Slike strani
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She finished; and the subtle Fiend his lore 815 Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:

"Dear daughter-since thou claim'st me for thy sire,

And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge

Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys


Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change Befallen us unforeseen, unthought of know,

I come no enemy, but to set free

From out this dark and dismal house of pain

Both him and thee, and all the Heavenly host

Of Spirits that, in our just pretences armed, 825 Fell with us from on high. From them I go This uncouth errand sole, and one for all

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Which but herself not all the Stygian Powers 875 Could once have moved; then in the keyhole turns

The intricate wards, and every bolt and bar

Of massy iron or solid rock with ease Unfastens. On a sudden open fly, With impetuous recoil and jarring sound, The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate 881 Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook

Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood,

That with extended wings a bannered host, 885 Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;

So wide they stood, and like a furnacemouth

Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.

Before their eyes in sudden view appear The secrets of the hoary Deep, a dark 891 Illimitable ocean, without bound, Without dimension; where length, breadth, and highth,

And time, and place, are lost; where eldest


And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold 895
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four
champions fierce,

Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring Their embryon atoms; they around the flag


Of each his faction, in their several clans, Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,

Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and


Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,

He rules a moment; Chaos umpire sits, And by decision more embroils the fray By which he reigns; next him, high arbiter, Chance governs all. Into this wild Abyss, The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,


Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire, But all these in their pregnant causes mixed

Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,


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Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumor next, and Chance,
And Tumult, and Confusion, all em-


1 quicksand.

Wandering this darksome desert, as my way

Lies through your spacious empire up to light,

Alone and without guide, half lost, I seek
What readiest path leads where your
gloomy bounds
Confine with Heaven; or if some other

From your dominion won, the Ethereal

Possesses lately, thither to arrive
I travel this profound. Direct my course:
Directed, no mean recompense it brings
To your behoof, if I that region lost, 982
All usurpation thence expelled, reduce
To her original darkness and your sway
(Which is my present journey), and once
Erect the standard there of ancient Night.
Yours be the advantage all, mine the re-


Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old, With faltering speech and visage incomposed, Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art:


Which way the nearest coast of darkness I saw and heard; for such a numerous host lies Fled not in silence through the frighted Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne



Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread 960
Wide on the wasteful Deep! With him

With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-
Poured out by millions her victorious

That mighty leading Angel, who of late Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown.

Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve
That little which is left so to defend, 1000
Encroached on still through our intestine


2 are contiguous to.

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Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night A glimmering dawn. Here Nature first begins

Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire, As from her outmost works, a broken foe, With tumult less and with less hostile din; That Satan with less toil, and now with ease,


Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light,

And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn;


Or in the emptier waste, resembling air, Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold

Far off the empyreal Heaven, extended wide

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Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.

This further consolation yet secure
I carry hence: though all by me is lost,
Such favor I unworthy am voutsafed,
By me the Promised Seed shall all restore."
So spake our mother Eve; and Adam

Well pleased, but answered not; for now too nigh 625 The Archangel stood, and from the other hill

To their fixed station, all in bright array, The Cherubim descended, on the ground Gliding meteorous, as evening mist Risen from a river o'er the marish glides, And gathers ground fast at the laborer's heel 631 Homeward returning. High in front advanced,

The brandished sword of God before them blazed,

Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat, And vapor as the Libyan air adust,1 635 Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat

In either hand the hastening Angel caught Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate

Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast To the subjected plain-then disappeared. They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld


Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery


Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; 645

The world was all before them, where to choose

Their place of rest, and Providence their guide. They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, Through Eden took their solitary way.


I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books

1 scorched.

demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors. For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them. to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do pre- [10 serve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's [20 image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. 'Tis true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected [30 truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labors of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not [40 in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and fifth essence the breath of reason itself; slays an immortality rather than a life. . . . But some will say, "What though the inventors were bad, the thing for all that may be good?" It may so; yet if that thing be no such deep invention, but obvious, and easy for any man to light on, and yet best and wisest common- [50 wealths through all ages and occasions have forborne to use it, and falsest seducers and oppressors of men were the first who took it up, and to no other purpose but to obstruct and hinder the first approach of Reformation, I am of those who believe, it will be a harder alchemy

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