Page images

Our first eruption, thither or elsewhere;
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial spirits in bondage, nor th' Abyss

Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts
Full counsel must mature: peace is despair'd; 660
For who can think submission? war then, war
Open or understood, must be resolv'd.


He spake and to confirm his words outflew Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze Far round illumin'd hell: highly they rag'd Against the highest, and fierce with grasped arms Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war, Hurling defiance toward the vault of heav'n.

There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top 670
Belch'd fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
Shone with a glossy scurf, undoubted sign
That in his womb was hid metallic ore,

The work of sulphur. Thither, wing'd with speed,
A numerous brigad hasten'd; as when bands 675
Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe arm'd,
Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on,

[ocr errors]

669 vault of heav'n] Doctor Pearce approves Bentley's conjecture, walls of heaven,' and says the emendation is good. But I must differ from the opinions of both critics, and consider that this reading would much impair the beauty of the passage.

'Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of heaven,'

which collected and reverberated the clash of the shields.

Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell From heav'n; for ev'n in heav'n his looks and thoughts

Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of heav'n's pavement, trodden gold, Than aught divine or holy else enjoy'd

In vision beatific. By him first

Men also and by his suggestion taught

Ransack'd the center, and with impious hands
Rifled the bowels of their mother earth

For treasures better hid.

Soon had his crew

Open'd into the hill a spacious wound,



And digg'd out ribs of gold. Let none admire 690
That riches grow in hell; that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane. And here let those
Who boast in mortal things, and wond'ring tell
Of Babel and the works of Memphian kings,
Learn how their greatest monuments of fame 695
In strength and art are easily outdone
By spirits reprobate, and in an hour
What in an age they with incessant toil
And hands innumerable scarce perform.
Nigh on the plain in many cells prepar'd,
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluic'd from the lake, a second multitude
With wond'rous art founded the massy ore,

667 Rifled] v. Ovid Met. i. 138.

'Itum est in viscera terræ,

Quasque recondiderat, Stygiisque admoverat umbris,
Effodiuntur opes.' Hume.


Severing each kind, and scumm'd the bullion dross.
A third as soon had form'd within the ground 705
A various mould, and from the boiling cells
By strange conveyance fill'd each hollow nook:
As in an organ from one blast of wind



To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose, like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid
With golden architrave; nor did there want
Cornice or freeze with bossy sculptures grav'n;
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon,
Nor great Alcairo such magnificence
Equall'd in all their glories, to inshrine
Belus or Serapis their Gods, or seat
Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pile
Stood fixt her stately highth, and straight the doors,
Op'ning their brazen folds, discover, wide
Within, her ample spaces, o'er the smooth
And level pavement: from the arched roof,
Pendent by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed

706 A various mould]' capacious moulds.' Bentl. MS. 711 Rose] Did like a shooting exhalation glide.'

See Marlowe's Hero and Leander, p. 81.

714 Doric pillars]

'There findest thou some stately Doric frame.'

See Hall's Satires, ed. Singer, p. 133.




With Naphtha and Asphaltus, yielded light
As from a sky. The hasty multitude
Admiring enter'd, and the work some praise,
And some the architect: his hand was known
In heav'n by many a towred structure high,
Where scepter'd angels held their residence,
And sat as princes; whom the supreme King 735
Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,
Each in his hierarchy, the orders bright.
Nor was his name unheard or unador'd
In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land

Men call'd him Mulciber; and how he fell 740
From heav'n they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements; from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropt from the Zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos th' Egean isle; thus they relate,
Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
Fell long before; nor aught avail'd him now
To have built in heav'n high tow'rs; nor did he


By all his engines, but was headlong sent
With his industrious crew to build in hell.



742 crystal battlements] See Beaumont's Psyche, cxx. 110. "Much higher than the proudest battlement of the old heavens.'

See Don Quixote, vol. 3. p. 156, (trans. Shelton, 12mo. 1731.) I saw a princely and sumptuous palace, whose walls and battlements seemed to be made of transparent crystal ;' and Miltoni Sylv. p. 323 (ed. Todd, ver. 63.)

⚫ ventum est Olympi, et regiam crystallinam.'

[blocks in formation]

Mean while the winged haralds by command Of sov'reign power, with awful ceremony

And trumpets sound, throughout the host proclaim
A solemn council forthwith to be held
At Pandæmonium, the high capital


Of Satan and his peers: their summons call'd
From every band and squared regiment
By place or choice the worthiest; they anon
With hundreds and with thousands trooping came
Attended all access was throng'd, the gates
And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall,
Though like a cover'd field, where champions bold
Wont ride in arm'd, and at the Soldan's chair
Defi'd the best of Panim chivalry


To mortal combat or carreer with lance,
Thick swarm'd, both on the ground and in the air,
Brush'd with the hiss of rusling wings. As bees
In spring time, when the sun with Taurus rides,
Pour forth their populous youth about the hive
In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers
Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of their straw-built citadel,

New rubb'd with balm, expatiate, and confer


752 Haralds] Par. Lost, 1st ed. Steevens' Shakesp. (Pecles) ed. 1793, vol xiii. p. 489.

769 Taurus] v. Virg. Georg. i. 217.

[ocr errors]

Candidus auratis aperit cum cornibus annum

774 expatiate] i. e. walk abroad. v. Virg. Æn. iv. 62. Cic.

[ocr errors]

Orat. iii. Ut palæstrice spatiari.' Todd.

« PreviousContinue »