qf endless pain? Where there is then no good

30 For which to strive, no strife can grow up there From faction ; for none sure will claim in Hell Precedence; none,

whose portion is so small Of present pain, that with ambitious mind Will covet more. With this advantage then 35 To union, and firm faith, and firm accord, More than can be in Heaven, we now return To claim our just inheritance of old, Surer to prosper than prosperity Could have assured us; and, by what best way,

40 Whether of open war, or covert guile, We now debate: Who can advise may speak.

He ceased : and next to him Moloch, sceptred king, Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit That ght in Heaven, now fiercer by despair : 45 His trust was with the Eternal to be deem'd Equal in strength; and rather than be less Cared not to be at all; with that care lost Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse, He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake. 50

My sentence is for open war: Of wiles, More unexpert, I boast not: them let those Contrive who need, or when they need ; not now, For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest, Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait 55 The signal to asce sit lingering here Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling place Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame, The prison of his tyranny who reigns

By our delay ? No! let us rather choose

60 Arm'd with Hell flames and fury, all at once, O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way, Turning our tortures into horrid arms Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise Of his Almighty engine he shall hear

65 Infernal thunder ; and, for lightning, see Black fire and horror shot with equal rage Among his Angels; and his throne itself Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire, His own invented torments. But perhaps

70 The way seems difficult and steep to scale With upright wing against a higher foe. Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench Of that forgetful lake benumb not still, That in our proper motion we ascend

75 Up to our native seat: Descent and fall To us is adverse. Who but felt of late, When the fierce Foe hung on our broken rear Insulting, and pursued us through the deep, With what compulsion and laborious flight 80 We sunk thus low ? The ascent is easy then; The event is fear'd; should we again provoke Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may y find To our destruction ; if there be in Hell Fear to be worse destroy'd: What can be worse 85 That to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemn'd In this abhorred deep to utter woe ;) Where pain of unextinguishable fire Must exercise us without hope of end, The vassals of his anger, when the scourge

90 Inexorably, and the torturing hour Calls us to penance ! More destroy'd than thus, We should be quite abolish’d, and expire. What fear we then? what doubt we to incense His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged, 95 Will either quite consume us, and reduce To nothing this essential; happier far

'Thar. miserable to have eternal being • Or if our substance be indeed divine, And cannot cease to be, we are at worst

100 On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our power sufficient to disturb his heaven, And with perpetual inroads to alarm, Though inaccessible, his fatal throne · Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

105 Ile ended frowning, and his look denounced Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous To less than Gods. On the other side uprose Belial, in act more graceful and humane : A fairer person lost not Heaven(; he seem'd 110 For dignity composed, and high exploit : But all was false and hollow; though his tongue Dropp'd manna, and could make the worse appear The better reason, to perplex and dash Maturest counsels) for his thoughts were low 115 'To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds simorous and slothful : yet he pleased the car, And with persuasive accent thus began.

I should be much for open war, O Peers, As not behind in hate; if what was urged 120 Main reason to persuade immediate war Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast Ominous conjecture on the whole success; When he, who most excels in fact of arms, In what he counsels, and in what excels,

123 Mistrustful, grounds his courago on despair And utter dissolution, as the scope Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.

First, what revenge ? The towers of Heaven are fill'd • With armed watch, that render all access

130 Impregnable : oft on the bordering deep Encamp their legions; or, with obscure wing Scout far and wide into the realm of night, Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise 135

With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heaven's purest light; yet our great Enemy,
All incorruptible, would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and the ethereal mould,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel

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Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
Is flat despair : We must exasperate
The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us; that must be our cure, 145
To be no more. (Sad 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 wido, womb of uncreated night,

15C 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 sure. Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,

155 Belike through impotence, or unawure, To give his enemies their wish, 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, 160 Reserved, and destined to eternal woe; Whatever doing, what can we suffer more, What can we suffer worse ? Is this then worst, Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms? What! when we fled amain, pursued, and struck 165 With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought The deep to shelter us? This Hell then seem'd A refuge from those wounds ; 0; when we lay Chain’d on the burning lake? 'That sure was worse. What if the breath, that kindled those grim fires, 170 Awaked, 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 175
Of Hell should spout her cataracts of firo,
Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hur!'d 180
Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and prey
Of wracking whirlwinds; or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapp'd in chains ;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,

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Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.
War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view ? He from Heaven's height
All these our motions vain sees and derides ; 191
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 Heavin
Thus trampled, thus expell’d to suffer here 195
Chains and these torments ? better these than worse,
By my advice; since fate inevitable
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The Victor's will To suffer, as to do,
Our strength is equal, nor the law unjust 200
That so ordains : This was at first resolved,
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 venturous, if that fail them, shrink and fear 205
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,
Our Supreme Foe in time nay much remit 216
His anger; and perhaps, thus far removed

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