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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.

own

then;

Let such bethink then, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our proper motion we ascend
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 fight 80
We sunk thus low? Th'ascent is

easy
Th’ event is fear'd; should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way

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,

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And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne :
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounc'd
Desp’rate revenge, and battle dangerous
To less than Gods. On th' other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seem'd
For dignity compos’d and high exploit :
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low;
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful : yet he pleas’d the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began.

I should be much for open war, O Peers!
As not behind in hate, if what was urg'd
Main reason te 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
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge ? the tow'rs of Heav'n are filled
With armed watch, that render all access 130
Impregnable ; oft on the bord 'ring deep
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing

I 20

Scout far and wide into the realm of night,
Seorning surprise. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all Hell shouid rise
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heav'n's purest light, yet our great enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould
Incapable of stain would soon expel

140
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire
Victorious. Thus repuls’d, our final hope
Is flat despair: we must exasperate
Th’ Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us, that must be our cure,
To be no more ; sad cure; for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thouglits that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night, 150
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,
Belike through impotence, or unaware,
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, 169
Reserv'd, and destin'd 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 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

180,

and

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