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be doubted whether Milton even then felt himself entitled to reject the system which Galileo had impugned. His friends and literary associates, the Smectymnuans, at all events, in their answer to Bishop Hall's “Humble Remonstrance” (1641), had cited the Copernican doctrine as an unquestionable instance of a supreme absurdity. “There is no more truth in this assertion,” they say of one of Bishop Hall's statements, “than if he had said, with Anaxa‘goras, 'Snow is black,' or, with Copernicus, 'The Earth moves and “the Heavens stand still.'” There cannot be a more distinct proof than this incidental passage affords of the utter repulsiveness of the Copernican theory to even the educated English intellect as late as the middle of the seventeenth century. Milton was probably even then, if we may judge from the above-quoted reference to Galileo, in advance of his contemporaries on this question; and in the interval between that time and the completion of his Paradise Lost his Copernicanism may have become decided. There are, at any rate, two passages in Paradise Lost where he shows his perfect acquaintance with the Copernican theory, and with the arguments in its behalf. One (IV. 592—597) is an incidental passage; in the other and much longer passage (VIII. 15—178) he makes the question a subject of express conversation between Raphael and * Adam. In this last passage Adam is represented as arriving by intuition at the Copernican theory, or at least as perceiving its superior simplicity over the Ptolemaic; and, though the drift of the Angel's reply is that the question is an abstruse one, and that it is of no great consequence for man's real duty in the world which system is the true one, yet the balance of the Angel's remarks is decidedly Copernican. There is no doubt that these two passages were deliberately inserted by Milton in order to relieve his own mind on the subject, and by way of caution to the reader that the scheme of the physical Universe actually adopted in the construction of the poem did not need to be taken as more than a hypothesis for the imagination.
That scheme is, undoubtedly, the Ptolemaic or Alphonsine. Accordingly, the little central circle hung drop-like from the Empyrean in our last diagram, and there representing the dimensions of the total Creation of the Six Days, or, in other words, of our Starry Universe, may be exhibited now on a magnified scale, by simply reproducing one of the diagrams of the Heavens which were given in all
the old books of Astronomy. The following is a copy (a little neater than the original, but otherwise exact) from a woodcut in an edition, in 1610, of the Sphæra of Joannes a Sacrobosco, with commentaries and additions by Clavius and others.
This, literally this, so far as mere diagram can represent it, is the World, or Cosmos, or Mundane Universe, as Milton keeps it in his mind's eye throughout the poem. It is an enormous azure round of
1 Joannes a Sacrobosco, or John Holywood, was an English mathematician of the thirteenth century, who lived and died in Paris ; and his treatise De Sphærd, as amended by later writers, continued for several centuries to be the favourite manual of Astronomy throughout Europe. Milton himself used it in teaching his pupils, as we learn from his nephew Phillips. With respect to the above cut (which I have selected from among many similar cuts in old manuals of Astronomy), it seems only necessary to guard the reader against the mistake of supposing that it represents the Mundane System in section precisely as in the former cuts. On the contrary, it represents the interior of the Cosmos as looked down into, in equatorial section, from the pole of the ecliptic. It is, in short, a view vertically down from the opening at the pole in the preceding cut,—the axis not being from top to bottom of the cut, but from the eye to the centre.
space, scooped or carved out of Chaos, and communicating aloft with the Empyrean, but consisting within itself of ten Orbs or hollow Spheres in succession, wheeling one within the other, down to the stationary nest of our small Earth at the centre, with the elements of water, air and fire that are immediately around it. It is according to this scheme that Milton virtually describes the process of Creation in the first, the second, and the fourth of the six days of Genesis (VII. 232 —275 and 339—386): the only deviation being that the word "Firmament" is not there applied specifically to the 8th or Starry Sphere, but is used for the whole continuous depth of all the heavens as far as to the Primum Mobile. As if to prevent any mistake, however, there is one passage in which the Ten Spheres are actually enumerated. It is that (III. 481-483) where the attempted ascent of ambitious souls from Earth to the Empyrean by their own effort is described. In order to reach the opening into the Empyrean at the World's zenith, what are the successive stages of their flight?
“ They pass the Planets Seven, and pass the Fixed,
And that Crystalline Sphere whose balance weighs
Here we have the Alphonsine heavens in their order, and with their exact names. But all through the poem the language assumes the same astronomical system. Where the words Orb and Sphere occur, for example, they almost invariably,—not quite invariably,-mean Orb or Sphere in the Ptolemaic sense. Yet, to make all safe, Milton, as we have seen, inserts two passages at least in which the Copernican theory of the heavens is distinctly suggested as a possible or probable alternative; and, moreover, even while using the language of the other theory, he so arranged that it need not be supposed he did so for any other reason than that of poetical preference.
In one respect the diagram must fail to convey Milton's complete notion of the World or Mundane Universe at that moment when he supposes the Fiend first gazing down into it from the glorious opening at the pole, and then plunging precipitate through its azure depths (III. 561–566) in quest of the particular spot in it where Man had his abode. That small Earth which is so conspicuous in the diagram, as being at the centre, either was not visible even to angelic eyes from such an amazing distance as the opening at the pole of the primum mobile, or was not yet marked. The luminary
that attracts Satan first, from its all-surpassing splendour,-at all events after he has passed the three outermost spheres, and so come within the glittering belt of the fixed constellations and galaxies,—is the Sun. Though the tenant only of the fourth of the Spheres, this luminary so far surpasses all others in majesty that it seems like the King not only of the seven Planetary Orbs, but of all the ten. It seems the very God of the whole new Universe, shooting its radiance even through the beds of the stars, as far as to the primum mobile itself (III. 571-587). It is thither, accordingly, that Satan bends his flight; it is on this of all the bodies in the new Universe that he first alights; and it is only after the Angel Uriel, whom he there encounters, and who does not recognise him in his disguise, has pointed out to him the Earth shining at a distance in the sunlight (III. 722—724) that he knows the exact scene of his further labours. Thus informed, he wings off again from the Sun's body, and, wheeling his steep flight towards the Earth, alights at length on the top of Niphates, near Eden.
There is no need to follow the action of the poem farther in this Introduction. . All that takes place after the arrival of Satan on the Earth,—all that large portion of the story that is enacted within the bounds of Eden or of Paradise, amid those terrestrial scenes of " bowery loneliness," with brooks “mazily murmuring" and "bloom profuse of cedar arches," of the quieter charm of which Tennyson speaks as competing in his mind with admiration of the Titanic and Cosmical grandeurs of the rest of the poem,—the reader can without difficulty make out for himself; or any such incidental elucidation as may be needed may be reserved for the Notes. It is necessary to take account here only of certain final modifications in Milton's imaginary physical structure of the Universe which occur after the Tempter has succeeded in his enterprise and Man has fallen.
In the first place there is then established, what did not exist before, a permanent communication between Hell and Man's Universe. When Satan had come up through Chaos from Hell-gate, he had done so with toil and difficulty, as one exploring his way; but no sooner had he succeeded in his mission than Sin and Death, whom he had left at Hell-gate, felt themselves instinctively aware of his success, and of the necessity there would thenceforward be of a distinct road between Hell and the New World, by which all the Infernals might go and come. Accordingly (X. 282–324) they do
construct such a road: a wonderful causey or bridge from Hell-gate, right through or over Chaos, to that exact part of the outside of the new Universe where Satan had first alighted, i.e. not to its nadir, but to some point near its zenith, where there is the break or orifice in the primun mobile towards the Empyrean. And what is the consequence of this vast alteration in the physical structure of the Universe ? The consequence is that the Infernal Host are no longer confined to Hell, but possess also the new Universe, like an additional island, or pleasure-domain, up in Chaos, and on the very confines of their former home, the Empyrean. Preferring this conquest to their proper empire in Hell, they are thenceforward perhaps more frequently in our World than in Hell, winging through its various Spheres, but inhabiting chiefly the Air round our central Earth. But this causey from Hell to the World, constructed by Sin and Death, is not the only modification of the Mundane Universe consequent on the Fall. The interior of the Human World as it hangs from the Empyrean receives some alterations for the worse by the decree of the Almighty Himself. The elements immediately round the Earth become harsher and more malignant; the planetary and starry spheres are so influenced that thenceforward planets and stars look inward upon the central Earth with aspects of malevolence; nay, perhaps it was now first that, either by a heaving askance of the Earth from its former position, or by a change in the Sun's path, the ecliptic became oblique to the equator (X. 6514691). All this is apart from changes in the actual body of the Earth, including the obliteration of the site of the desecrated Paradise, and the outbreak of virulence among all things animate.
From the foregoing sketch, it will be seen that, while the poem is properly enough, as the name Paradise Lost indicates, the tragical story of the temptation and fall of the human race in its first parents, yet this story is included in a more comprehensive epic, of which the rebel Archangel is the hero, and the theatre of which is nothing less than Universal Infinitude. While the consummation, as regards Man, is the loss of innocence and Eden, and the liability to Death, and while the last objects that we see, in respect of this consummation, are the outcast pair, with the world all before them where to choose, taking their solitary way through Eden after their expulsion from Paradise, the consummation, as regards Satan, is more in the nature of a triumph. He has succeeded in his enterprise. He has vitiated