תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

a

[ocr errors]

B. III.) He loved music. He was affable and courteous, but a trifle stately in his manner. 6. He was the life and soul of the company,” when he had friends with him, “ from his flow of subject" and his “unaffected cheerfulness and civility,” though a little critical and sarcastic about affairs of the time.

He was married three times : first, to Mary Powell, who died in 1652; in 1656, to Katharine Woodcock, who died in 1658; and in 1663, to Elizabeth Minshull, who survived him. He never saw either of the last two wives. His tender love for Katharine Woodcock, who was evidently very kind and faithful to him, is commemorated in his sonnet On His Deceased Wife.

In 1671 he published Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. These were followed by some prose works of no great importance. In the last year of his life he rearranged the ten books of Paradise Lost into twelve books, as we now have it.

He died of gout on November 8, 1674, at the age of sixty-five years and eleven months, and was buried in the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London.

THE COSMOGRAPHY OF THE UNIVERSE AS FOUND IN PARADISE LOST WITH A BRIEF EXPLANATION IN REGARD TO THE POEM

In Paradise Lost Milton adopted, for poetical reasons, the Ptolemaic conception of the universe. (See Encyc. Brit., Vol. II., 777.)

The universe in Paradise Lost is developed through three changes, necessitated by events in the poem. As first found in the poem, the universe may be represented by Fig. 1, p. xxv.

It exhibits Heaven as resting upon the vast ocean of Chaos, and surrounded by an illimitable realm of light, the Empyrean, of which Heaven is a part. Heaven is the abode of God and the angels, a realm of “light, freedom, happiness, and glory." Chaos, "the Uninhabited," is "a huge, limitless ocean, abyss, or quagmire of universal darkness and lifelessness, wherein are jumbled in blustering confusion the elements of all matter, or

1 This chapter is adapted, with the exception of the “ figures " or diagrams, from Masson. (Masson's Cambridge Ed. of Milton's Works, or Masson's Life of Milton, Vol. VI., 523-558.) The present editor has substituted his own illustrations, believe ing them more intelligible to high school pupils.

[ocr errors]

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.”

In the beginning of the events described in Paradise Lost, the Almighty assembles the angels, and announces to them that thereafter his Son shall be their “Head," and that they shall bow down and “confess him Lord.”

The decree is received with joyful acclamation save in one quarter. Satan, or Lucifer, inspired by envy, and aided in chief by Beelzebub, determines to contest the supremacy of the Almighty, and organizes a rebellion. For two days tumultuous war rages on the plains of Heaven; but on the third day the Almighty calls together the faithful angels, and in their presence gives to his Son the power to vanquish and to drive from Heaven the apostate angels. (P. L., B. VI., 680–912.) The Son, in the Almighty's chariot of power, and armed with “ ten thousand thunders," turns the tide of battle and drives the now routed and terrified rebel angels through the inward opening gates in the wall of Heaven down into the horrible abyss of Chaos beneath. They fall through the fearful depths in headlong plunge during a space of nine days, pursued by dreadful thunderbolts to a place

[ocr errors]

which the Almighty had prepared for them - a place called Hell. (P. L., B. I., 59–77; B. II., 570628.)

The universe has now three instead of two regions, as follows: Instead of Heaven and Chaos, there are now Heaven, Chaos, and Hell, as in Fig. 2, p. xxvii.

On the tossing waves of Hell, the fallen angels, exhausted by battle and by their headlong flight through Chaos, and terrified by the booming thunderbolts, lie prostrate for another space of nine days. (See Fig. 3, p. xxix.)

At the end of this time Satan and Beëlzebub make their way to the shore, call the other fallen angels, hold a council, and consider what is best to be done. They see that the pursuing angels have been recalled, and that they are now enclosed with a wall of eternal fire and with ninefold gates of bronze, of iron, and of adamantine rock, " impenetrable, impaled with circling fire, yet unconsumed.” They are now apparently forever enclosed in this dreadful abode. (B. I., 242, et seq.) But Satan is not to be subdued thus. In the council he announces his plan of revenge.

He tells the council that the Almighty had planned, before the fall, the creation of a new race of beings (B. I., 650-654); that he would now carry out the plan, and that the fallen angels, could they escape through the wall of fire and the ninefold gate that shut them in, had an

66

[ocr errors]

opportunity to annoy the Almighty Victor, even though they could not conquer him.

And here we find that, by this new creation, the cosmography of the universe has again changed. The Son of God now passes through the gates in the cryssal wall of Heaven, and with a sweep of his mighty compasses he cuts out of Chaos a vast globe, from which the Almighty forms the World. (Figure 4, p. xxxi, shows the World suspended from the floor of Heaven. The diagram is purposely untrue as to relative distances, in order to add to the appearance of immensity.)

There are now four instead of three regions, Heaven, Chaos, Hell, and the World.

The new creation, the World, was suspended, as has been said, from the floor of Heaven, beneath the gates. Its construction is shown by Fig. 5, p. xxxiii, and may be described as follows:

It consists of ten concentric spheres, in the following order, beginning at the center. (It should be understood that these spheres, except the outer one, are merely spaces and not solids. Each one is a space that bounds the orbit of a planet or set of stars.)

First sphere. The solid Earth in the center.
Second sphere. That of Mercury.
Third sphere. That of Venus.

« הקודםהמשך »