Francis Bacon and the firmament
The scientific revolution in astronomy that occurred about 1750 AD fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 8:13-14, when an angelic messenger or saint answered the question, “How long shall be the vision concerning the tamiyd [continual] and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” The answer came: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
The tamiyd being taken away by the little horn, here referred to as “the transgression of desolation,” refers to the knowledge of the earth’s rotation, which is “continual,” as indicated by the word “tamiyd.” In Dan. 8:10-12, the little horn of the goat, which grew up to the stars and cast the host of heaven, and stars, and God’s sanctuary to the earth, represents Antiochus IV the 8th king of the Seleucid dynasty. Taking away the tamiyd signifies the attempts by Antiochus and his agents to stamp out the knowledge of the earth’s rotation. Antiochus opposed belief in the rotation of the earth, perhaps because that would have threatened the idea of the rigid heaven, which was identified with Zeus. Antiochus sought to establish the worship of Zeus, Apollo, and other Olympian deities. Zeus was identified with the rigid sky, and if the earth rotates, there would be no need to suppose the sky is a rigid shell that revolves around the earth.
The starry heaven [God’s sanctuary] being cast to the earth in Dan. 8:11 follows from the redefinition of the ‘raqia’ or firmament in Genesis 1. Statements were added to the Scriptures by Antiochis IV and his agents, such as in Gen. 1 vs. 8, “And God called the firmament Heaven,” which changed the meaning of ‘raqia.’ The ‘raqia’ originally referred to the earth, not heaven. The original text said the earth’s rocky crust was formed in the midst of the primeval waters, dividing and separating the upper from the lower waters. The upper waters became seas, and the lower waters were subterranean, and gave rise to the flood. [Ex. 20:4; Psa. 24:2; Psa. 136:6]
Neither is there such a thing as a firmament above the earth, or a rigid shell revolving around the earth, carrying the stars, a fact that was widely accepted in 1750 A.D. The abolition of the notion of a rigid heavenly firmament, along with the Ptolemaic planetary spheres, equants, deferents, epicycles and the like, was the “cleansing” of the heavenly sanctuary, (i.e., the starry heaven) which Daniel’s prophecy foretold. The prophecy applies to the scientific revolution in astronomy, and to 1750 A.D., which was 23 centuries after Daniel’s vision, given in the third year of Belshazzar, about 550 BC.
During the two centuries following the death of Copernicus, the works of astronomers and mathematicians who supported and advanced his ideas by their discoveries and writings were opposed by other workers; the accomplishment of the revolution in astronomy did not occur in the time of Copernicus, (1473–1543) but about two centuries later.
Some writers who rejected the idea that the earth rotates on its axis “daily” and “continually,” causing the apparent revolutions of the starry heaven, include Christopher Clavius (1538–1612), William Barlow (1544–1629), Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), Francis Bacon (1561–1626), René Descartes (1596-1650), and John Milton (1608–1674).
Francis Bacon never accepted Copernican heliocentrism and was critical of Gilbert’s philosophical work in support of the diurnal motion of the earth. Bacon’s criticism includes the following two statements. The first was repeated in three of his works—In the Advancement of Learning (1605), Novum Organum (1620) and De Augmentis (1623). The more severe second statement is from History of Heavy and Light Bodies published after Bacon’s death.
The Alchemists have made a philosophy out of a few experiments of the furnace and Gilbert our countryman hath made a philosophy out of observations of the lodestone.
[Gilbert] has himself become a magnet; that is, he has ascribed too many things to that force and built a ship out of a shell.
The following is Francis Bacon’s discussion of the firmament.
Francis Bacon (1561–1626),
Works, VOL. XV.
Tr. Basil Montagu. 1784
THE THEORY OF THE FIRMAMENT.
BUT as so many foiling inconveniences are found to spring up on all sides, it should be deemed satisfactory if any thing can be avouched less revolting.
Let us, therefore, construct a scheme of the universe, according to that measure of history hitherto known to us, reserving for our future judgment all new lights, after history, and through history, our philosophy, by induction, may have reached a maturer age. But we will, in the outset, premise some points that have reference to the matter composing the heavenly bodies, whence their motion and formation may be better understood; afterwards setting forth our thoughts and ideas of that motion itself, the chief subject under discussion.
Nature then, in the separating of matter, seems to have drawn an impassable bar between the rare and dense, and to have assigned the globe of the earth to the order of the dense; but every thing, from the very surface of the earth, and its waters, to the utmost extremity of the firmament, to that of the rare or volatile, as it were, to twin classes of first principles, not indeed of equal but of suitable portions. Nor indeed does either the water clinging to the clouds, or the wind pent up in the earth, disarrange this natural and appropriate position of things: but this difference, between rare or volatile, and dense or tangible, is entirely primordial or essential, and is what the system of the universe chiefly has recourse to. It proceeds from a state of things the most simple possible this is from the abundance and scarceness of matter, in proportion to its extension. What belong to the order of subtile or volatile, as found here among us, (we are speaking of those bodies that are simple and perfect, not of such as are compounded and imperfectly mixed,) are clearly those two bodies, air and flame. But these are to be propounded as bodies utterly heterogeneous, not, as is commonly supposed, that flame is nothing else than air set on fire. To these correspond, in the higher regions, the setherial and sidereal nature, as, in the inferior, water and oil, and in the still deeper parts, mercury and sulphur, and generally crude and fat bodies, or, in other words, bodies that have a repugnance to, and such as are susceptible of, flame; (for salts are of a compounded nature, consisting of crude and at the same time also of inflammable parts). It is now to be seen by what compact these two great families of things, air and flame, shall have occupied by far the greater part of the universe, and what are those parts they hold in the system. In air nearest to the earth, flame lives but a momentary life, and utterly perishes. But after the air has begun to be more depurate from the effluiviae of the earth and well rarified, the nature of flame through various adventures explores its way, and tries to take its station in the air, and after a time acquires some duration, not from succession, as with us, but in identity; which takes place for a time in some of the feebler comets, which are in a manner of an intermediate nature between a successive and a fixed flame; the flamy nature however is not fixed or established, before its arrival at the body of the moon. There the flame lays down its extinguishable part, and protects itself on all sides, but yet it is a flame, weak without vigour, and having little of radiation of that kind; that is, neither vivid from its own nature, nor much excited by a contrary one; neither is it sincere, but, from its composition with an etherial substance, such as is there met with, it is stained and mixed up. And in the region of Mercury flame has not very plentifully established itself, since, by the accumulation of its whole amount, it is able to form only a small planet, and that withal labouring and struggling, like an ignis fatuus, with a great and highly disturbed diversity of fluctuating motions, and not bearing to be separated but for a small distance from the guardian protection of the sun. Moreover, after we arrive at the region of Venus, the flamy nature begins to gain strength and to wax brighter, and to be collected into a globe of a tolerable size; nevertheless she also is the handmaid of the sun, and shudders with an abhorrence of any greater recession from him. But in the region of the sun, flame is set, as it were, on a throne, the mean being among the flames of the planets, for there it is stronger and more glittering than the flames of the fixed stars, on account of the greater restraining influence shed all around, and the closest possible union. But flame in the region of Mars is observed to be likewise powerful, denoting by its splendor the sun’s vicinity, yet existing of its own proper virtue, and admitting of a separation from the sun to the extent of the whole diameter of the firmament. In the region of Jupiter, however, flame, laying aside, in a gradual manner, this emulation, appears more serene and clear, not so much from its proper nature, (as the planet Venus, she being more sparkling,) but from being less moved and excited by the nature spread around him; in which region it is probable that takes place, which Galileo devised, to wit, that the firmament there begins to be studded with stars, although from their minuteness invisible. But again, in the region of Saturn the nature of flame seems to become somewhat languid and faint, as being both farther removed from an alliance with the sun, and exhausted by the neighbouring constellated firmament. Lastly, a flamy and sidereal nature having overpowered the astherial nature, gives a constellated firmament composed of an setherial and sidereal nature, as the globe of the earth is of continent and waters scattered up and down on this side and that side, the setherial substance being however overruled, subdued, and assimilated, so as to thoroughly endure and become subservient to the sidereal. Wherefore, from the earth, to the summit of the firmament are found three genera of regions, and, as it were, three stages, as relate to the region in which flame is extinguished, the region in which flame disperses itself; moreover, to quibble about contiguity and continuity in soft and flowing bodies, would be an utter vulgarism. Nevertheless that point should be understood, namely, that nature is accustomed to advance to spaces by gradual steps, then, of a sudden, by leaps, and to alternate this sort of process, otherwise no fabric could be formed did she always proceed by insensible degrees; for what a jump as respects the expansion of matter is there from water to air, even ever so dense or clouded, and yet these bodies, so different in their nature, are joined together in position and superficies without any medium or interposing distance: nor is it a less leap as to a substantial nature, from the region of the air to the region of the moon; in like manner, a prodigious one from the firmament. Wherefore if any one shall have taken for continuous and contiguous, not from the manner of their annexation, but from the diversity of the bodies connected, those three regions we have spoken of, they can only be held for contiguous in their limits.
But now it is time to notice, in a clear and explicit manner, the amount and nature of what this our theory, relating to the substance matters of a system, may establish, as also of what it may give the negative to, in order that it may be maintained or overthrown. It denies that vulgar opinion, that flame is air ignited, by affirming that those two bodies, air and flame, are clearly heterogeneous, like water and oil, sulphur and mercury. It negatives that vacuum coacervatum held by Gilbert, to obtain among the scattered spheres, but affirms that the spaces are filled either with aerial or a flamy nature. It denies that the moon is an aqueous, or a dense, or a solid body, but affirms that it is of a flamy nature, though it be gentle withal and weak, being indeed the first rudiment and the last sediment of coelestial flame; since flame, (according to its density), no less than air and liquids, admits of innumerable degrees. It establishes that flame, justly and freely posited, becomes fixed and subsists, no less than air and water; nor is it a momentary thing, and only successive in its bulk, by renewal and feeding, as is the case here with us. It maintains that flame has a natural tendency to go and collect itself into globes, after the manner of an earthy nature, but not at all like air and water, which are gathered together in orbs and the interstices of globes, but never into perfect globes. It avers that the same flamy nature in the proper place, (that is) in the constellated firmament, is dispersed in infinite round atoms, but yet in such sort that that twofold principle of pure air and constellation be not put off, nor yet flame extended to the heaven of heavens. It affirms that stars are real flames, but that the actions of flame in the heavens should in no wise be wrested into a comparison with the actions of flame with us, most of which operate by casualty. It affirms that the ether interspersed among stars, and the stars themselves, have respective relations to air and flame, but sublimated and rectified. And thus with respect to the substance of the constitution or system of the universe, some such ideas as these have suggested themselves to our mind.
We must now speak of the motions of the heavenly bodies, on account of which we have adduced these premises. It appears reasonable to suppose that rest is not excluded from nature as to any whole (for we are not now discoursing of small parts). This (waiving logical and mathematical subtleties) is mainly evident from the fact, that the inciting causes, and the velocities of the heavenly motions, gradually slacken themselves, as tending to ultimate cessation, and because that even the heavenly bodies partake of rest, hard by the poles, and because, if immobility be excluded the system, it is dissolved and dissipated. But, if there be a certain accumulation and mass of matter of an immoveable nature, there seems no further room to doubt that it is the globe of the earth; for a dense and close cementing of matter disposes toward a languid and reluctant motion; as, on the contrary, a loose unfolding of it towards a brisk and ready one. And not without reason did Telesius, (who revived the philosophy and discussions of Parmenides in a treatise on the principle of cold), introduce into nature, not indeed a co-essentiality and coupling (which was his wish), but, however, an affinity and agreement, to wit, on one side, of hot, shining, rare, and immoveable, and, on the opposite part, of cold, dark, dense, and immoveable, by placing the site of the first harmony in the heavens, of the second on the earth. But, if rest and immobility be conceded, it seems fit that we also suppose a motion without limit and to the uttermost moveable, especially in natures opposed to each other. This motion is commonly rotatory, such as is generally found in the heavenly bodies; for motion in a circle has no termination, and seems to flow from a natural desire of the body, which moves, only that it may move, and follow itself, and seek its own embraces, and excite its nature, and enjoy it, and exercise itself in its proper operation; whereas a motion in a right line may seem a finite journeying, and a movement to a boundary of cessation or rest, and that it may attain some thing, and then quietly lay down its motion. Wherefore respecting that rotatory motion, which motion is true and perennial, and commonly supposed peculiar to the heavenly bodies, we must inquire how it equips itself in the outset, and by what rate of conduct it incites and checks itself, and what the nature may be of those influences which really act upon it. In our progress of unfolding these things, we will refer to computations and tables, that beautiful mathematical dogma (that all motions are res trained to circles, perfect, or eccentric, or concentric), and that high flown dictum (that the earth is, in respect of the firmament, like a point of no magnitude), and many more feigned discoveries of astronomers. But first we will divide the heavenly motions: some are cosmici, others ad invicem. Those we call cosmici, which the heavenly bodies acquire from the consent not only of the heavens but of the universe: those ad invicem, in which some heavenly bodies depend on others: and this is a true and necessary division. On the supposition, then, of the earth standing still (for that at present appears to us the truer hypothesis), it is manifest that the heavens are carried round by a diurnal motion, the measure of which motion is the space of twenty-four hours, or thereabouts; and, consequently, the revolution is from east to west, upon certain points, (which they call poles,) south and north: moreover the heavens are not whirled round moveable poles, nor, back again, are the points different from those stated; and this motion verily seems in harmony with universal nature, and therefore sole, except as far as it admits both of decrements and declinations; according to which decrements and declinations this motion shoots through every thing moveable, and pervades all space, from the constellated firmament even to the very bowels and inmost recesses of the earth; not by any snatched or harassing course, but by perpetual consent; and that motion in the constellated firmament is perfect and entire, as well as to a just measure of time, as by a full restoration of place; but, inasmuch as that motion recedes from the summit of the heavens, insomuch does it become more imperfect, with reference to its slowness as well as its aberration from a circular motion. And, first, we must speak distinctly of that slowness. We affirm, that the diurnal motion of Saturn is too slow to carry it round, and restore it to the same point in twenty-four hours; but that the starry firmament is carried on quicker, and outstrips Saturn by such an excess, as, in as many days as complete thirty years, would agree with a whole circuit of the heavens. The same is to be said of the rest of the planets, according to the difference of the periodic time of each planet; so that the diurnal motion of the starry firmament (in that same period, without any regard to the magnitude of the circle) is nearly by one hour swifter, than the diurnal motion of the moon; for, if the moon could complete its revolution in twenty-four days, then that excess would be one whole hour; wherefore that much talked of motion, in an opposite and contrary direction from west to east, which is attributed as pecu liar to the planets, is not true, but only apparent, from the outstripping of the starry firmament toward the west, and the leaving behind of the planets toward the east, which being granted, it is evident that the velocity of that cosmical motion, by an unperturbed law of nature, as it descends, decreases, so that the nearer each planet approaches the earth, the slower it moves; whereas the received opinion overthrows and turns upside down that law; and by attributing a motion of their own to the planets, falls into the absurdity, that the planets, the nearer they are to the earth (which is, naturally, the place of rest), in that ratio have their celerity increased; which astronomers, in the most trifling and unsuccessful manner, attempt to excuse, by a relaxation of the force of the primum mobile. But it it seem to any one a matter of wonder, that, in spaces so vast as interpose between the starry firmament and the moon, that motion should gradually decrease by portions so small, by less, to wit, than one hour, which is the twenty-fourth part of the diurnal motion; it subsides when we consider that each planet, the nearer it is to the earth, completes lesser circles, revolving in a shorter circuit; so that, the decrement of the size of the circle being added to the decrement of the periodic time, that motion is perceived to decrease in a marked manner. Up to this time we have spoken of the velocity, absolutely and apart, as if the planets, placed, for example, in the plane of the equator, or of any of its parallels, were simply overtaken by the starry firmament, and by one another, but yet in that selfsame circle; for this would be a mere leaving behind without any respect to obliquity. But it is manifest, that the planets not only hasten on their course with unequal relative speed, but do not return to the same point of a circle, but decline towards the south and the north, the limits of which declination are the tropics; which declination has produced a circle oblique to us, and its different polarity; after the same manner, that that inequality of velocity has caused the motion of an opposite action. Nor really is there need of this figment in the nature of things, since by introducing spiral lines (the thing that comes nearest to sense and fact) the matter in dispute may be settled, and those points be safe and sound. Besides (which is the sum and substance of the matter) these spirals are nothing else than deviations from a perfectly circular motion, which the planets cannot bear; for in proportion as the substances degenerate in purity and expansion, so also do their motions. But it happens, that as in point of celerity the higher planets are carried on quicker, and the inferior slower; so, also, that the superior planets form spires that approximate and more nearly resemble circles, but the inferior curves more disjoined and eccentric; for, by descending more and more, there is a perpetual departure both from that prime state of velocity and that perfect circular motion, by a law of nature no where interrupted. In this however the planets agree, (as bodies retaining much of a common nature, though in other respects differing,) that they have the same limits of declination. For neither doth Saturn return within the tropics, nor does the moon stray beyond the tropics (and yet we must not dismiss from our consideration what has been handed down and remarked by some upon the wanderings of the planet Venus), but all the planets, whether superior or inferior, after their arrival at the tropics, turn themselves, and recommence a course back again, weary of a lesser spiral range, such as they would have to undergo, if they did approach nearer the Poles; and dreading that loss of motion as destructive of their nature. For howsoever it may be, in the starry firmament, both the stars: near the poles, and those about the equinoctial, preserve their ranks and positions, reduced into order, one by another, with steadfastness and consummate uniformity; nevertheless the planets seem to be of that mixed nature, that they admit not willingly an ampler circuit, nor bear at all a shorter. Furthermore, these doctrines concerning the heavenly motions seem to us somewhat preferable to forced and opposite motions, and of a different polarity of the Zodiac, and an inverted order of velocity, and such like, which in no way agree with the nature of things, though they may in a manner accord with calculations. Neither have eminent astronomers been blind to these matters, but, wrapped up in their craft, and reveries of perfect circles, catching at subtleties and the evil results of a fashionable philosophy, they have disdained to follow nature. Truly, however, is that despotic decretal against nature of wise men more mischievous, than the very simplicity and utter credulity of the uninformed, when any one, for instance, looks with scorn at truth, because it is manifest. And yet huge is that evil, and most widely extended, that the human intellect, whenever it finds itself unequal to subjects, has a predilection to soar above them.
But now we must inquire whether that one and simple motion in a circle, and in a spiral curve, from east to west, upon certain south and north poles, cease and terminate with the heavens, or it also be conveyed down to things beneath. For it would not be ingenuous in us to feign here in this nether region such aphorism as they suppose with respect to the heavens. Wherefore, if in these regions be also found that motion, it will appear that, even in the heavens, it is of like kind, according to a nature common or cosmical, with that we experience. In the first place then it is plainly evident, that it is not confined to the limits of the heavens. But the demonstrations and proofs of this matter we have fully laid down in our anticipation respecting the flowing and ebbing of the sea; therefore, to that we refer; and this being supposed and taken for granted, we will proceed to the rest of the heavenly motions. But these we have said are not cosmical, but reciprocal. There are four kinds of motions visible in the heavens, besides that which we have called cosmical, which is a diurnal motion in curves within the tropics. For either the stars are raised higher, and again depressed lower, as they may be farther from and nearer to the earth; or they bend and wind them selves through the latitude of the Zodiac, by running out more to the south, or more to the north, and by traversing what they call the dragons; or they vary from an incited and also an acquisitive motion (for we join together these two), advancing sometimes quicker, sometimes slower, sometimes progressively, sometimes retrogressively, some times even stopping and staying; or at a certain distance from the sun, they are more or less bound together and drawn round each other. We will recount the causes and natures of these only, generally touching the heads of each; for our present undertaking requires that to be done in this place. But in order to this, and to secure beforehand, as well as to open the way, we must frankly declare our sentiments upon some of the maxims of philosophers, as also upon certain hypotheses of astronomers, as well as their observations during several ages, out of which materials they built up their mysteries; all which things appear to us to be full of error and confusion. Wherefore there are axioms, or rather certain conceits, which, received by philosophers, and transferred to astronomy, and unfortunately being credited, have corrupted the science. Our rejection of them will be simple, as well as our judgment upon them; for it is not suitable to waste precious time on silly refutations. The first of these is, that all things above the moon inclusively are incorruptible; and in no degree or form whatever do they undergo new beginnings or changes; of which it has been said elsewhere, that it is a fond and silly saying. Indeed, from this source proceeds that prodigious evil, that, on the appearance of every irregularity astronomers shape new and, as they suppose, corrected theories, and adapt causes eternal and invariable to things more frequently, as it were, fortuitous.
The second is that those turbulent actions of compression, expansion, resistence, and yielding, which seem to be produced by a certain softness and hardness of bodies, taken for elementary qualities, are not compatible with the heavens, which is doubtless of the fifth and least elementary essence. But this assertion is a presumptuous and arbitrary reprobation of things and sense. For wheresoever any body in nature is in a state of rest, there also is a reluctance to change, and that in proportion to the size of the body. But wherever are natural bodies, and a local motion, there will take place either repulsion, or a yielding, or a resolution of motion; for those things which have been named compactness, looseness of parts, resistance, a giving way, with many others, are what matter universally undergoes every where. Yet, however, from this source have come down to us all that multiplicity of orbits capriciously jumbled together, which, nevertheless, they are pleased to say are so distinctly interlineated, and which move and turn within each other so evenly and glibly, that, notwithstanding their intricacy, there is no entangling or vibration; all which are visionary and a palpable mockery of facts.
A third is, that to each individual body appertains a peculiar and appropriate motion; and if more motions are observable, all, except one, are extrinsic, and derived from some other moving body. Nothing falser than this can be conceived, since all bodies, from the manifold consent of things, are endued with even many motions, some denoting their nature, others waxing weaker and weaker, others even lying hid until they be drawn forth; but there are no special or proper motions of things, except the exact measures and ratios of common motions. And hence again has been presented to us that primum mobile severed and made distinct, and heavens on heavens, and newfangled mansions contained in them, that they may suffice for the performances of so many different motions.
The fourth is, that all heavenly motions are distributed through perfect circles; which is a very cumbrous doctrine, and has produced to us those monsters of eccentric curves and epicycles; whereas, however, had they consulted nature, a regulated and uniform motion belongs to a perfect circle; but a motion, regulated indeed, but of different forms, such as is found in many of the heavenly bodies, is the property of other lines; and with good reason Gilbert ridicules these, because it is not likely that nature should have formed wheels, which, for example, contain one or two miles in circumference, in order that a ball of a finger’s breadth should be sustained: for of so little magnitude does the body of a planet appear to be, compared with those circles round which they pretend it is to be carried.
The fifth is, that stars are parts of their sphere, as if fixed therein by a nail. But this is most clearly a reverie of those who deal in mathematics, not in nature, and are so stupidly intent on the motion of bodies, that they entirely forget their substances. For that fastening is a particular disposition of compact and consistent things, which have firm cohesions, because of the pressures of the parts. But it is utterly to be unlocked for, if it be applied to soft or liquid substances.
The sixth is that a star is a denser part of its sphere of action; for the stars are not only not parts, but neither are they denser; for they are not homogeneous with ether, and that in degree only, but they are entirely heterogeneous, and differ in substance; and, besides, that substance, as to density, is rarer, and more expanded than an ethereal one. Over and above these there are many other conceits of equal whimsicality; but these shall suffice for the subject now under discussion. Again, these observations have been made on the fanciful dicta of philosophy respecting the heavens. But as to what respects the hypotheses of astronomers, the refutation of them is generally without any use; for neither are they asserted for truths, nor is it impossible that, although they may vary and be contradictory in themselves, the phenomena should equally be preserved and harmonize. Therefore, if you please, between astronomy and philosophy, as if linked together by an expedient and legitimate bond, be so circumspect a mediator, that, on the one hand, astronomy may have her previous hypotheses, which are best adapted to expedite calculations; on the other, philosophy, such as approach nearest to the truth of nature; and so that the hypotheses of astronomy may not prejudice the truth of a thing, and that the decisions of philosophy may be such as may easily be explained with regard to the phenomena of astronomy. And so much for hypotheses.
Now as to astronomical observations, which are assiduously accumulated, and continually are pouring down like water from the sky, I have a great wish to admonish men on that head; lest, haply, that be true of them, which is so elegantly fabled of the fly in AEsop, that sitting on the harness of a chariot, contending for victory at the Olympic games, cried out, “see what dust I excite!” Just so, any petty observation, vacillating, at one time, in the instrument, at this, in the eye, and at that, in a calculation, and which possibly may be a reality, on account of some true change in the heavens, calls into existence new firmaments, new spheres, and new circles. And we do not make these remarks in order that any relaxation in the taking of observations or the study of history should take place, both which we are of opinion should by all means be stimulated and intently prosecuted; but only that, in rejecting or changing hypotheses, the highest prudence and a mature gravity of judgment be displayed.
Wherefore, having now laid open the road as to the motions themselves, we will say a few words also as to their nature. We have already said, then, that there are four kinds of motions of the higher order in the heavens: an ascending and descending motion through the whole expanse of the heavens; a motion, to the breadth of the Zodiac, stretching out towards south and north: a motion in the course of the Zodiac, quick, slow, progressive, retrograde, stable; and the motion of elongation from the sun. And let not any one object, that that second motion of the breadth of the Zodiac or of the signs thereof may be referred to that great cosmical motion, since there is an inclination by turns towards the south and the north; which as well as the curves themselves from one tropic to the other are alike, except that the latter motion is merely curvilinear, but the former hath also many turnings, and lies inmost at much less distances. For neither hath this point escaped our consideration. But assuredly the constant and perpetual motion of the sun in the ecliptic, considered apart from all latitude and exclusively of the signs of the Zodiac, which same sun does yet communicate with the rest of the planets, as to their paths within the tropics, does not allow us to entertain this opinion. Wherefore we must seek for different sources of this and of the other three motions. And these are the points, with regard to the heavenly motions, which appear to us to be fraught with a less degree of inconvenience. But we must see what they may be found to deny, and what to affirm. They deny that the earth revolves. They deny that there are in the heavens two motions from the east to different points of the west; and they affirm one, that outstrips and consequently leaves behind others. They deny any oblique circle and its different polarity, and they affirm spiral curves. They deny a primum mobile separated and forced asunder; and they affirm a cosmical consent, as it were the common bond of the system. They affirm that a diurnal motion is found not in the sky or heavens, but in the air, in waters, even in what are placed on the superficies of the earth, as far as relates to their turning round. They affirm that that close following and cosmical rolling in fluids is their whirling tendency to become consistent, till at length they reach a state of perfect rest. They deny that the stars are fixed like knots in a board. They deny that eccentric circles, epicycles, and such like crafty devices are realities. They affirm that a magnetic motion, or one having a power to collect matter together, is in full vigour in the stars, by which fire elicits fire, and elevates it. They affirm that, in the firmament of the planets, the bodies of the planets move and revolve quicker than the rest of the heavens in which they are placed, which certainly revolves, but slower. They affirm from that inequality the waves, the undulations, the flowings and ebbings of the ethereal atmosphere of the planets; and from them that various motions are drawn forth. They affirm a necessity in the planets of revolving quicker or slower, according as they may be placed higher or lower in the heavens, and that from the consent of the universe. But at the same time they affirm the languor, resulting from an incitement in their course beyond what nature has prescribed, in the planets both of the greater and lesser orbit. They affirm the following after the sun, from the defective nature of weaker flames, of Venus and Mercury; since even the moving stars, the attendants of Jupiter, have been discovered by Galilreus. But these are matters of which we, standing as it were in the threshold of natural history, and of philosophy, take a prospective view subjects which, probably, the inquirer will be better qualified to prove, in proportion to the depth of his researches into natural history. But again, however, do we enter our protest against this fetter of intellect. In these, as in other matters, we are sure of the correctness of our career, though we be not so persuaded as to the station we are entitled to hold in it. But we have mentioned these topics during our intellectual journey lest any one should suppose, that from a wavering judgment, or a destitution of talent to maintain the position, we had a preference for advocating negative questions.
Wherefore we will retain, as the heavenly natures are wont to do (since our treatise is of them), a dignified constancy.