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Arm'd with hell flames and fury, all at once
O'er heav'n's high tow'rs to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against our torturer. When to meet the noise
Of his terrific engine, he shall hear
Infernal thunder, and for lightning see
Black fire, and horror, shot with equal rage
Amongst his angels; and his throne itself
Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments.—But perhaps
The way seems difficult, and steep to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe.-
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That, in our proper motion, we ascend
Up to our native seat. Descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late
When our fierce foe hung on our broken rere,
Insulting, and pursu'd us through the deep;
With what compulsion, and laborious flight
We sunk thus low?-Th' ascent is easy then.-
Th' event is fear'd.—Should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
To our destruction; if there be in hell
Fear to be worse destroy'd.-What can be worse
Than to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemn'd
In this abhorred deep to utter woe,
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorable, and the torturing hour
Calls us to penance ?—More destroy'd than thus
We must be quite abolish'd, and expire.
What fear we then?-What doubt we to incense Fierceness.
His utmost ire? which, to the height enrag'd,
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
Complaining To nothing this essential; happier far
Than miserable to have eternal being.
Or if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are, at worst,
On this side nothing. And by proof we feel
Our pow'r sufficient to disturb his heav'n,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.i
The speech of the fallen angel Belial, in answer to Moloch.
Deliberation I should be much for open war, O peers,
As not behind in hate; if what was urg'd,
Main reason to persuade immediate war,
Apprehen- Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cust
Ominous conjecture on the whole success;
When he who most excels in feats 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 tow'rs of heav'n are fill'd
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable. Oft on the bord'ring 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
1 The voice, instead of falling towards the end of this line, as usual, is to rise; and in speaking the word revenge, the fierceness of the whole speech ought, as it were, to be expressed in one word.
Heav'n's purest light; yet our great enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire
Victorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hope
Is flat despair: we must exasperate
Th' 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, swallowed up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense and motion?-But will he,
So wise, let loose at once his utmost 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,
Reserv'd, and destin'd to eternal woe;
Whatever doing, what can we suffer more?
What can we suffer worse?"
a Is this then worst,
Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?
What! when we fled amain, pursu’d and struck
With heav'n'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 these grim fires,
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 horrors, threat'ning hideous fall
One day upon our heads, while we, perhaps,
Designing, or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest shall be hurl'd,
Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and
Of wrecking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean wrapt in chains,
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unrepriev'd,
Ages of hopeless end?—This would be worse.—
Dissuasion. War, therefore, open or conceal'd alike
My voice dissuades.
Shall we then live thus vile! The race of heav'n strance with Thus trampled, thus expell'd, to suffer here
Chains and these torments!" Better these than worse,
By my advice. To suffer, as to do,
Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust 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. Contempt. 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
Encouraging Our doom; which if with courage we can bear,
Our foe supreme, in time, may much remit
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;
This horror will grow mild, this darkness light;
Besides what hope the never-ending flow
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.
Satan's speech to Death stopping his passage through the gate of hell, with the answer.-Milton.
Whence, and what art thou, execrable shape!
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? through them I mean to pass,
That be assur'd, without leave ask'd of thee.
Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with spirits of heav'n."
To whom the goblin full of wrath replied,
“Art thou that traitor angel, art thou he
Who first broke peace in heav'n, and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of heav'n's sons,
Conjur'd against the Highest, for which both thou
And they outcast from God, are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckon'st thou thyself with spirits of heav'n,
Hell-doom'd and breath'st defiance here, and scorn,
Where I reign king, and to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy ling'ring, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."
1 "Retire" is to be spoken as a whole sentence, and with the greatest force of threatening.