Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/414

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most cherished opinions, of belying his own thoughts, and of seeing himself treated as a criminal after he had, by his labors, done honor to his country and to mankind, were added physical sufferings of the most grievous kind. It is impossible to read without emotion the appeal he addressed to his judges at the end of his written defense: "It remains for me to urge one final consideration, viz., the pitiable state of bodily indisposition to which I have been reduced by incessant mental agony during ten whole months, together with the hardships of a long and toilsome journey, in the most inclement weather, at the age of threescore years and nine. . . . I confide in the mercy and goodness of the most eminent seigniors who are my judges, and I hope that if, in the integrity of their justice, they think that so great sufferings lack anything to make them equal to the punishment that my offenses deserve, they will be pleased, at my entreaty, to remit the difference in consideration of the failing strength of my old age, which I humbly commend to them."

Among the hitherto unpublished documents contained in Berti's work there is one that is of the highest importance. This is a summary of the case, giving an enumeration not only of what was decreed but also of what was done. After reading a text so clear and so unambiguous on all points save one, while on that one it agrees perfectly with other authentic documents, we no longer find ground for supposing it was only on paper that Galileo was threatened with the torture, and forced to make abjuration. A decree of the pope, dated June 16th, ordains that instead of a simple "examination as to intention," such as the commissary of the Holy Office had expected, an interrogatory[1] should be had with the threat of torture, if the accused could stand it; he is ordered to make abjuration, and condemned to imprisonment according to the good pleasure of the congregation. This decree was not, as has been supposed, a simple declaration designed to sustain the reputation of the tribunal for severity, while the culprit was treated leniently; on the contrary, it was executed literally, as is shown by the agreement of the documents concerning this portion of the trial.

On being interrogated for the last time on the 21st of June, Galileo was ordered to state whether he then held or ever had held the opinion that the sun is the centre of the world and that the earth moves. He humbly replied that ever since the decree of the Congregation of the Index, in 1616, he had always held and still did hold the opinion of Ptolemy to be "most true and unquestionable." This reply not appearing to be satisfactory, the father commissary insisted on knowing the truth, and wound up by declaring that, if the whole truth were not stated, recourse would be had to torture. "I am here in

  1. Author's Note.—We interpret three obscure words in the pontifical decree, ac si sustinuerit, in the sense given to them by Berti. Th. Henri Martin gives a different translation, not without good reasons. The matter is one that will bear discussion. It is still undecided, even after the publication of the documents.