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He ceas'd; and next him Moloch, scepter'd king, Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Spirit That fought in Heav'n, now fiercer by despair : His trust was with th' Eternal to be deem'd Equil in strength, and rather than be less Car'd 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 The signal to ascend, sit ling’ring here Heav’n’s fugitives, and for their dwelling place Accept this dark opprobious 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 Heav'n's high tow'rs 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 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
invented torments. But perhaps 70 The way seerns difficult and steep, to scale With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let such bethink then, if the sleepy drench
his wrath may
find To our destruction; if there be in Hell Fear to be worse destroy’d: what can be worse Than to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemnd In this abhorr’d deep to utter woe; Where pain of unextinguishable fire Must exercise us without hope of end The vassals of his anger, when the scourge १० 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 enrag'd, Will either quite consume us, and reduce To nothing this essential, happier far Than miserable to have eternal being : Or if our substance be indeed divine, And cannot cease to be, we are at worst On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our power sufficient to disturb his Heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
I should be much for open war, O Peers!
Scout far and wide into the realm of night,
What can we suffer worse? Is this then worst, Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms ? What when we fled amain, pursued and struck With Heav’n’s afilicting thunder, and besought The deep to shelter us? this Hell then seem'd A refuge from those wounds: os when we lay Chain’d on the burning lake ? that sure was worse. What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, 170 Awak'd should blow them into sev’nfold rage, And plunge us in the fames ? 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 Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire, Impendent horrors, threat'ning hideous fall One day upon our heads; while we perhaps Designing or exhorting glorious war, faught in a fiery tempest shall be hurl'd Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport prey Of wracking whirlwinds, and for ever sunk Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains ; There to converse with everlasting groans, Unrespited, unpitied, unreprievod, 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 Heav'n's height All these our motions vain sees and derides; 194 Not more almighty to resist our might