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contrary to the sacred writings, and prohibiting the sale of every book in which they should be maintained.
Thus liberated from his persecutors, Galileo returned to Florence, where he pursued his studies with his wonted diligence and ardour. The recantation of his astronomical opinions was so formal and unreserved, that ordinary prudence, if not a sense of personal honour, should have restrained him from unnecessarily bringing them before the world. No anathema was pronounced against his scientific discoveries; no interdict was laid upon the free exercise of his genius. He was prohibited merely from teaching a doctrine which the church of Rome considered to be injurious to its faith. We might have expected, therefore, that a philosopher so conspicuous in the eyes of the world would have respected the prejudices, however base, of an institu. tion whose decrees formed part of the law of the land, and which possessed the power of life and death within the limits of its jurisdiction. Galileo, however, thought otherwise. A sense of degradation* seems to have urged him to retaliate, and before six years had elapsed, he began to compose his “Cosmical System, or Dialogues on the two greatest Systems of the World, the Ptolemean and the Copernican,” the concealed object of which is to establish the opinions which he had promised to abandon. In this work the subject is discussed by three speakers, Sagredo, Salviatus, and Simplicius, a peripatetic philosopher, who defends the system of Ptolemy with much skill against the overwhelniing arguments of the rival disputants. Galileo hoped to escape notice by this indirect mode of propagating the new system, and he obtained permission to publish his work, which appeared at Florence in 1632.
* It is distinctly stated in the sentence of the Inquisition, that Galileo's enemies had charged him with having abjured his opinions in 1616, and affirmed that he had been punished by the Inquisition. In order to refute these calumnies, Galileo applied to Cardinal Bellarmine for a certificate to prove that he neither abjured his opinions nor suffered any punishment for them; but that the doctrine of the motion of the earth and the stability of the sun was only denounced to him as contrary to Scripture, and as one which could not be defended or maintained. Cardinal Bellarmine drew up such a certificate in his own handwriting.
The Inquisition did not, as might have been expected, immediately suinmon Galileo to their presence. Nearly a year elapsed before they gave any indication of their design; and, according to their own statement, they did not even take the subject under consideration till they saw that the obnoxious tenets were every day gaining ground, in consequence of the publication of the Dialogues. They then submitted the work to a careful examination, and having found it to be a direct violation of the injunction which had been formerly intimated to its author, they again cited him before their tribunal in 1633. The venerable sage, now in his seventieth year, was thus compelled to repair to Rome, and when he arrived he was committed to the apartments of the Fiscal of the Inquisition. The unchangeable friendship, however, of the Grand-duke of Tuscany obtained a remission of this severity, and Galileo was allowed to reside at the house of the Tuscan ambassador during the two months which the trial occupied. When brought before the Inquisition, and examined upon oath, he acknowledged that the Dialogues were written by himself, and that he obtained permission to publish them without notifying to the person who gave it that he had been prohibited from holding, defending, or teaching the heretical opinions. He confessed also that the Dialogues were composed in such a manner, that the arguments in favour of the Copernican system, though given as partly false, were yet managed in such a manner that they were more likely to confirm than overturn iis doctrines; but that this error, which was not intentional, arose from the natural desire of making an ingenious defence of false propo
sitions, and of opinions that had the semblance of probability.
After receiving these confessions and excuses, the Inquisition allowed Galileo a proper time for giving in his defence; but this seems to have consisted solely in bringing forward the certificate of Cardinal Bellarmine already mentioned, which made no allusion to the promise under which Galileo had come never to defend, nor teach in any way whatever, the Copernican doctrines. The court held this defence to be an aggravation of the crime rather than an excuse for it, and proceeded to pronounce a sentence which will be ever memorable in the history of the human mind.
Invoking the name of our Saviour, they declare, that Galileo had made himself liable to the suspicion of heresy, by believing the doctrine, contrary to Scripture, that the sun was the centre of the earth's orbit, and did not move from east to west; and by defending as probable the opinion that the earth moved, and was not the centre of the world ; and that he had thus incurred all the censures and penalties which were enacted by the church against such offences ;--but that he should be absolved from these penalties, provided he sincerely abjured and cursed all the errors and heresies contained in the formula of the church, which should be submitted to him. That so grave and pernicious a crime should not pass altogether unpunished, that he might become more cautious in future, and might be an example to others to abstain from such offences, they decreed that his Dialogues should be prohibited by a formal edict,--that he should be condemned to the prison of the Inquisition during pleasure,—and that, during the three following years, he should recite once a week the seven penitential psalms.
This sentence was subscribed by seven cardinals; and on the 22d June, 1633, Galileo signed an abjuration humiliating to himself and degrading to philosophy. At the age of seventy, on his bended knees, and with his right hand resting on the Holy Evangelists, did this patriarch of science avow his present and his past belief in all the dogmas of the Romish Church, abandon as false and heretical the doctrine of the earth's niotion and of the sun's immobility, and pledge himself to denounce to the Inquisition any other person who was even suspected of heresy. He abjured, cursed, and detested those eternal and immutable truths which the Almighty had permitted him to be the first to establish. What a mortifying picture of moral depravity and intellectual weakness! if the unholy zeal of the assembly of cardinals has been branded with infamy, what must we think of the venerable sage whose gray hairs were entwined with the chaplet of immortality, quailing under the fear of man, and sacrificing the convictions of his conscience and the deductions of his reason at the altar of a base superstition? Had Galileo but added the courage of the martyr to the wisdom of the sage,—had he carried the glance of his indignant eye round the circle of his judges,-had he lifted his hands to heaven, and called the living God to witness the truth and immutability of his opinions, the bigotry of his enemies would have been disarmed, and science would have enjoyed a memorable triumph.
The great truths of the Copernican system, instead of being considered as heretical, had been actually adopted by many pious members of the Catholic church, and even some of its dignitaries did not scruple to defend it openly. Previous to the first persecution of Galileo in 1615, a Neapolitan nobleman, Vincenzio Caraffa, a person equally distinguished by his piety and birth, had solicited Paul Anthony Foscarinus, a learned Carmelite monk, to illustrate and defend the new system of the universe. With this request the ecclesiastic speedily complied; and in the pamphlet which he completed on the 6th
January, 1615, he defends the Copernican system with much boldness and ingenuity; he reconciles the various passages of Scripture with the new doctrine, and he expresses the hope that such an attempt, now made for the first time, will prove agreeable to philosophers, but particularly to those very learned men, Galileo Galilei, John Kepler, and all the members of the Lyncean Academy, who, he believes, entertain the same opinion. This remarkable production, written from the convent of the Carmelites at Naples, is dedicated to the very Reverend Sebastian Fantoni, general of the order of Carmelites, and was published at Florence, with the sanction of the ecclesiastical authorities, in 1630; three years before the second persecution of Galileo.
It would be interesting to know the state of public feeling in Italy when Galileo was doomed to the prisons of the Inquisition. No appeal seems to have been made against so cruel a sentence; and neither in remonstrance nor in derision does an individual voice seem to have been raised. The master spirits of the age looked with sullen indifference on the persecution of exalted genius; and Galileo lay in chains, deserted and unpitied. This unrebuked triumph of his enemies was perhaps favourable to the object of their vengeance. Resistance might have heightened the rigour of a sentence, which submission seems to have alleviated. The interference of some eminent individuals of Rome, among whom we have no doubt that the Grand-duke of Tuscany was the most influential, induced Pope Urban VIII., not only to shorten the period, but to soften the rigour of Galileo's imprisonment. From the dungeon of the Inquisition, where he had remained only four days, he was transported to the ambassador's palace in the Garden de Medici at Rome; and when his health had begun to suffer, he was permitted to leave the metropolis; and would have been allowed to return to Florence, but as the plague raged in