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THE ARGUMENT.

Adam enquires concerning celestial motions, is doubtfully answered,

and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge : Adam assents; and still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remembered since his own creation ; his placing in Paradise, his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society, his first meeting and nuptials with Ese; his discourse with the Angel thereupon ; who, after adownitions repeated, departs.

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK VIII.

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The Angel ended; and in Adam's ear
So charming left his voice, that he awhile
Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear;
Then, as new-waked, thus gratefully replied.

“What thanks sufficient, or what recompense
Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allay'd
The thirst I had of knowledge, & vouchsafed
This friendly condescension, to relate
Things else by me unsearchable, now heard
With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,
With glory attributed to the high
Creator? Something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of Heaven & Earth consisting, and compute
Their magnitudes, this earth, a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared,
And all her number'd stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible, for such
Their distance argues, and their swift return
Diurnal, merely to officiate light
Round this opacous earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night, in all their vast survey
Useless besides ; reasoning, I oft admire,
How nature, wise and frugal, could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
So many nobler bodies to create,
Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For ought appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution, day by day
Repeated; while the sedentary earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;

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Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails."

So spake our sire, and by his countenance seem'd
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And
grace

that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosper’d, bud and bloom,
Her nursery : they at her coming sprung,
And touch'd by her fair tendance, gladlier grew
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high : such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress ;
Her husband the relator she preferr'd
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses ; from his lip
Not words alone pleas'd her. O when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour join'd?
With goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended, for on her, as queen,
A pomp of winning graces waited stili,
And, from about her, shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt proposed,
Benevolent and facile, thus replied.

To ask, or search I blame thee not, for Heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years :
This to attain, whether Heaven move, or Earth,
Imports not, or if thou reckon right; the rest,
From man or angel, the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets, to be scann'd by them, who ought
Rather admire : or, if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabric of the Heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter, at their quaint opinions wide,
Hereafter, when they come to model Heaven,
And calculate the stars, how they will wield
The mighty frame, how build, unbuild, contrive
To save appearances, how gird the sphere,
With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb.

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Already by thy reasoning this I guess,
Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest,
That bodies bright and greater should not serve
The less, not bright; nor Heaven such journies run,
Eartl, sitting still, when she alone receives
The benefit. Consider first, that great
Or bright infers not excellence: the Earth,
Though in comparison of Heaven so small,
Nor glistering, may, of solid good, contain
More plenty than the sun, that barren shines,
Whose virtue on itself works no effect,
But in the fruitful earth; there first received,
His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.
Yet not to earth are those bright luminaries
Officious, but to thee, earth's habitant.
And for the Heaven's wide circuit, let it
The Maker's high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretch'd out so far,
That man may know he dwells not in his own ;
An edifice too large for him to fill,
Lodg'd in a small partition, and the rest
Ordain'd for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribute,
Though numberless, to his omnipotence,
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual: me thou think'st not slow,
Who, since the morning hour, set out from Heaven
Where God resides, and ere mid-day arrived
In Eden; distance inexpressible,
By numbers that have name. But this I

urge,
Admitting motion in the Heavens, to show
Invalid that, which thee to doubt it moved ;
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee, who hast thy dwelling here on earth.
God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Placed Heaven from Earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain,

What if the sun
Be centre to the world, and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds ?
Their wandering course now high, now low, then hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if seventh to these
The planet earth, so steadfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move ?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,

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Moved contrary with thwart obliquities;
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,
If earth, industrious, of herself fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse
From the sun's beam meet night, her other part
Still luminous by his ray.

What if that light,
Sent from her, through the wide conspicuous air,
To the terrestrial moon, be as a star,
Enlightening her by day, as she by night
This earth? reciprocal, if land be there,
Fields and inhabitants : her spots thou seest
As clouds; & clouds may rain, & rain produce
Fruits in her soften'd soil, for some to eat,
Allotted there ; and other suns, perhaps,
With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry,
Communicating male and female light;
Which two great sexes animate the world,
Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.
For such vast room in nature, unpossess'd
By living soul, desert and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, convey'd so far
Down to this habitable, which returns
Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.
But whether thus these things, or whether not,
Whether the sun, predominant in Heaven,
Rise on the earth, or earth rise on the sun;
He from the east his flaming road begin,
Or she from west her silent course advance,
With inoffensive pace, that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even,
And bears the soft with the smooth air along,
Solicit not thy thoughts; with matters hid,
Leave them to God above; him serve and fear;
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose. Joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise,
And thy fair Eve; Heaven is for thee too high,
To know what passes there ; be lowly wise :
Think only what concerns thee and thy being ;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree ;
Contented that thus far hath been reveal'd,
Not of Earth only, but of highest Heaven."

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