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them,-only to expel them from Heaven. Underneath their feet, accordingly, the crystal wall or floor of Heaven opens wide, rolling inwards, and disclosing a spacious gap into the dark Abyss or Chaos. Horrorstruck they start back; but worse urges them behind. Headlong they fling themselves down, eternal wrath burning after them, and driving them still down, down, through Chaos, to the place prepared for them.
The place prepared for them! Yes, for now there is a modification in the map of Universal Space to suit the changed conditions of the Universe. the bottom of what has hitherto been Chaos there is now marked out a kind of Antarctic region, distinct from the body of Chaos proper. This is HELL—
a vast region of fire, sulphurous lake, plain, and mountain, and of all forms of fiery and icy torment. It is into this nethermost and dungeon-like portion of space, separated from Heaven by a huge belt of intervening Chaos, that the Fallen Angels are thrust. For nine days and nights they have been falling through Chaos, or rather being driven down through Chaos by the Messiah's pursuing thunders, before they reach this new home (VI. 871). When they do reach it, the roof closes over them and shuts them in. Meanwhile the Messiah has returned in triumph into highest Heaven, and there is rejoicing over the expulsion of the damned.
For the moment, therefore, there are three divisions of Universal SpaceHEAVEN, CHAOS, and HELL. Almost immediately, however, there is a fourth. Not only have the expelled Angels been nine days and nights in falling through Chaos to reach Hell; but, after they have reached Hell and it has closed over them, they lie for another period of nine days and nights (1. 50—53) stupefied and bewildered in the fiery gulf. It is during this second nine days that there takes place a great event, which farther modifies the map of Infinitude. Long had there been talk in Heaven of a new race of beings to be created at some time by the Almighty, inferior in some respects to the Angels, but in the history of whom and of God's dealings with them there was to be a display of the divine power and love which even the Angels might contemplate with wonder. The time for the creation of this new race of beings has now arrived. Scarcely have the Rebel Angels been enclosed in Hell, and Chaos has recovered from the turmoil of the descent of such a rout through its depths, when the Paternal Deity, addressing the Son, tells him that, in order to repair the loss caused to Heaven, the predetermined creation of Man and of
the World of Man shall now take effect. It is for the Son to execute the will of the Father. Straightway he goes forth on his creating errand. The everlasting gates of Heaven open wide to let him pass forth; and, clothed with majesty, and accompanied with thousands of Seraphim and Cherubim, anxious to behold the great work to be done, he does pass forth-far into that very Chaos through which the Rebel Angels have so recently fallen, and which now intervenes between Heaven and Hell. At length he stays his fervid wheels, and, taking the golden compasses in his hands, centres one point of them where he stands and turns the other through the obscure profundity around (VII. 224-231). Thus are marked out, or cut out, through the body of Chaos, the limits of the new Universe of Man-that Starry Universe which to us seems measureless and the same as Infinity itself, but which is really only a beautiful azure sphere or drop, insulated in Chaos, and hung at its topmost point or zenith from the Empyrean. But, though the limits of the new experimental Creation are thus at once marked out, the completion of the Creation is a work of Six Days (VII. 242, 550). On the last of these, to crown the work, the happy Earth received its first human pair-the appointed lords of the entire new Creation. And so, resting from his labours, and beholding all that he had made, that it was good, the Messiah returned to his Father, reascending through the golden gates, which were now just over the zenith of the new World, and were its point of suspension from the Empyrean Heaven; and the Seventh Day or Sabbath was spent in songs of praise by all the Heavenly hosts over the finished work, and in contemplation of it as it hung beneath them,
66 another Heaven,
From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view
And now, accordingly, this was the diagram of the Universal Infinitude :
There are the three regions of HEAVEN, CHAOS, and HELL as before; but there is also now a fourth region, hung drop-like into Chaos by an attachment to Heaven at the north pole or zenith. This is the NEW WORLD, or the STARRY UNIVERSE-all that Universe of orbs and galaxies which man's vision can reach by utmost power of telescope, and which even to his imagination is
illimitable. And yet as to the proportions of this World to the total map Milton dares to be exact. The distance from its nadir or lowest point to the upper boss of Hell is exactly equal to its own radius; or, in other words, the distance of Hell-gate from Heaven-gate is exactly three semidiameters of the Human or Starry Universe (1. 73, 74).
Meanwhile, just as this final and stupendous modification of the map of Infinitude has been accomplished, Satan and his rebel adherents in Hell begin to recover from their stupor-Satan the first, and the others at his call. There ensue Satan's first speech to them, their first surveys of their new domain, their building of their palace of Pandemonium, and their deliberations there in full council as to their future policy. Between Moloch's advice for a renewal of open war with Heaven, and Belial's and Mammon's counsels, which recommend acquiescence in their new circumstances and a patient effort to make the best of them, Beelzebub insinuates the proposal which is really Satan's, and which is ultimately carried. It is that there should be an excursion from Hell back through Chaos, to ascertain whether that new Universe, with a new race of beings in it, of which there had been so much talk in Heaven, and which there was reason to think might come into existence about this time, had come into existence. If it had, might not means be found to vitiate this new Universe and the favourite race that was to possess it, and to drag them down to the level of Hell itself? Would not such a ruining of the Almighty's new experiment at its outset be a revenge that would touch Him deeply? Would it not be easier than open war? And on the stepping-stone of such a success might they not raise themselves to further victory, or at least to an improvement of their present condition, and an extent of empire that should include more than Hell?
Satan's counsel having been adopted, it is Satan himself that adventures the perilous expedition up through Chaos in quest of the new Universe. He is detained for a while at Hell-gate by the ghastly shapes of Sin and Death who are there to guard it; but, the gates being at length opened to him, never to shut again, he emerges into the hideous Chaos overhead. His journey up through it is arduous. Climbing, swimming, wading, flying, through the boggy consistency-now falling plumb-down thousands of fathoms, again carried upwards by a gust or explosion-he reaches at length, about midway in his journey, the central throne and pavilion where Chaos personified and Night have their government. There he receives definite intelligence that the new World he is in search of has actually been created. Thus encouraged, and directed on his way, again he springs upward, "like a pyramid of fire,' through what of Chaos remains; and, after much farther flying, tacking, and steering, he at last reaches the upper confines of Chaos, where its substance seems thinner, so that he can wing about more easily, and where a glimmering dawn of the light from above begins also to appear. For a while in this calmer space he weighs his wings to behold at leisure (II. 1046) the sight that is breaking upon him. And what a sight!
Care must be taken not to misinterpret this passage. Even Addison misinterpreted it. He speaks of Satan's distant discovery "of the Earth that hung close by the Moon" as one of the most " 'wonderfully beautiful and poetical passages of the poem. But it is more wonderfully beautiful and poetical than Addison thought. For, as even a correct reading of the passage by itself would have shown, the ". 'pendent World" which Satan here sees is not the Earth at all, but the entire Starry Universe, or Mundane Sphere, hung droplike by a golden touch from the Empyrean above it. In proportion to this Empyrean, at the distance whence Satan gazes, even the Starry Universe pendent from it is but as a star of smallest magnitude seen on the edge of the full or crescent moon.
At length (III. 418-422) Satan alights on the opaque outside, or convex shell, of the new Universe. As he had approached it, what seemed at first but as a star had taken the dimensions of a globe; and, when he had alighted, and begun to walk on it, this globe had become, as it seemed, a boundless continent of firm land, exposed, dark and starless, to the stormy Chaos blustering round like an inclement sky. Only on the upper convex of the shell, in its angles towards the zenith, some reflection of light was gained from the wall of Heaven. Apparently it was on this upper convex of the outside of the New World, and not at its nadir, or the point nearest Hell, that Satan first alighted and walked (compare 11. 1034-1053, III. 418-430, X. 312-349). At all events he had to reach the zenith before he could begin the real business of his errand. For only at this point-only at the point of attachment or suspension of the new Universe to the Empyrean-was there an opening into the interior of the Universe. All the outer shell, save at that point, was hard, compact and not even transpicuous to the light within, as the spherical glass round a lamp is, but totally opaque, or only glistering faintly on its upper side with the reflected light of Heaven. Accordingly after wandering on this dark outside of the Universe long enough to allow Milton that extraordinary digression (III. 440-497) in which he finds one of the most magnificently grotesque uses for the outside of the Universe that it could have entered into the imagination of any poet to conceive-the Fiend is attracted in the right direction to the opening at the zenith. What attracts him thither is a gleam of light from the mysterious structure or staircase (III. 501 et seq.) which there serves the Angels in their descents from Heaven's gate into the Human Universe, and again in their ascents from the Universe to Heaven's gate. Sometimes these stairs are drawn up to Heaven and invisible; but at the moment when Satan reached the spot they were let down, so that, standing on the lower stair, and gazing down through the opening right underneath, he could suddenly behold the whole interior of the Starry Universe at once. He can behold it in all directions-both in the direction of latitude, or depth from the pole where he stands to the opposite pole or nadir; and also longitudinally,
66 from eastern point
At this point, and before following the Fiend in his flight down into the interior of our Astronomical Universe, it is necessary to describe the system or constitution of that interior as it is conceived by Milton and assumed throughout the poem. Let us attend, therefore, more particularly now to that small
central circle of our last diagram, hanging drop-like from the Empyrean, which we have as yet described no farther than by saying that, small as it is, it represents our vast Starry Universe in Milton's total scheme of Infinitude. Although a great part of the action of the poem takes place in the Empyrean, in Chaos, and in Hell, much of it also takes place within the bounds of this Starry Universe; so that, if there is any peculiarity in Milton's conception of the interior arrangements of this Universe, that peculiarity must be understood before many parts of the poem are intelligible. Such a peculiarity there is, and a distinct exposition of it is nearly all that is farther desirable in this Introduction to the Poem.
Milton's Astronomy, or, at least, the astronomical system which he thought proper to employ in his Paradise Lost, is not our present Copernican system —which, in his time, was not generally or popularly_accepted. It is the older Astronomical System, now usually called "the Ptolemaic," because it had been set forth in its main features by the astronomer Ptolemy of Alexandria, who lived in the second century.
According to this "Ptolemaic system," the Earth was the fixed centre of the Mundane Universe, and the apparent motions of the other celestial bodies were caused by the real revolutions of successive Heavens, or Spheres of Space, enclosing the central Earth at different distances. First, and nearest to the Earth, were the Spheres or Orbs of the Seven Planets then known, in this order-the Moon (treated as a planet), Mercury, Venus, the Sun (treated as a planet-the "glorious planet Sol," Shakespeare calls it, roil, and Cress. Act I. Scene 3), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Beyond these, as an Eighth Sphere or Orb, was the Firmament or Heaven of all the fixed stars. These eight Spheres or Heavens had sufficed till Aristotle's time, and beyond it, for. all the purposes of astronomical explanation. The outermost or Eighth Sphere was supposed to wheel diurnally, or in twenty-four hours, from East to West, carrying in it all the fixed stars, and carrying with it also all the seven interior Heavens or Spheres-which Spheres, however, had also separate and slower motions of their own, giving rise to those apparent motions of the Moon (months), Mercury, Venus, the Sun (years), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, which could not be accounted for by the revolution of the Starry Sphere alone. But, later observations having discovered irregularities in the phenomena of the heavens which the supposed motions of even the Eight Spheres could not account for, two extra Spheres had been added. To account for the very slow change called "the precession of the equinoxes," the discovery of which was prepared by Hipparchus in the second century B.C., it had been necessary to imagine a Ninth Sphere, called "the Crystalline Sphere," beyond that of the Fixed Stars; and, finally, for farther reasons, it had been necessary to suppose all enclosed in a Tenth Sphere, called "the Primum Mobile,' or first moved." These two outermost spheres, or at least the Tenth Sphere, had been added in the Middle Ages; and, indeed, the Ptolemaic system, so completed up to the final number of Ten Spheres, may be called rather the Alphonsine System," as having been adopted and taught by the famous King and astronomer, Alphonso X. of Castille (1252-1284). It need only be added that the Spheres were not necessarily supposed to be actual spheres of solid matter. It was enough if they were conceived as spheres of invisible or transpicuous space. Perhaps only the outermost Sphere, or Primum Mobile,