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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:

Powers and dominions, deities of heaven, For since no deep within her gulf can hold Immortal vigour, though oppress'd and fallen, I give not heaven for lost: from this descent Celestial virtues rising will appear 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 heaven Did first create your leader, next free choice, With what besides, in council or in fight, Hath been achieved of merit; yet this loss, Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne, Yielded with full consent. The happier state In heaven, which follows dignity, might draw Envy from each inferior; but who here Will envy whom the highest place exposes Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share Of endless pain? Where there is then no good 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 To union, and firm faith, and firm accord, More than can be in heaven, we now return To claim our just inheritance of old, Surer to prosper than prosperity Could have assured us; and by what best way, 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 spirit That fought in heaven, now fiercer by despair: His trust was with the 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:

My sentence is for open war: of wiles, More unexpert, I boast not: them let those Contrive who need, or when they need, not now: For while they sit contriving, shall the rest, Millions that stand in arms and longing wait The signal to ascend, sit lingering here

Heaven'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,

Arm'd with hell flames and fury, all at once

O'er heaven's high towers 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

Infernal thunder, and for lightning see

Black fire and horror shot with equal rage.

Among his angels; and his throne itself

Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,

His own invented torments. But perhaps

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

We sunk thus low? the ascent is easy then;

The 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

Than to dwell here, driven 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

Inexorable, and the torturing 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,

Will either quite consume us, and reduce

To nothing this essential; happier far,

Than miserable to have eternal being.

Or if our substance be indeed divine,

And cannot cease to be, we are at worst

On this side nothing; and by proof we feel

Our power sufficient to disturb his heaven,

And with perpetual inroads to alarm,

Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:

Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounced
Desperate revenge and battle dangerous
To less than gods. On the other side uprose

Belial, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer person lost not heaven ; he seem'd
For dignity composed and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Dropp'd 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
Timorous 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,
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
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? the towers of heaven are fuTd
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable; oft on the bordering 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
With blackest insurrection to confound
Heaven's purest light, yet our great Enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted; and the ethereal mould
Incapable of stain would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
Is flat despair: we must exasperate
The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us, that must be our cure,
To be no more: sad cure; for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense and motion? and who knows,
Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
Can give it, or will ever? how he can,
Is doubtful; that he never will, is sure.
Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence or unaware,
To give his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then?
Say they who counsel war: We are decreed,

Reserved, and destined to eternal woe;

Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,

What can we suffer worse ?—Is this then worst,

Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?

What, when we fled amain, pursued and struck

With heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought

The deep to shelter us? this hell then seem'd

A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay

Chain'd on the burning lake? that sure was worse.

What if the breath that kindled those grim fires

Awaked should blow them into sevenfold rage,

And plunge us in the flames? or from above

Should intermitted vengeance arm again

His red right hand to plague us? what, if all

Her stores were open'd, and this firmament

Of hell should spout her cataracts of fire,

Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall

One day upon our heads; while we, perhaps,

Designing or exhorting glorious war,

Caught in a fiery tempest shall be hurl'd

Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and prey

Of racking whirlwinds; or for ever sunk

Under yon boiling ocean, wrapp'd in chains;

There to converse with everlasting groans,

Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,

Ages of hopeless end? this would be worse.

War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike

My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile

With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye

Views all things at one view? He from heaven's height

All these our motions vain sees and derides;

Not more almighty to resist our might,

Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.

Shall we then live thus vile, the race of heaven,

Thus trampled, thus expell'd, to suffer here

Chains and these torments? better these than worse

By my advice; since fate inevitable

Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,

The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,

Our strength is equal, nor the law unjust

That so ordains: this was at first resolved,

If we were wise, against so great a Foe

Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.

I laugh, when those who at the spear are bold

And venturous, if that fail them, shrink and fear

What yet they know must follow, to endure

Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,

The sentence of their Conqueror: this is now

Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,

Our supreme Foe in time may much remit

His anger, and perhaps thus far removed

Not mind us not offending, satisfied

With what is punish'd: whence these raging fires

Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames.

Our purer essence then will overcome

Their noxious vapour, or inured not feel;

Or, changed at length, and to the place conform'd

In temper and in nature, will receive

Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain;

This horror will grow mild, this darkness light:

Besides what hope the never-ending flight

Of future days may bring, what chance, what change

Worth waiting, since our present lot appears

For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,

If we procure not to ourselves more woe.

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb, Counsell'd ignoble ease, and peaceful sloth, Not peace: and after him thus Mammon spake:

Either to disenthrone the King of Heaven We war, if war be best, or to regain Our own right lost: him to unthrone we then May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife: The former vain to hope argues as vain The latter : for what place can be for us Within heaven's bound, unless heaven's Lord supreme We overpower? suppose he should relent And publish grace to all, on promise made Of new subjection; with what eyes could we Stand in his presence humble, and receive Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing Forced hallelujahs ; while he lordly sits Our envied Sovereign, and his altar breathes Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers, Our servile offerings? This must be our task In heaven, this our delight; how wearisome Eternity so spent in worship paid To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue By force impossible, by leave obtain'd Unacceptable, though in heaven, our state Of splendid vassalage, but rather seek Our own good from ourselves, and from our own Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess, Free, and to none accountable, preferring Hard liberty before the easy yoke Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear Then most conspicuous, when great things of small, Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse, We can create; and in what place soe'er Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain, Through labour and endurance. This deep world Of darkness do we dread? how oft amidst Thick clouds and dark doth heaven's all-ruling Sire

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