Imágenes de páginas

whole tolerably correct, especially if we take into account that Salusbury had not yet seen Viviani's Life, though composed some years earlier.

The Life of Galileo by Viviani was first written as an outline of an intended larger work, but this latter was never completed. This sketch was published in the Memoirs of the Florentine Academy, of which Galileo had been one of the annual presidents, and afterwards prefixed to the complete editions of Galileo's works; it is written in a very agreeable and flowing style, and has been the groundwork of most subsequent accounts. Another original memoir by Niccol& Gherardini, was published by Tozzetti. A great number of references to authors who have treated of Galileo is given by Bach in his Onomasticon. An approved Latin memoir by Brenna is in the first volume of Fabroni's Vitae Italorum Illustrium; he has however fallen into several errors: this same work contains the lives of several of his principal followers.

The article in Chauffepie's Continuation of Bayle's Dictionary does not contain anything which is not in the earlier accounts.

Andres wrote an essay entitled 'Saggio sulla Filosofia del Galileo,' published at'Mantua 1776; and Jagemann published his 'Geschichte des Leben des Galileo' at Leipzig, in 1787;* neither of these the author has been able to meet with. An analysis of the latter may be seen in Kiistner's' Geschichte der Mathematik, Gottingen, 1800,' from which it does not appear to contain any additional details. The ' Elogio del Galileo' by Paolo Frisi, first published at Leghorn in 1773, is, as its title expresses, rather in the nature of a panegyric than of a continuous biographical account. It is written with very great elegance and intimate knowledge of the subjects of which it treats. Nelli gave several curious particulars with respect to Galileo in his 'Saggio di Storia Letteraria Fiorentina, Lucca, 1759;' and in 1793 published his large work entitled 'Vita e Com mercio Letterario di Galileo Galilei.' So uninteresting a book was probably never written from such excellent materials. Two thick quarto volumes are filled with repetitions of the accounts that were already in print, the bulky preparation

• VtBturi.

of which compelled the author to forego the publication of the vast collection of original documents which his unwearied zeal and industry had collected. This defect has been in great measure supplied by Venturi in 1818 and 1821, who has not only incorporated in his work many of Nelli's manuscripts, but has brought together a number of scattered notices of Galileo and his writings from a variety of outlying sources—a service which the writer is able to appreciate from having gone through the greatest part of the same labour before he was fortunate enough to meet with Venturi's book. Still there are many letters cited by Nelli, which do not appear either in his book or Venturi's. Carlo Dati, in 1663, quotes "the registers of Galileo's correspondence arranged in alphabetical order, in ten large volumes."* The writer has no means of ascertaining what collection this may have been ; it is difficult to suppose that one so arranged should have been lost sight of. It is understood that a life of Galileo is preparing at this moment in Florence, by desire of the present Grand Duke, which will probably throw much additional light on the character and merits of this great and useful philosopher.

The first editions of his various treatises, as mentioned by Nelli, are given below. Clement, in his ' Bibliothdque Curieuse,' has pointed out such among them, and the many others which have been printed, as have become rare.

The Florentine edition is the one used by the Academia della Crusca for their references; for which reason its paging is marked in the margin of the edition of Padua, which is much more complete, and is the one which has been on the present occasion principally consulted.

The latter contains the Dialogue on the System, which was not suffered to be printed in the former editions. The twelve first volumes of the last edition of Milan are a mere transcript of that of Padua: the thirteenth contains in addition the Letter to the Grand Duchess, the Commentary on Tasso, with some minor pieces. A complete edition is still wanted, embodying all the recently discovered documents, and omitting the verbose commentaries, which, however useful when they were written, now convey little information that cannot be more agreeablv and more profitably learned in treatises of a later date.

• Lcttera di Timauro Antiute.

Such was the life, and such were the pursuits, of this extraordinary man. The numberless inventions of his acute industry; the use of the telescope, and the brilliant discoveries to which it led; the patient investigation of the laws of weight and motion; must all be looked upon as forming but a part of his real merits, as merely particular demonstrations of the spirit in which he everywhere withstood the despotism of ignorance, and appealed boldly from traditional opinions to the judgments of reason and common sense. He claimed and bequeathed to us the right of exercising our faculties in examining the beautiful creation which surrounds

us. Idolized by his friends, he deserved their affection by numberless acts of kindness; by his good humour, his affability, and by the benevolent generosity with which he devoted himself and a great part of his limited income to advance their talents and fortunes. If an intense desire of being useful is everywhere worthy of honour; if its value is immeasurably increased, when united to genius of the highest order; if we feel for one who, notwithstanding such titles to regard, is harassed by cruel persecution,—then none deserve our sympathy, our admiration, and our gratitude, more than Galileo.

List of Galileo's Works.

Le Operazioni del Compasso Geom. e Milit. . .

Difesa di Gal. Galilei contr. all. cal. et impost, di Bald. Capru
Sydereus Nuncius • #

Discorso int. alle cose che stanno in su l'Acqua
Novantiqua SS. PP. Doctrina de S. Scripturae Testimoniis
Istoria e Dcmostr. int. alle Macchie Solari . . .

Risp. alle oppose del S. Lod. delle Colombe e del S. Vine, di Grazia
Discorso delle Comete di Mario Guiducci . . m

Dialugo sopra i due Massimi Si-temi del Mondo .

Discorso e Demostr. intorno alle due nuove Scienze .

Delia Scienza Meccauica .....

Traltato della Sfera .....

Discorso sopra il Flusso e Reflusso. (Scienze Fisiche di Tozzetli.)
Considerazioni sul Tasso .....
Trattato della Fortificazione. (Memorie di Venturi.) .

The editions of his collected works (in which is contained much that was published separately) are—

Opere di Gal. Galilei, Line. Nob. Fior. &c. . Bologna, 1656. 2 vols.

Opere di Gal. Galilei, Nob. Fior. Accad. Line. &C. . Firenze, 1718. 3 vols.
Opere di Gal. Galilei . . Padova, 1744. 4 vols.

Opere di Gal. Galilei . . . Milano, 1811. 13 vols.

Padova, 1606.

Venezza, 1607.

Venetiis, 1610.

Firenze, 1612.

Argent, 1612.

Roma, 1613.

Firenze, 1615.

Firenze, 1619.

Firenze, 1632.

Leida, 1638.

Ravenna, 1649.

Roma, 1655.

Firenze, 178«.

Roma, 1793.

Modena, 1818.

[ocr errors]

Page Co . Line.


8 8 15 17




, Add: His instructor was the celebrated botanist, Andreas Csesalplnus, who was professor of medicine at Pisa from 1M,7 to 1592. Hist. Acad. Pisan.l Pisis, 1791.

IS, Add: According to Klutfner, his German name was Wursteisen.

21, for 158S read 158C.

57, for 1632 read 16S0.

29. Saiusbury alludes to the instrument described and figured in "The Use of the Sector, Crosse Stalfe, and other instruments. Loudon, 1624." It is exactly Galileo's Compass.

52, for Burg, a German, read Burgi, a Swiss.

17. The author here called Brutus was an Englishman: his real name, perhaps, was Bruce. See p. w.

50 73

14. Kepler's Epitome was not published till 1G19: it was then inserted in the Index.

60, for under rend turned from.

50, for any read an indefinitely small.



Chapter I. IntroductionBirth and Education of KeplerHe is appointed Astronomical Professor at GratzPublishes the 'Mysterium Cosmngraphicum.'

In the account of the life and discoveries of Galileo, we have endeavoured to inculcate the safety and fruitfulness of the method followed by that great reformer in his search after physical truth. As his success furnishes the best instance of the value of the inductive process, so the failures and blunders of his adversaries supply equally good examples of the dangers and the barrenness of the opposite course. The history of John KepIeemight, at the first view, suggest con•clusions somewhat inconsistent with this remark. Every one who is but moderately acquainted with astronomy is familiar with the discoveries which that science owes to him; the manner in which he made them is, perhaps, not so generally known. This extraordinary man pursued, almost invariably, the hypothetical method. His life was passed in speculating on the results of a few principles assumed by him, from very precarious analogies, as the causes of the phenomena actually observed in .Nature, We nevertheless find that he did, in spite of this unphilosophical method, arrive at discoveries which have served as guides to some of the most valuable truths of modern science.

The difficulty will disappear if we attend more closely to the details of Kepler's investigations. We shall perceive that to an unusual degree of rashness in the formation of his systems, he added a quality very rarely possessed by philosophers of the hypothetical school One of the greatest intellectual vices of the latter was a wilful blindness to the discrepancy of facts from their creed, a perverse and obstinate resistance to physical evidence, leading not unfrequently to an attempt at disguising the truth. From this be.setting sin of the school, which from an intellectual fault often degenerated into a moral one, Kepler was absolutely free.

Scheme after scheme, resting originally upon little beyond his own glowing imagination, but examined and endeared by the ceaseless labour of years, was unhesitatingly sacrificed, as soon as its insufficiency became indisputable, to make room for others as little deserving support. The history of philosophy affords no more remarkable instance of sincere uncompromising love of truth. To this virtue he owed his great discoveries: it must be attributed to his unhappy method that he made no more.

In considering this opinion upon the real nature of Kepler's title to fame, it ought not to be forgotten that he has exposed himself at adisadvantage on which certainly very few philosophers would venture. His singular candour allowed him to comment upon his own errors with the same freedom as if scrutinizing the work of a stranger; careless whether the impression on his readers were favourable or otherwise to himself, provided it was instructive. Few writers have spoken so much, and so freely of themselves, as Kepler. He records, on almost every occasion, the train of thought by which he was led to each of the discoveries that eventually repaid his perseverance; and he has thus given us "a most curious and interesting view of the workings of a mind of great, though eccentric power. "In what follows," says he (when introducing a long string of suppositions, of which he had already discovered the fallacy), "let the reader pardon my credulity, whilst working out all these matters by my own ingenuity. For it is my opinion that the occasions by which men have acquired a knowledge of celestial phenomena are not less admirable than the discoveries themselves." Agreeing altogether with this opinion in its widest application, we have not scrupled, in the following sketch, to introduce at some length an account even of Kepler's erroneous speculations; they are in themselves very amusing, and will have the additional utility of proving the dangerous tendency of his method; they will show by how many absurd theories, and how

many years of wasted labour, his real discoveries and services to science lie surrounded.

John Kepler was born (as we are assured bv his earliest biographer Hantsch) in long."29° 7', lat. 48° 54', on the 21 st day of December, 1571. On this spot stands the imperial city of Weil, in the duchy of Wirtemberg. His parents were Henry Kepler and Catherine Guldenmann.both of noble, though decayed families. Henry Kepler, at the time of his marriage, was a petty officer in the Duke of Wirtemberg's service; and a few years after the birth of his eldest son John, he joined the army then serving in the Netherlands. His wife followed him, leaving their son, then in his fifth year, at Leonberg, under the care of his grandfather. He was a seven months child, very weak and sickly; and after recovering with difficulty from a severe attack of small-pox, he was sent to school in 1577. Henry Kepler's limited income was still farther reduced on his return into Germany, the following year, in consequence of the absconding of one of his acquaintance, for whom he had incautiously become surety. His circumstances were so much narrowed by this misfortune, that he was obliged lo sell his house, and nearly all that he possessed, and for several years he supported his family by keeping a tavern at Elmendingen. This occasioned great interruption to young Kepler's education; he was taken from school, and employed in menial services till his twelfth year, when he was again

Jtlaced in the school at Elmendingen. in the following year he was again seized with a violent illness, so that his life was almost despaired of. In 1586,he was admitted into the monastic school of Maulbronn, where the cost of his education was defrayed by the Duke of Wirtemberg. This school was one of those established on the suppression of the monasteries at the Reformation, and the usual course of education followed there required that the students, after remaining a year in the superior classes, should offer themselves for examination at the college of Tubingen for the degree of bachelor: they then returned to their school with the title of veterans; and after completing the studies taught there, they were admitted as resident students at Tubingen, proceeded in about a year to the degree of master, and were then allowed to commence their course of theology. The

three years of Kepler's life following his admission to Maulbronn, were marked by periodical returns of several of the disorders which had well nigh proved fatal to him in his childhood. During the same time disagreements arose between his parents, in consequence of which his father quitted his home, and soon after died abroad. After his father's departure, his mother also quarrelled with her relations, having been treated, says Hantsch, "with a degree of barbarity by her, husband and brother-in-law that was hardly exceeded even by her own perverseness:" one of his brothers died, and the family-affairs were in the greatest confusion. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, Kepler took his degree of master in August 1591, attaining the second place in the annual examination. The first name on the list was John Hippolytus Brentius.

Whilst he was thus engaged at Tubingen, the astronomical lectureship at Gratz, the chief town of Styria, became vacant by the death of George Stadt, and the situation was offered to Kepler. Of this first occasion of turning his thoughts towards astronomy, he has himself given the following account: "As soon as I was of an age to feel the charms of philosophy, I embraced every part of it with intense desire, but paid no especial regard to astronomy. I had indeed capacity enough for it, and learned without difficulty the geometrical and astronomical theorems occurring in the usual course of the school, being well grounded in figures, numbers, and proportions. But those were compulsory studies—there was nothing to show a particular turn for astronomy. I was educated at the expense of the Duke of Wirtemberg, and when I saw such of my companions as the duke selected to send abroad shrink in various ways from their employments, out of fondness for home, I, who was more callous, had early made up my mind to go with the utmost readiness whithersoever I might be sent. The first offering itself was an astronomical post, which I was in fact forced to accept by the authority of my tutors; not that I was alarmed, in the manner I had condemned in others, by the remoteness of the situation, but by the unexpected and contemptible nature of the office, and by the slightness of my information in this "branch of philosophy. I entered on it, therefore, better furnished with talent than knowledge: with many protestations that I was not abandoning my claim to be provided for in some other more brilliant profession. What progress I made in the first two years of my studies, may be seen in my ' Mysterinm Cosmographicum;' and the encouragement given me by my tutor, Mastlin, to take up the science of astronomy, may be read in the same book, and in his lttter which is

prefixed to the 'Narrative of Rheticus.' looked on that discovery as of the highest importance, and still more so, because I saw how greatly it was approved by Mastlin."

The nature of the singular work to which Kepler thus refers with so much complacency, will be best shown by quoting some of the most remarkable parts of it, and especially the preface, in which he briefly details some of the theories he successively examined and rejected, before detecting (as he imagined he had here done) the true cause of the number and order of the heavenly bodies. The other branches of philosophy with which he occupied himself in his younger years, were those treated by Scaliger in his 'Exoteric Exercises,' to the study of which book Kepler attributed the formation of many of his opinions; and he tells us that he devoted much time " to the examination of the nature of heaven, of souls, of genii, of the elements, of the essence of fire, of the cause of fountains, the ebb and flow of the tide, the shape of the continents, and inland seas, and things of this sort." He also says, that by his first success with the heavens, his hopes were greatly inflamed of discovering similar analogies in the rest of the visible world, and for this reason, named his book merely a Prodromus, or Forerunner, meaning, at some future period, to subjoin the Aftercomer, or Sequel. But this intention was never fulfilled; either his imagination failed him, or, what is more likely, the laborious calculations in which his astronomical theories engaged him, left him little time for turning his attention to objects unconnected with his first pursuit.

It is seldom that we are admitted to trace the progress of thought in those who have distinguished themselves by talent and originality; and although the whole of the following speculations begin and end in error, yet they are so characteristic, and exhibit such an extraordinary picture of the extravagances into which Kepler's lively imagination was continually hurrying him, that we cannot refrain from citing nearly the

whole preface. From it, better than from any enumeration of peculiarities, the reader will at once apprehend the nature of his disposition.

"When I was attending the celebrated Miistlin, six years ago, at Tubingen. I was disturbed by the manifold inconveniences of the common theory of the universe, and so delighted with Copernicus, whom Mastlin was frequently in the habit of quoting with great respect, that I not only often defended his propositions in the physical disputations of the candidates, but also wrote a correct essay on the primary motion, maintaining, that it is caused by the rotation of the earth. And I was then at that point that I attributed to the earth the motion of the sun on physical (or, if you will, on metaphysical) grounds, as Copernicus had done for mathematical reasons. And, by this practice, I came by degrees, partly from Miistlin's instructions, and partly from my own efforts, to understand the superior mathematical convenience of the system of Copernicus beyond Ptolemy's. This labour might have been spared me, by Joachim Rheticus, who has shortly and clearly explained everything in his first Narrative. While incidentally engaged in these labours, in the intermission of my theology, it happened conveniently that I succeeded George Stadt in his situation at Gratz, where the nature of my office connected me more closely with these studies. Everything I had learned from Miistlin, or had acquired of myself, was there of great service to me in explaining the first elements of astronomy. And, as in Virgil,' Fama mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo,' so it was with me, that the diligent thought on these things was the occasion of still further thinking: until, at last, m the year 1595, when I had some intermission of my lectures allowed me, I brooded with the whole energy of my mind on this subject. There were three things in particular, of which I pertinaciously sought the causes why they are not other than they are: the number, the size, and the motion of the orbits. I attempted the thing at first with numbers, and considered whether one of the orbits might be double, triple, quadruple, or any other multiple of the others, and how much, according to Copernicus, each differed from the rest. I spent a great deal of time in that labour, as if it were mere sport, Lut could find no equality either in the proportions or

« AnteriorContinuar »