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The happy isle? what strength, what art can then 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 415
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 sat mute,
Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In others 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 rais'd
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.
O Progeny of heav'n, empyreal Thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undismay'd: long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light;



410 isle] The earth hanging in the sea of air. Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 66.


Magnam quandam insulam, quam nos orbem terræ vo-


432 long] Dante Inf. c. xxxiv. 95, describes the ascent from


La via e lunga, e 'l cammino è malvagio.'

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, plung'd 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, 445
And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd

With splendour, arm'd with power, if aught propos'd
And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter



Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume 450
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share

Of hazard as of honour, due alike

436 Ninefold] Et novies Styx interfusa coercet.'

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


Bentl. MS.

457 intend] Intende animum.' See Steevens' note on Shakesp. Timon of Athens, act ii. scene ii.

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 enterprize


None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, lest from his resolution rais'd
Others among the chief might offer now,
Certain to be refus'd, what erst they fear'd;
And so refus'd might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute,
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But


Dreaded not more th' adventure, than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose: 475
Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a God
Extol him equal to the highest in heav'n:
Nor fail'd they to express how much they prais'd, 480
That for the general safety he despis'd

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'erpread
Heav'n's cheerful face, the low'ring element 490
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape 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.
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 enow besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait.
The Stygian council thus dissolv'd; 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 inclos'd

489 sleeps] Hom. II. v. 524.

-ὄφρ ̓ εὔδῃσι μένος Βορέαο. Newton.

490 cheerful] Spens. F. Q. ii. xii. 34.

'And heaven's cheerful face enveloped.' Thyer.

512 globe] Virg. Æn. x. 373.

'Qua globus ille virûm densissimus urget.' Newton.



With bright imblazonry 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 alchymy,
By haralds 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.
Thence, more at ease their minds, and somewhat



By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers
Disband, and wand'ring each his several 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,
Upon the wing or in swift race contend,

As at the Olympian games, or Pythian fields: 530 Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form.

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513 horrent] Virg. Æn. i. Horrentia Martis arma,' and Æn. x. 178. Horrentibus hastis.'

528 Part, on the plain] Compare Ovid. Metam. iv. 445, and Fasti. vi. 327.

'Hi temere errabant in opacæ vallibus Idæ :

Pars jacet et molli gramine membra levat.

Hi ludunt, hos somnus habet; pars brachia nectit, Et viridem celeri ter pede pulsat humum.' 531 curb] How got they steeds and harps?' v. 348.


Bentl. MS.

532 rapid] rapid even before the race.' Bentl. MS.

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