Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/402

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386
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was not continued: only the beginning of the work was then known, and of this Delambre, the astronomer, gave an account to the Italian Venturi.

In December, 1814, according to the Duke de Blacas, the private library of Louis XVIII. received the entire MS. in the same condition in which it had been found by the imperial government in Italy, and thence carried to France. During the early years of the Restoration, active negotiations were carried on by the court of Rome with the French Government, to secure the return of these important documents. The Government, though it did not positively refuse to comply, nevertheless delayed and procrastinated. It was not until 1846, after thirty-two years of negotiation, that the MS. was sent back to Rome, at the instance, no doubt, of Rossi, who himself presented it to Pius IX., in behalf of Louis Philippe. By the pope it was restored in December, 1848, to the secret archives of the Vatican, and there it still remains.

All that was known of this MS. before the publication of Berti's work rested upon a selection of documents published at Rome in 1850, with many precautions, by Monsignore Marino Marini, sometime Prefect of the Secret Archives of the Holy See, and upon a larger work, in some respects inexact, and in others imperfect, published in Paris in 1867, by Henri de l'Épinois. Both of these writers take special points of view: they appear to be more intent upon justifying the judges that condemned Galileo than upon laying bare the whole truth with the boldness and freedom of an historian. Hence we can appreciate the motives which led them to publish only a portion of the MS. though the whole of it was in their hands. Did the court of Rome really suppose that these two publications contained all the documents pertaining to the double trial of Galileo, or did it think that the time had come for no longer hiding anything from the public? However that may be, at all events Domenico Berti, in February, 1870, was permitted to examine the MS., and even to copy it at his leisure in the room of Father Theiner, who had been officially authorized to intrust it to him. The present publication, therefore, was not procured by fraud, and, if the Holy See should have any occasion to regret it, at least it could neither dispute its authenticity, nor complain that the work was done without its consent.

 
I.

The interesting history of the travels and of the final destiny of the Vatican MS. is merely the preface of a far more important history, whose events we will endeavor to record impartially, with the sole purpose of unveiling and bringing to light the truth. Galileo, celebrated from his early years for the value of his discoveries and the brilliancy of his lectures at the University of Padua, loaded with honors at Venice and at Florence, and admired throughout all Italy,