This work by Thomas Diggs, completed in 1576, postulates a heliocentric cosmology, following Copernicus and Galileo. It is intriguing for a number of reasons. First of all, in spite of the order being changed from the geocentric Chaldean Order, his remarks on the Sublunary sphere, for example, are more skillfully articulated than many that came before him. Secondly, he gives us clear and accurate periodic orbits for all planets. PJC
To The Reader
Having of late (gentle reader) corrected and reformed sundry faults that by negligence in printing have crept into my fathers General Prognostication, among other things I found a description or Model of the world, and situation of Spheres Celestial and Elementary, according to the doctrine of Ptolemy, whereunto all Universities (led thereto chiefly by the authority of Aristotle) sithens have consented. But in this our age, one rare wit (seeing the continual errors that from time to time more & more have bin discovered, besides the infinite absurdities in their Theorickes, which they have bin forced to admit that would not confess any mobility in the ball of the earth) hath by long study, painful practice, and rare invention delivered a new Theorick or model of the world, showing that the Earth resteth not in the Center of the whole world, but only in the Center of this our mortal world or Globe of Elements, which environed and enclosed in the Moon’s Orb, and together with the whole Globe of mortality, is carried yearly round about the Sun, which like a king in the midst of all reigneth and giveth laws of motion to the rest, spherically dispersing his glorious beams of light through all this sacred Celestial Temple. And the earth itself to be one of the Planets, having his peculiar & strays courses turning every 24 hours round upon his own Center, whereby the Sun and great Globe of fixed stars seem to sway about and turn, albeit in deed they remain fixed. So many ways is the sense of mortal men abused, but reason and deep discourse of wit having opened these things to Copernicus, & the same being with demonstrations Mathematical, most apparently by him to the world delivered. I thought it convenient, together with the old Theorick,[note 1: i. e. the Ptolemaic theory underlying his father’s almanac.] also to publish this, to the end such noble English minds (as delight to reach above the baser sort of men) might not be altogether defrauded of so noble a part of Philosophy. And to the end it might manifestly appear that Copernicus meant not as some have fondly accused him, to deliver these grounds of the Earth’s mobility only as Mathematical principles, feigned & not as Philosophical truly averred. I have also from him delivered both the Philosophical reasons by Aristotle and others produced to maintain the Earth’s stability, and also their solutions and insufficiency, wherein I cannot a little commend the modesty of that grave Philosopher Aristotle, who seeing (no doubt) the insufficiency of his own reasons in seeking to confute the Earth’s motion, useth these words: De his explicatum estea qua potuimusfacultate. Howbeit his disciples have not with like sobriety maintained the same. Thus much for my own part in this case I will only say: there is no doubt but of a true ground truer effects may be produced than of principles that are false, and of true principles falsehood or absurdity cannot be inferred. If, therefore, the Earth be situate immoveable in the Center of the world, why find we not Theorickes upon that ground to produce effects as true and certain as these of Copernicus? Why cast we not away those Circulos Æquantes and motions irregular, seeing our own Philosopher Aristotle himself, the light of our Universities, hath taught us: Simplicis corporis simplicem oportet esse motwn. But if contrary, it be found impossible (the Earth’s stability being granted) but that we must necessarily fall into these absurdities, and cannot by any means avoid them. Why shall we so much dote in the appearance of our senses, which many ways may be abused, and not suffer our selves to be directed by the rule of Reason, which the great GOD hath given us as a Lamp to lighten the darkness of our understanding, and the perfect guide to lead us to the golden branch of Verity amid the Forest of errors.
Behold a noble Question to be of the Philosophers and Mathematicians of our Universities, argued not with childish Invectives but with grave reasons Philosophical, and irreproveable Demonstrations Mathematical. And let us not in matters of reason be led away with authority and opinions of men, but with the Stellified Poet let us say:
Non quid Aristoteles vel quiuis dicat eorum
Dicta nihil moror, à vero cumforte recedunt,
Magni sæpi viri mendacia magna loquuntur,
Nec quisquam est adeo sagax, quin sæpius erret.
[note 2: Whatsoeuer Aristotle saith, or any of them all,
I passe not for: since from the truth they many times doe fall.
Oft prudent, graue, and famous men, in errors chance to slide,
And many wittes with them decelue, when they themselues go wide: (1315)]
Ratio dux fida Sophorum,
The Globe of Elements enclosed on the Orb of the Moon I call the Globe of Mortality because it is the peculiar Empire of death. For above the Moon they fear not his force, but as the Christian Poet saith:
Omne quod est supra lunam, æternia bonum
Esse scias nec triste aliquid Cælestia tangit.
Quicquid vero infta Lume eonuexa ereavit
Omniparens, natura, malum est, mortisse severas
Perpetitur leges & edaci absumitur ævo.
Omne malum est infr& lunam, nox atraprocellæ,
Terribiles, frigus, calor, importuna senectus,
Pauperies malesuada, labor, dolor, improbitas, Mors.
Supra autem lunam, lucis sunt omnia plena,
Nec non letitiæ & pacis, non tempus & error
Et MORS & senium est illic & inutile quicquam.
Fadix ô nimium fælix, cui sedibus illis
Tam pulchris & incundis tam’q; beatis
Vivere concessum est, supremi munere Regis.
[note 3: Above the moon continuall Light, with Peace and loye remayne,
No Time, nor Error, Death, nor Age, nor anything is Vayne.
0 blest, and double blest agame, that in so pleasant place,
So fayre, so beautifull, to live of God obtaineth grace. (13 8)]
Singula nonnulli credunt quo’q; sydera posse
Dici Orbes, TERRAM ‘q appellant sydus opacû
Cui minimus Divûm præsit &C.
[note 4: But some have thought that euery starre a world we well may call,
The earth they count a darkned starre, where as the least of all
The God[s] doth reign … (118)]
In the midst of this Globe of Mortality hangeth this dark star or ball of earth and water, balanced and sustained in the midst of the thin air only with that propriety which the wonderful workman hath given at the Creation to the Center of this Globe, with his magnetical force vehemently to draw and hale unto itself all such other Elemental things as retain the like nature. This ball, every 24 hours by natural, urniform and wonderful sly & smooth motion rolleth round, making with his Period our natural day, whereby it seems to us that the huge infinite immoveable Globe should sway and turn about.
The Moon’s Orb, that environeth and containeth this dark star and the other mortal, changeable, corruptible Elements & Elementate things is also turned round every 29 days 31 minutes 50 seconds, 8 thirds, 9 fourths, and 20 fifths, and this period may most aptly be called the Month. The rest of the Planets’ motions appear by the Picture, and shall more largely be hereafter spoken of.
Herein, good Reader, I have waded father than the vulgar sort Demonstrative & Practice, & God sparing life, I mean though not as a Judge to decide, yet at the mathematical bar in this case to plead, in such sort as it shall manifestly appear to the World whether it be possible upon the Earth’s stability to deliver any true or probable Theorick & then refer the pronouncing of sentence to the grave Senate of indifferent discreet Mathematical Readers.
Farewell, and respect my travail as thou shalt see them tend to the advancement of truth and discovering the Monstrous loathsome shape of error.
A Perfit Description of the Ccelestiall Orbes
according to the most aunciente doctrine of the
Pythagoreans, latelye revived by Copernicus and by Geometricall Demonstrations approved.
Although in this most excellent and difficult part of Philosophy, in all times have been sundry opinions touching the situation and moving of the bodies Celestial, yet in certain principles all Philosophers of any account of all ages have agreed and consented. First, that the Orb of the fixed stars is of all other the most high, the farthest distant, and comprehendeth all the other spheres of wandering stars. And of these straying bodies called Planets the old philosophers thought it a good ground in reason that the nighest to the center should swiftliest move, because the circle was least and thereby the sooner overpassed, and the farther distant the more slowly. Therefore, as the Moon being swiftest in course is found also by measure nighest, so have all agreed that the Orb of Saturn, being in moving the slowest of all the Planets, is also the highest; Jupiter the next, and then Mars. But of Venus and Mercury there hath been great controversy, because they stray not every way from the Sun as the rest do. And therefore some have placed them above the Sun as Plato in his Timaeus, others beneath, as Ptolemy and the greater part of them that followed him. Alpetragius maketh Venus above the Sun and Mercury beneath, and sundry reasons have been of all sides alleged in defense of their opinions. They that follow Plato (supposing that all stars should have obscure & dark bodies shining with borrowed light like the Moon) have alleged that if those Planets were lower than the Sun, then should they sometime obscure some part of the body of the Sun, and also shine not with a light circular but segmentary, (and that variable as in the Moon) Which when they see by experience at no time to happen, they conclude with Plato. On the contrary part, such as will maintain them beneath, frame a likelihood by reason of the large space between the Orbs of Sun and Moon. For the greatest distance of the Moon is but 64 1/2 semidiameters of the Earth & to the nighest of the Sun are 1160, so that there remaineth between the Moon and the Sun 1095 semidiameters of the earth. And therefore, that so huge a space should not remain empty, there they situate the Orbs of Mercury and Venus. And by the distance of their Apsides, [note 5: The apsides would be the two points in a planet’s orbit where it was nearest to and farthest from the sun, also know as the perihilion and aphelion, or perigee and apogee. In modem astronomy, these points would determine the ellipse. Here, these points are in relation to the earth, and determine the thickness of the planet’s sphere, and some they determine the diameter of its epocycle.] whereby they search the thickness of their Orbs, they find that they of all the rest best answer that situation, so as the lowest of Mercury’s Orb may reach down almost to the highest of the Moon’s, & the top of Mercury’s to the inferior part of Venus’ sphere, which with his Apsis should reach almost unto the Sun. For between the Apsides of Mercury by their Theoricks they supputate 177 semidiameters of the earth, and then the crassitude [note 6: Thickness.] of Venus’ Orb, being 910 semidiameters, doth very nigh supply and fill the residue. They therefore will not confess that these Planets have any obscurity in their bodies like the Moon, but that either with their own proper light or else being thoroughly pierced with solar beams they shine and show Circular. And having a straying course of latitude, they seldom pass between the Sun and us, or if they should, their bodies being so small, could scarcely hide the hundred part of the Sun, and so small a spot in so noble a light could hardly be discerned. And yet Averrois in his Paraphrasis on Ptolemy affirmeth that he saw a little spot in the Sun at such time as by Calculation he had forecast a corporal Conjunction. But how weak this their reason is, it may soon appear, if we consider how, from the earth to the lowest of the Moon’s Orb, there is 38 semidiameters of the earth — or by the truer computation, according to Copernicus, 52. And yet, in all that so huge a space, we know nothing but the air, or fiery Orb, if any such be. Again, the Diameter of the circle whereby Venus should be carried nigh 45 grades distant from the Sun, must needs be 6 times greater at the least than the distance of that circle’s lowest part from the Earth, then if that whole circle, comprehended within the Orb of Venus, should be turned about the earth (as needs it must if we will not attribute to the earth any motion) we may easily consider what rule in the heavens so vast & huge an Epicycle, containing a space so many times greater than the earth, air, & Orbs of the Moon and Mercury also, will make — especially being turned round about the earth. Again, the reason of Ptolemy that the Sun must needs be placed in the midst [note 7: The meaning here is that the sun is in the middle, not of the universe, but of the pack; that is, of the planetary spheres moving about the earth: three below (Venus, Mercury and the moon) and three above it (Mars, Jupiter and Saturn).] of those Planets that wander from him at liberty and those that are as it were combined [note 8: Confederate, conjoined in action or substance, married; referring to the fact that Mercury and Venus are always seen close to the sun.] to him, is proved senseless by the motion of the Moon, whom we see no less to stray from the Sun than any of those other three superior Planets. But if they will needs have these two Planets’ Orbs within an Orb of the Sun, what reason can they give why they should not depart from the Sun at large, as the other Planets do (considering the increase of swiftness in their motion must accompany the inferior situation, or else the whole order of Theoricks should be disturbed)? It is therefore evident that either there must be some other Center whereunto the order of these Orbs should be referred, or else no reason in their order, nor cause apparent, why we should rather to Saturn than to Jupiter, or any of the rest, attribute the higher or remoter Orb. And therefore seemeth it worthy of consideration that Martianus Capella wrote in his Encyclopedia, and certain other Latins held, affirming that Venus and Mercury do run about the Sun in their spheres peculiar, & therefore could not stray farther from the Sun than the capacity of their Orbs would give them leave, because they encompass not the Earth as the others do, but have their Apsides after another manner conversed, [note 9: i.e. apply the data to a different hypothesis.] what other thing would they hereby signify but that the Orbs of these Planets should environ the Sun as their Center. So may the sphere of Mercury being not of half the amplitude of Venus’ Orb, be well situate within the same. And if in like sort we situate the Orbs of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, referring them as it were to the same Center, so as their capacity be such as they contain and circulate also the Earth, happily we shall not err, as by evident Demonstrations in the residue of Copernicus’ Revolutions is demonstrate. For it is apparent that these Planets, nigh the Sun are always least and farthest distant, and opposite are much greater in sight & nigher to us, whereby it cannot be but the center of them is rather to the Sun than to the earth to be referred, as in the Orbs of Venus and Mercury also. But, if all these to the Sun as a center in this manner be referred, then must there needs between the convex Orb of Venus and the concave of Mars an huge space be left, [note 10: Digges has not abandoned the notion of solid spheres, and the physics of the time demand that the vacuum created by the rearrangement of spheres be filled.] wherein the earth & Elementary frame enclosed with the Lunar Orb of duty must be situate. For, from the earth, the Moon may not be far removed, being without controversy of all other nighest in place and nature to it, especially considering between the same Orbs of Venus and Mars there is room sufficient. Tberefore need we not to be ashamed to confess this whole globe of Elements enclosed with the Moon’s sphere, together with the earth as the Center of the same, to be by this great Orb together with the other Planets about the Sun turned, making by his revolution our year. And whatsoever seem to us to proceed by the moving of the Sun, the same to proceed in deed by the revolution of the earth, the Sun still remaining fixed & immoveable in the midst. And the distance of the earth from the Sun to be such, as being compared with the other Planets, maketh evident alterations and diversity of Aspects, but if it be referred to the Orb of stars fixed, then hath it no proportion sensible, but as a point or a Center to a circumference, [note 11: This is the argument as to why stellar parallax, the change in distance between stars as measured from an earth that has changed position relative to them, is not visible.]which should far more reasonable to be granted, than to fall into such an infinite multitude of absurd imaginations, as they were fain to admit that will needs willfully maintain the earth’s stability in the Center of the world. But rather herein to direct ourselves by that wisdom we see in all God’s natural works, where we may behold one thing rather endued with many virtues and effects, than any superfluous or unnecessary part admitted. And all these things, although they seem hard strange & incredible, yet to any reasonable man that hath his understanding ripened with Mathematical demonstration, Copernicus, in his Revolutions, according to his promise, hath made them more evident and clear than the Sun’s beams. These grounds therefore admitted, which no man reasonably can impugn — that the greater orb requireth the longer time to run his Period — the orderly and most beautiful frame of the Heavens doeth ensue.
The first and highest of all is the immoveable sphere of fixed stars, containing itself and all the Rest, and therefore fixed as the place universal of Rest, whereunto the motions and positions of all inferior spheres are to be compared. For albeit sundry Astrologians finding alteration in the declination and Longitude of stars, have thought that the same also should have his motion peculiar: Yet Copernicus by the motions of the earth sa1veth [note 12: “To save (the appearances, the phenomena), i.e. to frame a hypothesis which will account for all the observed facts of the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies. Hence gen., to account for, explain by hypothesis (O.E.D.).”] all, and utterly cutteth off the ninth and tenth spheres, which, contrary to all sense, the maintainers of the earth’s stability have been compelled to imagine.
The first of the moveable Orbes is that of Saturn, which, being of all other next unto that infinite Orb immoveable garnished with lights innumerable, is also in his course most slow, & once only in thirty yeares passeth his Periode.
The second is Jupiter, who in 12 years performeth his circuit.
Mars in 2 years runneth his circular race.
Then followeth the great Orb, wherein the globe of mortality, enclosed in the Moon’s Orb as an Epicycle, and holding the earth as a Center by his own weight resting always permanent, in the midst of the air is carried round once in a years.
In the fifth is Venus makinge her revolution in 9 moneths.
In the sixth is Mercury who passeth his circuit in 80 days.
In the midst of all is the Sun.
For in so stately a temple as this, who would desire to set his lamp in any other better or more convenient place than this, from whence uniformly it might distribute light to all, for not unfitly it is of some called the lamp or light of the world, of others the mind, of others the Ruler of the world.
Ad cuius numeros & dij moveantur & Orbes
Accipiant leges praescript a’q fiedera servent.
[note 13: Whose rhythms move the lesser gods, (i.e. Mars, Venus, et. al.) and the planets receive his laws and observe his prescriptions.]
Trismegistus calleth him the visible God. Thus doth the Sun, like a king sitting in his throne, govern his courts of inferior powers. Neither is the Earth defrauded of the service of the Moon, but as Aristotle saith, of all other the Moon with the earth hath nighest alliance, so here are they matched accordingly.
In this form of frame may we behould such a wonderful Symmetry of motions and situations, as in no other can be proponed. The times whereby we the Inhabitants of the earth are directed, are constituted by the revolutions of the earth. The circulation of her Centre causeth the year, the conversion of her circumference maketh the natural day, and the revolution of the Moon produceth the month. By the only view of this Theoricke the cause & reason is apparent why in Jupiter the progressions and Retrogradations are greater than in Saturn, and lesse than in Mars, why also in Venus they are more than in Mercury. And why such changes from Direct to Retrograde, Stationary, &c. happeneth notwithstanding more rifely in Saturn than in Jupiter & yet more rarely in Mars, why in Venus not so commonly as in Mercury. Also why Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are nigher the earth in their Acronicall than in their Cosmicall or Heliacall rising. [note 14: That is, when they are seen in the evening instead of the morning sky.] Especially Mars, who rising at the Sunset, showeth in his ruddy fiery collor equall in quantity with Jupiter, and contrarywise, setting little after the Sun, is scarcely to be discerned from a Star of the second light. All which alterations apparently follow upon the Earth’s motion. And that none of these do happen in the fixed stars, it plainly argueth their huge distance and immeasurable Altitude, in respect whereof this great Orb, wherein the Earth is carried is but a point, and utterly without sensible proportion, being compared to that Heaven. For as it is in perspective demonstrate: every quantity hath a certaine proportionable distance whereunto it may be discerned, and beyond the same it may not be seen, this distance therefore of that immoveable heaven is so exceeding great, that the whole Orbis magnus vanisheth away, if it be conferred to that Heaven.
Herein can we never sufficiently admire this wonderful & incomprehensible huge frame of God’s work proponed to our senses, seeing first this ball of the earth wherein we move, to the common sort seemeth great, and that, in respect of the Moon’s Orb, is very small, but compared with Orbis magnus wherein it is carried, it scarcely retaineth any sensible proportion, so marvelously is that Orb of Annual motion greater than this little dark star wherein we live. But that Orbis magnus, being as is before declared, but as a point in respect of the immensity of that immoveable heaven, we may easily consider what little portion of God’s frame our Elementary corruptible world is, but never sufficiently of that fixed Orb garnished with lights innumerable and reaching up in Spherical altitude without end. Of which lights Celestial it is to be thought that we only behold such as are in the inferior parts of the same Orb, and as they are higher, so seem they of less and lesser quantity, even till our sight, being not able farther to reach or conceive, the greatest part rest, by reason of their wonderful distance, invisible unto us. And this may well be thought of us to be the glorious court of the great God, whose unsearchable works invisible, we partly by these his visible, conjecture; to whose infinite power and majesty, such an infinite place, surmounting all other both in quantity and quality, only is convenient. But because the world hath so long a time been carried with an opinion of the Earth’s stability, as the contrary cannot but be now very impersuasible, I have thought [it] good out of Copernicus also to give a taste of the reasons philosophical alleged for the Earth’s stability, and their solutions, that such as are not able with Geometrical eyes to behold the secret perfection of Copernicus’ Theorick, may yet by these familiar natural reasons be induced to search farther, and not rashly to condemn for fantastical, so ancient doctrine revived, and by Copernicus so demonstratively approved.
What reasons moved Aristotle and others that
Followed him to think the earth to rest
immoveable as a Center to the
The most effectual reasons that they produce to prove the Earth’s stability in the middle or lowest part of the world, is that of Gravity and Levity. For of all other the Element of the earth (say they) is most heavy, and all ponderous things are carried unto it, striving, as it were, to sway even down to the inmost part thereof. For the earth being round, into the which all weighty things an every side fall, making right angles on the superficies, [note 15: Surface.] must needs if they were not stayed on the superficies pass to the Center, seeing every right line the falleth perpendicularly upon the Horizon, in that place where it toucheth the earth must needs passe by the Center. And those things that are carried toward that Medium, it is likely that there also they would rest. So much therefore, the rather shall the Earth rest in the middle, and (receiving all things into itself that fall) by his own weight shall be most immoveable. Again, they seek to prove it by reason of motion and his nature, for of one and the same simple body, the motion must also be simple, saith Aristotle. Of simple motions there are two kinds: Right and Circular. Right are either up or down-so that every simple motion is either downward towards the Center, or upward from the Center — or Circular — about the Center. Now unto the earth and water, in respect of their weight, the motion downward is convenient to seek the Center. To air and fire, in regard of their lightness, upward and from the Center. So it is mete to these elements to attribute the right or straight motion, and to the heavens only it is proper circularly about this mean or Center to be turned round. Thus much Aristotle. If therefore, saith Ptolemy of Alexandria, the earth should turn but only by the daily motion, things quite contrary to these should happen. For his motion should be most swift and violent that, in 24 hours, should let passe the whole circuit of the earth, and those things which by sudden turning are stirred, are altogether unmeet to collect, but rather to disperse things united, unless they should by some firm fastening be kept together. And long ere this, the Earth, being dissolved in pieces, should have been scattered through the heavens, which were a mockery to think of, and much more, beasts and all other weights that are loose could not remain unshaken. And also, things falling should not light on the places perpendicular under them, neither should they fall directly thereto, the same being violently in the mean carried away. Clouds also and other things hanging in the air, should always seem to us to be carried toward the West.
The Solutions of these Reasons
with their insufficiency.
These are the causes and such other, wherewith they approve the Earth to rest in the middle of the world, and that out of all question. But he that will maintain the Earth’s mobility may say that this motion is not violent, but natural. And these things, which are naturally moved, have effects contrary to such as are violently carried. For such motions wherein force and violence is used, must needs be dissolved and cannot be of long continuance, but those which by nature are caused, remain still in their perfect estate and are concerned and kept in their most excellent constitution. Without cause therefore did Ptolemy fear lest the Earth and all earthly things should be torn in pieces by this revolution of the Earth, caused by the working of nature, whose operations are far different from those of Art or such as human intelligence may reach unto. But why should he not much more think and misdoubt the same of the world, whose motion must of necessity be so much more swift and vehement than this of the Earth, as the Heaven is greater than the Earth. Is therefore the Heaven made so huge in quantity that it might with unspeakable vehemency of motion be severed from the Center, lest happily resting it should fall, as some Philosophers have affirmed? Surely, if this reason should take place, the magnitude of the Heaven should infinitely extend. For the more the motion should violently bee carried higher, the greater should the swiftness be, by reason of the increasing of the circumference, which must of necessity in 24 hours be passed over, and in like manner by increase of the motion the Magnitude must also necessarily be augmented. Thus should the swiftness increase the Magnitude, and the Magnitude the swiftness, infinitely. But, according to that ground of nature, whatsoever is infinite can never be passed over. The Heaven therefore, of necessity must stand and rest fixed. But, say they, without [note 16 Beyond.] the Heaven there is no body, no place, no emptiness; no, not any thing at all, whether heaven should or could farther extend. But this surely is very strange that nothing should have such efficient power to restrain something, the same having a very essence and being. Yet if we would thus confess that the Heaven were indeed infinite upward, and only finite downward in respect of his spherical concavity, much more perhaps might that saying be verified, that without the Heaven is nothing, seeing everything in respect of the infiniteness thereof had place sufficient within the same. But then must it of necessity remain immoveable. For the chiefest reason that hath moved some to think the Heaven limited was Motion, which they thought without controversy to be indeed in it. But whether the world [note 17 Universe.] have his bounds, or be indeed infinite and without bounds, let us leave that to be discussed of Philosophers. Sure we are that the Earth is not infinite, but hath a circumference limited. Seeing, therefore, all Philosophers consent that limited bodies may have Motion, and infinite cannot have any, why do we yet stagger to confess motion in the Earth, being most agreeable to his form and nature, whose bounds also and circumference we know, rather than to imagine that the whole world should sway and turn, whose end we know not, nor possibly can of any mortal man be known. And therefore, the true Motion indeed to be in the Earth, and the apparent only in Heaven: And that these appearances are no otherwise than if the Virgilian Aeneas should say:
Provehimurportu, terraq urbesq recedunt
For a ship carried in a smooth Sea with such tranquility doth pass away, that all things on the shores and the Seas to the sailors seem to move, and themselves only quietly to rest with all such things as are aboard with them, so surely may it be in the Earth, whose Motion being natural and not forcible, of all other is most uniform and unperceivable, whereby to us that sail therein, the whole world may seem to roll about. But what shall we then say of Clouds and other things hanging or resting in the air or tending upward, but that not only the Earth and Sea making one globe, but also no small part of the air is likewise circularly carried, and in like sort all such things as are derived from them or have any manner of alliance with them. Either for that the lower Region of the air, being mixed with Earthly and watery vapors, follow the same nature of the Earth; either that it be gained and gotten from the Earth by reason of Vicinity or Contiguity. Which if any man marvel at, let him consider how the old Philosophers did yield the same reason for the revolution of the highest Region of the air, wherein we may sometime behold Comets carried circularly no otherwise than the bodies Celestial seem to be, and yet hath that Region of the air less convenience with the Orbs Celestial, than this low part with the Earth. But we affirm that part of the air in respect of this great distance to be destitute of this motion terrestrial, and that this part of the air that is next to the Earth doth appear most still and quiet by reason of his uniform natural accompanying of the Earth, and likewise things that hang therein unless by winds or other violent accident they be tossed to and fro. For the wind in the air, is nothing else but as the waves in the Sea. And of things ascending and descending in respect of the world, we must confess them to have a mixed motion of right & circular, albeit it seem to us right & straight, not otherwise than if in a ship under sail a man should softly let a plummet down from the top along by the mast even to the deck. This plummet, passing always by the straight mast, seemeth also to fall in a right line, but being by discourse of reason weighed, his motion is sound mixed of right and circular. For such things as naturally fall downward being of earthly nature there is no doubt, but as parts they retain the nature of the whole. No otherwise is it to these things that by fiery force are carried upward. For the earthly fire is chiefly nourished with earthly matter, and flame is defined to be nought else but a burning fume or smoke and the property of fire is to extend the subject whereunto it entereth, the which it doth with so great violence as by no means or engines it can be constrained, but that with breach of bands it will perform his nature. This motion extensive is from the Center to the circumference, so that if any earthly part be fired, it is carried violently upward. Therefore, whereas they say that of simple bodies the motion is altogether simple, of the circular it is chiefly verified, so long as the simple body remaineth in his natural place and perfect unity of composition, for in the same place there can be no other motion but circular, which remaining wholly in itself is most like to rest and immobility. But right or straight motion only happen to those things that stray and wander, or by any means are thrust out of their natural place. But nothing can be more repugnant to the form and ordinance of the world, than that things, naturally should be out of their natural place. This kind of motion therefore, that is by right line, is only accident to those things that are not in their right state or perfection natural, while parts are disjoined from their whole body, and covet to return to the unity thereof again. Neither do these things which are carried upward or downward, besides this circular moving, make any simple, uniform, or equal motion, for with their levity or ponderosity of their body, they cannot be tempered, but always as they fall (beginning slowly) they increase their motion, and the further the more swiftly. Whereas, contrariwise, this our earthly fire (for other we cannot see) we may behold as it is carried upward to vanish and decay, as it were confessing the cause of violence to proceed only from his matter Terrestrial. The circular motion always continueth uniform and equal by reason of his cause, which is indeficient and always continuing. But the other hasteneth to end and to attain that place where they leave longer to be heavy or light, and having attained that place, their motion ceaseth. Seeing therefore this circular motion is proper to the whole as straight is only unto parts, we may say that circular doth rest with straight as animal cum aegro. And whereas Aristotle hath distributed Simplicem motum into these three kinds: A medio, ad medium, and Circa medium, it must be only in reason and imagination, as wee likewise sever in consideration Geometrical a point, a line, and a superficies, whereas indeed neither can stand without other, nor any of them without a body.
Hereto we may adjoin, that the condition of immobility is more noble and divine than that of change, alteration, or instability, & therefore more agreeable to Heaven than to this Earth, where all things are subject to continual mutability. And seeing by evident proof of Geometrical mensuration [note 18: Measurement, calculation.] we find that the Planets are sometimes nigher to us and sometimes more remote, and that therefore even the maintainers of the Earth’s stability are enforced to confess that the Earth is not their Orb’s Center, this motion Circa medium must in more general sort be taken, and that it may be understood that every Orb hath his peculiar Medium and Center, in regards whereof this simple and uniform motion is to be considered. [note 19: Digges is referring to astronomy’s use of eccentrics and equants, which attempted to reconcile perceived variations in plantetary distance and speed by the use of center points other than the earth.] Seeing therefore that these Orbs have several Centres, it may be doubted whether the Center of this earthily gravitiy be also of the world. For Gravity is nothing else but a certain proclivity or natural coveting of partes to be coupled with the whole, which by divine providence of the Creator of all is given & impressed into the parts, that they should restore themselves into their unity and integrity, concurring in spherical form. Which kind of propriety or affection it is likely also that the Moon and other glorious bodies want not to knit & combine their parts together, and to maintain them in their round shape, which bodies not withstanding are by sundry motions sundry ways conveighed. Thus, as it is apparent by these natural reasons that the mobility of the Earth is more probable and likely than the stability. So, if it be Mathematically considered, and with Geometrical mensurations every part of every Theorick examined, the discreet student shall find that Copernicus, not without great reason did propone this ground of the Earth’s Mobility.
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