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Attended : all access was throng'd; the gates And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall (Though like a cover'd field, where champions bold Wont ride in arm’d, and at the Soldan's chair, Defied the best of Panim chivalry To mortal combat, or career with lance) Thick swarm’d, both on the ground, and in the air Brush'd with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees In spring time, when the sun with Taurus rides, Pour forth the pop’lous youth about the hive In clusters; they among fresh dews and flow'rs 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 airy crowd 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 nearer to the earth Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and dance Intent, with jocund music charm his ear; At once with joy and fear, his heart rebounds. Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms Reduc'd their shapes immense, and were at large, Though without number still, amidst the hall 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; A thousand demi-gods on golden seats, Frequent and full. After short silence then, And summons. read, the great consult began.
END OF THE FIRST BOOK.
The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battle be
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 shall be sent on this difficult search ; Satan, their chief, undertakes alone the voyage, is honoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them seve eral 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, finds 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 the new world which he sought.
High on a throne of royal state, which far
Pow'rs and Dominions, Deities of heav'n,