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Pour forth their populous youth about the hive 170
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
Their state affairs; so thick the aëry crowd 775
Swarm’d and were straiten'd; till, the signal given,
Behold a wonder! They but now who seem'd
In bigness to surpass earth's giant sons,
Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Throng numberless, like that pygmean race

Beyond the Indian mount; or fairy elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while over head the moon
Sits arbitress, and bearer to the earth

785 Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and Intent, with jocund music charm his ear; (dance At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds. Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest fornis Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large, Though without number still, amidst the hall 791 Of that infernal court. But far within, And in their own dimensions like themselves, The great Seraphic Lords and Cherubim, In close recess and secret conclave sat,

795 A thousand Demi-gods on golden seats, Frequent and full. After short silence then, And summons read, the great consult began.

777. We here see the use of the lines on the nature of spirits, which prepare the reader for the wonders afterward related.

785. Arbitress, witness, or spectatress. Allusion is here made to the superstitious belief in the power of witches over the moon

797. Frequent, like the Latin frequens, meaning full.



The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battic De to be hazarded for the recovery of Heaven : some advise it, others dissuade: a third proposal is preferred, mentioned before by Satan, to search the truth of that prophecy or tradition in Heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature, equal or not much inferior to themselves, about this time to be created : their doubt who eball be sent on this difficult search: Salan their chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honourer! and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways, and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his journey to Hell-gates, finus them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the power of that place, to the sight of this new world which he sought.

High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
Show'rs on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, by, merit raised

To that bad eminence; and from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
Vain war with Heaven; and, by success untaught,
His proud imaginations thus display'd :

10 Pow'rs and Dominions, Deities of Heaven, For since no deep within her gulf can hold Immortal vigour, though oppress'd and fall'n, I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descent Celestial virtues rising, will appear

15 More glorious and more dread than from no fall, And trust themselves to fear no second fate. Me, though just right, and the fix'd laws of Heav'n, Did first create your leader, next free choice, With what besides, in council or in fight,

20 Hath been achieved of merit; yet this loss, Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne,

2. Ormus is an island in the Persian Gulf, and, together with India, produces many of the treasures enumerated in this passage

11. St. Paul divides the anges, into thrones, dominions, prinscipalities, &c. See Col. i. 16.

Yielded with full consent. The happier state
In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw 25
Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thund'rer's aim
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Of endless pain? Where there is then no good 30
For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
From faction ; for none sure will claim in Hell
Precedence ; none, whose portion is so small
Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
Will covet more. With this advantage then 35
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in Heav'n, we now return
To claim our just inheritance of old,
Surer to prosper than prosperity
Could have assured us; and by what best way, 40
Whether of open war or covert guile,
We now debate : who can advise, may speak.

He ceased : and next him Moloch, scepter'd king,
Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest Sp'rit
That fought in Heav'n, now fiercer by despair. 45
His trust was with th'Eternal to be deem'd
Equal in strength; and rather than be less,
Cared not to be at all. With that care lost
Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse,
He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake: 50

My sentence is for open war : of wiles More unexpert I boast not: them let those Contrive who need, or wben they need, not now. For while they sit contriving, shall the rest, Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait 35 The signal to ascend, sit ling'ring here Heav'n's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame, The prison of his tyranny who reigns By our delay? No, let us rather choose,

60 Arm'd with Hell-fames and fury, all at once O'er Heav'n's high tow'rs to force resistless way, Turning our tortures into horrid arms Against the torturer; when to meet the noise Of his almighty engine he shall hear,

65 Infernal thunder, and for lightning see

Black fire and horror shct with equal rage
Among his Angels, and his throne itself
Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur, and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps 70
The way seems difficult and steep, to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our proper motion we ascend

Up to our native seat ; descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight 80
We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy then;
Th'event is fear'd. Should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
To our destruction, if there be in Hell
Fear to be worse destroy'd. What can be worse 85
Than to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemn'd
In this abhorred deep to utter woe,
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge 90
Inexorably, and the tort'ring hour
Calls us to penance ? More destroy'd than thus,
We should be quite abolish'd, and expire.
What fear we then ? what doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which to the height enraged 95
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential, happier far
Than mis'rable to have eternal being.
Or if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst

100 On this side nothing; and by proof we feel Our pow'r sufficient to disturb his Hear'n, And with perpetual inroads to alarm, Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:

89. Brercised, this word is here used in the sense of the Lada exerceo, that is, to vex or trouble.

91. Inexorably-in some editions, inexorable.

92. By calling to penance, Milton seems to intimate, that the sufferings of the condemned spirits are not always equally serere.

104. Fatal, that is, upheld by fate.


Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

105 He ended frowning, and his look denounced Desp'rate revenge, and battle dangerous To less than Gods. On th' other side up rose Belial, in act more graceful and humane : A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seem'd 110 For dignity composed and high exploit : But all was false and hollow, though his tongue Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear The better reason, to perplex and dash Maturest counsels : for his thoughts were low; To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds Tim'rous and slothful: yet he pleased the ear, And with persuasive accent thus began:

I should be much for open war, O Peers! As not behind in hate, if what was urged

120 Main reason to persuade immediate war, Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast Ominous conjecture on the whole success : When he who most excels in fact of arms, In what he counsels and in what excels

125 Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair, And utter dissolution, as the scope Of all his aim, after some dire revenge. First, what revenge? The tow'rs of Heav'n are fill'd With armed watch, that render all access 130 Impregnable ; oft on the bord'ring deep Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing Scout far and wide into the realm of night, Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way By force, and at our heels all hell should rise 135 With blackest insurrection, to confound Heav'n's purest light, yet our Great Enemy, All incorruptible, would on his throne Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould Incapable' of stain would soon expel

140 Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final nope Is flat despair. We must exasperate

109. Belial's speech is in admirable conformity with the de. scription given of his character in the first book. It is through out that of a luxurious and base spirit, and is in fine contrast to that of Moloch.

124. Fact of arms. from the Italian fatto d'arme, a battle.

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