Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/401

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

FEBRUARY, 1877.


 

THE TRIAL OF GALILEO.[1]
By A. MÉZIÈRES,

OF THE FRENCH ACADEMY.

MANY points have been left obscure in the history of the double trial of Galileo, the details of which till lately were but imperfectly known. The important work published by Domenico Berti[2] fills up some of these gaps, by placing before our eyes a collection of authentic documents taken from the secret archives of the Vatican. We have here no work of partisanship, undertaken in the interest of religious controversy, but an historical work executed with all the scrupulous care that is nowadays exacted in all historical researches. In France the question had already been handled by Libri, Biot, Joseph Bertrand, Trouessart, and Th. Henri Martin, the first two approaching it with preconceived opinions that aided but little in the discovery of the truth, while the others brought to the discussion a remarkable spirit of impartiality. But all of these writers lacked the indispensable elements of information which now, thanks to the labors of Domenico Berti, are at the disposal of the future biographers of Galileo. If we have suffered ourselves to be anticipated by an Italian in the publication of the documents relating to this famous case, we must attribute the fact either to the negligence or to the prudence of the French Government, for we were in possession, for nearly half a century, of the valuable manuscript the full text of which is now published by Berti. Having been taken out of the Vatican archives during the first empire and carried to Paris, this original collection was there seen by the historian Denina, but he thought it to be of no importance. Nevertheless Napoleon I. ordered it to be published, with a translation facing the text; but the publication, though begun,

  1. Translated from the Revue des Deux Mondes by J. Fitzgerald, A. M.
  2. "Il Processo Originale di Galileo Galilei, pubblicato per la prima volta," Roma, 1876.