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SPEECH OF BELIAL, DISSUADING WAR.-Milton.
I should be much for open war, Oh peers,
As not behind in hate, if what were urged
Main reason to persuade immediate war,
Did not dissuade me more, and seem to cast
Ominous conjecture on the whole success;
When he who most excels in tact 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 towers of heaven are filled
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable: oft on the bordering deep
Encamp their legions: or with obscure wing,
Scout far and wide into the realms of night,
Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels, all hell should rise
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heaven's purest light; yet our great enemy,
All incorruptible, would on his throne,
Sit unpolluted; and the etherial mold,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
Is flat despair; we must exasperate
The almighty victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us; that must be our cure,-
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, swallowed up and lost
In the wide tomb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense 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 unawares,
To give his enemies their wish and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless ?-"Wherefore cease ye then?"
Say they, who counsel war; "we are decreed,
Reserved, and destined to eternal wo:
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 heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The deep to shelter us? this hell then seemed
A refuge from those wounds! or when we lay
Chained on the burning lake? that sure was worse.
What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,
Awaked, should blow them into seven-fold rage,
And plunge us in the flames? or, from above,
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague? what if all
Her stores were opened, and this firmament
Of hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impending horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we, perhaps,
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled,
Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey
Of racking whirlwinds; or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapped in chains;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
Ages of hopeless end?-this would be worse.
War, therefore, open and concealed, alike
My voice dissuades.
50. DEATH AND THE DRUNKARD.-Anonymous.
His form was fair, his cheek was health;
His word a bond, his purse was wealth;
With wheat his field was covered o'er,
Plenty sat smiling at his door.
His wife the fount of ceaseless joy;
How laughed his daughter, played his boy;
His library, though large, was read,
Till half its contents decked his head.
At morn 'twas health, wealth, pure delight,
'Twas health, wealth, peace, and bliss at night;
I wished not to disturb his bliss-
"Tis gone! but all the fault was his.
The social glass I saw him seize,
The more with festive wit to please;
Daily increase his love of cheer-
Ah, little thought he I was near!
Gradual indulgence on him stole,
Frequent became the midnight bowl.
I in that bowl the headache placed,
Which, with the juice, his lips embraced.
Shame next I mingled with the draught;
Indignantly he drank and laughed.
In the bowl's bottom bankruptcy
I placed he drank with tears and glee.
Remorse did I into it pour;
He only sought the bowl the more.
I mingled next joint torturing pain;
Little the less did he refrain.
The dropsy in the cup I mixed;
Still to his mouth the cup was fixed
My emissaries thus in vain
I sent the mad wretch to restrain.
On the bowl's bottom then myself
I threw; the most abhorrent elf
Of all that mortals hate or dread;
And thus in horrid whispers said-
"Successless ministers I've sent,
Thy hastening ruin to prevent;
Their lessons nought-then here am I ;
Think not my threatenings to defy,
Swallow this, this, thy last 'twill be,
For with it thou must swallow me."
Haggard his eyes, upright his hair,
Remorse his lips, his cheeks despair;
With shaking hands the bowl he clasped.
My meatless limbs his carcass grasped
And bore it to the churchyard-where
Thousands, ere I would call, repair.
Death speaks-ah, reader, dost thou hear?
Hast thou no lurking cause to fear?
Has not o'er thee the sparkling bowl
Constant, commanding, sly control?
Betimes reflect, betimes beware-
Though ruddy, healthful, now, and fair,
Before slow reason lose the sway,
Reform-postponed another day,
Too soon may mix with common clay.
51. SOLILOQUY FROM MANFRED.-Byron.
The spirits I have raised abandon me—
The spells which I have studied baffle me—
The remedy I recked of tortured me;
I lean no more on superhuman aid,
It hath no power upon the past, and for
The future, till the past be gulfed in darkness,
It is not of my search. My mother earth!
And thou, fresh breaking day; and you, ye mountains,
Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
And thou, the bright eye of the universe,
That openest over all, and unto all
Art a delight-thou shinest not on my heart.
And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindle as to shrubs
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed
To rest for ever- -wherefore do I pause ?
I feel the impulse-yet I do not plunge;
I see the peril-yet do not recede;
And my brain reels-and yet my foot is firm:
There is a power upon me which withholds
And makes it my fatality to live:
If it be life to wear within myself
This barrenness of spirit, and to be
My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased
To justify my deeds unto myself—
The last infirmity of evil.Ay,
Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister,
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well mayest thou swoop so near me—I should be
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
Yet pierces downward, onward or above
With a pervading vision.-Beautiful!
How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and itself!
But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit
To sink or soar, with our mixed essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride,
Contending with low wants and lofty will
Till our mortality predominates,
And men are what they name not to themselves,
And trust not to each other.
[The shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard.
The natural music of the mountain reed
For here the patriarchal days are not
A pastoral fable-pipes in the liberal air,
Mixed with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd;
My soul would drink those echoes.-Oh, that I were
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
A living voice, a breathing harmony,
A bodiless enjoyment-born and dying
With the blest tone which made me!
52. THE POWER OF ELOQUENCE.--Carey.
Heard ye those loud contending waves,
That shook Cecropia's pillared state?
ye the mighty from their graves
Look up and tremble at her fate?
Who shall calm the angry storm?
Who the mighty task perform,
And bid the raging tumult cease?
See the son of Hermes rise;
With syren tongue and speaking eyes,
Hush the noise and soothe to peace!
Lo! from the regions of the north,
The reddening storm of battle pours;
Rolls along the trembling earth,
Fastens on Olynthian towers.
"Where rests the sword!-where sleeps the brave? Awake! Cecropia's ally save