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Thar 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 power sufficient to disturb his heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne.
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.



He ended frowning, and his look denounced
Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous
To less than Gods. On the other side uprose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane :
A fairer person lost not Heaven; he seem'd
For dignity composed, and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Dropp'd manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest counsels) for his thoughts were low
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
fimorous and slothful: yet he pleased the car,
And with persuasive accent thus began.



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 fill'd

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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
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 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,


Devoid of sense and motion? And who knows,

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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,


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 struck 165 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, 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 open'd, and this firmament
Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hur!'d
Each on his rock transfix'd, the sport and prey
Of wracking whirlwinds; or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapp'd in chains;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
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 height

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
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 205
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 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, inured, not feel;

Or changed 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 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 clothed in reason's garb, Counsel'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 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
Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns and to his Godhead sing
Forced Hallelujahs: while he lordly sits
Our envied Sov'reign, and his altar breather
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 presume


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