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Due search and consultation will disclose.

He sat; and in th' assembly next upstood
Nisroch, of Principalities the prime;
As one he stood escap'd from cruel fight,
Sore toil, his riven arms to havoc hewn,
And cloudy in aspéct thus answ'ring spake.
Deliverer from new lords, leader to free
Enjoyment of our right as gods; yet hard
For gods, and too unequal work we find,
Against unequal arms to fight in pain,
Against unpain'd, impassive; from which evil
Ruin must needs ensue; for what avails




Valour or strength, though matchless, quell'd with pain
Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands

Of mightiest? Sense of pleasure we may well
Spare out of life perhaps, and not repine,
But live content, which is the calmest life:
But pain is perfect misery, the worst
Of evils, and excessive, overturns

All patience. He who therefore can invent
With what more forcible we may offend

447. Nisroch,] A god of the Assyrians, in whose temple at Nineveh, Sennacherib was killed by his two sons, 2 Kings xix. 37. and Isaiah xxxvii. 37. It is not known who this god Nisroch was. The Seventy call him Meserach in Kings, and Nasarach in Isaiah; Josephus calls him Araskes. He must have been a principal idol, being worshipped by so great a prince, and at the capital city Nineveh; which may justify Milton in calling him of

Principalities the prime.
462. the worst
Of evils,]



Nisroch is made to talk agreeably to the sentiments of Hieronymus and those philosophers, who maintained that pain was the greatest of evils; there might be a possibility of living without pleasure, but there was no living in pain. A notion suitable enough to a deity of the effeminate Assyrians.

Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm
Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.

Whereto with look compos'd Satan replied. Not uninvented that, which thou aright Believ'st so main to our success, I bring. Which of us who beholds the bright surface Of this ethereous mould whereon we stand, This continent of spacious heav'n, adorn'd


With plant, fruit, flow'r ambrosial, gems and gold; 475 Whose eye so superficially surveys

These things, as not to mind from whence they grow
Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,

Of spirituous and fiery spume, till touch'd
With heaven's ray, and temper'd they shoot forth
So beauteous, opening to the ambient light?

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Nisroch is speaking; he had complimented Satan (ver. 451.) with the title of Deliverer; here he ventures to say, that whoever could invent the new engine of war would be equal to him in his estimation. Milton has taken care that this deliverer should also have this merit, and be without a competitor; Satan is both the one and the other as it follows immediately. Richardson. 472. Which of us who beholds

the bright surfáce

Of this ethereous mould &c.] Dr. Bentley, for the sake of a better accent, reads súrface bright; but surface is to be read

with the accent upon the last syllable, and not as it is commonly pronounced, for Milton would hardly use a trochaic foot at the end of the verse. Dr. Bentley reads likewise this ethereal mould; and it is true Milton commonly uses the word ethereal, but that is no reason why he may not say likewise ethereous, which is nearer the Latin ethereus. The construction of this sentence is, Which of us who beholds &c. so superficially surveys these things: but as the nominative case which of us is mentioned so many lines before the verb surveys, he throws in another nominative case,

Whose eye so superficially surveys


These in their dark nativity the deep

Shall yield us pregnant with infernal flame;

Which into hollow engines long and round

Thick-ramm'd, at th' other bore with touch of fire 485
Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth

From far with thund'ring noise among our foes
Such implements of mischief, as shall dash
To pieces, and o'erwhelm whatever stands
Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarm'd

482. -the deep] It is commonly used for hell, but here is only opposed to surface, ver. 472. and is the same as deep under ground, ver. 478. which may likewise explain the word infernal in the next line. Not but infernal flame may mean flame like that of hell, hell having been frequently mentioned before by the angels, and the idea being very well known.

484. Which into hollow &c.] Which, that is, the materials, ver. 478. These ver. 482. the deep shall yield, which into hollow engines rammed, with touch of fire shall send forth &c. Hollow engines, great guns, the first invention whereof is very properly ascribed to the author of all evil. And Ariosto has described them in the same manner in his Orlando Furioso, cant. ix. st. 28, or 24 of Harrington's translation; and attributes the invention to the devil.


The bullet flies with such a furious wind,

As though from clouds a bolt of
thunder came :

And whatever in the way it find
It burns, it breaks, it tears, and
spoils the same.

No doubt some fiend of hell or
devilish wight

Devised it to do mankind a spite. And again, st. 84.

O curst devise found out by some foul fiend,

And fram❜d below by Belzebub in hell &c. And Spenser has the same thought, Faery Queen, b. i. cant. vii. st. 13.

As when that devilish iron engine wrought

In deepest hell, and fram'd by furies' skill,

With windy nitre and quiek sulphur fraught,

And ramm'd with bullet round, ordain'd to kill &c. But though the poets have agreed to attribute the invention to the devil, from a notion of its being so destructive to mankind, yet many authors have observed, that since the use of artillery there has less slaughter been made in battles than was before, when the engagements were Whereat no sooner taken is the flame, closer, and lasted longer.

Un ferro bugio, &c.

A trunk of iron hollow made within,
And there he puts powder and pellet



All closed save a little hole behind,

The Thund'rer of his only dreaded bolt.
Nor long shall be our labour; yet ere dawn,
Effect shall end our wish. Mean while revive;
Abandon fear; to strength and counsel join'd
Think nothing hard, much less to be despair'd.


He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
Inlighten'd, and their languish'd hope reviv'd.
Th' invention all admir'd, and each, how he
To be th' inventor miss'd; so easy' it seem'd
Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought
Impossible yet haply of thy race

In future days, if malice should abound,
Some one intent on mischief, or inspir'd'
With devilish machination, might devise
Like instrument to plague the sons of men
For sin, on war and mutual slaughter bent.
Forthwith from council to the work they flew;
None arguing stood; innumerable hands
Were ready; in a moment up they turn'd
Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
Th' originals of nature in their crude
Conception; sulphurous and nitrous foam
They found, they mingled, and with subtle art,

502. In future days-Some one intent &c.] This speaking in the spirit of prophecy adds great dignity to poetry. It is in the same spirit that Dido makes the imprecation, Virg. Æn. iv. 625.

Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus

ultor &c. This here very properly comes

from the mouth of an angel.




507. Forthwith from council to the work they flew ;] This and the two following lines are admirably contrived to express the hurry of the angels; and consist therefore of short periods, without any particles to connect them.

Concocted and adusted they reduc'd

To blackest grain, and into store convey'd ;
Part hidden veins digg'd up (nor hath this earth
Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,
Whereof to found their engines and their balls
Of missive ruin; part incentive reed

Provide, pernicious with one touch to fire.
So all ere day-spring, under conscious night,
Secret they finish'd, and in order set,

With silent circumspection unespied.



Now when fair morn orient in heav'n appear'd, Up rose the victor angels, and to arms

The matin trumpet sung: in arms they stood
Of golden panoply, refulgent host,
Soon banded; others from the dawning hills

516. Part hidden veins digg'd up (nor hath this earth Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,]

Dr. Bentley has carried on the mark of parenthesis to the end of the verse; but it should be placed after unlike: and the stone may have been mentioned here as what they used for balls. That stone-bullets have been in use, see Chambers's Univ. Dict. in Cannon. Or Milton by the word stone here would express more distinctly that the metal, of which they made their engines and balls, was inclosed in and mixed with a stony substance in the mine. See Furetiere's French Dictionary upon the word mineral. Pearce.

520. -pernicious with one touch to fire.] The incentive reed is indeed pernicious as the engines



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