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Pour forth their populous youth about the hive 770
Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Beyond the Indian mount; or fairy elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while over head the moon
Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and
Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large,
777. We here see the use of the lines on the nature of spirits, which prepare the reader for the wonders afterward related. 785. Arbitress, witness, or spectatress. Allusion is here mada to the superstitious belief in the power of witches over the moon 797. Frequent. like the Latin frequens, meaning full.
The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another batt.e De 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 honoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways, and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his journey to Hell-gates, fines them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between Hell 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
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:
Pow'rs and Dominions, Deities of Heaven,
For since no deep within her gulf can hold
More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
2. Ormus is an island in the Persian Gulf, and, together with India, produces many of the treasures enumerated in this passage. 11. St. Paul divides the anges, into thrones, dominions, principalities, &c.-See Col. i. 16.
Yielded with full consent. The happier state
Could have assured us; and by what best way,
We now debate: who can advise, may speak.
He ceased and next him Moloch, scepter'd king, Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Sp'rit That fought in Heav'n, now fiercer by despair. His trust was with th' 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,
Heav'n's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place
By our delay? No, let us rather choose,
Arm'd with Hell-flames and fury, all at once
O'er Heav'n's high tow'rs to force resistless way,
Against the torturer; when to meet the noise
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear
Fear to be worse destroy'd. What can be worse 85
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Calls us to penance? More destroy'd than thus,
What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
89. Exercised, this word is here used in the sense of the Latin exerceo, that is, to vex or trouble.
91. Inexorably-in some editions, inexorable.
92. By calling to penance, Milton seems to intimate, that the sufferings of the condemned spirits are not always equally severe. 104. Fatal, that is, upheld by fate.
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.
He ended frowning, and his look denounced
But all was false and hollow, though his tongue
Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low; 115
I should be much for open war, O Peers!
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? The tow'rs of Heav'n are fill'd With armed watch, that render all access Impregnable; oft on the bord'ring deep
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way
109. Belial's speech is in admirable conformity with the description given of his character in the first book. It is throughout that of a luxurious and base spirit, and is in fine contrast to that of Moloch.
124. Fact of arms from the Italian fatto d'arme, a battle.