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without entering into every minute de- the Protestant imagination supposes tail of the history, I will briefly supply them to be. This, however, is a point the necessary answers to these false we need not now enter upon; let us and mischievous statements.
confine ourselves to the bare narration First, then, let us look at it only in of facts. We have seen the terms in a personal point of view, and inquire which the sentence was couched ; let what, as a matter of fact, was the real us now see how it was carried out. extent and severity of the punishment The first place of imprisonment assigned inflicted on the philosopher. The actu- to Galileo was the dwelling of some of al sentence pronounced upon him by the principal officers of the Inquisition the Inquisition is expressed in these themselves, the Dominican convent of words: “We condemn you to the for- the Minerva in Rome: Here he spent mal prison of the Holy Office, for a a week, occupying the rooms of one of period determinable at our pleasure; his own friends, attended by his own and by way of salutary penance, we servant, having the range of the whole order you, during the next three years, house and gardens, and receiving withto recite once a week the seven peni-out let or hinderance as many visitors tential psalms, reserving to ourselves as chose to come to him! At the exthe power of moderating, commuting, piration of a week he went to the or taking off the whole or part of the palace of Guicciardini, the Tuscan amsaid punishment and penance.” This bassador in Rome, who was his great certainly is a very different picture friend and most zealous protector, and from those which were set before us whose palace occupied one of the very just now, and which alone are common- best situations in the whole city. Hear ly to be met with in the works of Prot- Galileo himself describing his miseraestant authors. However, the sen- ble dungeon: “I have for prison the tence as it stands even now, certainly delightful palace of Trinità di Monte," looks capable of bearing a very ugly he says in one of his own letters still interpretation, for there is no limit set extant. In this “delightful palace” to the period of the imprisonment ex- he remained for four or five months, at cept the will of the judges themselves: the end of which time he was told that “We condemn you to the formal prison he need not stay in Rome any longer; of the Holy Office, for a period deter- but as the plague was then raging in minable at our pleasure.” “Imprison- Florence (which was Galileo's home) ment in the dungeons of the Inquisi- "they sent me” (we are still quoting tion," we fancy we hear our Protestant from his own letter) " to my best friend, readers exclaim; “and for as long a the Archbishop of Sienna, and I have period as the inquisitors themselves always enjoyed the most delightful transhould please ; death itself would have quillity. Now I am at Arcetra in my been mercy compared to such a pun- native country.” This was his own ishment as this." And so indeed it villa near Florence; and here he conwould be, if the dungeons of the Inqui- tinued to reside without further molestasition and the tempers of the inquisitors tion until the period of his death, which were anything at all like that which happened some nine or ten years after
wards. Certainly this was a mostown schools, and of which, had it desevere and cruel punishment, was it pended upon her, mankind would have not ! precisely what every Protestant never heard. Now what will our would naturally have expected from so good readers think when we inform bloodthirsty a tribunal as the Inquisi- them, that it is to this Church of Rome tion is known to be? Need I say more we are mainly indebted for the new concerning the torturing, the putting theory—that in Rome it had its birth out of eyes, the long and tedious con--in Rome it fostered and finement for one, three, or five years, matured ; that but for Roman auspices in the dungeons of the Inquisition, of —the encouragement of Popes and this martyr of science, Galileo Galilei ? cardinals—the adoption of the new
We come next to the further ques- theory had in all human probability tion, Had the Inquisition any right to been thrown back to a distance which condemn and punish him at all? Was it would be now to no purpose to try it not very narrow-minded bigotry to calculate ? Yes, to the Pontiffs and on the part of the Catholic Church to dignitaries of Rome we are mainly ininterfere in a matter of science which debted for the Copernican system, as it could be no concern of hers! Ought is called ; that is, for the system which she not to have confined herself to her teaches that the earth moves, and that own business, theology? And does the sun is at rest. not the whole proceeding, therefore, The proof of this assertion (which show a feeling of jealousy and spiteful we have stated in the words of the opposition to science on the part of Dublin Review, July, 1838, in an article the Holy See and its principal officers ! to which we shall be often indebted in To answer these questions satisfac- the course of these pages) is to be torily, I must go back a little in my ound in the following facts : The first narrative, and give you some sketch in modern times to broach the Coperof the rise and progress of the scienti- nican theory was himself a cardinal ; fic theories which Galileo maintained, and one moreover who was raised to and the manner in which he maintained so high a dignity from a very humble them.
and obscure position, precisely as a reIf one were to believe the statements ward for these very abilities in matheor insinuations of most Protestant matics and astronomy which had led to writers, one should think that from the his adoption of the theory in question. beginning the Church authorities had So far from being censured for these always regarded the new scientific opinions, which, however, he only proopinions concerning the earth's motion pounded as a theory or an hypothesis, with an eye of jealousy and mistrust; he continued to enjoy most unequivocal and that finally, in the days of Galileo, marks of esteein and affection from this long-pent-up jealousy broke out the Popes and the Court of Rome, into open rupture, when the Church down to the hour of his death in 1464. avowed herself the sworn antagonist of Clearly the Church manifested no jealthe new doctrine—that doctrine which ousy or mistrust of science in her treatis now universally adopted even in her ment of Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa.
He was followed, about forty years soon dies; but another member of the later, by Copernicus himself, who ac- Sacred College is found to take the tually held a professor's chair, under the matter up with the same zeal, and the very eye of the Pope, in the city of long-expected work at length comes Rome, and delivered lectures there on forth; and as it was by order of Leo X his new theory to overwhelming crowds that he had undertaken it, so he now that flocked to hear him, sometimes to dedicated it to the reigning Pope, the number of two thousand. Certain- Paul III. You see, then, that the ly it was now high time for the "spirit- theory in questio many almost be said wal tyrant” to take the alarm; yet we to have had an exclusively ecclesiastican discover no symptom of any such cal origin. As propounded by Cofeeling, unless it is to be found in the pernicus himself, who is always looked fact that the Pope (Leo X) summoned upon as its principal author, and by him to the Lateran Council, which was whose name it has ever since been then employed on the correction of the known, it was actually sent forth to calendar, and ordered him to study the the world bearing on its front the name motions of the planets with reference and sanction of the head of the Catholic to this object. By and by Copernicus Church. How came it to fare differretired from his duties as professor, ently when it was adopted and proand immediately the dignitaries of the pounded by Galileo ? Church are found vying with each other Galileo was not by birth a Roman, in honoring and rewarding him. At nor even a temporal subject of the a later period it becomes known, that Pope. He was a Tuscan, born at Pisa, since his retirement to Prussia (of and was made mathematical professor which country he was a native, and in the university of that city when he held a canonry in one of its cathedrals) was scarcely twenty-five years old. he had prepared a great work which is By and by, however, when he had to displace all the astronomical systems invented the telescope, and by its of other times and countries; but that assistance had made many wonderful he is prevented from publishing it, discoveries in the heavens, he deterpartly by the want of means, partly by mined to repair to Rome, as being the a consideration of the violent opposition spot of all Europe where, with the best which the novelty of his views was prospect of advantage to science, he sure to create on the part of the prej- could first make known those startling udiced and ignorant. Under these revelations which he had to proclaim. circumstances, whence does he receive In this he did but follow the example encouragement and assistance to con- of all his predecessors in science; tinue and to publish his laborsFrom Rome was notoriously the generous Papal Rome. One of the cardinals so- friend and protector of talent, wherever licits him in the most earnest manner it was to be found; the steadfast prono longer to withhold his discoveries moter of scientific investigation, and from the public, and volunteers to liberal rewarder of valuable discoveries. charge himself with all the necessary Nor did Galileo find that he was to be expenses. Unfortunately this cardinal any exception to this rule. Gardens and palaces were flung open for his numerous other passages in which the use, and prelates and cardinals were sun is clearly spoken of as in motion, his admiring attendants. In process and the earth as at rest ? No reasona of time he returned to his native coun- bly candid man will be surprised that try, and there he encountered the many a good priest in the towns and usual fate of all great men who have villages of Tuscany should have been eper dared to contradict some favorite much disturbed and scandalized at the opinion which has been long and first promulgation of the new theories, universally held. He became an object however much he may lament the inof suspicion and jealousy. In Rome, temperate manner in which their zeal where were the most distinguished men for what they conceived to be the of learning and science—the only teaching of God's Word subsequently proper judges in such matters—he had manifested itself. When the news of been most favorably received, and the these clerical attacks upon the new most eminent professors in the various philosophy reached Rome, we are told colleges had ranged themselves on the by one who was there at the time, and side of the new discoveries. The who wrote an account of it to Galileo, Copernican system was taught in the that everybody “considered it great lectures of the Roman college, that is, impertinence in the Tuscan preachers of the Jesuit college in Rome; it was to mount their pulpits and to treat of also taught in the Sapienza in that city, such high professor-like matters before the Pope's own university; and as women and the common people, where a probable opinion, it was taught in the there were so few who could understand university of Pisa, and elsewhere. them.” Galileo not only considered it But when these new opinions began to “great impertinence," and was much be generally noised abroad and talked annoyed by it, but he also took the about, they necessarily came to the ears unfortunate resolution of meeting his of many who were altogether ignorant assailants upon their own ground, and of astronomical science, and who, like set to work to clear up in his own way most ignorant men, were very confident these scriptural difficulties which he of their own wisdom, and very intoler- found to be the chief obstacle to the ant of those who differed from them. general acceptance of his theories. These men were very much shocked His predecessor, Copernicus, was by what they conceived to be the con- far from having been unconscious of tradiction between the astronomical these same scriptural difficulties ; but theory of Galileo and the express decla- he was content to leave them in the rations of Holy Writ; for instance, hands of theologians, and made no Galileo taught that the earth moved, attempt to explain them himself. Even and that the sun was at rest; but what in his dedication to the Pope he did became then of the miracle recorded of not scruple to use the following lanJosue, that at his command “the sun guage: “If perchance," he said, stood still in the midst of heaven, and there shall be any vain babblers, who, hasted not to go down for the space of though ignorant of all mathematical one day 9" What became also of those science, yet assume a right to pronounce
upon it; and on the strength of some allowed to hold and to teach either text of Scripture, distorted to support opinion concerning this question of the their views, blame and abuse my work, rest or motion of the sun, according I let them do so; but I also will take to the system of philosophy which they leave to despise their judgment as preferred. It was treated as a scienrash. . . . Mathematics are written tific, and not as a religious question ; for mathematicians, who will, I think, and the Church put no hinderance in agree that my labors are of some use the way of any man who chose to esto the ecclesiastical commonwealth of pouse and maintain, by merely philowhich your Holiness is now the head.” sophical arguments, either the one If Galileo could have been contented theory or the other. Galileo, however, to observe the same rule, we should could not keep his pen off the theolognever have heard of his prosecution ical bearings of the question; and he and condemnation by the Inquisition. wrote several letters to different persons, But instead of this, he determined to in which he discussed the scriptural difmoot the theological question himself, ficulties urged against him. A copy of and in this way he became the real one of these letters fell into the hands cause of all the mischief that followed. of one of his enemies; who, armed He first addressed a letter of inquiry with this important document, immeto one of the cardinals in Rome, who diately went off to Rome to lay his said in reply that "he considered that complaint before the Holy Office. And the texts which merely assert that the now mark the zeal with which this earth stands, would admit of being so Holy Office (that is, the Inquisition), construed as to mean nothing more the Pope and all the cardinals, accepted than its stability and permanence; the denunciation, seized the philosobut that, when it is said that the sun pher, and condemned his doctrine ! goes round and the heavens move, the The subject-matter of the accusation only interpretation that can be pro- was, as we have said, a certain private posed (by the advocates of the new letter, a copy of which was produced ; views) is, that the Scriptures speak the inquisitors asked to see the origiafter the common manner of the peo- nal; the accuser had it not; he knew ple, and that this mode of explaining very well, and so did the inquisitors, cannot be admitted without great ne- to whom the letter had been addressed; cessity :" nevertheless, he mentions a nevertheless they made no attempt to Spanish theologian of repute who had bring that person into court; they did maintained that the theory of the not even summon Galileo, nor examine earth's motion was more in conformity a single witness who had seen the origiwith the Scripture than the opposite nal, as to whether the copy put in by theory; but he adds that this interpre- the accuser was authentic ; but the tation was not followed. It appears, proceedings were instantly stayed, and then, that not only in Rome, but even the whole matter fell to the ground ! in Spain, where the severity of the So far, then, from there being any
was so much greater than disposition on the part of Rome to quarit ever was in the Holy City, men were rel with science, and to come into