Of the Prouinces of the Worlde, and firste of Paradise. Capitulum decimum.
THRE thynges ar to be aduertisede principally as abowte the knowlege of Paradise. Fyrste hit is inquirede as vn to the existence of hit other*. [So the MS., but or the is pro|bably the true reading.] condicion wheþer hit be. In the secunde hit is inquirede as vn to the posicion of hyt where hit is. In the thrydde hit is inquirede in what maner hit is. Of the fyrste, hit is to be attendede that iiij thynges bere wyttenesse to the beenge of hit, that is to say, narraciones of storyes, the whiche do comparate the places of Sodomye to Paradise afore the subuersion of theyme. In the secunde, the testimonies of men experte whiche haue writen theyme to haue seen that place. In the thrydde, iiij. waters flowenge from hit, the begynnenge of whom was not founde in oure partes habitable, neiþer in the see, neither in eny other welle whiche hathe be laborede by diuerse kynges of Egipte and other men ofte tymes. Therefore, Isidorus wyttenesse xiijo. Eth., Seynte Ierom perceyvethe other wise of the floodes of Paradise then other auctores Page 69, vol.1 have diffinede. Basilius in his Hexaemeron and Isidorus, libro quartodecimo Eth., and Iosephus, libro primo,*. [seien, or some such word, has been omitted.] that waters fallenge from Paradise make a lake, from whom iiij. flowedes [folio 24a] hathe theire begynnenge as of a welle. Petrus, capitulo quarto decimo. The firste floode of whom is calledde Phison, the invndacion of whom is educede in to Ynde, drawenge with hit grauelle of golde, whiche is callede Ganges off a kynge some time in Ynde Gangarius by name, whiche is called a cumpanye by interpretacion, in that hit dothe receyve x. floedes. The secunde is callede Gyon or Nilus, whiche compassethe Ethioppe and Egipte. The thrydde floode is callede Tigris, after Iosephus hit is called Dig|lath, whiche sowndethe scharpe, in so moche that hit is swifte as a tigre, and goethe ageynes Assiriones. The furthe is callede Euphrates, that sowndethe as plentuous of corne, whiche goethe ageyne men of Calde. Isidorus, libro tertio decimo. Salustius, the moste certeyne auctor, seythe that a welle is spronge from the highe hilles of Armenye, at the foote of the hille callede Caucasus, whiche welle is the hede Page 71, vol.1 of tweyne waters, that is to saye, of Tigris and Euphrates, whiche be other while separate and oþerwhile commixte, oftetyme devourede of the erthe; and at the laste thei descende abowte Mesopotamy in to the Redde see. ℞. And thauȝhe men say that Nilus dothe procede from Paradise, some men afferme hit to haue his begynnenge in the weste parte of Ethiop, not ferre from the mownte Atlantike, whiche com|passenge Ethioppe descendethe by Egipte, of the properte off whom beholde with in the chapitre Egiptus. In the iiijthe, the olde fame berrethe testimonye to the existence of Para|dise. But trewely the fame of Paradise hathe stonde as inconcussede by vj. ml. yeres and more. The fame of a false thynge is wonte to falle auþer by obliuion, other by oppinion contrarious. Of the secunde, where it is, hit is*. [Paradisus.] not to take to credence after some men of pover and breve intellecte, and also of lytelle experience, Paradise to be a Page 73, vol.1 region in grete distaunce from this worlde habitable, eleuate vn to the cercle of the moone. For nature wylle not suffre that, neither reason. For if hit were separate in that maner from this worlde habitable, neither the aier, neither the water, myȝhte susteyne suche a burdon and hevynesse. Also sythe the elemente of fyre occupyethe alle the mydelle place betwene the cercle of the aier and of the moone, where|fore [folio 24b] hit may be concludede Paradise not to be there, sythe noo thynge vegetable may haue lyfe þer. That grauntede, that place scholde induce otherwhile the eclipse of the moone, and specially in the este partes of the erthe; but we haue not herde of such eclipse vn to this presente tyme. Also if Paradise were separable from oure places habitable, how scholde the iiij. flowedes aforeseyde atteyne to oure habit|acles by so grete a see other by the aier intermediate? If hit be seyde that hit is in a maner contiguate to oure place habitable, then hit scholde appere that the erthe were not rownde, as hit is describede of discrete men, but longe, and by consequent hit scholde yelde a schado inegalle in Page 75, vol.1 euery eclipse; but that may not stonde, sythe hit is provede by experience that the schado of the erthe in euery eclipse of the moone makethe a rownde schado. Wherefore hit is schewede that the erthe with his partes is rownde. Where|fore prudent men conclude that Paradise terrestrialle is in the extreme partes of the este, and that a grete porcion of the erthe is þer, not lesse then Ynde or Egipte, as a place deputate to alle mankynde if Adam hade not synnede. Of the thrydde, that is the discripsion of hit, what maner a place hit is, hit is to be attended that after Isidor, libro 14o, capitulo iijo, that this worde Paradisus turnede from Grewe in to Latyn, is callede a yorde or a gardyn. In Ebrewe hit is callede Eden, that sowndethe delites,*. [The reading of Harl. MS. may be delices.] whiche coniuncte makethe a gardyne off delites.*. [The reading of Harl. MS. may be delices.] ℞. And noo meruayle, for that place hathe euery thynge that is con|gruente to lyfe. Isidorus, libro 14o. Hyt hath salubrite and wholsomnesse, for hit ioyethe in temperaunce, felenge neither coldenesse ne heete, in so moche that a thynge lyffenge there may not dye. A testimony þerof Enoc and Helias lyve ȝitte there incorrupte. Magister Iohannes Da|mascenus, libro quarto decimo. That place hathe also Page 77, vol.1 amenite. For hit is the pantre or place of alle pulcritude, where the trees of euery kynde loose not theire beaute, floures fade not, hauenge in hit pleasaunte frute. As hit is schewede in the secunde chapitre of Genesis, where hit is seide, Paradise hathe in hit every tre feyre to siȝhte and swete to eyte. Also hit hathe securite, to the whiche sey|enge the altitude of the place berrethe testimonye. ℞. Where, after Petrus, capitulo xiijo, the waters of Noe floode [folio 25a] atteynede not to hyt. That somme men seyde Paradise to atteyn to the cercle of the moone, Alexander seythe that not to be trawthe, but after a locucion iperbolicalle, that the altitude and eminence scholde be schewede excellente, and incomparable in the respecte of oure places habitable. But allas, for as Isidorus seythe, lib. ixo, cap. iijo, the entre in to that place was schut by the synne of Adam, whiche is compassede abowte with a walle off fyre; in so moche that the heete of hit is ioynede allemoste with heuyn, to remove Page 79, vol.1 men, that thei comme not to hit, where cherubyn and other goode angelles be putte to remove ylle angelles from thens.