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"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 filled With armed watch, that render all access

I 30 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

140 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 cureTo 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, swallowed 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

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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,

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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 strook
With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed
A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay
Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse.
What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, 170
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 opened, and this firmament
Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impending horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps,
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled,

180 Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey Of racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains, There to converse with everlasting groans, Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved, Ages of hopeless end ? This would be worse. War, therefore, open or concealed, alike My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile

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With Him, or who deceive His mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view ? He from Heaven's highth
All these our motions vain sees and derides,

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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 expelled, 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 punished ; 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 conformed 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

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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,
Counselled 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

230 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

240 Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing Forced Halleluiahs, while he lordly sits Our envied sovran, 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 obtained

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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

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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
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

270 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

280 Compose our present evils, with regard Of what we are and where, dismissing quite All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise."

He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled 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'erwatched, whose bark by chance, Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay After the tempest. Such applause was heard 290 As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased, Advising peace : for such another field They dreaded worse than Hell; so much the fear

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