Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/413

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THE TRIAL OF GALILEO.

arguments, and made an object of ridicule by their irony. Surely, it was imprudent on the part of Galileo to deny the evidence, thus giving to his defense the appearance of double-dealing.

Nor did the resort to this course deceive any one. The three judges who had questioned him unanimously declared that in his book he had contravened the injunctions of Cardinal Bellarmin, and the decree of the Congregation of the Index. Two of them added that he was gravely suspect of adhering to the doctrine of Copernicus. After the close of his first interrogatory, he was removed to the palace of the Holy Office, and there he occupied a chamber in the sleeping-apartments of the wardens, with an express prohibition of going out without leave. Here he had long and frequent interviews with Father Vincenzo Macolano, commissary of the Holy Office, an educated man of kindly disposition, and a friend of the grand-duke and of the Tuscan embassador; Father Macolano took it upon himself to warn Galileo of the dangers of the situation, and to aid him with his counsels. First of all, he induced Galileo to submit without reserve, to admit his offenses, and to repent. "I made his error patent to him," wrote the father commissary, at the close of one of their interviews; "he clearly saw that he had made a mistake, that in his book he had gone too far, and he expressed to me his regret in words full of feeling, as though he drew comfort from the knowledge of his error, and was thinking of confessing it judicially; he only asked of me a little time to consider how he might best word his confession." Father Macolano then looked for a speedy ending of the trial, and a less severe sentence. "When once we have Galileo's confession," said he, "the reputation of the tribunal will be safe, and the accused can be treated with indulgence." Evidently he expected that the case would not be carried beyond the first stage of inquisition, and that it would terminate by a special form of interrogatory, known as the "interrogatory with regard to the intention."

If things were pushed further than the commissary of the Holy Office either wished or expected, the blame does not rest with the accused, who, once warned, immediately resolved to submit. On being interrogated again on the 30th of April, Galileo confessed that, without meaning it, he had presented too forcibly the arguments in favor of the system of Copernicus, his intention all the while being to refute them, and that thus he might have led the public into error. He declared that he was "ready to refute the opinion of Copernicus by all the most efficacious methods that God might place within his power." These words, no doubt dictated to him by the humanity of the father commissary, had the effect of procuring for him some measure of liberty. That very evening he was sent back to the palace of the Tuscan embassador, so that there he might receive such care as the state of his health required.

We must not forget that to the humiliation of repudiating his