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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,
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 neighboring arms,
And opportune excursion, we may chance
Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone
Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light
Secure, and at the brightening 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 send
In search of this new world? Whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark, unbottomed, infinite abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or speed his aëry flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle? What strength, what art, can then
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict sentries 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 appeared To second, or oppose, or undertake, The perilous attempt. But all sat mute, Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonished. None among the choice and prime
Of those heaven-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 Heaven! empyreal Thrones !
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismayed. 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,
Barred over us, prohibit all egress.
These passed, 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 sovereignty, adorned
With splendor, armed with power, if aught proposed
And judged of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honor, due alike
To him who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest
High honored sits ? Go, therefore, mighty powers,
Terror of Heaven, though fallen! 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
Of this ill mansion. Intermit no watch
Against a wakeful Foe, while I abroad,
Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance 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 feared,
And, so refused, might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute,
Which he through hazard huge must earn.
Dreaded not more the 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. Toward him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a god
Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven.
Nor failed they to express how much they praised,
That for the general safety he despised
For neither do the spirits damned
Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast
Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
Or close ambition, varnished 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
Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element
Scowls o'er the darkened landskip snow, or shower.
If hance the radiant sun, with farewell sweet,
Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men! Devil with devil damned
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly 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 enow 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 seemed
Alone the antagonist of Heaven, nor less
Than Hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme,
And god-like imitated state. Him round
A globe of fiery seraphim enclosed
With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then, of their session ended, they bid cry
With trumpets' regal sound the great result.
Toward the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explained; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout returned them loud acciaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged power's
Disband, and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him, perplexed where he may likeliest find
“Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air sublime
Upon the wing, or in swift race contend,
As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields;
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form.
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush
* To battle in the clouds, before each van
Prick forth the aëry knights, and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of Heaven the welkin burris.
Others, with vast Typhoan rage, more fell,
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind. Hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides, from Echalia crowned
With conquest, felt the envenomed robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Eta threw
Into the Euboic sea. Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
By doom of battle; and complain that fate
Free virtue should enthral to force or chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony-
What could it less when spirits immortal sing ?--
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet-
For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense-
Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy.