Imatges de pÓgina
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The wonted signal, and superior voice

705

Of their great potentate; for great indeed
His name, and high was his degree in heav'n;
His count'nance, as the morning star that guides
The starry flock, allur'd them, and with lies
Drew after him the third part of heav'n's host. 710

Mean while th'eternal Eye, whose sight discerns
Abstrusest thoughts, from forth his holy mount,
And from within the golden lamps that burn
Nightly before him, saw without their light
Rebellion rising, saw in whom, how spread
Among the sons of morn, what multitudes
Were banded to oppose his high decree;
And smiling to his only Son thus said.

Son, thou in whom my glory I behold
In full resplendence, heir of all my might,
Nearly it now concerns us to be sure
Of our omnipotence, and with what arms
We mean to hold what antiently we claim
Of deity or empire; such a foe

Is rising, who intends to erect his throne
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north;
Nor so content, hath in his thought to try

715

720

725

708 morning star] So in an Epigram of the elder Scaliger, Poemata, p. 120, ed. 1591;

Lucifer, aurati pecoris cordate magister,
Coge gregem.'

A. Dyce.

716 sons of morn] So he calls the angels in H. on the Nati

vity, st. xii.

• But when of old the sons of morning sung.' See Isaiah, xiv. 12. Todd.

In battel, what our power is, or our right.
Let us advise, and to this hazard draw

With speed what force is left, and all employ 730 In our defence, lest unawares we lose

This our high place, our sanctuary, our hill.

To whom the Son with calm aspect and clear Light'ning divine, ineffable, serene,

Made answer. Mighty Father, thou thy foes 735 Justly hast in derision, and secure

740

Laugh'st at their vain designs and tumults vain,
Matter to me of glory, whom their hate
Illustrates, when they see all regal power
Giv'n me to quell their pride, and in event
Know whether I be dextrous to subduc
Thy rebels, or be found the worst in heav'n.
So spake the Son: but Satan with his
Far was advanc'd on winged speed, an host
Innumerable as the stars of night,

powers

Or stars of morning, dewdrops, which the sun.
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
Regions they pass'd, the mighty regencies
Of Seraphim, and Potentates, and Thrones
In their triple degrees, regions to which
All thy dominion, Adam, is no more
Than what this garden is to all the earth,
And all the sea, from one entire globose

745

750

746 stars of morning] Casimir Sarb. Carm. ii. 4. 1. calls the dews, Stellulæ noctis decedentis.'

747 Impearls] Sylv. Du Bartas, p. 70.

'the flowery meads

Impearled with tears, which sweet Aurora sheds.' Todd.

Stretch'd into longitude; which having pass'd,

At length into the limits of the north
They came, and Satan to his royal seat
High on a hill, far blazing, as a mount

755

760

Rais'd on a mount, with pyramids and tow'rs
From diamond quarries hewn, and rocks of gold,
The palace of great Lucifer; so call
That structure in the dialect of men
Interpreted, which not long after he,
Affecting all equality with GoD,

765

770

[powers,

In imitation of that mount whereon
Messiah was declar'd in sight of heav'n,
The mountain of the congregation call'd;
For thither he assembled all his train,
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their king,
Thither to come, and with calumnious art
Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears.
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues,
If these magnific titles yet remain
Not merely titular, since by decree
Another now hath to himself ingross'd
All power, and us eclips'd under the name
Of king anointed, for whom all this haste
Of midnight march and hurry'd meeting here,
This only to consult how we may best
With what may be devis'd of honours new
Receive him, coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile,
Too much to one, but double how endur'd,
To one and to his image now proclaim'd?

775

780

785

But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The supple knee? ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves
Natives and sons of heav'n, possest before
By none, and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then or right assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals, if in power and splendour less,
In freedom equal? or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,

788 knee] Shakesp. Richard II. act i. scene iv.

790

795

And had the tribute of his supple knee.' Todd. 799 much less] This passage is considered as one of the most difficult in Milton. Bentley, Pearce, Richardons, Greenwood, Warburton, and Newton, have given their different interpretations. I differ from them, as they carry back the force of rauch less' to what has past. I consider one argument concluded at err not,' and that much less,' beginning a new one, looks forward; and I thus explain it: 'Much less reason has he to be called our Lord, and consequently to look for adoration from us, when it must be at the expense, or abuse of those imperial titles which in themselves assert our own sovereignty, and our consequent immunity from servitude.' He alludes to the titles given the angels. Thrones, dominations, princedoms,' &c. this argument Abdiel answers, v. 831. I trust that this explanation will be considered as satisfactory.

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And look for adoration to th' abuse

Of those imperial titles, which assert

800

Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve?
Thus far his bold discourse without control
Had audience, when among the seraphim
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal ador'd 805
The Deity, and divine commands obey'd,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus oppos'd.

O argument blasphemous, false, and proud!
Words which no ear ever to hear in heav'n
Expected, least of all from thee, ingrate,
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of GOD, pronounc'd and sworn,
That to his only Son, by right endu'd
With regal scepter, every soul in heav'n

Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due
Confess him rightful king? unjust thou say'st,
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
And equal over equals to let reign,
One over all with unsucceeded power.

810

815

820

Shalt thou give law to GOD? shalt thou dispute
With him the points of liberty, who made
Thee what thou art, and form'd the pow'rs of heav'n
Such as he pleas'd, and circumscrib'd their being?
Yet by experience taught we know how good,
And of our good, and of our dignity
How provident he is, how far from thought
To make us less, bent rather to exalt

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