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poem, all having been consummated by the creation of Man, He returns to His Father in the Empyrean, and there follows the Sabbath of rest, contemplation, and worship among all the Heavenly hosts (VII. 551—634). All this Raphael tells to Adam,-relating, seemingly as one who had been an eyewitness, the acts of each of the six days, save (as afterwards appears) one. That day was the sixth. On that day, or on the most important portion of it, Raphael was not himself within the bounds of the New Universe ; and, consequently, he had only heard of the crowning creation of Man on that day, and had not witnessed it. This we learn from his own words to Adam (VIII. 228—246) in reply to Adam's proposal to relate in return his recollections of his origin on the Earth. Adam, though he makes this proposal, does so chiefly with a view to prolong his conversation with the Archangel, and is naturally diffident as to the interest which his poor story may have for his Heavenly and allinformed guest. But Raphael reassures him, and explains why Adam's recollections of that sixth day of creation, the day of Adam's own origin, will be of special interest to him :
“ For I that day was absent, as befell,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
This passage certainly implies that, in Milton's conception, that sixth day, the Friday of the creative week, on which Man was made, was also the day on which the rebel Angels, recovering from their nine days of stupor, began to bustle about in Hell. On the afternoon of that day, Raphael with his squadrons, watching at the gates of
Hell in nether Chaos, found them still fast, but could hear the tumult of the inmates within. It was while they were in their first tumult there, and the thought of the new Universe was occurring to Satan, that the gracious act which finished that Universe was going on high overhead. Nay, and that next day in Hell, which was spent by the Fiends in continued tumult, but in tumult organised into a council to deliberate their future policy,—was it not the same day which was spent by the hosts of the unfallen Angels in the Empyrean, Raphael amongst them after his expedition, as a Sabbath of rest, contemplation, and worship? The very Sabbath which in Heaven was spent in hymns of rejoicing over the new Universe was spent in Hell in plotting its ruin!
So far, unless we suspect obliviousness in Milton and mere casual coincidence, we must suppose that he intended an exact measure of time in the action of his poem. There are eighteen days between the expulsion of the rebel Angels from Heaven and the completion of the new Universe by the creation of Man: the first nine of these days being possibly metaphorical, but the second nine avowedly literal or human, days. To this he was partly obliged, as we have seen, by his adherence to the Mosaic account of the Creation. But from this point onwards, through a certain portion of the action of the poem, we find him using his poet's privilege (which the very conditions of his subject made especially legitimate in his case) of changing the rate of events, and making himself independent of consistency in his measure of time.
For example, if the deliberations in Hell took place on the nineteenth day by the above reckoning, or the first Sabbath of the new Universe, then, as one reads the account of what immediately followed these deliberations-Satan's swift ascent to Hell-gates to perform his mission; the opening of the gates to him by Sin and Death; his toilsome journey upwards, in two main stages, through superincumbent Chaos, till he reaches the confines of the new Universe; his wanderings round the outer shell, or primum mobile, of that Universe, till he discerns the light of the opening into it underneath Heaven's gate at the zenith ; his first view of the whole interior of the Universe from that opening; his plunging down into that interior through its successive spheres; his alighting on the body of the Sun, and conversation with Uriel there; and, finally, his winging from the Sun to the Earth, and his first contact with that planet of his search at the
top of Mount Niphates near Eden,-it might seem as if all these events, occupying a portion of the Second Book, and the whole of the Third, might well have been transacted in the course of a single day: making, let us say, the twentieth day from the point first dated. For, if Raphael had ascended from Hell-gates back to the Empyrean in but a portion of a day, so as to arrive by Sabbath-eve, might not one whole day have sufficed for the complete voyage of the ruined Archangel from Hell's depths to his alighting on our Earth at the centre of the new Universe? As one reads, it is some such conception that occurs to one, if time is thought of at all. Or if, remembering that the fall through Chaos into Hell had occupied nine days, and that the ascent might be more arduous, one were to substitute a calculation of time for the mere natural impression of the text, still one could not prolong the time of Satan's journey to Earth over more than a very moderate number of days. Yet, in the sequel, a considerable lapse of time in this part of the general action of the poem is found to be necessary. If Satan arrived on the Earth in but one day's flight from Hell, Adam and Eve had been but two days in existence when his machinations for their ruin began. Created on Friday, if we may speak so definitely, they were but in the first Sunday or Monday of their life. Or, even if Satan's journey to Earth should be calculated at nine days, or twice nine days, the first man and woman were still but new to Eden when he arrived. But the whole tenor of their subsequent story assumes that their Paradisaic life had for some time been going on, and that the Mundane Universe had been wheeling for some time in quiet beauty, diurnal and nocturnal, round the central Earth which bore them, before the advent of the Fiend. Thus, in that first dialogue of the happy pair which the Fiend overhears as soon as he has descended from Niphates into Eden, and found his way into Paradise, Eve is made to say to Adam (IV. 449-452)
“ That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awaked, and found myself reposed,
This language, it is evident, would be at fault unless the day so remembered by Eve were supposed to be at a considerable distance ; and, if Eve were supposed to have been only two days in existence,
it would be absurd. Again, Eve is made to say, addressing Adam (IV. 639, 640) :
“ With thee conversing, I forget all time,
All seasons and their change ; all please alike.”
Here, even if the word “seasons” should be interpreted, by the rest of the passage, as meaning only different times of the day, and changing aspects of morning and evening, in sunlight, shower, or starlight, the implication certainly is that there had been a considerable experience of those phenomena. And so in many other places where Adam himself talks : particularly in his narrative to Raphael of his recollections of his first awakening to life, and of Eve's presence beside him (VIII. 250-559). In short, Milton assumed that the Paradisaic life had lasted some time before the arrival of the Fiend to put an end to it.
Unless we revert to the supposition that Milton was oblivious in all this (which is very unlikely), we must accept the inconsistency as intentional. By the very nature of his poem, Milton was bound to the human measure of time only for events within our astronomical Universe. For events in the regions transcending that Universe, — in the Empyrean, in Chaos, or in Hell, —he might take a transcendental measure of time, or none at all. True, for the purpose of making certain events in those transcendent regions contemporary, to the human imagination, with the Biblical week during which our Universe was evolved into being, he had dared to fit on the human measure of time to a special period of the vast transactions of the infinitude surrounding the World. He had marked out eighteen or nineteen days during which, or at least during the last nine or ten of them, the imagination might apply the human measure of time even to those transactions. But, this over, he resumes his poetic liberty, and lapses into a vagueness as to time, a discrepancy between the rate of things within our Universe and the rate of things beyond it. All that had taken place beyond the Universe, from that Sabbath of contemplative admiration in Heaven over the finished creation and of diabolic scheming against it down in Hell, had taken place at a different rate from that at which things went on within it. That journey of Satan upwards through Chaos on his fatal errand, and that dialogue between the Father and Son in Heaven as to the redemption of the World from the consequences of Satan's foreseen
success (III. 56-415), have to be conceived according to a transcendental measure of time. As we read of Satan's expedition up through Chaos, it seems as if a day were sufficient for it; but, when his journey is ended, and we stand with him on the top of Niphates, lo! the Earth has been for many a day in the midst of the wheeling spheres, and that Sabbath which we thought to be but yesterday is a long way in the distance.
From the moment, however, that the action of the poem begins to be on Earth, the ordinary measure of time is resumed. However long the Earth had been in existence in the midst of the sphery system, and however long Adam and Eve had been becoming familiar with Paradise, and with each other, on that fatal day when Satan alighted on the top of Niphates, the story from that time forward is comprised within a definite number of ordinary days and nights. The following is the scheme of time, from the arrival of Satan on the Earth at the end of Book III., on to the close of the poem :
First Day.—Satan, who has alighted on Niphates exactly at noon (IV. 29-31), spends the rest of that day in surveying Eden from the mountain-top, in descending into Eden, and in making his way into Paradise in the neighbourhood of Adam and Eve. It is towards evening when he first sees them and listens to their conversation (IV. 331, and IV. 355); he leaves them for a while at sunset (IV. 536– 543), and roams through Paradise ; but at night he is found by Ithuriel and Zephon in Eve's nuptial bower, squat like a toad, and insinuating dreams into her ear. Arrested, and brought, in his own shape, before Gabriel and the rest of the night-watch of angels, about or shortly after midnight, he listens to Gabriel's denunciations, replies defiantly, and then, towards daybreak (IV. 1014, 1015), hurries away in a permitted flight. Book IV. contains the whole action of this day.
Second Day.—This day spreads over no less than four Books of the poem, viz. Books V., VI., VII., and VIII. For, Eve having awoke in the morning, troubled with her dream, and Adam having comforted her, and the two having gone forth to their work in the Garden, the Archangel Raphael, who has been sent down from Heaven to warn them of their danger, arrives at noon, when their day's work is over (V. 299–301); and the rest of the day is taken up with his long colloquy with Adam. It is into this colloquy that Milton has inwoven, by way of retrospect, much that is essential to