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Or ambush from the deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprise? There is a place,
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n
Err not) another world, the happy seat
Of some new race call'd Man, about this time
To be created like to us, though less



In pow'r and excellence, but favour'd more
Of Him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounced among the Gods, and by an oath,
That shook Heav'n's whole circumference, confirm'd.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould
Or substance, how endued, and what their pow'r,
And where their weakness; how attempted best,
By force or subtlety. Though Heav'n be shut,
And Heav'n's high Arbitrator sit secure


In his own strength, this place may lie exposed 360
The utmost border of his kingdom, left

To their defence who hold it. Here perhaps
Some advantageous act may be achieved

By sudden onset, either with Hell fire
To waste his whole creation, or possess


All as our own, and drive, as we were driv'n,
The puny habitants; or if not drive,

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Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires. Thus Beelzebub
Pleaded his dev'lish counsel, first devised
By Satan, and in part proposed: for whence,
But from the author of all ill, could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race


Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell

352. See Hebrews vi. 17

367. It has been supposed that Milton used the word pany in its original sense, as derived from the French puis ne, born since.


To mingle and involve, done all to spite

The great Creator? But their spite still serves 385
His glory to augment. The bold design

Pleased highly those infernal States, and joy
Sparkled in all their eyes. With full assent
They vote; whereat his speech he thus renews:
Well have ye judged, well ended long debate, 390
Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are,

Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep
Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate,
Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view
Of those bright confines, whence with neighb'ring




And opportune excursion, we may chance
Re-enter Heav'n; or else in some mild zone
Dwell not unvisited of Heav'n's fair light
Secure, and at the bright'ning orient beam
Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air,
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,
Shall breathe her balm. But first, whom shall we
In search of this new world? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall 'tempt with wand'ring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,

And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight,



The happy isle? What strength, what art, can then

Upborne with indefatigable wings

Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive

Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe


Through the strict senteries and stations thick

Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less

Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send,


The weight of all and our last hope relies.
This said, he sat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all sate mute,
Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and each


406. Palpable obscure; this is another instance of Milton's using Adjectives in the sense of substantives.

409 The earth is here called an island in allusion to its hanging in the air, which surrounds it like a sea. The word arrive was formerly frequently used without a preposition following.

In other's count'nance read his own dismay
Astonish'd. None among the choice and prime

Of those Heav'n-warring champions could be found So hardy as to proffer or accept

Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last




Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved, thus spake :
O Progeny of Heav'n, empyreal Thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismay'd: long is the way
And hard that out of Hell leads up to light;
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold, and gates of burning adamant
Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, O Peers,
And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd



With splendour, arm'd with pow'r, if aught propos'd

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To him who reigns, and so much to him due

Of hazard more, as he above the rest


High honour'd sits? Go, therefore, mighty Powers,
Terror of Heav'n, though fall'n; intend at home
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render Hell
More tolerable; if there be cure or charm


To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain

439. Unessential; that is, void of substance.

Of this ill mansion; intermit no watch

Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad

Through all the coasts of dark destruction, seek
Deliv'rance for us all. This enterprise

None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
The Monarch, and prevented all reply,
Prudent, lest from his resolution raised,
Others among the chief might offer now
(Certain to be refused) what erst they fear'd:
And so refused might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute



Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
Dreaded not more th' adventure than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose;
Their rising all at once was as the sound


Of thunder heard remote. Tow'rds him they bend With awful rev'rence prone; and as a God

Extol him equal to the High'st in Heav'n:

Nor fail'd they to express how much they praised, 480 That for the gen'ral safety he despised

His own for neither do the Spirits damn'd

Lose all their virtue: lest bad men should boast


Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
Or close ambition, varnish'd o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heav'n's cheerful face, the low'ring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow, or show'r;
If chance the radiant Sun with farewell sweet
Extend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.



485. Milton intimates above, that the fallen and degraded state of man or his individual vice is not at all disproved by some of his external actions not appearing totally base. The commentators should have observed, in explaining this passage, that the whole grand mystery on which the poem depends is the first fearful spiritual alienation of Satan from God, the only fountain of truth and all real positive good; and that when thus separated, whether the spirit be that of man or devil, it may perform actions fair in appearance but not essentially good, because springing from no fixed principle of good.

O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope

Of heav'nly grace: and God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy;
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enough besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait.

The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth

In order came the grand infernal peers:

'Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seem'd Alone th' antagonist of Heav'n, nor less



Than Hell's dread emperor with pomp supreme, 510 And God-like imitated state; him round

A globe of fiery Seraphim inclosed


With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets regal sound the great result:
Tow'rds the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy
By heralds' voice explain'd; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deaf'ning shout return'd them loud acclaim. 520
Thence more at ease their minds, and some what raised
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Pow'rs
Disband, and wand'ring, each his sev'ral way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

Leads him perplex'd, where he may likeliest find 525
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours till his great chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air sublime,

496. It has been well observed, that an allusion is probably made here to the troubled character of the times in which the author lived.

512. A globe, or a battalion surrounding him in a circle.-See Virgil, En. x. 373.

513. Horrent, rough and sharp. This epithet I imagine to have considerable force, because it implies the dense and com pact closeness of the globe of spirits surrounding Satan. The arms were horrent, because standing out like a boar's bristles from this fiery body.

517. Alchemy, a very fine metonymy for the trumpets.

528. The occupations of the fallen spirits are conceived in the aighest strain both of poetry and philosophy.

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