Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/417

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THE TRIAL OF GALILEO.

good and all, by conducting him, through a series of moral tortures, to the uttermost limits of terror.

At the same time the solemn form of his abjuration was calculated to prevent him from ever again inclining toward the Copernican doctrine. How could he embrace that doctrine again after he had openly pronounced it heretical, and promised, as he was compelled to do, to inform upon all persons suspected of this heresy? His judges, however, were not yet satisfied; he was feared even after his abjuration. He was confined at first in the palace of the Archbishop Piccolomini, at Siena, then at his own villa of Arcetri, near Florence, with leave to receive a few visits of relatives and friends, but on condition that several persons should never meet there to hold conversation. It was particularly feared that he would communicate with learned men abroad and in Italy. Father Castelli, his old pupil, in vain begged leave to see him, though he promised not to talk with him about the earth's motion. In order to protect all other Catholic countries against the contagion of his ideas, the pope dispatched to all apostolic nuncios and to all inquisitors copies of the sentence pronounced on Galileo, and of his act of abjuration. At Florence his chief disciples and friends, especially the professors of mathematics, were summoned by name to listen to the reading of these two documents.

In shutting the mouth of a writer so gifted, so full of resources, so admired by the public, it was hoped that an end was made of the doctrine of Copernicus—that dangerous doctrine which alarmed the theologians by displacing the centre of the universe, ousting the earth from its primacy and substituting the sun, and opening the way for hypotheses of the plurality of worlds and the end of creation. But the effort was vain. The theory of the earth's motion has survived all condemnations. It was not Galileo, as tradition would have it, that uttered the famous saying, "Eppur si muove" but the general voice of mankind who, after his death, thus proclaimed the undying truth of his belief.

Here we will stop. We would not weaken, by any comments of ours, the importance of the documents we have been examining. It is a fixed historical fact that in the beginning of the seventeenth century the Roman congregations, assuming to represent the Church, and not disavowed by her, made themselves the judges of a scientific question, and decided it in a way contrary to the conclusions of science. The splendor of Galileo's genius and the commiseration inspired by his sufferings impress upon this discussion a tragical and popular character; but the emotion produced by his cruel fate must not blind us to the gravity of the problem. The great question was whether, in countries that were then Catholic and destined so to remain, Science could free herself from the dominion of Faith. The trial of Galileo, so far from retarding this conclusion, as is commonly supposed, on the contrary made it inevitable and urgent. So soon as the