Page images

Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarm'd 490
The Thund'rer of his only dreaded bolt.
Nor long shall be our labor; yet ere dawn,
Effect shall end our wish. Mean while revive;
Abandon fear; to strength and counsel join'd
Think nothing hard, much less to be despair’d.

He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
Enlighten'd, and their languish'd hope reviv’d.
Th’invention all admir'd, and each, how he
To be th' inventor miss'd; so easy' it seem'd 499
Once found, which yet unfound most would have
Impossible : yet haply of thy race (thought
In future days, if malice should abound,
Some one intent on mischief, or inspir'd
With devilish machination, might devise
Like instrument to plague the sons of men
For sin, on war and mutual slaughter bent.
Forthwith from council to the work they flew;
None arguing stood ; innumerable hands
Were ready; in a moment up they turn'd
Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
Th’ originals of Nature in their crude
Conception; sulphurous and nitrous foam
They found, they mingled, and with subtle art,
Concocted and adusted they reduc'd
To blackest grain, and into store convey'd:
Part hidden veins digg’d up (nor has this earth
Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,
Whereof to found their engines and their balls
Of missive ruin; part incentive reed


Provide, pernicious with one touch to fire. 520
So all ere day-spring, under conscious Night,
Secret they finish'd and in order set,
With silent circumspection unespy'd.

Now when fair Morn orient in Heav'n appear'd,
Up rose the victor Angels, and to arms
The matin trumpet sung : in arms they stood
Of golden panoply, refulgent host,
Soon branded; others from the dawning hills
Look'd round, and scouts each coast ligni-armed
Each quarter, to descry the distant foe. [scour,
Where lodg’d, or whither fled, or if for fight, 53]
In motion or in halt: bim soon they met
Under spread ensigns moving nigh, in slow
But firm battalion; back with speediest sail
Zophiel, of Cherubim the swiftest wing,
Came flying, and in mid-air aloud thus cry’d:

Arm, warriors, arm for fight; the at hand, Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit This day; fear not his flight: so thick a cloud He comes, and settled in his face I see 540 Sad resolution and secure : let each His adamantine coat gird well, and each Fit well his helm, gripe fast his orbed shield, Borne ev'n or high ; for this day will pour down, If I conjecture aught, no drizzling shower, But rattling storm of arrows barb'd with fire.

So warn'd he them aware themselves, and soon In order, quit of all impediment ; Instant without disturb they took alarm,

And onward move embattled: when behold 550
Not distant far with heavy pace the foe
Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube
Training his devilish enginry, impal'd
On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
A while ; but suddenly at head appear'd
Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud:

Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold;
That all may see who hate us, how we seek
Peace and composure, and with open breast 560
Stand ready to receive them, if they like
Our overture, and turn not back perverse ;
But that I doubt; however witness Heaven,
Heav'n witness thou anon, while we discharge
Freely our part; ye who appointed stand,
Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch
What we propound, and loud that all may

hear. So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce Had ended; when to right and left the front Divided, and to either flank retir’d:

570 Which to our eyes discover'd, new and strange, A triple mounted row of pillars laid On wheels (for like to pillars most they seem'd, Or hollow'd bodies made of oak or fir, With branches lopt, in wood or mountain fell’d) Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths With hideous orifice gap'd on us wide, Portending hollow truce: at each behind A Seraph stood, and in his hand a reed

Stood waving 'tipt with fire ; while we suspense
Coilected stood within our thoughts amus'd, 581
Not long, for sudden all at once their reeds
Put forth, and to a narrow vent apply'd
With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,
But soon obscurd with smoke, all Heav'n appear’d,
From those deep-throated engines belch’d, whose
Imbowell’d with outrageous noise the air, [roar
And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul
Their devilish glut, chain’d thunderbolts and hail
Of iron globes; which on the victor host 590
Levellid with such impetuous fury smote,
That whom they hit none on their feet might stand,
Though standing else as rocks, but down they fell
By thousands, Angel on Arch-Angel rollid;
The sooner for their arms; unarm'd they might
Have easily, as Spi'rits evaded swift
By quick contraction or remove; but now
Foul dissipation follow'd and forc'd rout;
Nor serv'd it to relax their serried files.
What should they do? If on they rush’d, repulse
Repeated, and indecent overthrow

Doubled, would render them yet more despis’d,
And to their foes a laughter; for in view
Stood rank'd of Seraphim another row,
In posture to displode their second tire
Of thunder: back defeated to return
They worse abhorr’d. Satan beheld their plight,
And to his mates thus in derision callid:

O friends, why come not on these victors proud ? Ere while they fierce were coming; and when we, To entertain them fair with open front 611 And breast, (what could we more ?) propounded


Of composition, strait they chang'd their minds,
Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell,
As they would dance ; yet for a dance they seemd
Somewhat extravagant and wild, perhaps
For joy of offer'd peace: but I suppose,
If our proposals once again were heard,
We should compel them to a quick result. 619

To whom thus Belial in like gamesome mood: Leader, the terms we sent were terms of weight, Of hard contents, and full of force urg'd home, Such as we might perceive amus'd them all, And stumbled many; who receives them right, Had need from head to foot well understand; Not understood, this gift they have besides, They show us when our foes walk not upright.

So they among themselves in pleasant vein Stood scoffing, heighten'd in their thoughts beyond All doubt of victory; eternal might 630 To match with their inventions they presum'd So easy', and of his thunder made a scorn, And all his nost derided, while they stood A while in trouble: but they stood not long; Rage prompted them at length, and found them Against such hellish mischief fit to' oppose. [arms Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power Which God hath in his mighty Angels plac'd)

« PreviousContinue »