صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear, 117
And with persuasive accent thus began.
I should be much for open war, 0 Peers,
As not behind in hate; if what was urg'd
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 Heav'n are fill'd
With armed watch, that render all access 130
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 repuls'd, 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, 150 C

Devoid of sense and motion ? And who knows, 151 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, 160 Reserv'd, and destin'd to eternal woe; Whatever doing, what can we suffer more, What can we suffer worse 2 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, 17° Awak'd, 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 horrours, 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, 180 Each on his rock transfix'd, 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, 185
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 highth
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 200
That so ordains: This was at first resolv’d,
If we were wise, against so great a Foe
Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.
Ilaugh, 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
Brile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,

The sentence of their Conquerour: This is now
Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit 210
His anger; and perhaps, thus far remov’d,
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, inur'd, not feel;
Or, chang'd at length, and to the place conform'd
In temper and in nature, will receive

Familiar the fierce heat, and void of pain; 219
This horrour 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 cloth'd 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 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 impos'd, 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 obtain’d 250
Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek

Our Own good from ourselves, and from our own 253
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 advérse,
We can create; and in what place soe'er 260
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 unobscur'd,
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 desart 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 finish'd, when such murmur fill’d
The assembly, as when hollow rocks retain
The sound of blustering winds, which all night long

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »