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Pour forth their populous youth about the hive 770
In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers
Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of their straw-built citadel,
New rubb'd with balm, expatiate and confer
Their state affairs; so thick the aëry crowd
Swarm'd and were straiten'd; till, the signal given,
Behold a wonder! They but now who seem'd
In bigness to surpass earth's giant sons,


Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Throng numberless, like that pygmean race


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
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth


Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear;
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.
Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms



Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large,
Though without number still, amidst the hall
Of that infernal court. But far within,
And in their own dimensions like themselves,
The great Seraphic Lords and Cherubim,
In close recess and secret conclave sat,
A thousand Demi-gods on golden seats,
Frequent and full. After short silence then,
And summons read, the great consult began.


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
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 raised


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
Immortal vigour, 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 council or in fight,
Hath been achieved of merit; yet this loss,
Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more
Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne,


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
In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
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
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 small
Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
Will covet more. With this advantage then
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in Heav'n, we now return
To claim our just inheritance of old,
Surer to prosper than prosperity




Could have 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, 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,
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 opprobrious den of shame,
The prison of his tyranny who reigns

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,
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 own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep, to scale
With upright wing against a higher 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 flight
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
Inexorably, and the tort'ring 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 mis'rable 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 pow'r sufficient to disturb his Heav'n,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:



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
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 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; 115
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
Tim'rous 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 hate, 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 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 fill'd With armed watch, that render all access Impregnable; oft on the bord'ring deep


Encamp 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
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
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
Is flat despair. We must exasperate



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.

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