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PARADISE LOST.

BOOK II.

THE ARGUMENT,

The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battle be to be hazarded for the recovery of heaven: some advise it, others dissuade: a third proposal is preferred, men. tioned 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 tine to be created. Their doubt, who shall be sent on this difficult search; Satan their chief undertakes alone .the voyage, is honoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways, and to several em. ployments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. 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 beiween helt and heaven; with what difficulty he passes througlı, 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;
Dr where the gorgeous east with richest hand
Showers 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 heaven; and by success untaught,
His proud imaginations thus display'd :

“ Powers, and dominions, deities of heaven!
(For since no deep within her gulf can bold
Immortal vigour, though oppress'd and fallen,
I give not heaven for lost: from this descent
Celestial virtues rising, will appear
More glorious and more dread than from no.fall,
Alid trust themselves to fear no second fate.)
Me, though just right and the fix'd laws of heaven
Did first create your leader; next, free choice,

With wbat besides, in council or in fight,
Hath been achieved of merit; yet this loss,
Thus far at least recover'd, hath mucb more
Establish'd in a safe unenvied throve,
Yielded with full consent. The bappier state
In heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will enry whom the bighest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim,
Your bulwark, and condemns to greater share
Of endless pain? Where there is then no good
For which to strive, no-strife can grow up there
From faction; for none sure will claim in hell
Precedence, none wliose portion is so small
Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
Will covet more. With this advantage therr
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in beaven, we now return
To claim our just inberitance of old.
Surer to prosper than prosperity
Could bave assured us; and, by what best way,
Whether of open war, or covert guile,
We now debate; who can advise, may speak.”

He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king,
Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest spirit
That fought in heaven, now fiercer by despair ;
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.bis fear: of God, or hell, or worse,
He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake :

6. M.y sentence is for open war: of wiles, More unexpert, I boast not; them let those Contrive who need, or wben 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 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 choosey,

Arm'd with bell 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 bear
Inferual thunder; and, for lightning, see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among bis angels; and his throne itself
Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur, and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep to scale
With upright wing against a bigher foe.
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 Aight
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 find
To our destruction; if there be in hell
Fear to be worse destroy'd : what can be worse
Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemp'd
In this abhorred deep to utter woe;
Where pain of unextinguisbable fire,
Nust exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inesorable, 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,
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

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Our power sufficient to disturb bis beaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal tbrone ;
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounced
Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous
To less than gods. On the other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane :
A fairer.person lost not heaven; he seem'd
For dignity composed, 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 pleased the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began :

" I should be much for open war, o peers !
As not behind in bate; if what was urged
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

fact of arms,
In what he counsels, and in what excels,
Mistrustful, grounds kis courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? The towers of heaven are aird
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable: oft on the bordering deep
Eocamp 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
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heaven's purest light : yet, our great Enemy
All corruptible, would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and the ethereal mould,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final kope

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Is flat despair : we must exasperate
The 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 thoughts that wander through eternity,
'To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
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 gire his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then ?
Say iley, who counsel war, We are decreed,
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
With heaven's afflicting thunder, and besough
Tlie deep to shelter us?: This hell then seem'd
A refuge from those wounds: ar when we lay
Chain'd on the burning lake? That sure was worse..
What if the breath, that kindled those grim fires,
Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,
And plunge us in the flames ? or, from above,
Sbould intermitted vengeance arm again
Iliş red right hand to plague us ? What if all..
Jler stores were open'd, and this firmament
Of hell should spout her cataracts of fire ?
Impendent borrors !, threat’ning hideous fall
One day, upon our heads; while we perhaps,
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest shall be hurl'd
Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and prey
Of racking whirlwinds ? or for ever sunk
I nder yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains,,

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