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Others apart sat on a hill retired,"
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free' will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no'end, in wánd'ring mazes lost,
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy:
Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th’ obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any

clime perhaps,

() Might yield them easier habitation, bend Four ways their flying march, along the banks Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge Into the burning lake their baleful streams; Abhorrèd Styx, the flood of deadly hate; Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, named of lamentation loud Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon, Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe the river of oblivion, rolls Her wat’ry labyrinth, whereof who drinks, Forthwith his former state and being forgets, Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure, and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies, dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land. Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice; A gulf profound as that Serbonian” bog

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1 The names and qualities of these rivers are all taken from the Greek mythology i Serbonis was a huge bog in Egypt, sometimes so covered with sand as to

be indistinguishable from the land. It was 200 furlongs long, and 1,000 round. Damietta was a city on one of the eastern mouths of the Nile.

Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old, :»
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore,' and cold performs th'effect of fire,
Thither by harpy-footed Furies haled
At certain revolutions all the damn'd
Are broughts and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, infix’d, and frozen round,
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire,
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment;
And wish and struggle, as they pass to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink:
But fate withstands, and to oppose th' attempt
Medusa," with-Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water fies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confused march forlorn, th’advent'rous bands,
With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes aghast,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found.
No rest : through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,
O’er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death,
A universe of death, which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good,
Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inatterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimæras 3. dire.

Frostily. See Ecclus. xlii. 20, 21. 9 Medusa was a Gorgon of borrid beauty, who had the power of turning those who gazed on her into stone.

Forgetfuluess could never be permitted to the lost spirits.

3 Monsters of the heathen mythology,

Meanwhile the adversary of God and man, Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, Puts on swift wings, and toward the gates of hell Explores his solitary flight; sometimes He scours the right-hand coast, sometimes the left; Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave towering high. As when far off at sea a fleet descried Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Of Ternate and Tidore,' whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs: they on the trading flood Through the wide Æthiopian to the Cape Ply, stemming nightly toward the pole: so seem'd Far off the flying fiend. At last appear Hell bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof; And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass, Three iron, three of adamantine rock, Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire, Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat On either side a formidable shape; 2 The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair, But ended foul in many a scaly fold, Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm’d With mortal sting : about her middle round А cry of hell hounds never ceasing bark'd With wide Cerberean 3 mouths full loud, and rung

13 A hideous peel : yet, when they list, would creep, If aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb, And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and howl'd Within unseen.

Far less abhorr'd than these Vex'd Scylla bathing in the sea that parts Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore :* Nor uglier follow the Night-hag, when call’d

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I Two of the Molucca islands.

? Here begins the famous allegory of Milton, which is a sort of paraphrase of St. James i. 15 : “ Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,"

3 Like those of Cerberus, the dog with three heads, supposed to keep the gate of hell.

4 Trinacria was the ancient name for Sicily. Scylla and Charybdis were the whirlpools between it and Italy.

In secret riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other shape,

If shape it might be call’d, that shape had none
*Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell
And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast,
With horrid strides; hell trembled as he strode.
The undaunted fiend what this might be admired ;
Admired, not fear'd; God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he, nor shunn'd;
And with disdainful look thus first began.

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates ? through them I mean to pass,
That be assured without leave ask'd of thee.
Retire, or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with spirits of heav'n.

To whom the goblin full of wrath replied,
Art thou that traitor angel, art thou he,
Who first broke peace in heav'n and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of heav'n's sons
Conjured' against the Highest; for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemn'd
To waste eternal days in woe and pain ?
And reckon’st thou thyself with spirits of heav'n,
Hell-doom'd, and breath’st defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment,

1 Conspired.

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False fugitive, and toʻthy speed'add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and

pangs

unfelt before. So spake the grisly terror, and in shape, Sọ speaking and so threat’ning, grew tenfold More dreadful and deform : on the other side Incensed with indignation Satan stood Unterrified, and like a comet burn'd, That fires the length of Ophiucus' huge In th' arctic sky, and from his horrid hair Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head Levell’d his deadly aim ; their fatal hands No second stroke intend, and such a frown Each cast at the other, as when two black clouds, With heav'n's artillery fraught, come rattling on Over the Caspian ;' then stand front to front Hoy'ring a space, till winds the signal blow To join their dark encounter in mid air: So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell Grew darker at their frown, so match'd they stood; For never but once more 3 was either like To meet so great a foe: and now great deeds Had been achieved, whereof all hell had rung, Had not the snaky sorceress that sat Fast by hell gate, and kept the fatal key, Ris'n, and with hideous outcry rush'd between.

O father, what intends thy hand, she cried, Against thy only son ? What fury, O son, Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart, Against thy father's head ? and know'st for whom ? For Him who sits above, and laughs the while At thee ordain'd His drudge, to execute Whate’er His wrath, which He calls justice, bids ;( His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both.

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* Serpentarius, a northern constellation. Its length would be about forty degrees.

Comets were supposed to threaten “pestilence and war.'

2 The Caspian is a remarkably tenipestuous sea

3 Jesus Christ is here intimated, who was to destroy death, and him that has the power of death (Heb. ii. 14).

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