« הקודםהמשך »
Our pow'r 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 denounc'd
Desp'rate revenge, and battle dangerous
To less than Gods. On th’ other side uprose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane ;
A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seem'd
For dignity compos’d and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Propt manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash i
Maturest counsels : for his thoughts were low; ;, 115
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful; yet he pleas'd the ear, 147
And with persuasive accent thus began.
" I should be much for open war, O Peers!
As not behind in bate, 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 be, 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 tow'rs of Heav'n are fill'd
With armed watch, that render all access
· 130 Impregnable; oft on the bord’ring deep Encamp their legions, or with ohscure 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
135 With blackest insurrection, to confound Heav'n's purest light, yet our great enemy, All incorruptible, would on his throne
Sit unpolluted, and th' etherial 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, lem
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, Ven)
Devoid of serise and motion ? and who knows,
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,
Reserv'd, and destin'd, 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
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 those grim fires,
Awak’d, should blow them into sev’nfold rage,
And plunge us in the flames? or from above · Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right-hand to plagne us? what if all
Her stores were open'd, and this firmament ,
of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire, 1/2 find
Impendent horrors, threat’niug 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 prey
Of wracking 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.
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 Heav'n's height 190
All these our motions vain seės 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 resolv'd,
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 vent'rous, 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 conqu’ror: 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 remov'd,
Not mind us not offending, satisfy'd
With what is punish’d; whence these raging fires
Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames. Le
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; 220
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, C
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
Our own right, lost; him to unthrone we then
May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield 2.
* * *
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 Heav'n's bound, unless Heav'n's Lord supreme
We overpow'r ? 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 impos'd to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing
Forc'd hallelujahs; while he lordly sits
Our envied Sov'reign, and his altar breathes
Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,
245 Our servile offerings ? This must be our task In Heav'n, 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 Heav'n, our state i
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek .'
Our own good from ourselves, and from our own
Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,
Free, and to none accountable, preferring . .
Hard liberty before the easy yoke -utm
Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear i
Then most conspicuous, when great things of small,
Useful of hurtful; prosp'rous of adverse,
We can create, and in what place soe'er
Thrive under ev'il, and work ease out of pain 10 km
Through labour and endurance. This deep world
Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
Thick cloud and dark doth Heav'n'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
Must'ring their rage, and Heav'n resembles Hell?
As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please ? This desert soil
Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold,
Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise
Magnificence ; and what can Heav'n shew more?
Our torments also may in length of time."
Become our elements; these piercing fires
As soft as now £evere, our temper chang'do
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
Compose our present evils, with regard
Of what we are and where, dismissing quite
All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise.” i
He scarce had finish'a, when such murmur fill'd' . Th’ assembly, as when hollow rocks retain
: 285 The sound of blust'ring winds, which all night long