From the French.
By Mrs. A. Behn.
To which is prefixed a Preface,
by way of Essay on Tranſlated
Prose: wherein the Arguments
of Father Tacquet, and others, againſt
the Syſtem of Copernicus (as to the
Motion of the Earth) are likewiſe
conſidered, and anſwered: Wholly
Printed for William Canning, at his Shop
in the Temple-Cloyſters, 16881688.
To the Right Honourable, William, Earl of Drumlangrig, Eldeſt Son to his Grace, William, Duke of Queensberry; and one of his Majeſty’s moſt Honourable Privy-Council in the Kingdom of Scotland.
The Eſteem I have for your Nation in general, and the great Veneration I am obliged to have for ſome particular Perſons of Quality of it, has made me ambitious of being known to all thoſe of Wit and A2 fine 4 A2v fine Parts. Amongſt that Number, none has a greater Character than your Lordſhip, whoſe early Knowledge of all that is excellent in Learning, and of all the Graces of the Mind, promiſed the World that accompliſhed Great Man, it now with ſo much Pride and Satisfaction beholds; and which, even without the addition of your illuſtrious Birth, were ſufficient, to gain you the Eſteem of all Mankind; and you are never mentioned, but with ſuch vaſt Accumulations of Praiſe, as are given only to uncommon Men, and ſuch, as ſomething extraordinary alone can merit.
To all your advantages of Nature, elevated Birth, Virtue, Knowledge, Wit, Youth, and Honours, to compleat your Happineſs,pineſs 5 A3r pineſs, Fortune has added her part too; and has ally’d your Lordſhip by Marriage to the Great and Noble Family of Burlington, which has at once been honour’d with more Earls than any great Family cou’d ever boaſt, and whoſe Vertues, and Loyalty, deſerve particular and laſting Trophies to celebrate them to Poſterity.
My Lord, I preſume to dedicate this little Book to your Lordſhip, which I ventured to tranſlate, becauſe it pleaſed me in the French; and tho but a trifle, has ſomething in it out of the way of ordinary Wit, which renders it more worthy to be laid at your Lordſhips Feet. If it is not done with that exactneſs it merits, I hope your Lordſhip will pardon it in a Woman, who is not ſuppoſed A3 to 6 A3v to be well verſed in the Terms of Philoſophy, being but a new beginner in that Science; but where I have failed, your Lordſhip’s Judgment can ſupply; and if it finds acceptance with your Lordſhip, I am already ſo much a Philoſopher, as to deſpiſe what the World ſays of it, and will pride my ſelf only in being,
My Lord, Your Lordſhip’s moſt humble and moſt obedient Servant,
The Tranſlator’s Preface.
The General Applauſe this little Book of the Plurality of Worlds has met with, both in France and England in the Original, made me attempt to tranſlate it into Engliſh. The Reputation of the Author, (who is the ſame, who writ the Dialogues of the Dead) the Novelty of the Subject in vulgar Languages, and the Authors introducing a Woman as one of the ſpeakers in theſe five Diſcourſes, were further Motives for me to undertake this little work; for I thought an Engliſh Woman might adventure to tranſlate any thing, a French Woman may be ſuppoſed to have ſpoken: But when I had made a Tryal, I found the Task not ſo eaſie as I believed at firſt. Therefore, before I ſay any thing, either of the Deſign of the Author, or of the Book it ſelf, give me A 4 leave 8 A4v leave to ſay ſomething of Tranſlation of Proſe in general: As for Tranſlation of Verſe, nothing can be added to that Incomparable Eſſay of the late Earl of Roſcommon, the nearer the Idioms or turn of the Phraſe of two Languages agree, ’tis the eaſier to tranſlate one into the other. The Italian, Spaniſh, and French, are all three at beſt Corruptions of the Latin, with the mixture of Gothick, Arabick and Gauliſh Words. The Italian, as it is neareſt the Latin, is alſo neareſt the Engliſh: For its mixture being compoſed of Latin, and the Language of the Goths, Vandals, and other Northern Nations, who over-ran the Roman Empire, and conquer’d its Language with its Provinces, moſt of theſe Northern Nations ſpoke the Teutonick or Dialects of it, of which the Engliſh is one alſo; and that’s the Reaſon, that the Engliſh and Italian learn the Language of one another ſooner than any other; becauſe not only the Phraſe, but the Accent of both do very much agree, the Spaniſh is next of kin to the Engliſh, for almoſt the ſame Reaſon: Becauſe the Goths and Vandals having over-run Africk, and kept Poſſeſſion of it for ſome hundred of 9 A5r of Years, where mixing with the Moors, no doubt, gave them a great Tincture of their Tongue. Theſe Moors afterwards invaded and conquered Spain; beſides Spain was before that alſo invaded and conquered by the Goths, who poſſeſſed it long after the time of the two Sons of Theodoſius the Great, Arcadus and Honorius. The French, as it is moſt remote from the Latin, ſo the Phraſe and Accent differ moſt from the Engliſh: It may be, it is more agreeable with the Welſh, which is near a-kin to the Basbritton and Biſcagne Languages, which is derived from the old Celtick Tongue, the firſt that was ſpoken amongſt the Ancient Gauls, who deſcended from the Celts.
The French therefore is of all the hardeſt to tranſlate into Engliſh. For Proof of this, there are other Reaſons alſo. And firſt, the nearer the Genious and Humour of two Nations agree, the Idioms of their Speech are the nearer; and every Body knows there is more Affinity between the Engliſh and Italian People, than the Engliſh and the French, as to their Humours; and for that Reaſon, and for what I have ſaid before, it is very difficult to tranſlate Spaniſh 10 A5v Spaniſh into French; and I believe hardly poſſible to tranſlate French into Dutch. The Second Reaſon is, the Italian Language is the ſame now it was ſome hundred of Years ago, ſo is the Spaniſh, not only as to the Phraſe, but even as to the Words and Orthography; whereas the French Language has ſuffered more Changes this hundred Years paſt, ſince Francis the firſt, than the Faſhions of their Cloths and Ribbons, in Phraſe, Words and Orthography. So that I am confident a French Man a hundred Years hence will no more underſtand an old Edition of Froiſard’s Hiſtory, than he will underſtand Arabick. I confeſs the French Arms, Money and Intrigues have made their Language very univerſal of late, for this they are to be commended: It is an Accident, which they owe to the greatneſs of their King and their own Industry; and it may fall out hereafter to be otherwiſe. A third Reaſon is as I ſaid before, that the French being a Corruption of the Latin, French Authors take a liberty to borrow whatever Word they want from the Latin, without farther Ceremony, eſpecially when they treat of Sciences. This the Engliſh do not 11 A6r not do, but at ſecond hand from the French. It is Modiſh to Ape the French in every thing: Therefore, we not only naturalize their words, but words they ſteal from other Languages. I wiſh in this and ſeveral other things, we had a little more of the Italian and Spaniſh Humour, and did not chop and change our Language, as we do our Cloths, at the Pleaſure of every French Tailor.
In tranſlating French into Engliſh, moſt People are very cautious and unwilling to print a French Word at firſt out of a new Book, till Uſe has rendered it more familiar to us and therefore it runs a little rough in Engliſh, to expreſs one French Word, by two or three of ours; and thus much, as to the Eaſe and Difficulty of tranſlating theſe Languages in general: But, as to the French in particular, it has as many Advantages of the Engliſh, as to the Sound, as ours has of the French, as to the Signification; which is another Argument of the different Genius of the two Nations. Almoſt all the Relatives, Articles, and Pronouns in the French Language, end in Vowels, and are written with two or three Letters. Many of their words 12 A6v words begin with Vowels; ſo, that when a word after a Relative, Pronoun or Article, ends with a Vowel, and begins with another, they admit of their beloved Figure Apoſtrophe, and cut off the firſt Vowel. This they do to ſhun an ill ſound; and they are ſo muſical as to that, that they will go againſt all the Rules of Senſe and Grammar, rather than fail; as for Example, ſpeaking of a Man’s Wife they ſay, ſon Epouſe, whereas in Grammar, it ought to be ſa Epouſe; but this would throw a French-Man into a Fit of a Fever, to hear one ſay, by way of Apoſtrophe S’Epouſe, as this makes their Language to run ſmoother, ſo by this they expreſs ſeveral Words very ſhortly, as qu’entend je, in Engliſh, what do I hear? In this Example, three words have the Sound but of one, for Sound prevails with them in the beginning, middle and end. Secondly, their words generally end in Vowels, or if they do not, they do not pronounce the Conſonant, for the moſt part, unleſs there be two together, or that the next word begins with a Vowel Thirdly, by the help of their Relatives, they can ſhortly, and with eaſe reſume a long Preceeding Sentence, in two or 13 A7r or three ſhort words theſe are the Advantages of the French Tongue, all which they borrow from the Latin. But as the French do not value a plain Suit without a Garniture, they are not ſatiſfied with the Advantages they have, but confound their own Language with needleſs Repetitions and Tautologies and by a certain Rhetorical Figure, peculiar to themſelves, imply twenty Lines, to expreſs what an Engliſh Man would ſay, with more Eaſe and Senſe in five; and this is the great Miſfortune of tranſlating French into Engliſh: If one endeavours to make it Engliſh Standard, it is no Tranſlation. If one follows their Flouriſhes and Embroideries, it is worſe than French Tinſel. But theſe defects are only comparatively, in reſpect of Engliſh: And I do not ſay this ſo much, to condemn the French, as to praiſe our own Mother-Tongue, for what we think a Deformity, they may think a Perfection; as the Negroes of Guinney think us as ugly, as we think them: But to return to my preſent Tranſlation.
I have endeavoured to give you the true meaning of the Author, and have kept as near his Words as was poſſible; I was neceſſitated to add a little in ſome places, otherwiſe 14 A7v otherwiſe the Book could not have been underſtood. I have uſed all along the Latin Word Axis, which is Axle-tree in Engliſh, which I did not think ſo proper a Word in a Treatiſe of this nature; but ’tis what is generally underſtood by every Body. There is another Word in the two last Nights, which was very uneaſie to me, and the more ſo for that it was ſo often repeated, which is Tourbillion, which ſignifies commonly a Whirl-wind; but Monſieur DesChartes underſtands it in a more general ſenſe, and I call it a Whirling; the Author hath given a very good Definition of it, and I need ſay no more, but that I retain the Word unwillingly, in regard of what I have ſaid in the beginning of this Preface.
I know a Character of the Book will be expected from me, and I am obliged to give it to ſatiſfie my ſelf for being at the pains to tranſlate it, but I wiſh with all my heart I could forbear it; for I have that Value for the ingenious French Author, that I am ſorry I muſt write what ſome may underſtand to be a Satyr againſt him. The Deſign of the Author is to treat of this part of Natural Philoſophy in a more familiar Way than any other hath done, and to make every bodydy 15 A8r dy underſtand him: For this End, he introduceth a Woman of Quality as one of the Speakers in theſe five Diſcourſes, whom he feigns never to have heard of any ſuch thing as Philoſophy before. How well he hath performed his Undertaking you will beſt judge when you have peruſed the Book: But if you would know before-hand my Thoughts, I muſt tell you freely, he hath failed in his Deſign; for endeavouring to render this part of Natural Philoſophy familiar, he hath turned it into Ridicule; he hath puſhed his wild Notion of the Plurality of Worlds to that height of Extravagancy, that he moſt certainly will confound thoſe Readers, who have not Judgment and Wit to diſtinguiſh between what is truly ſolid (or, at leaſt, probable) and what is trifling and airy: and there is no leſs Skill and Underſtanding required in this, than in comprehending the whole Subject he treats of. And for his Lady Marquieſe, he makes her ſay a great many very ſilly things, tho’ ſometimes ſhe makes Obſervations ſo learned, that the greatest Philoſophers in Europe could make no better. His way of Arguing is extreamly fine, and his Examples and Compariſons are for the moſt part extraordinary,traordinary 16 A8v traordinary, juſt, natural, and lofty, if he had not concluded with that of a Roſe, which is very irregular. The whole Book is very unequal; the firſt, fourth, and the beginning of the fifth Diſcourſes are incomparably the beſt. He aſcribes all to Nature, and ſays not a Word of God Almighty, from the Beginning to the End; ſo that one would almoſt take him to be a Pagan. He endeavours chiefly two things; one is, that there are thouſands of Worlds inhabited by Animals, beſides our Earth, and hath urged this Fancy too far: I ſhall not preſume to defend his Opinion, but one may make a very good uſe of many things he hath expreſſed very finely, in endeavouring to aſſiſt his wild Fancy; for he gives a magnificent Idea of the vastneſs of the Univerſe, and of the almighty and infinite Power of the Creator, to be comprehended by the meaneſt Capacity. This he proves judiciouſly, by the Appearances and Diſtances of the Planets and fixed Stars and if he had let alone his learned Men, Philoſophical Tranſactions, and Teleſcopes in the Planet Jupiter, and his Inhabitants not only there, but in all the fixed Stars, and even in the Milky-Way, and only ſtuck to the greatneſs of the Univerſe,niverſe 17 a1r niverſe, he had deſerved much more Praiſe.
The other thing he endeavours to defend and aſſert, is, the System of Copernicus. As to this, I cannot but take his part as far as a Woman’s Reaſoning can go. I ſhall not venture upon the Aſtronomical part, but leave that to the Mathematicians; but becauſe I know, that when this Opinion of Copernicus (as to the Motion of the Earth, and the Sun’s being fixed in the Centre of the Univerſe, without any other Motion, but upon his own Axiſ) was firſt heard of in the World, thoſe who neither underſtood the old Syſtem of Ptolemy, nor the new one of Copernicus, ſaid, That this new Opinion was expreſly contrary to the holy Scriptures, and therefore not to be embraced; nay, it was condemned as Heretical upon the ſame Account: After it had been examined by the beſt Mathematicians in Europe, and that they found it anſwered all the Phænomena’s and motions of the Spheres and Stars better than the Syſtem of Ptolemy; that it was plainer, and not ſo perplexing and confuſed as the old Opinion; ſeveral of theſe learned Men therefore embraced this but thoſe that held out, when they ſaw all a Arguments 18 a1v Arguments against Copernicus would not do, they had recourſe to what I ſaid before, that this Syſtem was expreſly againſt the holy Scriptures. Amongst this Number is the learned Father Tacquit, a Jeſuite; who, I am told, has writ a large Courſe of Mathematicks, and particularly, of Aſtronomy, which is deſervedly much eſteemed. In the end of this Treatiſe, he cites ſeveral Texts of Scripture; and particularly, the 19th. Pſalm, And the Sun ſtanding ſtill at the Command of Joſhua. If I can make it appear, that this Text of Scripture is, at leaſt, as much for Copernicus as Ptolemy, I hope it will not be unacceptable to my Readers: Therefore, with all due Reverence and Reſpect to the Word of God, I hope I may be allowed to ſay, that the deſign of the Bible was not to inſtruct Mankind in Aſtronomy, Geometry, or Chronology, but in the Law of God, to lead us to Eternal Life; and the Spirit of God has been ſo condeſcending to our Weakneſs, that through the whole Bible, when any thing of that kind is mentioned, the Expreſſions are always turned to fit our Capacities, and to fit the Common Acceptance, or Appearances of things to the Vulgar. As to Aſtronomy,nomy 19 a2r nomy, I ſhall reſerve that to the laſt, and ſhall begin with Geometry; and though I could give many Inſtances of all three, yet I ſhall give but one or two at moſt. The Meaſure and Dimenſions of Solomon’s Molten Braſs Sea in 1 King. 7.23. the Words are theſe, And he made a molten Sea, ten Cubits from one brim to the other, it was round all about, and his heighth was five Cubits, and a Line of thirty Cubits did compaſs it round about: That is to ſay, the Diameter of this Veſſel was a Third of its Circumference: This is indeed commonly underſtood to be ſo, but is far from a Geometrical Exactneſs, and will not hold to a Mathematical Demonſtration, as to the juſt Proportion between the Diameter and Circumference of a Circle. In the next place, as to Chronology, I could give many Inſtances out of the Bible, but ſhall only name two that are very apparent, and eaſie to be underſtood by the meaneſt Capacity. See 1 King. 6.1. the Words are theſe, And it came to paſs, in the 0480four hundred and fourſcorth Year after the Children of Iſrael were come out of the Land of Egypt, in the fourth Year of Solomon’s Reign over Iſrael, in the Month Zif, which is the ſeconda2 cond 20 a2v cond Month, he began to build the Houſe of the Lord. Compare this Text, and number of Years with Act. 13.17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. which is the beginning of St. Paul’s Sermon to the Jews of Antioch, and the number of Years therein contained: The Words are theſe,
VerVerse. 17. The God of this People of Iſrael choſe our Fathers, and exalted the People when they dwelt as Strangers in the Land of Egypt, and with an high Hand brought he them out of it.
VerVerse. 18. And about the time of forty Years ſuffered he their Manners in the Wilderneſs.
VerVerse. 19. And when he had deſtroyed ſeven Nations in the Land of Canaan, he divided their Land to them by Lot.
VerVerse. 20. And after that, he gave unto them Judges, about the ſpace of four hundred and fifty Years, until Samuel the Prophet.
VerVerse. 21. And afterwards they deſired a King, and God gave them Saul, the Son of Kiſh, a Man of the Tribe of Benjamin, for the ſpace of forty Years.
VerVerse. 22. And when he had removed him, he raiſed up unto them David to be their King.King 21 a3r
King David the Prophet reigned ſeven years in Hebron, and thirty three Years in Jeruſalem; and for this ſee 1 King. 2.11 To this you muſt add the firſt three Years of his Son Solomon, according to the Text I have cited, in 1 King. 6.1. Put all theſe Numbers together, which are contained in St. Paul’s Sermon at Antioch, with the Reign of King David, the firſt three Years of Solomon, and ſeven Years of Joſhua’s Government, before the Land was divided by Lot, which is expreſly ſet down in Act. 13.19. the number of Years will run thus: Forty Years in the Wilderneſs, the ſeven Years of Joſhua, before the dividing the Land by Lot; from thence, till Samuel, four hundred and fifty Years; forty Years for the Reign of Saul, forty Years for the Reign of David, and the firſt three Years of Solomon; all theſe Numbers added together, make five hundred and eighty Years: which Computation differs an hundred Years from that in 1 King. 6.1. which is but four hundred and eighty. It is not my preſent Buſineſs to reconcile this difference; but I can eaſily do it; if any Body think it worth their Pains to quarrel with my Boldneſs, I am able to defend my ſelf.a3 The 22 a3v
The ſecond Inſtance is, as to the Reign of King Solomon; for this, ſee 1 King. 11.42. where it is ſaid, he reigned but forty Years over Iſrael. Joſephus ſays expreſly, in the third Chapter of his eighth Book of Antiquities, that King Solomon reigned eighty Years, and died at the Age of ninety four. I would not preſume to name this famous Hiſtorian in contradiction to the Holy Scriptures, if it were not eaſie to prove by the Scriptures, that Solomon reigned almoſt twice forty Years. The Greek Verſion of the Bible, called commonly the Septuagint or ſeventy two Interpreters has it moſt expreſly in 3 King. 2. But the firſt Book of Kings according to our Tranſlation in Engliſh, ſays, that Solomon ſat upon the Throne of his Father David, when he was twelve Years of Age. But for Confirmation, be pleas’d to ſee 1Chr. 22.5. and 29.1. where it is ſaid, that Solomon was but young and tender for ſo great a work, as the building of the Temple. Rehoboam the Son of Solomon was forty one Years old, when he began to reign, ſee 1 King. 14. 21. How was it poſſible then that Solomon could beget a Son, when he was but a Child 23 a4r Child himſelf, or of eleven Years of Age according to the Septuagint? This Difficulty did ſtrangely ſurpriſe a Primitive Biſhop, by Name, Vitalis, who propoſed this Doubt to St. Jerome, who was ſtrangely put to it to return an Anſwer; and the Learned Holy Father is forc’d at laſt to ſay, that the Letter of the Scripture does often kill, but the Spirit enlivens. The Difficulty is ſtill greater than what Vitalis propoſed to St. Jerome in his Epiſtle. Rehoboam was the Son of Naamah an Ammonitiſh, ſtranger Woman, as you may ſee in 1 King. 14.31. Now it is clear, that Solomon did not abandon the Law of God, nor give himſelf to ſtrange Women till the end of his Reign, ſee 1 King. 9. where he had ſo many ſtrange Wives and Concubines, beſides his lawful Queen, the King of Ægypt’s Daughter; and I hope this will convince any rational Man, that the Scripture names only the firſt forty Years of the Reign of King Solomon, which was the time, wherein he did what was Right in the Sight of the Lord; which I think is Demonſtration, that the Holy Scripture was not deſigned, to teach Mankind Geometry, or inſtruct them in Chronology. a4 The 24 a4v The Learned Anthony Godeanu, Lord and Biſhop of Venice, ſeems to have been ſenſible of this great Difficulty; for in his Learned Church-Hiſtory, his Epitome from Adam to Jeſus Chriſt, writing the Life of Solomon, he ſays, he was twenty three Years old when he began his Reign. Upon what Grounds, or from what Authority I know not; but this agrees better with the Age of Solomon’s Son Rehoboam; but it doth not remove the Difficulty, ſo well as what I have ſaid.
I come now in the laſt place to perform what I undertook, which is to prove, that the Scripture was not deſigned to teach us Aſtronomy, no more than Geometry or Chronology: And to make it appear that the two Texts cited by Father Tacquet, viz. that of Pſal. 19.4, 5, 6. and Joſh. 10.12, &c. are at leaſt as much for Copernicus his Syſtem, as they are for Ptolemy’s. The Words of the 19th. Pſalm are, In them hath he ſet a Tabernacle for the Sun, which is as a Bridegroom coming out of his Chamber; and rejoices as a ſtrong Man to run his Race, &c.
That theſe words are Allegorical is moſt plain 25 a5r plain. Does not the Word Set import Stability, Fix’dneſs and Reſt, as much as the Words run his Race, and come forth of his Chamber, do ſignifie motion or turning round? Do not the Words Tabernacle and Chamber expreſs Places of Rest and Stability? And why may not I ſafely believe, that this makes for the Opinion of Copernicus, as well as for that of Ptolemy? For the Words of the Scriptures favour one Opinion as much as the other. The Texts of the Suns ſtanding ſtill at the Command of Joſhua, are yet plainer for Copernicus, in Joſh. 10. and the latter part of v. 12. the Words are theſe. Sun ſtand thou ſtill on Gibeon, and thou Moon on the Valley of Ajalon, &c.
The beſt Edition of the Engliſh Bible, which is printed in a ſmall Folio by Buck, in Cambridge, has an Aſteriſm at the Word ſtand, and renders it in the Margent, from the Hebrew, Be thou ſilent: If it be ſo in the Hebrew, be thou ſilent makes as much for the Motion of the Earth, according to Copernicus, as for the Motion of the Sun according to Ptolemy, but not to criticize upon Words, conſider this miraculous Paſſage, not only the Sun is commanded to stand 26 a5v ſtand ſtill, but the Moon alſo, And thou Moon on the Valley of Ajalon. The Reaſon the Sun was commanded to ſtand ſtill, was to the end the Children of Iſrael might have Light to guide them, to deſtroy their Enemies. Now when by this Miracle they had the Light of the Sun, of what Advantage could the Moon be to them? Why was ſhe commanded to ſtand ſtill upon the Valley of Ajalon? Beſides, be pleaſed to conſider, the Holy Land is but a very little Country or Province: The Valley of Ajalon is very near Gibeon, where Joſhua spoke to both Sun and Moon together to ſtand ſtill above, in Places ſo near each other, it is Demonſtration, that the Moon was at that time very near the Sun; and by Conſequence was at that time either a day or two before her change, or a day or two at most after new Moon; and then ſhe is nearer to the Body of the Sun, as to appearance, ſo could not aſſist the Children of Iſrael with Light, having ſo little of her own: It was then for ſome other Reaſon that the Moon ſtood ſtill; and for ſome other Reaſon that it is taken notice of in Holy Scripture. Both Syſtems agree that the Moon is the neareſt Planets to the Earth, and 27 a6r and ſubſervient to it, to enlighten it, during the Night, in Abſence of the Sun. Beſides this, the Moon has other ſtrange Effects, not only on the Earth it ſelf, but upon all the living Creatures that inhabit it; many of them are inviſible, and as yet unknown to Mankind; ſome of them are moſt apparent; and above all, her wonderful Influence over the ebbing and flowing of the Sea, at ſuch regular Times and Seaſons, if not interrupted by the Accident of ſome Storm, or great Wind. We know of no Relation or Correſponding between the Sun and the Moon, unleſs it be what is common with all the reſt of the Planets, that the Moon receives her Light from the Sun, which ſhe reſtores again by Reflection. If the Sun did move, according to the Syſtem of Ptolemy, where was the neceſſity of the Moon’s ſtanding ſtill? For if the Moon had gone on her Courſe, where was the Loſs or Diſorder in Nature? She having, as I demonſtrated before, ſo little Light, being ſo very near her Change, would have recovered her Loſs at the next Appearance of the Sun, and the Earth could have ſuffered nothing by the Accident; whereas the Earth moving at the ſame 28 a6v ſame time, in an Annual and Diurnal Courſe, according to the Syſtem of Copernicus, would have occaſioned ſuch a Diſorder and Confuſion in Nature, that nothing leſs than two or three new Miracles, all as great as the firſt, could have ſet the World in Order again: The regular Ebbings and Flowings of the Sea muſt have been interrupted as alſo the Appearing of the Sun in the Horizon, beſides many other Inconveniences in Nature; as, the Eclipſes of the Sun and Moon, which are now ſo regular, that an Aſtronomer could tell you to a Minute, what Eclipſes will be for thouſands of Years to come, both of Sun and Moon; when, and in what Climates they will be viſible, and how long they will laſt, how many Degrees and Digits of thoſe two great Luminaries will be obſcured. So that I doubt not but when this ſtupendious Miracle was performed by the Almighty and Infinite Power of God, his omnipotent Arm did in an Inſtant ſtop the Courſe of Nature, and the whole Frame of the Univerſe was at a ſtand, though the Sun and Moon be only named, being, to vulgar Appearance, the two great Luminaries that govern the Univerſe. This was the ſpace of a Day in Time, 29 a7r Time, yet can be called no part of Time, ſince Time and Nature are always in motion, and this Day was a ſtop of that Courſe. What is there in all this wonderful ſtop of Time, that is not as ſtrong for the System of Copernicus, as for that of Ptolemy? And why does my Belief of the Motion of the Earth, and the Reſt of the Sun contradict the holy Scriptures? Am not I as much obliged to believe that the Sun lodges in a Tabernacle? (as in Pſal. 19) Are not all theſe Allegorical Sayings? In the abovenamed Edition of the Engliſh Bible of Buck’s at Cambridge, ſee Iſa. 8.38. where the Shadow returned ten Degrees backwards, as a Sign of King Hezekiah’s Recovery, and there follow theſe Words, And the Sun returned ten Degrees; but on the Margin you will find it from the Hebrew, The Shadow returned ten Degrees by the Sun; and this is yet as much for Copernicus as Ptolemy. Whether God Almighty added ten Degrees or Hours to that Day, or by another kind of Miracle, made the Shadow to return upon the Dial of Ahaz, I will not preſume to determine; but ſtill you ſee the Hebrew is moſt agreeable to the new System of Copernicus.Thus 30 a7v
Thus I hope I have performed my Undertaking, in making it appear, that the holy Scriptures, in things that are not material to the Salvation of Mankind, do altogether condeſcend to the vulgar Capacity; and that theſe two Texts of Pſal. 19. and Joſh. 10. are as much for Copernicus as againſt him. I hope none will think my Undertaking too bold, in making ſo much uſe of the Scripture, on ſuch an Occaſion. I have a Precedent, much eſteemed by all ingenious Men; that is, Mr. Burnet’s Book of Paradiſe, and Antedeluvian World, which incroaches as much, if not more, on the holy Scriptures. But I have another Reaſon for ſaying ſo much of the Scriptures at this time: We live in an Age, wherein many believe nothing contained in that holy Book, others turn it into Ridicule: Some uſe it only for Miſchief, and as a Foundation and Ground for Rebellion: Some keep cloſe to the Literal Senſe, and others give the Word of God only that Meaning and Senſe that pleaſes their own Humours, or ſuits beſt their preſent Purpoſe and Intereſt. As I quoted an Epiſtle of St. Jerome to Vitalis before, where that great Father ſays, that the Letter kills, but the Spirit enlivens; 31 a8r enlivens; I think it is the Duty of all good Chriſtians to acquieſce in the Opinion and Decrees of the Church of Chriſt, in whom dwells the Spirit of God, which enlightens us to Matters of Religion and Faith; and as to other things contained in the Holy Scriptures relating to Aſtronomy, Geometry, Chronology, or other liberal Sciences, we leave thoſe Points to the Opinion of the Learned, who by comparing the ſeveral Copies, Tranſlations, Verſions, and Editions of the Bible, are beſt able to reconcile any apparent Differences and this with all Submiſſion to the Canons of General Councils, and Decrees of the Church. For the School-men agitate and delbate many things of a higher Nature, than the standing ſtill, or the Motion of the Sun or the Earth. And therefore, I hope my Readers will be ſo juſt as to think, I intend no Reflection on Religion by this Eſſay; which being no Matter of Faith, is free for every one to believe, or not believe, as they pleaſe. I have adventur’d to ſay nothing, but from good Authority: And as this is approved of by the World, I may hereafter venture to publiſh ſomewhat may be more uſeful to the Publick. I ſhall conclude 32 A8v conclude therefore with ſome few Lines, as to my preſent Tranſlation.
I have laid the Scene at Paris, where the Original was writ; and have tranſlated the Book near the Words of the Author. I have made bold to correct a Fault of the French Copy as to the heighth of our Air or Sphere of Activity of the Earth, which the French Copy makes twenty or thirty Leagues, I call it two or three, becauſe ſure this was a Fault of the Printer, and not a miſtake of the Author. For Monſieur DesCartes, and Monſieur Rohalt, both aſſert it to be but two or three Leagues. I thought Paris and St. Denis fitter to be made uſe of as Examples, to compare the Earth and the Moon to, than London and Greenwich; becauſe St. Denis having ſeveral Steeples and Walls, is more like Paris, than Greenwich is to London. Greenwich has no Walls, and but one very low Steeple, not to be ſeen from the Monument without a Proſpective Glaſs. And I reſolv’d either to give you the French Book into Engliſh, or to give you the ſubject quite changed and made my own; but having neither health nor leiſure for the laſt I offer you the firſt ſuch as it is.The