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Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,

And with the majesty of darkness round

Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar

Mustering their rage, and heaven resembles hell?

As he our darkness, cannot we his light

Imitate when we please? this desert soil

Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;

Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise

Magnificence; and what can heaven show more

Our torments also may in length of time

Become our elements, these piercing fires

As soft as now severe, our temper changed

Into their temper; which must needs remove

The sensible of pain. All things invite

To peaceful counsels, and the settled state

Of order, how in safety best we may

Compose our present evils, with regard

Of what we are and were, dismissing quite

All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise.

He scarce had finish'd, when such murmur fill'd The assembly, as when hollow rocks retain The sound of blustering winds, which all night long Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull Seafaring men o'erwatch'd, whose bark by chance Or pinnace anchors in a craggy bay After the tempest: such applause was heard As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased, Advising peace: for such another field They dreaded worse than hell: so much the fear Of thunder and the sword of Michael Wrought still within them; and no less desire To found this nether empire, which might rise, By policy and long process of time, In emulation opposite to heaven. Which when Beelzebub perceived, than whom, Satan except, none higher sat, with grave Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem'd A pillar of state: deep on his front engraven Deliberation sat, and public care: And princely counsel in his face yet shone, Majestic though in ruin: sage he stood, With Atlantean shoulders fit to bear The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look Drew audience and attention still as night Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake:

Thrones and imperial powers, offspring of heaven, Ethereal virtues; or these titles now Must we renounce, and changing style be call'd Princes of hell? for so the popular vote Inclines here to continue, and build up here A growing empire; doubtless, while we dream, And know not that the King of Heaven hath doom'd

This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat

Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt

From heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league

Banded against his throne, but to remain

In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,

Under the inevitable curb, reserved

His captive multitude: for he, be sure,

In height or depth, still first and last will reign

Sole King, and of his kingdom lose no part

By our revolt, but over hell extend

His empire, and with iron sceptre rule

Us here, as with his golden those in heaven.

What sit we then projecting peace and war?

War hath determined us, and foil'd with loss

Irreparable; terms of peace yet none

Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given

To us enslaved, but custody severe,

And stripes, and arbitrary punishment

Inflicted? and what peace can we return,

But to our power hostility and hate,

Untamed reluctance, and revenge, though slow,

Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror least

May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice

In doing what we most in suffering feel?

Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need

With dangerous expedition to invade

Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault, or siege,

Or ambush from the deep. What if we find

Some easier enterprise? There is a place

If ancient and prophetic fame in heaven

Err not, another world, the happy seat

Of some new race call'd Man, about this time

To be created like to us, though less

In power and excellence, but favour'd more

Of him who rules above; so was his will

Pronounced among the gods, and by an oath,

That shook Heaven's whole circumference, confirm'd.

Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn

What creatures there inhabit, of what mould

Or substance, how endued, and what their power,

And where their weakness, how attempted best,

By force or subtlety. Though heaven be shut,

And heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure

In his own strength, this place may lie exposed,

The utmost border of his kingdom, left

To their defence who hold it: here perhaps

Some advantageous act may be achieved

By sudden onset, either with hell-fire

To waste his whole creation, or possess

All as our own, and drive, as we were driven,

The puny habitants; or, if not drive,

Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and with repenting hand
Abolish his own works. This would surpass
Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
In our confusion, and our joy upraise
In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurl'd headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Their frail original, and faded bliss,
Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires.—Thus Beelzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devised
By Satan, and in part proposed; for whence,
But from the author of all ill, could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race
Of mankind in one root, and earth with hell
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator? but their spite still serves
His glory to augment. The bold design
Pleased highly those infernal states, and joy
Sparkled in all their eyes; with full assent
They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews:

Well have ye judged, well ended long debate,
Synod of gods, and, like to what ye are,
Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep
Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate,
Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view
Of those bright confines, whence, with neighbouring arms,
And opportune excursion, we may chance
Re-enter heaven: or else in some mild zone
Dwell, not unvisited of heaven's fair light,
Secure, and at the brightening orient beam
Purge off this gloom; the solt delicious air,
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,
Shall breathe her balm. But first, whom shall we send
In search of this new world? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle? what strength, what art can then
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict sentries 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
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 other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonish'd; none among the choice and prime
Of those heaven-warring champions could be found
So hardy, as to proffer or accept
Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake:

O progeny of heaven, empyreal thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismay'd: long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light;
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, plunged 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,
And this imperial sovereignty, adorn'd
With splendour, arm'd with power, if aught proposed
And judged of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign.
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honour, due alike
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 heaven, though fallen, intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render hell
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 enterprise
None shall partake with me. Thus saying, rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, lest from his resolution raised
Others among the chief might offer now,
Certain to be refused, what erst they fear'd;
And so refused might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute,

Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they

Dreaded not more the adventure, than his voice

Forbidding; and at once with him they rose:

Their rising all at once was as the sound

Of thunder heard remote. Toward him they bend

With awful reverence prone; and as a god

Extol him equal to the Highest in heaven:

Nor fail'd they to express how much they praised,

That for the general safety he despised

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'erspread

Heaven's cheerful face, the lowering element

Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape snow, or shower;

If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet

Extend his evening 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 heavenly 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 dissolved, and forth
In order came the grand infernal peers;
Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd
Alone the antagonist of heaven, nor less
Than hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme
And god-like imitated state: him round
A globe of fiery seraphim enclosed
With bright emblazonry 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 alchemy,
By herald's voice explain'd: the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of hell
With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaim.

Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
Disband, and wandering each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

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