Page images

For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar;
Not to know me argues your selves unknown,
The lowest of your throng; or if ye know,
Why ask ye, and superfluous begin
Your message, like to end as much in vain?



To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn. Think not, revolted spirit, thy shape the same Or undiminish'd brightness, to be known As when thou stood'st in heav'n upright and pure; That glory then, when thou no more wast good, Departed from thee, and thou resemblest now Thy sin and place of doom, obscure and foul. But come, for thou, besure, shalt give account To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep This place inviolable, and these from harm.

Sc spake the Cherub, and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
Invincible: abash'd the devil stood,

And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pin'd
His loss; but chiefly to find here observ'd

His lustre visibly impair'd; yet seem'd




829 sitting] Nor shall he hope to sit where Nero soars.' See Tragedy of C. T. Nero, p. 13 (1607). 830 Not to know] Nobilem ignorari, est inter ignobiles censeri.' v. J. C. Scaligeri Vitam, p. 5. 4to.

835 same] The commentators think that a difficulty of construction exists in this passage, and Bentley would alter it. It seems to me to be plain. Think not thy brightness undiminished, or thy shape to be known the same as,' &c.

[ocr errors]

848 pin'd] Pers. Sat. iii. 38.

'Virtutem videant, intabescantque relicta.' Hume.


If I must contend, said he,

Best with the best, the sender not the sent,
more glory will be won,

Or all at once;
Or less be lost. Thy fear, said Zephon bold,
Will save us trial what the least can do
Single against thee wicked, and thence weak.
The fiend reply'd not, overcome with rage;
But like a proud steed rein'd went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb: to strive or fly
He held it vain; awe from above had quell'd
His heart, not else dismay'd. Now drew they nigh
The western point, where those half-rounding guards
Just met, and closing stood in squadron join'd
Awaiting next command. To whom their chief
Gabriel from the front thus call'd aloud.


O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet
Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade,
And with them comes a third of regal port,
But faded splendor wan; who by his gait
And fierce demeanour seems the prince of hell,
Nor likely to part hence without contest:
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours.

859 Champing] See Esch. Prom. Vinct. 1008.

δακὼν δέ στόμιον ως νεοζυγὴς

Πῶλος, βιάζη καὶ προς ἡνίας μάχη. Thyer.





He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd, And brief related whom they brought, where found, How busied, in what form and posture couch'd. 876 To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake.



Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescrib'd To thy transgressions, and disturb'd the charge Of others, who approve not to transgress By thy example, but have power and right To question thy bold entrance on this place; Employ'd, it seems, to violate sleep, and those Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?

To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow. 885 Gabriel, thou hadst in heav'n th' esteem of wise, And such I held thee; but this question ask'd Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain? Who would not, finding way, break loose from hell, Though thither doom'd? thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,

And boldly venture to whatever place


Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought:
To thee no reason, who know'st only good,
But evil hast not try'd: and wilt object
His will who bound us? let him surer barr
His iron gates, if he intends our stay


In that dark durance: thus much what was ask'd. The rest is true; they found me where they say; 900

But that implies not violence or harm.

Thus he in scorn. The warlike angel mov'd, Disdainfully half smiling, thus reply'd.

O loss of one in heav'n to judge of wise,

894 Dole] Hamlet. A. i. S. ii.

'Weighing delight with dole.' Todd.

Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison scap'd,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicens'd from his bounds in hell prescrib'd:
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to scape his punishment.

So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrath,
Which thou incurr'st by flying, meet thy flight
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provok'd.

But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all hell broke loose? is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled, or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? courageous chief,
The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alledg'd
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.


To which the fiend thus answer'd, frowning stern. Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain, Insulting angel; well thou know'st I stood Thy fiercest, when in battel to thy aid The blasting vollied thunder made all speed, And seconded thy else not dreaded spear. But still thy words at random, as before, Argue thy inexperience what behooves From hard assays and ill successes past

928 The] Thy,' second ed.






A faithful leader, not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untry'd.
I therefore, I alone first undertook
To wing the desolate abyss, and spy
This new created world, whereof in hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted Powers
To settle here on earth, or in mid air;

Though for possession put to try once more
What thou and thy gay legions dare against;
Whose easier business were to serve their Lord
High up in heav'n, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practis'd distances to cringe, not fight.

To whom the warrior angel soon reply'd.
To say and straight unsay, pretending first
Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
Argues no leader, but a liar trac'd,

Satan, and couldst thou faithful add? O name,
O sacred name of faithfulness profan'd!
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?
Army of fiends, fit body to fit head:

Was this your discipline and faith engag'd,
Your military obedience, to dissolve

Allegiance to th' acknowledg'd Power supreme?
And thou sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more than thou

Once fawn'd, and cring'd, and servilely ador'd
Heav'n's awful Monarch? wherefore but in hope

945 And] 'With' is understood. Pearce.






« PreviousContinue »