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To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake.
Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescrib'd
To thy transgressions, and disturb'd the charge
Of others, who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have pow'r and right
To question thy bold entrance on this place ;
Employ'd it seems to violate sleep, and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss ?
To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow. 888 Gabriel, thou had'st in heav'n th' esteem of wise, And such I held thee; but this question ask'd Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain? Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell, Though thither doom'd? Thou would'st thyself, no doubt,
And boldly venture to whatever place
Farthest from pain, where thou might'st hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
To thee no reason, who know'st only good,
But evil hast not try'd : and wilt object
His will who bound us ? Let him surer bar
His iron gates, if he intends our stay
In that dark durance : thus much what was ask'd.
The rest is true, they found me where they say; 900
But that implies not violence or harm
Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel mov'd,
Disdainfully half smiling thus reply'd.
O loss of one in Heav'n to judge of wise,
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison scap'd,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicens'd from his bounds in Hell prescrib'd;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to scape his punishment.
So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrath,
Which thou incurr'st by Aying, meet thy flight
Sev’nfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain 915
Can equal anger infinite provok'd.
But wherefore thou alone? Wherefore with thee
Came not all Hell broke loose ? Is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled ? or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous Chief,
The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleg'd
To thy deserted host this cause of fight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.
To which the Fiend thus answer'd frowning stern. -
Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain, 925
Insulting Angel: well thou know'st I stood
Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid
The blasting volied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
93 Argue thy inexperience what behoves From hard assays and ill successes past A faithful leader, not to hazard all Through ways of danger by himself untry'd : I therefore, I alone first undertook
To wing the desolate abyss, and spy
This new-created world, whereof in Hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted Powers
To settle here on earth, or in mid air;
Though for possession put to try once more
What thou and thy gay legions dare against ;
Whose easier business were to serve their Lord
High up in Heav'n, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practis'd distances to cringe, not fight. 945
To whom the warrior Angel soon reply'd. To say and straight unsay, pretending first Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy, Argues no leader but a lyar trac'd, Satan, and couldst thou faithful add ? O name, 950 O sacred name of faithfulness profan'd! Faithful to whom? To thy rebellious crew? Army of iends, fit body to fit head. Was this your discipline and faith engag'd, Your military' obedience, to dissolve
955 Allegiance to th'acknowledgid Pow'r supreme? And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem Patron of liberty, who more than thou Once fawn'd, and cring’d, and servilely ador'd Heav'n's awful Monarch ? Wherefore but in hope 360 To dispossess him, and thyself to reign? But mark what I arreed thee now, Avaunt; Fly thither whence thou fledst : if from this hour Within these hallow'd limits thou appear, Back to th’infernal pit I drag thee chain'd, 965
And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn
The facile gates of Hell too slighty barr’d.
So threaten’d he ; but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage reply'd.
Then when I am thy captive talk of chains, 970
Proud limitary Cherub, but ere then
Far heavier load thyself expect to feel
From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's King
Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers,
Us'd to the yoke, draw'st his triumphant wheels · 975
In progress through the road of Heav'n star-pay'd.
While thus he spake, th'angelic squadron bright Turn'd fiery red, sharp’ning in mooned horns Their phalanx, and began to hem him round With ported spears, as thick as when a field Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind Sways them ; the careful ploughman doubting stands, Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves Prove chaff. On th' other side Satan alarm'd - 985 Collecting all his might dilated stood, Like Teneriff or Atlas unremov'd : His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest Sat horror plum'd; nor wanted in his grasp What scem'd both spear and shield : now dreadful deeds Might have ensued, nor only Paradise
991 In this commotion, but the starry cope Of Heav'n perhaps, or all the elements At least had gone to wreck, disturb'd and torn With violence of this condíct, had not soon 995
Th'Eternal to prevent such horrid fray
Hung forth in Heav'n his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weighid,
The pendulous round earth with balanc'd air 1090
In counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battles and realms: in these he put two weights
The sequel each of parting and of fight;
The latter quick up flew, and kick'd the beam;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the Fiend. 1005
Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine,
Neither our own, but giv'n ; what folly then
To boast what arms can do ? Since thine no more
Than Heav'n permits, nor mine, though doubled now
To trample thee as mire : for proof look up, 1010
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,
Where thou art weigh'd, and shewn how light, how
If thou resist. The Fiend look'd up, and knew
His mounted scale aloft : nor more ; but filed
Murm'ring, and with him fcd the shades of night.