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Pour forth their populous youth about the hive 170
785 Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and Intent, with jocund music charm his ear; (dance At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds. Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest fornis Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large, Though without number still, amidst the hall 791 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,
795 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 made 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 battic 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 eball be sent on this difficult search: Salan their chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honourer! 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, finus 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
10 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
15 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,
20 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, prinscipalities, &c. See Col. i. 16.
Yielded with full consent. The happier state
He ceased : and next him Moloch, scepter'd king,
My 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 35 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,
60 Arm'd with Hell-fames 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,
65 Infernal thunder, and for lightning see
Black fire and horror shct with equal rage
100 On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our pow'r sufficient to disturb his Hear'n, And with perpetual inroads to alarm, Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:
89. Brercised, this word is here used in the sense of the Lada 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 serere.
104. Fatal, that is, upheld by fate.
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.
105 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 110 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 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
120 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
125 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 130 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 135 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 repulsed, our final nope Is flat despair. We must exasperate
109. Belial's speech is in admirable conformity with the de. scription given of his character in the first book. It is through out 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.