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Th' 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 give his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then?
Say they 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 165
With Heav'n's afflicting thunder, and besought
The deep to shelter us? This Hell then seem'd
A refuge from those wounds: or 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 sev'nfold rage,
And plunge us in the flames? Or from above
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague us? What if all
Her stores were open'd, and this firmament
Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impendent horrors, 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 wracking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk

156. Impotence is to be understood as the opposite
of wisdom, or mental weakness.

170. See Isa. xxx. 33.



174. His red right hand, namely God's, whose vengeance is personified.

Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,

Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.
War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike


My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view? He from Heav'n's height
All these our motions vain, sees and derides:
Not more almighty to resist our might


Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.

Shall we then live thus vile, the race of Heav'n
Thus trampled, thus expell'd, to suffer here


Chains and these torments? Better these than worse,
By my advice: since fate inevitable
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,

Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust
That so ordains. This was at first resolved,
If we were wise, against so great a Foe
Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.


I laugh, when those who at the spear are bold
And vent'rous, if that fail them, shrink and fear 205
What yet they know must follow, to endure
Exile or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,

The sentence of their Conqu'ror. This is now
Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,

Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit


His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed,
Not mind us not offending, satisfy'd

With what is punish'd; whence these raging fires Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames. Our purer essence then will overcome

Their noxious vapour, or inured not feel,

Or changed at length, and to the place conform'd

In temper and in nature, will receive

Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;


This horror will grow mild, this darkness light, 220 Besides what hope the never-ending flight

Of future days may bring, what chance, what change

190. See Psalm ii. 4.

220. The word light is an adjective and not a substantive, sa Dr. Bentley supposed. It here means easy to bear.

Worth waiting, since our present lot appears
For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
If we procure not to ourselves more woe.




Thus Belial, with words cloth'd in reason's garb
Counsel'd ignoble ease and peaceful sloth,
Not peace and after him thus Mammon spake:
Either to disenthrone the King of Heav'n
We war, if war be best, or to regain
Our own right lost: him to unthrone we then
May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield
To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife.
The former vain to hope, argues as vain
The latter; for what place can be for us
Within Heav'n's bound, unless Heav'n's Lord
We overpow'r? Suppose he should relent, [Supreme
And publish grace to all, on promise made
Of new subjection; with what eyes could we
Stand in his presence humble, and receive
Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing
Forced hallelujahs, while he lordly sits
Our envied Sovereign, and his altar breathes
Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flow'rs,
Our servile offerings? This must be our task
In Heav'n, this our delight. How wearisome
Eternity so spent in worship paid

To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue
By force impossible, by leave obtain❜d
Unacceptable, though in Heav'n, our state
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek

Our own good from ourselves, and from our own
Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,
Free, and to none accountable, preferring
Hard liberty before the easy yoke

Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear





Then most conspicuous, when great things of small, Useful of hurtful, prosp'rous of adverse,

We can create, and in what place soe'er

Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain


Through labour and endurance. This deep world Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst

263. See the splendid original of this passage, Ps. xviii 11. 13 and Pa. xcvii. 2.



Thick clouds and dark doth Heav'n's all-ruling Sire
Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
And with the majesty of darkness round
Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar,
Must'ring their rage, and Heav'n resembles Hell?
As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please? This desert soil
Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;
Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise
Magnificence: and what can Heav'n shew more?
Our torments also may in length of time
Become our elements; these piercing fires
As soft as now severe, our temper changed
Into their temper; which must needs remove
The sensible of pain. All things invite
To peaceful counsels, and the settled state
Of order, how in safety best we may
Compose our present evils, with regard

Of what we are and where, dismissing quite
All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise.



He scarce had finish'd, when such murmur fill'd Th' assembly, as when hollow rocks retain 285 The sound of blust'ring winds, which all night long Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull Seafaring men o'erwatch'd, whose bark by chance Or pinnace anchors in a craggy bay

After the tempest. Such applause was heard 290 As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased, Advising peace; for such another field

They dreaded worse than Hell: so much the fear

Of thunder and the sword of Michaël

Wrought still within them; and no less desire


To found this nether empire, which might rise
By policy and long process of time,

In emulation opposite to Heav'n :

Which when Beelzebub perceived, than whom,

Satan except, none higher sat, with grave
Aspéct he rose, and in his rising seem'd


A pillar of state: deep on his front engraven
Deliberation sat and public care;

278. Sensible is used as a substantive; a Grecian mode of


282. There is sometimes read instead of where.


And princely counsel in his face yet shone,
Majestic though in ruin: sage he stood,
With Atlantean shoulders fit to bear

The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look
Drew audience and attention still as night


Or summer's noon-tide air, while thus he spake:
Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heav'n.
Ethereal Virtues; or these titles now

Must we renounce, and changing style be call'd
Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
Inclines here to continue, and build up here


A growing empire; doubtless, while we dream, 315
And know not that the King of Heav'n hath doom'd
This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt

From Heav'n's high jurisdiction, in new league
Banded against his throne, but to remain


In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,
Under th' inevitable curb, reserved

His captive multitude: for he, be sure,

In height or depth, still first and last will reign

Sole King, and of his kingdom lose no part


By our revolt; but over Hell extend

His empire, and with iron sceptre rule

Us here, as with his golden those in Heav'n.

What sit we then projecting? peace and war?

War hath determined us, and foil'd with loss
Irreparable: terms of peace yet none


Vouchsafed or sought: for what peace will be giv'n

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In doing what we most in suff'ring feel?
Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
With dang'rous expedition to invade


Hear'n, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,

327. The non sceptre, is an allusion to Ps. ii. 9. and the golden to Esther. 2.

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