Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/409

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THE TRIAL OF GALILEO.

said by the two friends: some authors assert that Urban VIII. then inclined toward the Copernican system; others, on the contrary, say that he demonstrated to Galileo the impossibility of maintaining the theory of the earth's motion. The truth is, that we know nothing about the matter; neither the pope nor the astronomer has given out anything about the nature of their conversations. Perhaps even, as we shall shortly see, they believed that they could agree, while differing from one another widely.

At all events, it seems that, dating from the accession of Urban VIII. to the pontifical throne, Galileo felt more free to touch anew upon the forbidden subject, under a different form. Was this the result of an overweening confidence in the friendship of the sovereign pontiff, of a too favorable interpretation of some friendly speeches, or of the impossibility of being silent while Kepler was speaking boldly outside of Italy, while on Italian soil one was constantly harassed by ignorant opponents, and, though one's hand were full of truths, one durst not open it and rout them. The "Dialogues on the Two Great Systems of the Universe," which were destined to bring Galileo into so much trouble, show that, in writing them, he stood between the conflicting influences of a strong desire to speak and the fear of compromising himself. He rather insinuates his ideas with true Italian finesse than puts them forth boldly. He does not defend the Copernican system, but expounds it. He even takes the precaution of stating, in a preface, the rough draft of which had been sent to him from Rome, that the true aim of his work is to show that in Italy ideas are not condemned unknown, and that nowhere is this delicate matter better understood than in Italy. He carefully avoids drawing conclusions: the personage whom he introduces as the representative of the doctrine of Ptolemy and as the defender of the belief in the earth's immobility, though clad in the strongest dialectical coat of mail, and though driven to his last ditch by the keen raillery and the copious logic of his interlocutors, replies to them unmoved: "Your arguments are the most ingenious that can be conceived, but I consider them to be neither true nor conclusive." Father Riccardi, Master of the Sacred Palace, whose business it was to examine Galileo's manuscript, suffered himself to be half-way won by these exhibitions of innocence, and gave a permit for the work to be printed, though not without resistance. He afterward protested that he had been deceived by the author, and that some of the conditions on which he had granted the imprimatur were not fulfilled. At first it was agreed that the "Dialogues" should be printed at Rome; but at the earnest entreaty of Galileo leave was granted to have the work done at Florence, where it would involve less trouble and cost to him, and where, above all, he could more easily evade the surveillance of the Sacred Palace. In this negotiation Galileo displayed a fecundity of resource and a force of will that show how