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They are what he did conceive and most tenaciously keep before his mind from first to last; and, unless they are thoroughly grasped, the poem will not be understood as a whole, and many portions of it will be misinterpreted.

Aboriginally, or in primeval Eternity, before the creation of our Earth or the Starry Universe to which it belongs, universal space is to be considered, according to the requisites of the poem, not as containing stars or starry systems at all, but as, so to say, a sphere of infinite radius, divided equatorially into two hemispheres, thus—



The Empyrean.


The upper of these two hemispheres of primeval Infinity is HEAVEN, of THE EMPYREAN-a boundless, unimaginable region of Light, Freedom, Happiness, and Glory, in the midst whereof Deity, though omnipresent, has His immediate and visible dwelling, and where He is surrounded by a vast population of beings, called "the Angels," or "Sons of God," who draw near to His throne in worship, derive thence their nurture and their delight, and yet live dispersed through all the ranges and recesses of the region, leading severally their mighty lives and performing the behests of Deity, but organized into companies, orders, and hierarchies. Milton is careful to explain that all that he says of Heaven is said symbolically, and in order to make conceivable by the human imagination what in its own nature is inconceivable; but, this being explained, he is bold enough in his use of terrestrial analogies. Round the immediate throne of Deity, indeed, there is kept a blazing mist of vagueness, which words are hardly permitted to pierce, though the Angels are represented as from time to time assembling within it, beholding the Divine Presence and hearing the Divine Voice. But Heaven at large, or portions of it, are figured as tracts of a celestial Earth, with plain, hill, and valley, wherein the myriads of the Sons of God expatiate, in their two orders of Seraphim and Cherubim, and in their descending ranks as Archangels or Chiefs, Princes of various degrees, and individual Powers and Intelligences. Certain differences, however, are implied as distinguishing these Celestials from the subsequent race of Mankind. As they are of infinitely greater prowess, immortal, and of more purely spiritual nature, so their ways even of physical existence and action transcend all that is within human experience. Their forms are dilatable or contractible at pleasure; they move with incredible swiftness; and, as they are

not subject to any law of gravitation, their motion, though ordinarily represented as horizontal over the Heavenly ground, may as well be vertical or in any other direction, and their aggregations need not, like those of men, be in squares, oblongs, or other plane figures, but may be in cubes, or other rectangular or oblique solids, or in spherical masses. These and various other particulars are to be kept in mind concerning Heaven and its pristine inhabitants. As respects the other half or hemisphere of the primeval Infinity, though it too is inconceivable in its nature, and has to be described by words which are at best symbolical, less needs be said. For it is CHAOS, or the Uninhabited—a huge, limitless ocean, abyss, or quagmire, of universal darkness and lifelessness, wherein are jumbled in blustering confusion the elements of all matter, or rather the crude embryons of all the elements, ere as yet they are distinguishable. There is no light there, nor properly Earth, Water, Air, or Fire, but only a vast pulp or welter of unformed matter, in which all these lie tempestuously intermixed. Though the presence of Deity is there potentially too, it is still, as it were, actually retracted thence, as from a realm unorganized and left to Night and Anarchy; nor do any of the Angels wing down into its repulsive obscurities. The crystal floor or wall of Heaven divides them from it; underneath which, and unvisited of light, save what may glimmer through upon its nearer strata, it howls and rages and stagnates eternally.

Such is and has been the constitution of the Universal Infinitude from ages immemorial in the Angelic reckoning. But lo! at last a day in the annals of Heaven when the grand monotony of existence hitherto is disturbed and broken. On a day-"such a day as Heaven's great year brings forth" (v. 582, 583)—all the Empyreal host of Angels, called by imperial summons from all the ends of Heaven, assemble innumerably before the throne of the Almighty; beside whom, imbosomed in bliss, sat the Divine Son. They had come to hear this divine decree :

"Hear, all ye Angels, Progeny of Light,

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
Hear my decree which unrevoked shall stand!
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand. Your Head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn to him shall bow
All knees in Heaven, and shall confess him Lord."

With joy and obedience is this decree received throughout the hierarchies, save in one quarter. One of the first of the Archangels in Heaven, if not the very first-the coequal of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, if not their superior -is the Archangel known afterwards (for his first name in Heaven is lost) as Satan, or Lucifer. In him the effect of the decree is rage, envy, pride, the resolution to rebel. He conspires with his next subordinate, known afterwards as Beelzebub; and there is formed by them that faction in Heaven which includes at length one third of the entire Heavenly host. Then ensue the wars in Heaven-Michael and the loyal Angels warring against Satan and the rebel Angels, so that for two days the Empyrean is in uproar. But on the third day the Messiah himself rides forth in his chariot of power, and armed with ten thousand thunders. Right on he drives, in his sole might, through the rebel ranks, till they are trampled and huddled, in one indiscriminate flock, incapable of resistance, before him and his fires. But his purpose is not utterly to destroy

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. At 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—



The Empyrean.



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,

"another Heaven,

From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view
On the clear hyaline."

And now, accordingly, this was the diagram of the Universal Infinitude :

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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!

"Far off the Empyreal Heaven extended wide
In crescent, undetermined square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorned
Of living sapphire, once his native seat,
And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendent World, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon."

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