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The great seraphic lords and cherubim
In closs recess and secret conclave sat
A thousand demi-gods on golden scats,
Frequent and full. After shore silence then
And summons read, the great consult begao.
The End of the First Beok.
The Argument. The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battel
be to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven: some advise it, others dissuade. A third proposal is preferred, mentioned before by Satan, to search the truth of that prophecy or tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferior to themselves, about this time to be created : their doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search: Satan their chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honored and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest be take them several ways, and to several employments, as their inclinations led them, to entertain the time till Satan retury. He passes on his journey to Hell gates, finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between Heil and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new world which he sought.
High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
Show'rs on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, by merit rais'd
To that bad eminence; and from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
Vain war with Heav'n, and by success untaught
His proud imaginations thus display'd. 10
Pow'rs! and Dominions! Deities of Heav'n! For since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigor, though oppress'd and fall'n,
I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descent
Celestial Virtues rising, will appear
More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
And trust themselves to fear no second fate.
Me though just right, and the fix'd laws of Heav'n
Did first create your leader, next free choice,
With what besides, in counsel or in fight,... 20
Hath been achiev'd of merit, yet this loss
Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more'.
Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne . .
Yielded with full consent. The happier state
In Heav'n, which follows dignity, might draw 25
Envy from each inferior ; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place expases
Foremost to stand against the Thund'rer's aim.
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Of 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 smallit
Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
Will cover more. With this advantage then 33
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in Heav'n, we now return
To claiin our just inheritance of old,
Surer to prosper than prosperity
Çould have assur'd us; and by what best way, 40
Whether of open war or covert guile,
We now debate; who.can advise, may speak..
He ceas'd; and nexe him Moloch, scepter'd king, Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest spirit That fought in Heav'n, now fjercer by despair: 45 His trust was with th' Eternal to be deeru'd Equal in strength, and rather than be less Card 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. 60
My sentence is for open war : of wiles, . More unexpert, I boast not : them let those Contrive who need, or when they necd, not now. For while they sit contriving, shall the rest, Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait 50 The signal to ascend, sit ling'ring here Heav'n'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 chuse, 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 Tort'rer; when to meet the noise Of his Almighty engine he shall hear 65 Infernal thunder, and for lightning see Black fore 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 foc
Let such bethink them, 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 flight 80
We sunk thus low ? Th' ascent is easy then;
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 85
Than to dwell here, driv'n 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 highth enrag’d, 95
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 100
On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
Our pow'r sufficient to disturb his Heav'n,