Excerpt from The Private Life of Galileo By Galileo Galilei, Maria Celeste Galilei, Mary Allan-Olney

Galileo and the Cathedral Lamp

The connection of the great bronze lamp in the nave of the cathedral at Pisa with Galileo's earliest mechanical discovery is well known. Viviani says that having observed the unerring regularity of the oscillations of this lamp and of other swinging bodies the idea occurred to him that an instrument might be constructed on this principle which should mark with accuracy the rate and variation of the pulse. Such an instrument he constructed after a long series of careful experiments This invention though imperfect was hailed with wonder and delight by the physicians of the day and was soon taken into general use under the name of pulsilogia. The Private Life of Galileo By Galileo Galilei, Maria Celeste Galilei, Mary Allan-Olney

Galileo's Telescope and Celestial Discoveries

I am at present staying at Venice for the purpose of getting printed some observations which I have been making on the celestial bodies by means of a telescope which I have and being infinitely amazed thereat so do I give infinite thanks to God who has been pleased to make me the first observer of marvelous things unrevealed to by gone ages. I had already ascertained that the moon was a body most similar to the earth and had shown our Most Serene master as much but imperfectly not having such an excellent telescope as I now possess which besides showing me the moon has revealed to me a multitude of fixed stars never yet seen being more than ten times the number of those that can be seen with the unassisted eye. Moreover I have ascertained what has always been a matter of controversy among philosophers namely the nature of the Milky Way. But the greatest marvel of all is the discovery I have made of four new planets. I have observed their proper motions in relation to themselves and to each other and wherein they differ from all the other motions of the other stars. And these new planets move round another very great star in the same way as Venus and Mercury and peradventure the other known planets move round the Sun. As soon as my tract is printed which as an advertisement I intend sending to all philosophers and mathematicians. I shall send a copy to the Most Serene Grand Duke together with an excellent telescope which will enable him to judge for himself of the truth of these novelties.

New Hope for Galileo's Theory

Remembering with what warmth Barberini had written to him shortly before his election Galileo considered that the time spent in going to Rome to lay his homage at the feet of his Holiness would not be time wasted. He thought that he had reason to hope from a Pontiff so enlightened as Urban had appeared to be, the recognition of the Copernican theory now banned for nearly a century. He felt that as far as he himself was concerned he must gain permission to teach it as actual truth now or never and according as his desire was fulfilled or not would his life be complete or incomplete .

Galileo's Dialogue

Galileo's great work the Dialogue on the Ptolemaic and Copernican Systems was finally concluded in the beginning of March 1630. As a mark of the affection he felt for his pupil and patron and also that the work might appear under the most favorable auspices it was dedicated to the Grand Duke Ferdinand. But neither the astronomer's fame nor the Grand Duke's protection was sufficient to insure the appearance of the book. The sanction of the authorities was necessary ere it could be printed and in order to obtain this with as little delay as possible Galileo was advised by Ciampoli and Castelli to go himself to Rome. Riccardi Master of the Sacred Palace had given his word that as far as he was concerned Galileo should meet with no difficulty in obtaining the desired license. The Barbenm were all well disposed. The Pope had expressed his regret to Campanella at the prohibition by the Decree of 1616 of the Copernican theory and had said distinctly that had it depended on him that decree would not have been published. Ciampoli though he could not venture to speak with absolute certainty yet was of opinion that the surest way to success lay in Galileo's own personal influence and in his rare powers of persuasion.

Galileo's Visit to Rome

Galileo's intention of visiting Rome was not put into execution till the Easter of 1624. This delay was occasioned by the state of his health which absolutely forbade his braving the fatigue of a journey to Rome during the winter. Meanwhile his friends at the Papal Court anxiously watched the temper of the new Pope and kept him well informed of every favorable indication "Under the auspices of this most excellent learned and benignant Pontiff", wrote Prince Cesi," science must flourish. Your arrival will be welcome to his Holiness. He asked me if you were coming and when and in short he seems to love and esteem you more than ever. Ciampoli wrote in the same strain. Yet a certain amount of caution was necessary and of this Galileo seems to have been as fully aware as Prince Cesi to whom he had imparted his great desire to bring about the recognition of the Copernican theory. Writing in October to this nobleman who was then residing on his estate of Acquasparta near Todi, he says "I have received the very courteous and prudent advice of your Excellency respecting the time and manner of my going to Rome and shall act upon it. I shall pay you a visit at Acquasparta that I may be fully informed of the present state of things at Rome ."
The journey to Rome, so long contemplated, was at length undertaken..... Galileo remained at Rome about two months During this time he had no less than six long interviews with the Pope who on his departure presented him with "a fine painting , two medals, one of gold and the other of silver, and a good quantity of Agnus Dei. Of these last we may suppose the nuns of St Matthew to have had the largest share. Besides this there was a promise of a pension of sixty crowns to be settled on Vincenzio as an acknowledgment of his father's merits. Anxious to appear as Galileo's chief patron the Pope took advantage of his return to Florence to write the young Grand Duke Ferdinand a letter recommending Galileo to him as a person worthy of protection and favor on account not only of his scientific attainments but of his orthodoxy.

Galileo Is Summoned to Rome

Finding from Monsignor Boccabella that the order for Galileo's appearance was actually being drawn up Niccolini hastened to advise both Galileo and Cioli of it adding that since matters had gone so far it would be Galileo's best policy to comply with the order as speedily as possible. He had endeavored to discover whether Galileo would be placed in confinement on his arrival at Rome but in vain from the friendly cardinals he could learn absolutely nothing. Every one was afraid of incurring censure if he so much as opened his mouth.
On the 19th of November Galileo was again called before the Inquisition of Florence. He declared himself ready and willing to obey and said that his only reason for delaying his journey to Rome had been his age and infirmities which were at that moment of a serious nature requiring medical treatment. The Pope accorded a delay of one month. On the 18th of December the Inquisitor of Florence wrote that his vicar had seen Galileo who was confined to his, bed and declared himself utterly incapable of undertaking a journey until his condition should be somewhat ameliorated. The Pope and the Congregation chose to treat this statement as a mere subterfuge .

Galileo Is Placed Under House Arrest

The first examination which took place before Father Vincenzio Maccolani da Fiorenzuola, General Carlo Sincere,and another not named only lasted a few minutes. Galileo was asked whether he knew the reason of his being cited before the tribunal. Having answered in the affirmative he was remanded. From Niccolini's account it appears that Galileo was received with great courtesy by the Commissary General who had him installed in the apartments of the Fiscal so that not only was he in the part of the building devoted to the use of the officers, but he had liberty to take the air in the court. His own servant was permitted to be with him and his meals were taken to him twice a day from Niccolini's house. The Commissary declared to Niccolini that Galileo owed this gentle treatment in great part to the good will of Cardinal Barberino who had been untiring in his endeavors to mitigate the Pope's resentment. It was clear, that Cardinal Barberino being friendly to Galileo, the rest of the Inquisitors would take their cue from him. Niccolini mentions that when he presented these Cardinals with the letters which he had advised the Grand Duke to write, some of them declined the responsibility of taking them, until he assured them that Cardinal Barberino had not refused to take his, after which there was no farther objection.
Tormented with the gout and deprived of the society of the Ambassador and his gracious and sympathizing wife, Galileo seems to have borne his imprisonment with a degree of impatience at variance with his natural serenity We must bear in mind the ever present fear that each forthcoming examination might end in the application of the torture. Apart from this he had no cause for complaint. Since the establishment of the tribunal in 1215 no prisoner had ever been treated with the leniency accorded to Galileo the Grand Duke's servant. Princes, prelates, and noblemen all had been consigned to the secret dungeons from the very commencement of their trial. Had Galileo been a scion of a royal house he could scarcely have met with more consideration or have been treated with more distinction.

Galileo's Imprisonment at Arcetri

I stayed five months at Siena in the house of the Archbishop after which my prison was changed to confinement to my own house, that little villa a mile from Florence, with strict injunctions that I was not to entertain friends nor to allow the assembling of many at a time. Here I lived on very quietly frequently paying visits to the neighboring convent where I had two daughters who were nuns and whom I loved dearly but the eldest in particular who was a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me. She had suffered much from ill health during my absence but had not paid much attention to herself. At length dysentery came on and she died after six days illness leaving me in deep affliction.

Galileo's Respect for People

His demeanor was modest and unassuming: he neither depreciated nor envied the talent of other men but gave to all their due and more than their due. Of self praise so much is recorded of him by Gherardini that when his eyesight was decaying day by day he endeavored to take comfort by saying that of all the sons of Adam none had seen so much as he. He never spoke of Aristotle in terms of contempt as was the custom with some of his followers but contented himself by saying that he did not find his method of reasoning satisfactory. Of Kepler, whose extravagance was evident, he said on being pressed for his opinion that he was undoubtedly a great philosopher but that his mode of philosophizing was vastly different to his own. He exalted Plato to the skies calling his eloquence golden. He also praised Pythagoras as unequaled among philosophers, but Archimedes was the only one of the ancients whom he called master. He was extremely fond of the writings of Ariosto, and was accustomed to say that reading Tasso after Ariosto was like eating cucumbers after melons. Endowed with great tenacity of memory he could repeat by heart a great part of the works of Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Seneca the sonnets of Petrarch, the rime of Berni, and the heroic stanzas of Ariosto in whose "Gerusa lemme Liberata" he found new beauties each time he read it. Not to make the list of his attainments too long we may say that there was no art, science,nor handicraft in which he was not superior to the generality of men professing them. He protested that he had never met with a man so ignorant but that something might be learnt from him.

The Condemnation of Galileo

We say pronounce sentence and declare that thou the said Galileo by the things deduced during this trial and by thee confessed as above hast rendered thyself vehemently suspected of heresy by this Holy Office that is of having believed and held a doctrine which is false and contrary to the Holy Scriptures to wit that the Sun is the centre of the universe and that it does not move from east to west and that the Earth moves and is not the centre of the universe and that an opinion may be held and defended as probable after having been declared and defined as contrary to Holy Scripture and in consequence thou hast incurred all the censures and penalties of the Sacred Canons and other Decrees both general and particular against such offenders imposed and promulgated. From the which We are content that thou shouldst be absolved if first of all with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith thou dost before Us abjure curse and detest the above mentioned errors and heresies and any other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church after the manner that We shall require of thee.