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Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
Inclines, here to continue', and build up here
A growing empire; doubtless ; while we dream, 315
And know not that the King of Heav'n hath doom'd
This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
From Heav'n's high jurisdiction, in new league
Banded against his throne, but to remain
In strictest bondage, though thus far remov'd
Under th' inevitable curb, reserv'd
His captive multitude : for he, be sure,
In height or depth, still first and last will reign
Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part 325
By our revolt, but over Hell extend
His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.
What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determin'd us, and foil'd with loss 330
Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
Vouchsaf'd or sought; for what peace will be given
To us enslav'd, but custody severe,
And stripes, and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted ? and what peace can we return,

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But to our pow'r hostility and hate,
Untam'd reluctance, and revenge though slow,
Yet ever plotting how the conqu’ror least
May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
In doing what we most in suffering feel?

340 Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need With dang'rous expedition to inyade

Heav'n, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,
Or ambush from the deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprise ? There is a place,

345 (If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven Err not) another world, the happy seat Of some new race call'd Man, about this time To be created like to us, though less In pow'r and excellence, but favour'd more

350 Of him who rules above ; so was his will Pronounc'd among the Gods, and by an oath, That shook Heav'n's whole circumference, confirm’d. Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn What creatures there inhabit, of what mould

355 Or substance, how endued, and what their power, And where their weakness, how attempted best, By force or subtlety. Though Heav'n be shut, And Heav'n's high arbitrator sit secure In his own strength, this place may lie expos'd,

360 The utmost border of his kingdom, left To their defence who hold it: here perhaps Some advantageous act may be achiev'd By sudden onset, either with Hell fire To waste his whole creation, or possess

365 All as our own, and drive, as we were driven, The puny habitants, or if not drive, Seduce them to our party, that their God May prove their foe, and with repenting hand Abolish his own works. This would surpass 370 Common revenge, and interrupt his joy In our confusion, and our joy upraise

In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurld headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Their frail original, and faded bliss,

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Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires. Thus Beëlzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devis'd
By Satan, and in part propos'd : for whence,

380 But from the author of all ill, could spring So deep a malice, to confound the race Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell To mingle and involve, done all to spite The great Creator? But their spite till serves 385 His glory to augment. The bold design Pleas’d highly those infernal States, and joy Sparkled in all their eyes; with full assent They vote : whereat his speech he thus renews.

Well have ye judg’d, well ended long debate, 390 Synod of Gods, and like to what ye are, Great things resolv'd, which from the lowest deep Will once more lift us up in spite of fate, Nearer our ancient seat; perhaps in view Of those bright confines, whence with neighb’ring arms And opportune excursion we may chance Re-enter Heav'n ; or else in some mild zone Dwell not unvisited of Heav'n's fair light Secure, and at the brightning orient beam Purge off this gloom; the soft delicious air, To heal the scar of these corrosive fires, Shall breathe her balm. But first whom shall we send

396

400

In search of this new world? Whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt with wand'ring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite abyss,

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And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle? What strength, what art can then 410
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of Angels watching round ? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send, 415
The weight of all our last hope relies.

This said, he sat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous aitempt : but all sat mute,

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Pond'ring the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In others count'nance read his own dismay
Astonish’d: none among the choice and prime
Of those Heav'n-warring champions could be found
So hardy as to proffer or accept

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Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last
Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais'd
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride
Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake.

O Progeny of Heav'n, empyreal Thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seiz'd us, though undismay'd : long is the way

430 440

And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light';
Our prison strong; this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round

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Ninefold, and gates of burning adamant
Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
These pass’d, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next
Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
If thence he ’scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape ? +
But I should ill become this throne, O Peers, 445
And this imperial sov'reignty, adorn'd
With splendour, arm'd with pow'r, if ought propos'd
And judg'd of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty' or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do' I assume

430 These royalties, and not refuse to reign, Refu.ing to accept as great a share Of hazard'as of honour, due alike To him who reigns, and so much to him due Of hazard more, as he above the rest

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High honour'd sits ? 'Go, therefore, mighty Powers,
Terror of Heav'n, though fall’n; intend at home
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The

present misery, and render Hell
More tolerable ; if there be cure or charm
To respite, or relieve, or slack the pain
Of this ill mansion i intermit no watch

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