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Destruction to the rest: this pause between
(Unanswer'd lest thou boast) to let thee know;
At first I thought that liberty and heaven
To heav'nly souls had been all one: but now
I see that most through sloth had rather serve,
Minist❜ring spi'rits, train'd up in feast and song;
Such hast thou arm'd, the minstrelsy of heaven,
Servility with freedom to contend,


As both their deeds compar'd this day shall prove. 170
To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied.
Apostate, still thou err'st, nor end wilt find
Of erring, from the path of truth remote:
Unjustly thou deprav'st it with the name
Of servitude to serve whom God ordains,

Or Nature: God and Nature bid the same,
When he who rules is worthiest, and excels
Them whom he governs. This is servitude,
To serve th' unwise, or him who hath rebell'd
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
Thyself not free, but to thyself inthrall'd;

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Yet lewdly dar'st our minist'ring upbraid.

Reign thou in hell thy kingdom; let me serve
In heav'n God ever blest, and his divine
Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd;

Yet chains in hell, not realms expect: mean while
From me return'd, as erst thou saidst, from flight,
This greeting on thy impious crest receive.

So say'ing, a noble stroke he lifted high,
Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell
On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield
Such ruin intercept: ten paces huge

He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstay'd; as if on earth

thyself inthrall'd;] So Horace, sat. ii. vii. 81.

Tu mihi qui imperitas, aliis servis miser

Quisnam igitur liber? sapiens, sibi qui imperiosus.

And as to what is here said of servitude, see Aristotle's Politics, b. i. c. 3, and 4.

183. —in hell thy kingdom;] Not that it was so at present. This is said by way of anticipation. God had ordered him to be cast out, ver. 52. and what the Almighty had pronounced, the good angel looks upon as done. And this sentiment,




187. From me return'd, as erst thou saidst, from flight,

This greeting &c.]

So Ascanius in Virgil retorts his adversary's term of reproach, En. ix. 685.

Bis capti Phryges hæc Rutulis responsa remittunt,

alluding to ver. 599.

189. So "say'ing, &c.] Saying is here contracted into one syllable, or is to be pronounced as two short ones, which very well expresses the eagerness of the angel. He struck at his foe before he had finished his speech, while he was speaking, which is

Reign thou in hell thy kingdom; let much better than Dr. Bentley's

me serve

In heav'n God ever blest,

is designed as a contrast to Satan's vaunt in i. 263.

Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.

reading So said, as if he had not aimed his blow, till after he had spoken.

195. -as if on earth

Winds under ground, &c.] Hesiod compares the fall of

Winds under ground, or waters forcing way
Sidelong had push'd a mountain from his seat
Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seiz'd
The rebel Thrones, but greater rage to see

Thus foil'd their mightiest; ours joy fill'd, and shout, Presage of victory, and fierce desire

Of battle: whereat Michäel bid sound

Th' archangel trumpet; through the vast of heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosanna to the High'est: nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous join'd
The horrid shock: now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in heav'n till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels

Cygnus to an oak or a rock
falling, Scut. Herc. 421.

Ηριπε δ', ὡς ὅτε τις δρυς ήριπεν, η ότι πέτρη

Ηλίβατος, πληγείσα Διος ψολοεντι πεgaura.

And similes of this kind are very frequent amongst the ancient poets, but though our author might take the hint of his from thence, yet we must allow, that he has with great art and judgment heightened it in proportion to the superior dignity of his subject. But perhaps he might rather more probably allude to Spenser's description of the fall of the old dragon, under which allegory he intended to represent a Christian's victory over the devil. Faery Queen, b. i. cant. xi. st. 54.




Whose false foundation waves have wash'd away,

With dreadful poise is from the main land rift, &c.


210.-and the madding wheels] What strong and daring figures are here! Every thing is alive and animated. The very chariot wheels are mad and raging. And how rough and jarring are the verses, and how admirably do they bray the horrible discord they would describe! The word bray (probably from the Greek Beaxa strepo) signifies to make any kind of noise. It is applied by Spenser to the sound of a trumpet, Faery Queen, b. iii. cant. xii. st. 6.

And when it ceas'd, shrill trumpets loud did bray.

But it usually signifies any dis

So down he fell, as an huge rocky agreeable noise, as b. i. cant. vi.


st. 7.

Of brazen chariots rag'd; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss

Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.

Her shrill outcries and shrieks so
loud did bray:

and b. i. cant. viii. st. 11.

He loudly bray'd with beastly yelling sound:

and sometimes it is used as a verb active, as here in Milton; Faery Queen, b. v. cant. xi. st. 20.

Even blasphemous words, which she doth bray:

and in Shakespeare's Hamlet, act i.

hosts with fire: the author may be fairly thought to have given it

-over head with dismal hiss The fiery darts in flaming vollies flew. Bentley.

But if there be any place in this poem, where the sublimity of the thought will allow the accuracy of expression to give way to the strength of it, it is here. There is a peculiar force sometimes in ascribing that to a circumstance of the thing, which more properly belongs to the

The kettle drum and trumpet thus thing itself; to the hiss, which

bray out

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belongs to the darts. See my note on ii. 654. Pearce.

As the learned Mr. Upton remarks in his Critical Observations on Shakespeare, the substantive is sometimes to be construed adjectively when governing a genitive case. Aristophanes in Plut. 268. N xguroi myyrıλas nav, O thou who tellest me a gold of words, that is, golden words. Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, p. 2. opening the cherry of her lips, that is, cherry lips. So here the hiss of darts is hissing darts.

214. And flying vaulted either host with fire.] Our author has frequently had his eye upon Hesiod's giant-war as well as upon Homer, and has imitated several passages; but commonly exceeds his original, as he has done in this particular. Hesiod says that the Titans were overshadowed with darts, Theog. 716.

So under fiery cope together rush'd

Both battles main, with ruinous assault

And inextinguishable rage; all heaven



Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her centre shook. What wonder? when
Millions of fierce encount'ring angels fought
On either side, the least of whom could wield
These elements, and arm him with the force
Of all their regions: how much more of
Army' against army numberless to raise
Dreadful combustion warring, and disturb,
Though not destroy, their happy native seat;
Had not th' eternal King omnipotent
From his strong hold of heav'n high over-rul'd
And limited their might; though number'd such
As each divided legion might have seem'd
A numerous host, in strength each armed hand
A legion, led in fight yet leader seem'd
Each warrior single as in chief, expert
When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway
Of battle, open when, and when to close
The ridges of grim war: no thought of flight,

-κατα δ' εσκίασαν βελεῖσσι Tirnvas,

but Milton has improved the horror of the description, and a shade of darts is not near so great and dreadful an image as a fiery cope or vault of flaming darts.

229. though number'd such &c.] Each legion was in number like an army, each single warrior was in strength like a legion, and though led in fight





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