Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/406

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inquisitors contented themselves with an examination of the copy sent by Lorini, in which they discovered a few ill-sounding phrases, but, on the whole, nothing clearly contradictory of the language of Scripture. Still they continued to note the words of Galileo; they questioned two Tuscan ecclesiastics about the speeches that he might have uttered in their hearing; they scrutinized the letters he had published on the subject of observing sun-spots.

Galileo, though quite ignorant of the strict watch kept on him by the Inquisition, had a vague apprehension of imminent danger. To ward it off, he adopted the expedient of going again to Rome in 1615, and of pleading his cause in person in the quarter where a successful defense was most to be desired. It has been asserted that Galileo was summoned before the bar of the Holy Office, but they who so assert are in error as to the date; it was not till a much later period, viz., the beginning of his second trial, that he was ordered to appear in Rome. On the present occasion he went of his own accord, no longer possessed of the fearless assurance with which he made his first journey, yet confidently hoping that he would disarm his opponents by the clearness of his explanations. Perchance he rested his expectation of convincing them as much upon the graces and charms of his wit, and the personal attractiveness which won for him all hearts, as upon the strength of his arguments.

Besides, he had taken more pains than even he did in 1611 to prepare the ground: he had, in urgent letters, rekindled the zeal of his friends, and had again obtained for himself all the external tokens of the official protection of the grand-duke. As before, he went down to the embassador's palace, the villa of the Trinità, de' Monti, where now the Academy of France has its seat, and, the day after his arrival, went into the country. What with detailed explanations made in the presence of numerous auditors, keen and lively disputations in which he plainly showed the weakness of his opponents, frequent visits to distinguished personages, brief tractates in which he demonstrated the truth of the Copernican system, he omitted nothing that could influence in his own favor those currents of opinion which judges themselves cannot withstand.

Unfortunately for Galileo, the tribunal of the Inquisition was but little affected by external influences; it imposed laws on opinion, and took no advice from it. The members of the Holy Office, heedless of the steps taken by the illustrious astronomer, and of the ardor with which his ideas were espoused by a portion of Roman society, went on quietly with their work. In examining the letters on the sun-spots, they found therein two propositions worthy of censure. On the 24th of February, 1616, they unanimously pronounced it absurd and heretical to assert that the sun is motionless, and that the earth revolves. The sovereign pontiff immediately ordered Cardinal Bellarmin to summon Galileo, and to have him promise that he would no longer uphold