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Beacon Lights of History, Volume VI by John Lord

Part 5 out of 5

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punishment. He had now no further object in life than to pursue his
studies, and live comfortably in his retirement, and do what he could
for future ages.

But before we consider his immortal legacy to the world, let us take
one more view of the man, in order that we may do him justice, and
remove some of the cruel charges against him as "the meanest
of mankind."

It must be borne in mind that, from the beginning of his career until
his fall, only four or five serious charges have been made against
him,--that he was extravagant in his mode of life; that he was a
sycophant and office-seeker; that he deserted his patron Essex; that he
tortured Peacham, a Puritan clergyman, when tried for high-treason; that
he himself was guilty of corruption as a judge.

In regard to the first charge, it is unfortunately too true; he lived
beyond his means, and was in debt most of his life. This defect, as has
been said, was the root of much evil; it destroyed his independence,
detracted from the dignity of his character, created enemies, and
led to a laxity of the moral sense which prepared the way for
corruption,--thereby furnishing another illustration of that fatal
weakness which degrades any man when he runs races with the rich, and
indulges in a luxury and ostentation which he cannot afford. It was the
curse of Cicero, of William Pitt, and of Daniel Webster. The first
lesson which every public man should learn, especially if honored with
important trusts, is to live within his income. However inconvenient
and galling, a stringent economy is necessary. But this defect is a very
common one, particularly when men are luxurious, or brought into
intercourse with the rich, or inclined to be hospitable and generous, or
have a great imagination and a sanguine temperament. So that those who
are most liable to fall into this folly have many noble qualities to
offset it, and it is not a stain which marks the "meanest of mankind."
Who would call Webster the meanest of mankind because he had an absurd
desire to live like an English country gentleman?

In regard to sycophancy,--a disgusting trait, I admit,--we should
consider the age, when everybody cringed to sovereigns and their
favorites. Bacon never made such an abject speech as Omer Talon, the
greatest lawyer in France, did to Louis XIII, in the Parliament of
Paris. Three hundred years ago everybody bowed down to exalted rank:
witness the obsequious language which all authors addressed to patrons
in the dedication of their books. How small the chance of any man rising
in the world, who did not court favors from those who had favors to
bestow! Is that the meanest or the most uncommon thing in this world? If
so, how ignominious are all politicians who flatter the people and
solicit their votes? Is it not natural to be obsequious to those who
have offices to bestow? This trait is not commendable, but is it the
meanest thing we see?

In regard to Essex, nobody can approve of the ingratitude which Bacon
showed to his noble patron. But, on the other hand, remember the good
advice which Bacon ever gave him, and his constant efforts to keep him
out of scrapes. How often did he excuse him to his royal mistress, at
the risk of incurring her displeasure? And when Essex was guilty of a
thousand times worse crime than ever Bacon committed,--even
high-treason, in a time of tumult and insurrection,--and it became
Bacon's task as prosecuting officer of the Crown to bring this great
culprit to justice, was he required by a former friendship to sacrifice
his duty and his allegiance to his sovereign, to screen a man who had
perverted the affection of the noblest woman who ever wore a crown, and
came near involving his country in a civil war? Grant that Essex had
bestowed favors, and was an accomplished and interesting man,--was Bacon
to ignore his official duties? He may have been too harsh in his
procedure; but in that age all criminal proceedings were harsh and
inexorable,--there was but little mercy shown to culprits, especially to
traitors. If Elizabeth could bring herself, out of respect to her
wounded honor and slighted kindness and the dignity of the realm and the
majesty of the law, to surrender into the hands of justice one whom she
so tenderly loved and magnificently rewarded, even when the sacrifice
cost her both peace and life, snapped the last cord which bound her to
this world,--may we not forgive Bacon for the part he played? Does this
fidelity to an official and professional duty, even if he were harsh,
make him "the meanest of mankind"?

In regard to Peacham, it is true he was tortured, according to the
practice of that cruel age; but Bacon had no hand in the issuing of the
warrant against him for high-treason, although in accordance with custom
he, as prosecuting officer of the Crown, examined Peacham under torture
before his trial. The parson was convicted; but the sentence of death
was not executed upon him, and he died in jail.

And in regard to corruption,--the sin which cast Bacon from his high
estate, though fortunately he did not fall like Lucifer, never to rise
again,--may not the verdict of the poet and the historian be rather
exaggerated? Nobody has ever attempted to acquit Bacon for taking
bribes. Nobody has ever excused him. He did commit a crime; but in
palliation it might be said that he never decided against justice, and
that it was customary for great public functionaries to accept presents.
Had he taken them after he had rendered judgment instead of before, he
might have been acquitted; for out of the seven thousand cases which he
decided as Lord-Chancellor, not one of them has been reversed: so that
he said of himself, "I was the justest judge that England has had for
fifty years; and I suffered the justest sentence that had been
inflicted for two hundred years." He did not excuse himself. His
ingenuousness of confession astonished everybody, and moved the hearts
of his judges. It was his misfortune to be in debt; he had pressing
creditors; and in two cases he accepted presents before the decision was
made, but was brave enough to decide against those who bribed
him,--_hinc illoe lacrymoe_. A modern corrupt official generally covers
his tracks; and many a modern judge has been bribed to decide against
justice, and has escaped ignominy, even in a country which claims the
greatest purity and the loftiest moral standard. We admit that Bacon was
a sinner; but was he a sinner above all others who cast stones at
Jerusalem?

In reference to these admitted defects and crimes, I only wish to show
that even these do not make him "the meanest of mankind." What crimes
have sullied many of those benefactors whom all ages will admire and
honor, and whom, in spite of their defects, we call good men,--not bad
men to be forgiven for their services, but excellent and righteous on
the whole! See Abraham telling lies to the King of Egypt; and Jacob
robbing his brother of his birthright; and David murdering his bravest
soldier to screen himself from adultery; and Solomon selling himself to
false idols to please the wicked women who ensnared him; and Peter
denying his Master; and Marcus Aurelius persecuting the Christians; and
Constantine putting to death his own son; and Theodosius slaughtering
the citizens of Thessalonica; and Isabella establishing the Inquisition;
and Sir Mathew Hale burning witches; and Cromwell stealing a sceptre;
and Calvin murdering Servetus; and Queen Elizabeth lying and cheating
and swearing in the midst of her patriotic labors for her country and
civilization. Even the sun passes through eclipses. Have the spots upon
the career of Bacon hidden the brightness of his general beneficence? Is
he the meanest of men because he had great faults? When we speak of mean
men, it is those whose general character is contemptible.

Now, see Bacon pursuing his honorable career amid rebuffs and enmities
and jealousies, toiling in Herculean tasks without complaint, and
waiting his time; always accessible, affable, gentle, with no vulgar
pride, if he aped vulgar ostentation; calm, beneficent, studious,
without envy or bitterness; interesting in his home, courted as a
friend, admired as a philosopher, generous to the poor, kind to the
servants who cheated him, with an unsubdued love of Nature as well as of
books; not negligent of religious duties, a believer in God and
immortality; and though broken in spirit, like a bruised reed, yet
soaring beyond all his misfortunes to study the highest problems, and
bequeathing his knowledge for the benefit of future ages! Can such a
man be stigmatized as "the meanest of mankind"? Is it candid and just
for a great historian to indorse such a verdict, to gloss over Bacon's
virtues, and make like an advocate at the bar, or an ancient sophist, a
special plea to magnify his defects, and stain his noble name with an
infamy as deep as would be inflicted upon an enemy of the human race?
And all for what?--just to make a rhetorical point, and show the
writer's brilliancy and genius in making a telling contrast between the
man and the philosopher. A man who habitually dwelt in the highest
regions of thought during his whole life, absorbed in lofty
contemplations, all from love of truth itself and to benefit the world,
could not have had a mean or sordid soul. "As a man thinketh, so is he."
We admit that he was a man of the world, politic, self-seeking,
extravagant, careless about his debts and how he raised money to pay
them; but we deny that he was a bad judge on the whole, or was
unpatriotic, or immoral in his private life, or mean in his ordinary
dealings, or more cruel and harsh in his judicial transactions than most
of the public functionaries of his rough and venal age. We admit it is
difficult to controvert the charges which Macaulay arrays against him,
for so accurate and painstaking an historian is not likely to be wrong
in his facts; but we believe that they are uncandidly stated, and so
ingeniously and sophistically put as to give on the whole a wrong
impression of the man,--making him out worse than he was, considering
his age and circumstances. Bacon's character, like that of most great
men, has two sides; and while we are compelled painfully to admit that
he had many faults, we shrink from classing him among bad men, as is
implied in Pope's characterization of him as "the meanest of mankind."

We now take leave of the man, to consider his legacy to the world. And
here again we are compelled to take issue with Macaulay, not in regard
to the great fact that Bacon's inquiries tended to a new revelation of
Nature, and by means of the method called _induction_, by which he
sought to establish fixed principles of science that could not be
controverted, but in reference to the _ends_ for which he labored. "The
aim of Bacon," says Macaulay, "was utility,--fruit; the multiplication
of human enjoyments, ... the mitigation of human sufferings, ... the
prolongation of life by new inventions,"--_dotare vitam humanum novis
inventis et copiis_; "the conquest of Nature,"--dominion over the beasts
of the field and the fowls of the air; the application of science to the
subjection of the outward world; progress in useful arts,--in those arts
which enable us to become strong, comfortable, and rich in houses,
shops, fabrics, tools, merchandise, new vegetables, fruits, and
animals: in short, a philosophy which will "not raise us above vulgar
wants, but will supply those wants." "And as an acre in Middlesex is
worth more than a principality in Utopia, so the smallest practical good
is better than any magnificent effort to realize an impossibility;" and
"hence the first shoemaker has rendered more substantial service to
mankind than all the sages of Greece. All they could do was to fill the
world with long beards and long words; whereas Bacon's philosophy has
lengthened life, mitigated pain, extinguished disease, built bridges,
guided the thunderbolts, lightened the night with the splendor of the
day, accelerated motion, annihilated distance, facilitated intercourse;
enabled men to descend to the depths of the earth, to traverse the land
in cars which whirl without horses, and the ocean in ships which sail
against the wind." In other words, it was his aim to stimulate mankind,
not to seek unattainable truth, but useful truth; that is, the science
which produces railroads, canals, cultivated farms, ships, rich returns
for labor, silver and gold from the mines,--all that purchase the joys
of material life and fit us for dominion over the world in which we
live. Hence anything which will curtail our sufferings and add to our
pleasures or our powers, should be sought as the highest good. Geometry
is desirable, not as a noble intellectual exercise, but as a handmaid to
natural philosophy. Astronomy is not to assist the mind to lofty
contemplation, but to enable mariners to verify degrees of latitude and
regulate clocks. A college is not designed to train and discipline the
mind, but to utilize science, and become a school of technology. Greek
and Latin exercises are comparatively worthless, and even mathematics,
unless they can be converted into practical use. Philosophy, as
ordinarily understood,--that is, metaphysics,--is most idle of all,
since it does not pertain to mundane wants. Hence the old Grecian
philosopher labored in vain; and still more profitless were the
disquisitions of the scholastics of the Middle Ages, since they were
chiefly used to prop up unintelligible creeds. Theology is not of much
account, since it pertains to mysteries we cannot solve. It is not with
heaven or hell, or abstract inquiries, or divine certitudes, that we
have to do, but the things of earth,--things that advance our material
and outward condition. To be rich and comfortable is the end of
life,--not meditations on abstract and eternal truth, such as elevate
the soul or prepare it for a future and endless life. The certitudes of
faith, of love, of friendship, are of small value when compared with the
blessings of outward prosperity. Utilitarianism is the true philosophy,
for this confines us to the world where we are born to labor, and
enables us to make acquisitions which promote our comfort and ease. The
chemist and the manufacturer are our greatest benefactors, for they
make for us oils and gases and paints,--things we must have. The
philosophy of Bacon is an immense improvement on all previous systems,
since it heralds the jubilee of trades, the millennium of merchants, the
schools of thrift, the apostles of physical progress, the pioneers of
enterprise,--the Franklins and Stephensons and Tyndalls and Morses of
our glorious era. Its watchword is progress. All hail, then, to the
electric telegraph and telephones and Thames tunnels and Crystal Palaces
and Niagara bridges and railways over the Rocky Mountains! The day of
our deliverance is come; the nations are saved; the Brunels and the
Fieldses are our victors and leaders! Crown them with Olympic leaves, as
the heroes of our great games of life. And thou, O England! exalted art
thou among the nations,--not for thy Oxfords and Westminsters; not for
thy divines and saints and martyrs and poets; not for thy Hookers and
Leightons and Cranmers and Miltons and Burkes and Lockes; not for thy
Reformation; not for thy struggles for liberty,--but for thy Manchesters
and Birminghams, thy Portsmouth shipyards, thy London docks, thy
Liverpool warehouses, thy mines of coal and iron, thy countless
mechanisms by which thou bringest the wealth of nations into thy banks,
and art enabled to buy the toil of foreigners and to raise thy standards
on the farthest battlements of India and China. These conquests and
acquisitions are real, are practical; machinery over life, the triumph
of physical forces, dominion over waves and winds,--these are the great
victories which consummate the happiness of man; and these are they
which flow from the philosophy which Bacon taught.

Now Macaulay does not directly say all these things, but these are the
spirit and gist of the interpretation which he puts upon Bacon's
writings. The philosophy of Bacon leads directly to these blessings; and
these constitute its great peculiarity. And it cannot be denied that the
new era which Bacon heralded was fruitful in these very things,--that
his philosophy encouraged this new development of material forces; but
it may be questioned whether he had not something else in view than mere
utility and physical progress, and whether his method could not equally
be applied to metaphysical subjects; whether it did not pertain to the
whole domain of truth, and take in the whole realm of human inquiry. I
believe that Bacon was interested, not merely in the world of matter,
but in the world of mind; that he sought to establish principles from
which sound deductions might be made, as well as to establish reliable
inductions. Lord Campbell thinks that a perfect system of ethics could
be made out of his writings, and that his method is equally well adapted
to examine and classify the phenomena of the mind. He separated the
legitimate paths of human inquiry, giving his attention to poetry and
politics and metaphysics, as well as to physics. Bacon does not sneer as
Macaulay does at the ancient philosophers; he bears testimony to their
genius and their unrivalled dialectical powers, even if he regards their
speculations as frequently barren. He does not flippantly ridicule the
_homoousian_ and the _homoiousian_ as mere words, but the expression and
exponent of profound theological distinctions, as every theologian knows
them to be. He does not throw dirt on metaphysical science if properly
directed, still less on noble inquiries after God and the mysteries of
life. He is subjective as well as objective. He treats of philosophy in
its broadest meaning, as it takes in the province of the understanding,
the memory, and the will, as well as of man in society. He speaks of the
principles of government and of the fountains of law; of universal
justice, of eternal spiritual truth. So that Playfair judiciously
observes (and he was a scientist) "that it was not by sagacious
anticipations of science, afterwards to be made in physics, that his
writings have had so powerful an influence, as in his knowledge of the
limits and resources of the human understanding. It would be difficult
to find another writer, prior to Locke, whose works are enriched with so
many just observations on mere intellectual phenomena. What he says of
the laws of memory, of imagination, has never been surpassed in
subtlety. No man ever more carefully studied the operation of his own
mind and the intellectual character of others." Nor did Bacon despise
metaphysical science, only the frivolous questions that the old
scholastics associated with it, and the general barrenness of their
speculations. He surely would not have disdained the subsequent
inquiries of Locke, or Berkeley, or Leibnitz, or Kant. True, he sought
definite knowledge,--something firm to stand upon, and which could not
be controverted. No philosophy can be sound when the principle from
which deductions are made is not itself certain or very highly probable,
or when this principle, pushed to its utmost logical sequence, would
lead to absurdity, or even to a conflict with human consciousness. To
Bacon the old methods were wrong, and it was his primal aim to reform
the scientific methods in order to arrive at truth; not truth for
utilitarian ends chiefly, but truth for its own sake. He loved truth as
Palestrina loved music, or Raphael loved painting, or Socrates
loved virtue.

Now the method which was almost exclusively employed until Bacon's time
is commonly called the _deductive_ method; that is, some principle or
premise was assumed to be true, and reasoning was made from this
assumption. No especial fault was found with the reasoning of the great
masters of logic like Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, for it never has
been surpassed in acuteness and severity. If their premises were
admitted, their conclusions would follow as a certainty. What was wanted
was to establish the truth of premises, or general propositions. This
Bacon affirmed could be arrived at only by _induction_; that is, the
ascending from ascertained individual facts to general principles, by
extending what is true of particulars to the whole class in which they
belong. Bacon has been called the father of inductive science, since he
would employ the inductive method. Yet he is not truly the father of
induction, since it is as old as the beginnings of science. Hippocrates,
when he ridiculed the quacks of his day, and collected the facts and
phenomena of disease, and inferred from them the proper treatment of it,
was as much the father of induction as Bacon himself. The error the
ancients made was in not collecting a sufficient number of facts to
warrant a sound induction. And the ancients looked out for facts to
support some preconceived theory, from which they reasoned
syllogistically. The theory could not be substantiated by any
syllogistic reasonings, since conclusions could never go beyond
assumptions; if the assumptions were wrong, no ingenious or elaborate
reasoning would avail anything towards the discovery of truth, but could
only uphold what was assumed. This applied to theology as well as to
science. In the Dark Ages it was well for the teachers of mankind to
uphold the dogmas of the Church, which they did with masterly
dialectical skill. Those were ages of Faith, and not of Inquiry. It was
all-important to ground believers in a firm faith of the dogmas which
were deemed necessary to support the Church and the cause of religion.
They were regarded as absolute certainties. There was no dispute about
the premises of the scholastic's arguments; and hence his dialectics
strengthened the mind by the exercise of logical sports, and at the same
time confirmed the faith.

The world never saw a more complete system of dogmatic theology than
that elaborated by Thomas Aquinas. When the knowledge of the Greek and
Hebrew was rare and imperfect, and it was impossible to throw light by
means of learning and science on the texts of Scripture, it was well to
follow the interpretation of such a great light as Augustine, and assume
his dogmas as certainties, since they could not then be controverted;
and thus from them construct a system of belief which would confirm the
faith. But Aquinas, with his Aristotelian method of syllogism and
definitions, could not go beyond Augustine. Augustine was the fountain,
and the water that flowed from it in ten thousand channels could not
rise above the spring; and as everybody appealed to and believed in
Saint Augustine, it was well to construct a system from him to confute
the heretical, and which the heretical would respect. The scholastic
philosophy which some ridicule, in spite of its puerilities and
sophistries and syllogisms, preserved the theology of the Middle Ages,
perhaps of the Fathers. It was a mighty bulwark of the faith which was
then, accepted. No honors could be conferred on its great architects
that were deemed extravagant. The Pope and the clergy saw in Thomas
Aquinas the great defender of the Church,--not of its abuses, but of its
doctrines. And if no new light can be shed on the Scripture text from
which assumptions were made; if these assumptions cannot be assailed, if
they are certitudes,--then we can scarcely have better text-books than
those furnished to the theologians of the Middle Ages, for no modern
dialetician can excel them in severity of logic. The great object of
modern theologians should be to establish the authenticity and meaning
of the Scripture texts on which their assumptions rest; and this can be
done only by the method which Bacon laid down, which is virtually a
collation and collection of facts,--that is, divine declarations.
Establish the meaning of these without question, and we have _principia_
from which we may deduce creeds and systems, the usefulness of which
cannot be exaggerated, especially in an age of agnosticism. Having
fundamental principles which cannot be gainsaid, we may philosophically
draw deductions. Bacon did not make war on deduction, when its
fundamental truths are established. Deduction is as much a necessary
part of philosophy as induction: it is the peculiarity of the Scotch
metaphysicians, who have ever deduced truths from those previously
established. Deduction even enters into modern science as well as
induction. When Cuvier deduced from a bone the form and habits of the
mastodon; when Kepler deduced his great laws, all from the primary
thought that there must be some numerical or geographical relation
between the times, distances, and velocities of the revolving bodies of
the solar system; when Newton deduced, as is said, the principle of
gravitation from the fall of an apple; when Leverrier sought for a new
planet from the perturbations of the heavenly bodies in their
orbits,--we feel that deduction is as much a legitimate process as
induction itself.

But deductive logic is the creation of Aristotle; and it was the
authority of Aristotle that Bacon sought to subvert. The inductive
process is also old, of which Bacon is called the father. How are these
things to be reconciled and explained? Wherein and how did Bacon adapt
his method to the discovery of truth, which was his principal aim,--that
method which is the great cause of modern progress in science, the way
to it being indicated by him pre-eminently?

The whole thing consists in this, that Bacon pointed out the right road
to truth,--as a board where two roads meet or diverge indicates the one
which is to be followed. He did not make a system, like Descartes or
Spinoza or Newton: he showed the way to make it on sound principles. "He
laid down a systematic analysis and arrangement of inductive evidence."
The syllogism, the great instrument used by Aristotle and the
School-men, "is, from its very nature, incompetent to prove the ultimate
premises from which it proceeds; and when the truth of these remains
doubtful, we can place no confidence in the conclusions drawn from
them." Hence, the first step in the reform of science is to review its
ultimate principles; and the first condition of a scientific method is
that it shall be competent to conduct such an inquiry; and this method
is applicable, not to physical science merely, but to the whole realm of
knowledge. This, of course, includes poetry, art, intellectual
philosophy, and theology, as well as geology and chemistry.

And it is this breadth of inquiry--directed to subjective as well as
objective knowledge--which made Bacon so great a benefactor. The defect
in Macaulay's criticism is that he makes Bacon interested in mere
outward phenomena, or matters of practical utility,--a worldly
utilitarian of whom Epicureans may be proud. In reality he soared to the
realm of Plato as well as of Aristotle. Take, for instance, his _Idola
Mentis Humanae_, or "Phantoms of the Human Mind," which compose the
best-known part of the "Novum Organum." "The Idols of the Tribe" would
show the folly of attempting to penetrate further than the limits of the
human faculties permit, as also "the liability of the intellect to be
warped by the will and affections, and the like." The "Idols of the Den"
have reference to "the tendency to notice differences rather than
resemblances, or resemblances rather than differences, in the attachment
to antiquity or novelty, in the partiality to minute or comprehensive
investigations." "The Idols of the Market-Place" have reference to the
tendency to confound words with things, which has ever marked
controversialists in their learned disputations. In what he here says
about the necessity for accurate definitions, he reminds us of Socrates
rather than a modern scientist; this necessity for accuracy applies to
metaphysics as much as it does to physics. "The Idols of the Theatre"
have reference to perverse laws of demonstration which are the
strongholds of error. This school deals in speculations and experiments
confined to a narrow compass, like those of the alchemists,--too
imperfect to elicit the light which should guide.

Bacon having completed his discussion of the _Idola_, then proceeds to
point out the weakness of the old philosophies, which produced leaves
rather than fruit, and were stationary in their character. Here he
would seem to lean towards utilitarianism, were it not that he is as
severe on men of experiment as on men of dogma. "The men of experiment
are," says he, "like ants,--they only collect and use; the reasoners
resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the
bee takes a middle course; it gathers the material from the flowers, but
digests it by a power of its own.... So true philosophy neither chiefly
relies on the powers of the mind, nor takes the matter which it gathers
and lays it up in the memory, whole as it finds it, but lays it up in
the understanding, to be transformed and digested." Here he simply
points out the laws by which true knowledge is to be attained. He does
not extol physical science alone, though doubtless he had a preference
for it over metaphysical inquiries. He was an Englishman, and the
English mind is objective rather than subjective, and is prone to
over-value the outward and the seen, above the inward and unseen; and
perhaps for the same reason that the Old Testament seems to make
prosperity the greatest blessing, while adversity seems to be the
blessing of the New Testament.

One of Bacon's longest works is the "Silva Sylvarum,"--a sort of natural
history, in which he treats of the various forces and productions of
Nature,--the air the sea, the winds, the clouds, plants and animals,
fire and water, sounds and discords, colors and smells, heat and cold,
disease and health; but which varied subjects he presents to
communicate knowledge, with no especial utilitarian end.

"The Advancement of Learning" is one of Bacon's most famous productions,
but I fail to see in it an objective purpose to enable men to become
powerful or rich or comfortable; it is rather an abstract treatise, as
dry to most people as legal disquisitions, and with no more reference to
rising in the world than "Blackstone's Commentaries" or "Coke upon
Littleton." It is a profound dissertation on the excellence of learning;
its great divisions treating of history, poetry, and philosophy,--of
metaphysical as well as physical philosophy; of the province of
understanding, the memory, the will, the reason, and the imagination;
and of man in society,--of government, of universal justice, of the
fountains of law, of revealed religion.

And if we turn from the new method by which he would advance all
knowledge, and on which his fame as a philosopher chiefly rests,--that
method which has led to discoveries that even Bacon never dreamed of,
not thinking of the fruit he was to bestow, but only the way to secure
it,--even as a great inventor thinks more of his invention than of the
money he himself may reap from it, as a work of creation to benefit the
world rather than his own family, and in the work of which his mind
revels in a sort of intoxicated delight, like a true poet when he
constructs his lines, or a great artist when he paints his picture,--a
pure subjective joy, not an anticipated gain;--if we turn from this
"method" to most of his other writings, what do we find? Simply the
lucubrations of a man of letters, the moral wisdom of the moralist, the
historian, the biographer, the essayist. In these writings we discover
no more worldliness than in Macaulay when he wrote his "Milton," or
Carlyle when he penned his "Burns,"--even less, for Bacon did not write
to gain a living, but to please himself and give vent to his burning
thoughts. In these he had no worldly aim to reach, except perhaps an
imperishable fame. He wrote as Michael Angelo sculptured his Moses; and
he wrote not merely amid the cares and duties of a great public office,
with other labors which might be called Herculean, but even amid the
pains of disease and the infirmities of age,--when rest, to most people,
is the greatest boon and solace of their lives.

Take his Essays,--these are among his best-known works,--so brilliant
and forcible, suggestive and rich, that even Archbishop Whately's
commentaries upon them are scarcely an addition. Surely these are not on
material subjects, and indicate anything but a worldly or sordid nature.
In these famous Essays, so luminous with the gems of genius, we read not
such worldly-wise exhortations as Lord Chesterfield impressed upon his
son, not the gossiping frivolities of Horace Walpole, not the cynical
wit of Montaigne, but those great certitudes which console in
affliction, which kindle hope, which inspire lofty resolutions,--anchors
of the soul, pillars of faith, sources of immeasurable joy, the glorious
ideals of true objects of desire, the eternal unities of truth and love
and beauty; all of which reveal the varied experiences of life and the
riches of deeply-pondered meditation on God and Christianity, as well as
knowledge of the world and the desirableness of its valued gifts. How
beautiful are his thoughts on death, on adversity, on glory, on anger,
on friendship, on fame, on ambition, on envy, on riches, on youth and
old age, and divers other subjects of moral import, which show the
elevation of his soul, and the subjective as well as the objective turn
of his mind; not dwelling on what he should eat and what he should drink
and wherewithal he should be clothed, but on the truths which appeal to
our higher nature, and which raise the thoughts of men from earth to
heaven, or at least to the realms of intellectual life and joy.

And then, it is necessary that we should take in view other labors which
dignified Bacon's retirement, as well as those which marked his more
active career as a lawyer and statesman,--his histories and biographies,
as well as learned treatises to improve the laws of England; his
political discourses, his judicial charges, his theological tracts, his
speeches and letters and prayers; all of which had relation to benefit
others rather than himself. Who has ever done more to instruct the
world,--to enable men to rise not in fortune merely, but in virtue and
patriotism, in those things which are of themselves the only reward? We
should consider these labors, as well as the new method he taught to
arrive at knowledge, in our estimate of the sage as well as of the man.
He was a moral philosopher, like Socrates. He even soared into the realm
of supposititious truth, like Plato. He observed Nature, like Aristotle.
He took away the syllogism from Thomas Aquinas,--not to throw contempt
on metaphysical inquiry or dialectical reasoning, but to arrive by a
better method at the knowledge of first principles; which once
established, he allowed deductions to be drawn from them, leading to
other truths as certainly as induction itself. Yea, he was also a Moses
on the mount of Pisgah, from which with prophetic eye he could survey
the promised land of indefinite wealth and boundless material
prosperity, which he was not permitted to enter, but which he had
bequeathed to civilization. This may have been his greatest gift in the
view of scientific men,--this inductive process of reasoning, by which
great discoveries have been made after he was dead. But this was not his
only legacy, for other things which he taught were as valuable, not
merely in his sight, but to the eye of enlightened reason. There are
other truths besides those of physical science; there is greatness in
deduction as well as in induction. Geometry--whose successive and
progressive revelations are so inspiring, and which, have come down to
us from a remote antiquity, which are even now taught in our modern
schools as Euclid demonstrated them, since they cannot be improved--is a
purely deductive science. The scholastic philosophy, even if it was
barren and unfruitful in leading to new truths, yet confirmed what was
valuable in the old systems, and by the severity of its logic and its
dialectical subtleties trained the European mind for the reception of
the message of Luther and Bacon; and this was based on deductions, never
wrong unless the premises are unsound. Theology is deductive reasoning
from truths assumed to be fundamental, and is inductive only so far as
it collates Scripture declarations, and interprets their meaning by the
aid which learning brings. Is not this science worthy of some regard?
Will it not live when all the speculations of evolutionists are
forgotten, and occupy the thoughts of the greatest and profoundest minds
so long as anything shall be studied, so long as the Bible shall be the
guide of life? Is it not by deduction that we ascend from Nature herself
to the God of Nature? What is more certain than deduction when the
principles from which it reasons are indisputably established?

Is induction, great as it is, especially in the explorations of Nature
and science, always certain? Are not most of the sciences which are
based upon it progressive? Have we yet learned the ultimate principles
of political economy, or of geology, or of government, or even of art?
The theory of induction, though supposed by Dr. Whewell to lead to
certain results, is regarded by Professor Jevons as leading to results
only "almost certain." "All inductive inference is merely probable,"
says the present professor of logic, Thomas Fowler, in the University
of Oxford.

And although it is supposed that the inductive method of Bacon has led
to the noblest discoveries of modern times, is this strictly true?
Galileo made his discoveries in the heavens before Bacon died. Physical
improvements must need follow such inventions as gunpowder and the
mariners' compass, and printing and the pictures of Italy, and the
discovery of mines and the revived arts of the Romans and Greeks, and
the glorious emancipation which the Reformation produced. Why should not
the modern races follow in the track of Carthage and Alexandria and
Rome, with the progress of wealth, and carry out inventions as those
cities did, and all other civilized peoples since Babal towered above
the plains of Babylon? Physical developments arise from the developments
of man, whatever method may be recommended by philosophers. What
philosophical teachings led to the machinery of the mines of
California, or to that of the mills of Lowell? Some think that our
modern improvements would have come whether Bacon had lived or not. But
I would not disparage the labors of Bacon in pointing out the method
which leads to scientific discoveries. Granting that he sought merely
utility, an improvement in the outward condition of society, which is
the view that Macaulay takes, I would not underrate his legacy. And even
supposing that the blessings of material life--"the acre of
Middlesex"--are as much to be desired as Macaulay, with the complacency
of an eminently practical and prosperous man, seems to argue, I would
not sneer at them. Who does not value them? Who will not value them so
long as our mortal bodies are to be cared for? It is a pleasant thing to
ride in "cars without horses," to feel in winter the genial warmth of
grates and furnaces, to receive messages from distant friends in a
moment of time, to cross the ocean without discomfort, with the "almost
certainty" of safety, and save our wives and daughters from the ancient
drudgeries of the loom and the knitting-needle. Who ever tires in gazing
at a locomotive as it whirls along with the power of destiny? Who is not
astonished at the triumphs of the engineer, the wonders of an
ocean-steamer, the marvellous tunnels under lofty mountains? We feel
that Titans have been sent to ease us of our burdens.

But great and beneficent as are these blessings, they are not the only
certitudes, nor are they the greatest. An outward life of ease and
comfort is not the chief end of man. The interests of the soul are more
important than any comforts of the body. The higher life is only reached
by lofty contemplation on the true, the beautiful, and the good.
Subjective wisdom is worth more than objective knowledge. What are the
great realities,--machinery, new breeds of horses, carpets, diamonds,
mirrors, gas? or are they affections, friendships, generous impulses,
inspiring thoughts? Look to Socrates: what raised that barefooted,
ugly-looking, impecunious, persecuted, cross-questioning,
self-constituted teacher, without pay, to the loftiest pedestal of
Athenian fame? What was the spirit of the truths _he_ taught? Was it
objective or subjective truth; the way to become rich and comfortable,
or the search for the indefinite, the infinite, the eternal,--Utopia,
not Middlesex,--that which fed the wants of the immaterial soul, and
enabled it to rise above temptation and vulgar rewards? What raised
Plato to the highest pinnacle of intellectual life? Was it definite and
practical knowledge of outward phenomena; or was it "a longing after
love, in the contemplation of which the mortal soul sustains itself, and
becomes participant in the glories of immortality"? What were realities
to Anselm, Bernard, and Bonaventura? What gave beauty and placidity to
Descartes and Leibnitz and Kant? It may be very dignified for a modern
savant to sit serenely on his tower of observation, indifferent to all
the lofty speculations of the great men of bygone ages; yet those
profound questions pertaining to the [Greek: logos] and the [Greek: ta
onta], which had such attractions for Augustine and Pascal and Calvin,
did have as real bearing on human life and on what is best worth
knowing, as the scales of a leuciscus cephalus or the limbs of a
magnified animalculus, or any of the facts of which physical science can
boast. The wonders of science are great, but so also are the secrets of
the soul, the mysteries of the spiritual life, the truths which come
from divine revelation. Whatever most dignifies humanity, and makes our
labors sweet, and causes us to forget our pains, and kindles us to lofty
contemplations, and prompts us to heroic sacrifice, is the most real and
the most useful. Even the leaves of a barren and neglected philosophy
may be in some important respects of more value than all the boasted
fruit of utilitarian science. Is that which is most useful always the
most valuable,--that, I mean, which gives the highest pleasure? Do we
not plant our grounds with the acacia, the oak, the cedar, the elm, as
well as with the apple, the pear, and the cherry? Are not flowers and
shrubs which beautify the lawn as desirable as beans and turnips and
cabbages? Is not the rose or tulip as great an addition to even a poor
man's cottage as his bed of onions or patch of potatoes? What is the
scale to measure even mortal happiness? What is the marketable value of
friendship or of love? What makes the dinner of herbs sometimes more
refreshing than the stalled ox? What is the material profit of a first
love? What is the value in tangible dollars and cents of a beautiful
landscape, or a speaking picture, or a marble statue, or a living book,
or the voice of eloquence, or the charm of earliest bird, or the smile
of a friend, or the promise of immortality? In what consisted the real
glory of the country we are never weary of quoting,--the land of Phidias
and Pericles and Demosthenes? Was it not in immaterial ideas, in
patriotism, in heroism, in conceptions of ideal beauty, in speculations
on the infinite and unattainable, in the songs which still inspire the
minds of youth, in the expression which made marble live, in those
conceptions of beauty and harmony which still give shape to the temples
of Christendom? Was Rome more glorious with her fine roads and tables of
thuja-root, and Falernian wines, and oysters from the Lucrine Lake, and
chariots of silver, and robes of purple and rings of gold,--these useful
blessings which are the pride of an Epicurean civilization? And who gave
the last support, who raised the last barrier, against that inundation
of destructive pleasures in which some see the most valued fruits of
human invention, but which proved a canker that prepared the way to
ruin? It was that pious Emperor who learned his wisdom from a slave, and
who set a haughty defiance to all the grandeur and all the comforts of
the highest position which earth could give, and spent his leisure hours
in the quiet study of those truths which elevate the soul,--truths not
taught by science or nature, but by communication with invisible powers.

Ah, what indeed is reality; what is the higher good; what is that which
perishes never; what is that which assimilates man to Deity? Is it
houses, is it lands, is it gold and silver, is it luxurious couches, is
it the practical utilitarian comforts that pamper this mortal body in
its brief existence? or is it women's loves and patriots' struggles, and
sages' pious thoughts, affections, noble aspirations, Bethanies, the
serenities of virtuous old age, the harmonies of unpolluted homes, the
existence of art, of truth, of love; the hopes which last when sun and
stars decay? Tell us, ye women, what are realities to you,--your
carpets, your plate, your jewels, your luxurious banquets; or your
husbands' love, your friends' esteem, your children's reverence? And ye,
toiling men of business, what is really your highest joy,--your piles of
gold, your marble palaces; or the pleasures of your homes, the
approbation of your consciences, your hopes of future bliss? Yes, you
are dreamers, like poets and philosophers, when you call yourselves
pack-horses. Even you are only sustained in labor by intangible rewards
that you can neither see nor feel. The most practical of men and women
can really only live in those ideas which are deemed indefinite and
unreal. For what do the busiest of you run away from money-making, and
ride in cold or heat, in dreariness or discomfort,--dinners, or
greetings of love and sympathy? On what are such festivals as Christmas
and Thanksgiving Day based?--on consecrated sentiments that have more
force than any material gains or ends. These, after all, are realities
to you as much as ideas were to Plato, or music to Beethoven, or
patriotism to Washington. Deny these as the higher certitudes, and you
rob the soul of its dignity, and life of its consolations.

AUTHORITIES.

Bacon's Works, edited by Basil Montagu; Bacon's Life, by Basil Montagu;
Bacon's Life, by James Spedding; Bacon's Life, by Thomas Fowler; Dr.
Abbott's Introduction to Bacon's Essays, in Contemporary Review, 1876;
Macaulay's famous essay in Edinburgh Review, 1839; Archbishop Whately's
annotations of the Essays of Bacon; the general Histories of England.

GALILEO.

* * * * *

A.D. 1564-1642.

ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES.

Among the wonders of the sixteenth century was the appearance of a new
star in the northern horizon, which, shining at first with a feeble
light, gradually surpassed the brightness of the planet Jupiter; and
then changing its color from white to yellow and from yellow to red,
after seventeen months, faded away from the sight, and has not since
appeared. This celebrated star, first seen by Tycho Brahe in the
constellation Cassiopeia, never changed its position, or presented the
slightest perceptible parallax. It could not therefore have been a
meteor, nor a planet regularly revolving round the sun, nor a comet
blazing with fiery nebulous light, nor a satellite of one of the
planets, but a fixed star, far beyond our solar system. Such a
phenomenon created an immense sensation, and has never since been
satisfactorily explained by philosophers. In the infancy of astronomical
science it was regarded by astrologers as a sign to portend the birth of
an extraordinary individual.

Though the birth of some great political character was supposed to be
heralded by this mysterious star, its prophetic meaning might with more
propriety apply to the extraordinary man who astonished his
contemporaries by discoveries in the heavens, and who forms the subject
of this lecture; or it poetically might apply to the brilliancy of the
century itself in which it appeared. The sixteenth century cannot be
compared with the nineteenth century in the variety and scope of
scientific discoveries; but, compared with the ages which had preceded
it, it was a memorable epoch, marked by the simultaneous breaking up of
the darkness of mediaeval Europe, and the bursting forth of new energies
in all departments of human thought and action. In that century arose
great artists, poets, philosophers, theologians, reformers, navigators,
jurists, statesmen, whose genius has scarcely since been surpassed. In
Italy it was marked by the triumphs of scholars and artists; in Germany
and France, by reformers and warriors; in England, by that splendid
constellation that shed glory on the reign of Elizabeth. Close upon the
artists who followed Da Vinci, to Salvator Rosa, were those scholars of
whom Emanuel Chrysoloras, Erasmus, and Scaliger were the
representatives,--going back to the classic fountains of Greece and
Rome, reviving a study for antiquity, breathing a new spirit into
universities, enriching vernacular tongues, collecting and collating
manuscripts, translating the Scriptures, and stimulating the learned to
emancipate themselves from the trammels of the scholastic philosophers.

Then rose up the reformers, headed by Luther, consigning to destruction
the emblems and ceremonies of mediaeval superstition, defying popes,
burning bulls, ridiculing monks, exposing frauds, unravelling
sophistries, attacking vices and traditions with the new arms of reason,
and asserting before councils and dignitaries the right of private
judgment and the supreme authority of the Bible in all matters of
religious faith.

And then appeared the defenders of their cause, by force of arms
maintaining the great rights of religious liberty in France, Germany,
Switzerland, Holland, and England, until Protestantism was established
in half of the countries that had for more than a thousand years
servilely bowed down to the authority of the popes. Genius stimulates
and enterprise multiplies all the energies and aims of emancipated
millions. Before the close of the sixteenth century new continents are
colonized, new modes of warfare are introduced, manuscripts are changed
into printed books, the comforts of life are increased, governments are
more firmly established, and learned men are enriched and honored.
Feudalism has succumbed to central power, and barons revolve around
their sovereign at court rather than compose an independent authority.
Before that century had been numbered with the ages past, the
Portuguese had sailed to the East Indies, Sir Francis Drake had
circumnavigated the globe, Pizarro had conquered Peru, Sir Walter
Raleigh had colonized Virginia, Ricci had penetrated to China, Lescot
had planned the palace of the Louvre, Raphael had painted the
Transfiguration, Michael Angelo had raised the dome of St. Peter's,
Giacomo della Porta had ornamented the Vatican with mosaics, Copernicus
had taught the true centre of planetary motion, Dumoulin had introduced
into French jurisprudence the principles of the Justinian code, Ariosto
had published the "Orlando Furioso," Cervantes had written "Don
Quixote," Spenser had dedicated his "Fairy Queen," Shakspeare had
composed his immortal dramas, Hooker had devised his "Ecclesiastical
Polity," Cranmer had published his Forty-two Articles, John Calvin had
dedicated to Francis I. his celebrated "Institutes," Luther had
translated the Bible, Bacon had begun the "Instauration of Philosophy,"
Bellarmine had systematized the Roman Catholic theology, Henry IV. had
signed the Edict of Nantes, Queen Elizabeth had defeated the Invincible
Armada, and William the Silent had achieved the independence of Holland.

Such were some of the lights and some of the enterprises of that great
age, when the profoundest questions pertaining to philosophy, religion,
law, and government were discussed with the enthusiasm and freshness of
a revolutionary age; when men felt the inspiration of a new life, and
looked back on the Middle Ages with disgust and hatred, as a period
which enslaved the human soul. But what peculiarly marked that period
was the commencement of those marvellous discoveries in science which
have enriched our times and added to the material blessings of the new
civilization. Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Bacon
inaugurated the era which led to progressive improvements in the
physical condition of society, and to those scientific marvels which
have followed in such quick succession and produced such astonishing
changes that we are fain to boast that we have entered upon the most
fortunate and triumphant epoch in our world's history.

Many men might be taken as the representatives of this new era of
science and material inventions, but I select Galileo Galilei as one of
the most interesting in his life, opinions, and conflicts.

Galileo was born at Pisa, in the year 1564, the year that Calvin and
Michael Angelo died, four years after the birth of Bacon, in the sixth
year of the reign of Elizabeth, and the fourth of Charles IX., about the
time when the Huguenot persecution was at its height, and the Spanish
monarchy was in its most prosperous state, under Philip II. His parents
were of a noble but impoverished Florentine family; and his father, who
was a man of some learning,--a writer on the science of music,--gave him
the best education he could afford. Like so many of the most illustrious
men, he early gave promise of rare abilities. It was while he was a
student in the university of his native city that his attention was
arrested by the vibrations of a lamp suspended from the ceiling of the
cathedral; and before he had quitted the church, while the choir was
chanting mediaeval anthems, he had compared those vibrations with his
own pulse, which after repeated experiments, ended in the construction
of the first pendulum,--applied not as it was by Huygens to the
measurement of time, but to medical science, to enable physicians to
ascertain the rate of the pulse. But the pendulum was soon brought into
the service of the clockmakers, and ultimately to the determination of
the form of the earth, by its minute irregularities in diverse
latitudes, and finally to the measurement of differences of longitude by
its connection with electricity and the recording of astronomical
observations. Thus it was that the swinging of a cathedral lamp, before
the eye of a man of genius, has done nearly as much as the telescope
itself to advance science, to say nothing of its practical uses in
common life.

Galileo had been destined by his father to the profession of medicine,
and was ignorant of mathematics. He amused his leisure hours with
painting and music, and in order to study the principles of drawing he
found it necessary to acquire some knowledge of geometry, much to the
annoyance of his father, who did not like to see his mind diverted from
the prescriptions of Hippocrates and Galen. The certain truths of
geometry burst upon him like a revelation, and after mastering Euclid he
turned to Archimedes with equal enthusiasm. Mathematics now absorbed his
mind, and the father was obliged to yield to the bent of his genius,
which seemed to disdain the regular professions by which social position
was most surely effected. He wrote about this time an essay on the
Hydrostatic Balance, which introduced him to Guido Ubaldo, a famous
mathematician, who induced him to investigate the subject of the centre
of gravity in solid bodies. His treatise on this subject secured an
introduction to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who perceived his merits, and
by whom he was appointed a lecturer on mathematics at Pisa, but on the
small salary of sixty crowns a year.

This was in 1589, when he was twenty-five, an enthusiastic young man,
full of hope and animal spirits, the charm of every circle for his
intelligence, vivacity, and wit; but bold and sarcastic, contemptuous of
ancient dogmas, defiant of authority, and therefore no favorite with
Jesuit priests and Dominican professors. It is said that he was a
handsome man, with bright golden locks, such as painters in that age
loved to perpetuate upon the canvas; hilarious and cheerful, fond of
good cheer, yet a close student, obnoxious only to learned dunces and
narrow pedants and treadmill professors and bigoted priests,--all of
whom sought to molest him, yet to whom he was either indifferent or
sarcastic, holding them and their formulas up to ridicule. He now
directed his inquiries to the mechanical doctrines of Aristotle, to
whose authority the schools had long bowed down, and whom he too
regarded as one of the great intellectual giants of the world, yet not
to be credited without sufficient reasons. Before the "Novum Organum"
was written, he sought, as Bacon himself pointed out, the way to arrive
at truth,--a foundation to stand upon, a principle tested by experience,
which, when established by experiment, would serve for sure deductions.

Now one of the principles assumed by Aristotle, and which had never been
disputed, was, that if different weights of the same material were let
fall from the same height, the heavier would reach the ground sooner
than the lighter, and in proportion to the difference of weight. This
assumption Galileo denied, and asserted that, with the exception of a
small different owing to the resistance of the air, both would fall to
the ground in the same space of time. To prove his position by actual
experiment, he repaired to the leaning tower of Pisa, and demonstrated
that he was right and Aristotle was wrong. The Aristotelians would not
believe the evidence of their own senses, and ascribed the effect to
some unknown cause. To such a degree were men enslaved by authority.
This provoked Galileo, and led him to attack authority with still
greater vehemence, adding mockery to sarcasm; which again exasperated
his opponents, and doubtless laid the foundation of that personal
hostility which afterwards pursued him to the prison of the Inquisition.
This blended arrogance and asperity in a young man was offensive to the
whole university, yet natural to one who had overturned one of the
favorite axioms of the greatest master of thought the world had seen for
nearly two thousand years; and the scorn and opposition with which his
discovery was received increased his rancor, so that he, in his turn,
did not render justice to the learned men arrayed against him, who were
not necessarily dull or obstinate because they would not at once give up
the opinions in which they were educated, and which the learned world
still accepted. Nor did they oppose and hate him for his new opinions,
so much as from dislike of his personal arrogance and bitter sarcasms.

At last his enemies made it too hot for him at Pisa. He resigned his
chair (1591), but only to accept a higher position at Padua, on a salary
of one hundred and eighty florins,--not, however, adequate to his
support, so that he was obliged to take pupils in mathematics. To show
the comparative estimate of that age of science, the fact may be
mentioned that the professor of scholastic philosophy in the same
university was paid fourteen hundred florins. This was in 1592; and the
next year Galileo invented the thermometer, still an imperfect
instrument, since air was not perfectly excluded. At this period his
reputation seems to have been established as a brilliant lecturer rather
than as a great discoverer, or even as a great mathematician; for he was
immeasurably behind Kepler, his contemporary, in the power of making
abstruse calculations and numerical combinations. In this respect Kepler
was inferior only to Copernicus, Newton, and Laplace in our times, or
Hipparchus and Ptolemy among the ancients; and it is to him that we owe
the discovery of those great laws of planetary motion from which there
is no appeal, and which have never been rivalled in importance except
those made by Newton himself,--laws which connect the mean distance of
the planets from the sun with the times of their revolutions; laws which
show that the orbits of planets are elliptical, not circular; and that
the areas described by lines drawn from the moving planet to the sun are
proportionable to the times employed in the motion. What an infinity of
calculation, in the infancy of science,--before the invention of
logarithms,--was necessary to arrive at these truths! What fertility of
invention was displayed in all his hypotheses; what patience in working
them out; what magnanimity in discarding those which were not true! What
power of guessing, even to hit upon theories which could be established
by elaborate calculations,--all from the primary thought, the grand
axiom, which Kepler was the first to propose, that there must be some
numerical or geometrical relations among the times, distances, and
velocities of the revolving bodies of the solar system! It would seem
that although his science was deductive, he invoked the aid of induction
also: a great original genius, yet modest like Newton; a man who avoided
hostilities, yet given to the most boundless enthusiasm on the subjects
to which he devoted his life. How intense his raptures! "Nothing holds
me," he writes, on discovering his great laws; "I will indulge in my
sacred fury. I will boast of the golden vessels I have stolen from the
Egyptians. If you forgive me, I rejoice. If you are angry, it is all the
same to me. The die is cast; the book is written,--to be read either
now, or by posterity, I care not which. It may well wait a century for a
reader, as God has waited six thousand years for an observer."

We do not see this sublime repose in the attitude of Galileo,--this
falling back on his own conscious greatness, willing to let things take
their natural course; but rather, on the other hand, an impatience under
contradiction, a vehement scorn of adversaries, and an intellectual
arrogance that gave offence, and impeded his career, and injured his
fame. No matter how great a man may be, his intellectual pride is always
offensive; and when united with sarcasm and mockery it will make bitter
enemies, who will pull him down.

Galileo, on his transfer to Padua, began to teach the doctrines of
Copernicus,--a much greater genius than he, and yet one who provoked no
enmities, although he made the greatest revolution in astronomical
knowledge that any man ever made, since he was in no haste to reveal his
discoveries, and stated them in a calm and inoffensive way. I doubt if
new discoverers in science meet with serious opposition when men
themselves are not attacked, and they are made to appeal to calm
intelligence, and war is not made on those Scripture texts which seem to
controvert them. Even theologians receive science when science is not
made to undermine theological declarations, and when the divorce of
science from revelation, reason from faith, as two distinct realms, is
vigorously insisted upon. Pascal incurred no hostilities for his
scientific investigations, nor Newton, nor Laplace. It is only when
scientific men sneer at the Bible because its declarations cannot always
be harmonized with science, that the hostilities of theologians are
provoked. And it is only when theologians deny scientific discoveries
that seem to conflict with texts of Scripture, that opposition arises
among scientific men. It would seem that the doctrines of Copernicus
were offensive to churchmen on this narrow ground. It was hard to
believe that the earth revolved around the sun, when the opinions of the
learned for two thousand years were unanimous that the sun revolved
around the earth. Had both theologian and scientist let the Bible alone,
there would not have been a bitter war between them. But scientists were
accused by theologians of undermining the Bible; and the theologians
were accused of stupid obstinacy, and were mercilessly exposed
to ridicule.

That was the great error of Galileo. He made fun and sport of the
theologians, as Samson did of the Philistines; and the Philistines of
Galileo's day cut off his locks and put out his eyes when the Pope put
him into their power,--those Dominican inquisitors who made a crusade
against human thought. If Galileo had shown more tact and less
arrogance, possibly those Dominican doctors might have joined the chorus
of universal praise; for they were learned men, although devoted to a
bad system, and incapable of seeing truth when their old authorities
were ridiculed and set at nought. Galileo did not deny the Scriptures,
but his spirit was mocking; and he seemed to prejudiced people to
undermine the truths which were felt to be vital for the preservation of
faith in the world. And as some scientific truths seemed to be adverse
to Scripture declarations, the transition was easy to a denial of the
inspiration which was claimed by nearly all Christian sects, both
Catholic and Protestant.

The intolerance of the Church in every age has driven many scientists
into infidelity; for it cannot be doubted that the tendency of
scientific investigation has been to make scientific men incredulous of
divine inspiration, and hence to undermine their faith in dogmas which
good men have ever received, and which are supported by evidence that is
not merely probable but almost certain. And all now that seems wanting
to harmonize science with revelation is, on the one hand, the
re-examination of the Scripture texts on which are based the principia
from which deductions are made, and which we call theology; and, on the
other hand, the rejection of indefensible statements which are at war
with both science and consciousness, except in those matters which claim
special supernatural agency, which we can neither prove nor disprove by
reason; for supernaturalism claims to transcend the realm of reason
altogether in what relates to the government of God,--ways that no
searching will ever enable us to find out with our limited faculties and
obscured understanding. When the two realms of reason and faith are
kept distinct, and neither encroaches on the other, then the
discoveries and claims of science will meet with but little opposition
from theologians, and they will be left to be sifted by men who alone
are capable of the task.

Thus far science, outside of pure mathematics, is made up of theories
which are greatly modified by advancing knowledge, so that they cannot
claim in all respects to be eternally established, like the laws of
Kepler and the discoveries of Copernicus,--the latter of which were only
true in the main fact that the earth revolves around the sun. But even
he retained epicycles and excentrics, and could not explain the unequal
orbits of planetary motion. In fact he retained many of the errors of
Hipparchus and Ptolemy. Much, too, as we are inclined to ridicule the
astronomy of the ancients because they made the earth the centre, we
should remember that they also resolved the orbits of the heavenly
bodies into circular motions, discovered the precession of the
equinoxes, and knew also the apparent motions of the planets and their
periods. They could predict eclipses of the sun and moon, and knew that
the orbit of the sun and planets was through a belt in the heavens, of a
few degrees in width, which they called the Zodiac. They did not know,
indeed, the difference between real and apparent motion, nor the
distance of the sun and stars, nor their relative size and weight, nor
the laws of motion, nor the principles of gravitation, nor the nature
of the Milky Way, nor the existence of nebulae, nor any of the wonders
which the telescope reveals; but in the severity of their mathematical
calculations they were quite equal to modern astronomers.

If Copernicus revolutionized astronomy by proving the sun to be the
centre of motion to our planetary system, Galileo gave it an immense
impulse by his discoveries with the telescope. These did not require
such marvellous mathematical powers as made Kepler and Newton
immortal,--the equals of Ptolemy and Hipparchus in mathematical
demonstration,--but only accuracy and perseverance in observations.
Doubtless he was a great mathematician, but his fame rests on his
observations and the deductions he made from them. These were more
easily comprehended, and had an objective value which made him popular:
and for these discoveries he was indebted in a great measure to the
labors of others,--it was mechanical invention applied to the
advancement of science. The utilization of science was reserved to our
times; and it is this utilization which makes science such a handmaid to
the enrichment of its votaries, and holds it up to worship in our
laboratories and schools of technology and mines,--not merely for
itself, but also for the substantial fruit it yields.

It was when Galileo was writing treatises on the Structure of the
Universe, on Local Motion, on Sound, on Continuous Quantity, on Light,
on Colors, on the Tides, on Dialing,--subjects that also interested Lord
Bacon at the same period,--and when he was giving lectures on these
subjects with immense _eclat_, frequently to one thousand persons
(scarcely less than what Abelard enjoyed when he made fun of the more
conservative schoolmen with whom he was brought in contact), that he
heard, while on a visit to Venice, that a Dutch spectacle-maker had
invented an instrument which was said to represent distant objects
nearer than they usually appeared. This was in 1609, when he, at the age
of fifty-five, was the idol of scientific men, and was in the enjoyment
of an ample revenue, giving only sixty half-hours in the year to
lectures, and allowed time to prosecute his studies in that "sweet
solitariness" which all true scholars prize, and without which few great
attainments are made. The rumor of the invention excited in his mind the
intensest interest. He sought for the explanation of the fact in the
doctrine of refraction. He meditated day and night. At last he himself
constructed an instrument,--a leaden organ pipe with two spectacle
glasses, both plain on one side, while one of them had its opposite side
convex, and the other its second side concave.

This crude little instrument, which magnified but three times, he
carries in triumph back to Venice. It is regarded as a scientific toy,
yet everybody wishes to see an instrument by which the human eye
indefinitely multiplies its power. The Doge is delighted, and the Senate
is anxious to secure so great a curiosity. He makes a present of it to
the Senate, after he has spent a month in showing it round to the
principal people of that wealthy city; and he is rewarded for his
ingenuity with an increase of his salary, at Padua, to one thousand
florins, and is made professor for life.

He now only thinks of making discoveries in the heavens; but his
instrument is too small. He makes another and larger telescope, which
magnifies eight times, and then another which magnifies thirty times;
and points it to the moon. And how indescribable his satisfaction, for
he sees what no mortal had ever before seen,--ranges of mountains, deep
hollows, and various inequalities! These discoveries, it would seem, are
not favorably received by the Aristotelians; however, he continues his
labors, and points his telescope to the planets and fixed stars,--but
the magnitude of the latter remain the same, while the planets appear
with disks like the moon. Then he directs his observations to the
Pleiades, and counts forty stars in the cluster, when only six were
visible to the naked eye; in the Milky Way he descries crowds of
minute stars.

Having now reached the limit of discovery with his present instrument,
he makes another of still greater power, and points it to the planet
Jupiter. On the 7th of January, 1610, he observes three little stars
near the body of the planet, all in a straight line and parallel to the
ecliptic, two on the east and one on the west of Jupiter. On the next
observation he finds that they have changed places, and are all on the
west of Jupiter; and the next time he observes them they have changed
again. He also discovers that there are four of these little stars
revolving round the planet. What is the explanation of this singular
phenomenon? They cannot be fixed stars, or planets; they must then be
moons. Jupiter is attended with satellites like the earth, but has four
instead of one! The importance of this last discovery was of supreme
value, for it confirmed the heliocentric theory. Old Kepler is filled
with agitations of joy; all the friends of Galileo extol his genius; his
fame spreads far and near; he is regarded as the ablest scientific man
in Europe.

His enemies are now dismayed and perplexed. The principal professor of
philosophy at Padua would not even look through the wonderful
instrument. Sissi of Florence ridicules the discovery. "As," said he,
"there are only seven apertures of the head,--two eyes, two ears, two
nostrils, and one mouth,--and as there are only seven days in the week
and seven metals, how can there be seven planets?"

But science, discarded by the schools, fortunately finds a refuge among
princes. Cosimo de' Medici prefers the testimony of his senses to the
voice of authority. He observes the new satellites with Galileo at Pisa,
makes him a present of one thousand florins, and gives him a mere
nominal office,--that of lecturing occasionally to princes, on a salary
of one thousand florins for life. He is now the chosen companion of the
great, and the admiration of Italy. He has rendered an immense service
to astronomy. "His discovery of the satellites of Jupiter," says
Herschel, "gave the holding turn to the opinion of mankind respecting
the Copernican system, and pointed out a connection between speculative
astronomy and practical utility."

But this did not complete the catalogue of his discoveries. In 1610 he
perceived that Saturn appeared to be triple, and excited the curiosity
of astronomers by the publication of his first "Enigma,"--_Altissimam
planetam tergeminam observavi_. He could not then perceive the rings;
the planet seemed through his telescope to have the form of three
concentric O's. Soon after, in examining Venus, he saw her in the form
of a crescent: _Cynthioe figuras oemulatur mater amorum_,--"Venus rivals
the phases of the moon."

At last he discovers the spots upon the sun's disk, and that they all
revolve with the sun, and therefore that the sun has a revolution in
about twenty-eight days, and may be moving on in a larger circle, with
all its attendant planets, around some distant centre.

Galileo has now attained the highest object of his ambition. He is at
the head, confessedly, of all the scientific men of Europe. He has an
ample revenue; he is independent, and has perfect leisure. Even the Pope
is gracious to him when he makes a visit to Rome; while cardinals,
princes, and ambassadors rival one another in bestowing upon him
attention and honors.

But there is no' height of fortune from which a man may not fall; and it
is usually the proud, the ostentatious, and the contemptuous who do
fall, since they create envy, and are apt to make social mistakes.
Galileo continued to exasperate his enemies by his arrogance and
sarcasms. "They refused to be dragged at his chariot-wheels." "The
Aristotelian professors," says Brewster, "the temporizing Jesuits, the
political churchmen, and that timid but respectable body who at all
times dread innovation, whether it be in legislation or science, entered
into an alliance against the philosophical tyrant who threatened them
with the penalties of knowledge." The church dignitaries were especially
hostile, since they thought the tendency of Galileo's investigations was
to undermine the Bible. Flanked by the logic of the schools and the
popular interpretation of Scripture, and backed by the civil power, they
were eager for war. Galileo wrote a letter to his friend the Abbe
Castelli, the object of which was "to prove that the Scriptures were not
intended to teach science and philosophy," but to point out the way of
salvation. He was indiscreet enough to write a longer letter of seventy
pages, quoting the Fathers in support of his views, and attempting to
show that Nature and Scripture could not speak a different language. It
was this reasoning which irritated the dignitaries of the Church more
than his discoveries, since it is plain that the literal language of
Scripture upholds the doctrine that the sun revolves around the earth.
He was wrong or foolish in trying to harmonize revelation and science.
He should have advanced his truths of science and left them to take care
of themselves. He should not have meddled with the dogmas of his
enemies: not that he was wrong in doing so, but it was not politic or
wise; and he was not called upon to harmonize Scripture with science.

So his enemies busily employed themselves in collecting evidence against
him. They laid their complaints before the Inquisition of Rome, and on
the occasion of paying a visit to that city, he was summoned before that
tribunal which has been the shame and the reproach of the Catholic
Church. It was a tribunal utterly incompetent to sit upon his case,
since it was ignorant of science. In 1615 it was decreed that Galileo
should renounce his obnoxious doctrines, and pledge himself neither to
defend nor publish them in future. And Galileo accordingly, in dread of
prison, appeared before Cardinal Bellarmine and declared that he would
renounce the doctrines he had defended. This cardinal was not an
ignorant man. He was the greatest theologian of the Catholic Church; but
his bitterness and rancor in reference to the new doctrines were as
marked as his scholastic learning. The Pope, supposing that Galileo
would adhere to his promise, was gracious and kind.

But the philosopher could not resist the temptation of ridiculing the
advocates of the old system. He called them "paper philosophers." In
private he made a mockery of his persecutors. One Saisi undertook to
prove from Suidas that the Babylonians used to cook eggs by whirling
them swiftly on a sling; to which he replied: "If Saisi insists on the
authority of Suidas, that the Babylonians cooked eggs by whirling them
on a sling, I will believe it. But I must add that we have eggs and
slings, and strong men to whirl them, yet they will not become cooked;
nay, if they were hot at first, they more quickly became cool; and as
there is nothing wanting to us but to be Babylonians, it follows that
being Babylonians is the true cause why the eggs became hard." Such was
his prevailing mockery and ridicule. "Your Eminence," writes one of his
friends to the Cardinal D'Este, "would be delighted if you could hear
him hold forth in the midst of fifteen or twenty, all violently
attacking him, sometimes in one house, and sometimes in another; but he
is armed after such a fashion that he laughs them all to scorn."

Galileo, after his admonition from the Inquisition, and his promise to
hold his tongue, did keep comparatively quiet for a while, amusing
himself with mechanics, and striving to find out a new way of
discovering longitude at sea. But the want of better telescopes baffled
his efforts; and even to-day it is said "that no telescope has yet been
made which is capable of observing at sea the eclipses of Jupiter's
satellites, by which on shore this method of finding longitude has many
advantages."

On the accession of a new Pope (1623), Urban VIII., who had been his
friend as Cardinal Barberini, Galileo, after eight years of silence,
thought that he might now venture to publish his great work on the
Ptolemaic and Copernican systems, especially as the papal censor also
had been his friend. But the publication of the book was delayed nearly
two years, so great were the obstacles to be surmounted, and so
prejudiced and hostile was the Church to the new views. At last it
appeared in Florence in 1632, with a dedication to the Grand Duke,--not
the Cosimo who had rewarded him, but his son Ferdinand, who was a mere
youth. It was an unfortunate thing for Galileo to do. He had pledged
his word not to advocate the Copernican theory, which was already
sufficiently established in the opinions of philosophers. The form of
the book was even offensive, in the shape of dialogues, where some of
the chief speakers were his enemies. One of them he ridiculed under the
name of Simplicio. This was supposed to mean the Pope himself,--so they
made the Pope believe, and he was furious. Old Cardinal Bellarmine
roared like a lion. The whole Church, as represented by its dignitaries,
seemed to be against him. The Pope seized the old weapons of the
Clements and the Gregories to hurl upon the daring innovator; but
delayed to hurl them, since he dealt with a giant, covered not only by
the shield of the Medici, but that of Minerva. So he convened a
congregation of cardinals, and submitted to them the examination of the
detested book. The author was summoned to Rome to appear before the
Inquisition, and answer at its judgment-seat the charges against him as
a heretic. The Tuscan ambassador expostulated with his Holiness against
such a cruel thing, considering Galileo's age, infirmities, and
fame,--all to no avail. He was obliged to obey the summons. At the age
of seventy this venerated philosopher, infirm, in precarious health,
appeared before the Inquisition of cardinals, not one of whom had any
familiarity with abstruse speculations, or even with mathematics.

Whether out of regard to his age and infirmities, or to his great fame
and illustrious position as the greatest philosopher of his day, the
cardinals treat Galileo with unusual indulgence. Though a prisoner of
the Inquisition, and completely in its hands, with power of life and
death, it would seem that he is allowed every personal comfort. His
table is provided by the Tuscan ambassador; a servant obeys his
slightest nod; he sleeps in the luxurious apartment of the fiscal of
that dreaded body; he is even liberated on the responsibility of a
cardinal; he is permitted to lodge in the palace of the ambassador; he
is allowed time to make his defence: those holy Inquisitors would not
unnecessarily harm a hair of his head. Nor was it probably their object
to inflict bodily torments: these would call out sympathy and degrade
the tribunal. It was enough to threaten these torments, to which they
did not wish to resort except in case of necessity. There is no evidence
that Galileo was personally tortured. He was indeed a martyr, but not a
sufferer except in humiliated pride. Probably the object of his enemies
was to silence him, to degrade him, to expose his name to infamy, to
arrest the spread of his doctrines, to bow his old head in shame, to
murder his soul, to make him stab himself, and be his own executioner,
by an act which all posterity should regard as unworthy of his name
and cause.

After a fitting time has elapsed,--four months of dignified
session,--the mind of the Holy Tribunal is made up. Its judgment is
ready. On the 22d of June, 1633, the prisoner appears in penitential
dress at the convent of Minerva, and the presiding cardinal, in his
scarlet robes, delivers the sentence of the Court,--that Galileo, as a
warning to others, and by way of salutary penance, be condemned to the
formal prison of the Holy Office, and be ordered to recite once a week
the seven Penitential Psalms for the benefit of his soul,--apparently a
light sentence, only to be nominally imprisoned a few days, and to
repeat those Psalms which were the life of blessed saints in mediaeval
times. But this was nothing. He was required to recant, to abjure the
doctrines he had taught; not in private, but publicly before the world.
Will he recant? Will he subscribe himself an imposter? Will he abjure
the doctrines on which his fame rests? Oh, tell it not in Gath! The
timid, infirm, life-loving old patriarch of science falls. He is not
great enough for martyrdom. He chooses shame. In an evil hour this
venerable sage falls down upon his knees before the assembled cardinals,
and reads aloud this recantation: "I, Galileo Galilei, aged seventy, on
my knees before you most reverend lords, and having my eye on the Holy
Gospel, which I do touch with my lips, thus publish and declare, that I
believe, and always have believed, and always will believe every
article which the Holy Catholic Roman Church holds and teaches. And as I
have written a book in which I have maintained that the sun is the
centre, which doctrine is repugnant to the Holy Scriptures, I, with
sincere heart and unfeigned faith, do abjure and detest, and curse the
said error and heresy, and all other errors contrary to said Holy
Church, whose penance I solemnly swear to observe faithfully, and all
other penances which have been or shall be laid upon me."

It would appear from this confession that he did not declare his
doctrines false, only that they were in opposition to the Scriptures;
and it is also said that as he arose from his knees he whispered to a
friend, "It does move, nevertheless." As some excuse for him, he acted
with the certainty that he would be tortured if he did not recant; and
at the worst he had only affirmed that his scientific theory was in
opposition to the Scriptures. He had not denied his master, like Peter;
he had not recanted the faith like Cranmer; he had simply yielded for
fear of bodily torments, and therefore was not sincere in the abjuration
which he made to save his life. Nevertheless, his recantation was a
fall, and in the eyes of the scientific world perhaps greater than that
of Bacon. Galileo was false to philosophy and himself. Why did he suffer
himself to be conquered by priests he despised? Why did so bold and
witty and proud a man betray his cause? Why did he not accept the
penalty of intellectual freedom, and die, if die he must? What was life
to him, diseased, infirm, and old? What had he more to gain? Was it not
a good time to die and consummate his protests? Only one hundred and
fifty years before, one of his countrymen had accepted torture and death
rather than recant his religious opinions. Why could not Galileo have
been as great in martyrdom as Savonarola? He was a renowned philosopher
and brilliant as a man of genius,--but he was a man of the world; he
loved ease and length of days. He could ridicule and deride
opponents,--he could not suffer pain. He had a great intellect, but not
a great soul. There were flaws in his morality; he was anything but a
saint or hero. He was great in mind, and yet he was far from being great
in character. We pity him, while we exalt him. Nor is the world harsh to
him; it forgives him for his services. The worst that can be said, is
that he was not willing to suffer and die for his opinions: and how many
philosophers are there who are willing to be martyrs?

Nevertheless, in the eyes of philosophers he has disgraced himself. Let
him then return to Florence, to his own Arceti. He is a silenced man.
But he is silenced, not because he believed with Copernicus, but because
he ridiculed his enemies and confronted the Church, and in the eyes of
blinded partisans had attacked divine authority. Why did Copernicus
escape persecution? The Church must have known that there was something
in his discoveries, and in those of Galileo, worthy of attention. About
this time Pascal wrote: "It is vain that you have procured the
condemnation of Galileo. That will never prove the earth to be at rest.
If unerring observation proves that it turns round, not all mankind
together can keep it from turning, or themselves from turning with it."

But let that persecution pass. It is no worse than other persecutions,
either in Catholic or Protestant ranks. It was no worse than burning
witches. Not only is intolerance in human nature, but there is a
repugnance among the learned to receive new opinions when these
interfere with their ascendency. The opposition to Galileo's discoveries
was no greater than that of the Protestant Church, half a century ago,
to some of the inductions of geology. How bitter the hatred, even in our
times, to such men as Huxley and Darwin! True, they have not proved
their theories as Galileo did; but they gave as great a shock as he to
the minds of theologians. All science is progressive, yet there are
thousands who oppose its progress. And if learning and science should
establish a different meaning to certain texts from which theological
deductions are drawn, and these premises be undermined, there would be
the same bitterness among the defenders of the present system of
dogmatic theology. Yet theology will live, and never lose its dignity
and importance; only, some of its present assumptions may be discarded.
God will never be dethroned from the world he governs; but some of his
ways may appear to be different from what was once supposed. And all
science is not only progressive, but it appears to be bold and scornful
and proud,--at least, its advocates are and ever have been contemptuous
of all other departments of knowledge but its own. So narrow and limited
is the human mind in the midst of its triumphs. So full of prejudices
are even the learned and the great.

Let us turn then to give another glance at the fallen philosopher in his
final retreat at Arceti. He lives under restrictions. But they allow him
leisure and choice wines, of which he is fond, and gardens and friends;
and many come to do him reverence. He amuses his old age with the
studies of his youth and manhood, and writes dialogues on Motion, and
even discovers the phenomena of the moon's libration; and by means of
the pendulum he gives additional importance to astronomical science. But
he is not allowed to leave his retirement, not even to visit his friends
in Florence. The wrath of the Inquisition still pursues him, even in his
villa at Arceti in the suburbs of Florence. Then renewed afflictions
come. He loses his daughter, who was devoted to him; and her death
nearly plunges him into despair. The bulwarks of his heart break down; a
flood of grief overwhelms his stricken soul. His appetite leaves him;
his health forsakes him; his infirmities increase upon him. His right
eye loses its power,--that eye that had seen more of the heavens than
the eyes of all who had gone before him. He becomes blind and deaf, and
cannot sleep, afflicted with rheumatic pains and maladies forlorn. No
more for him is rest, or peace, or bliss; still less the glories of his
brighter days,--the sight of glittering fields, the gems of heaven,
without which

"Neither breath of Morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower
Glistering with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild,... is sweet."

No more shall he gaze on features that he loves, or stars, or trees, or
hills. No more to him

"Returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But clouds, instead, and ever-during dark
Surround" [him].

It was in those dreary desolate days at Arceti,

"Unseen
In manly beauty Milton stood before him,
Gazing in reverent awe,--Milton, his guest,
Just then come forth, all life and enterprise;
While he in his old age,...
... exploring with his staff,
His eyes upturned as to the golden sun,
His eyeballs idly rolling."

This may have been the punishment of his recantation,--not Inquisitorial
torture, but the consciousness that he had lost his honor. Poor Galileo!
thine illustrious visitor, when _his_ affliction came, could cast his
sightless eyeballs inward, and see and tell "things unattempted yet in
prose or rhyme,"--not

"Rocks, caves, lakes, bogs, fens, and shades of death,
Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire,"

but of "eternal Providence," and "Eden with surpassing glory crowned,"
and "our first parents," and of "salvation," "goodness infinite," of
"wisdom," which when known we need no higher though all the stars we
know by name,--

"All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
Or works of God in heaven, or air, or sea."

And yet, thou stricken observer of the heavenly bodies! hadst thou but
known what marvels would be revealed by the power of thy wondrous
instrument after thou should'st be laid lifeless and cold beneath the
marble floor of Sante Croce, at the age of seventy-eight, without a
monument, without even the right of burial in consecrated ground, having
died a prisoner of the Inquisition, yet not without having rendered to
astronomical science services of utmost value,--even thou might have
died rejoicing, as one of the great benefactors of the world. And thy
discoveries shall be forever held in gratitude; they shall herald others
of even greater importance. Newton shall prove that the different
planets are attracted to the sun in the inverse ratio of the squares of
their distances; that the earth has a force on the moon identical with
the force of gravity, and that all celestial bodies, to the utmost
boundaries of space, mutually attract each other; that all particles of
matter are governed by the same law,--the great law of gravitation, by
which "astronomy," in the language of Whewell, "passed from boyhood to
manhood, and by which law the great discoverer added more to the realm
of science than any man before or since his day." And after Newton shall
pass away, honored and lamented, and be buried with almost royal pomp in
the vaults of Westminster, Halley and other mathematicians shall
construct lunar tables, by which longitude shall be accurately measured
on the pathless ocean. Lagrange and Laplace shall apply the Newtonian
theory to determine the secular inequalities of celestial motion; they
shall weigh absolutely the amount of matter in the planets; they shall
show how far their orbits deviate from circles; and they shall enumerate
the cycles of changes detected in the circuit of the moon. Clairaut
shall remove the perplexity occasioned by the seeming discrepancy
between the observed and computed motions of the moon's perigee. Halley
shall demonstrate the importance of observations of the transit of Venus
as the only certain way of obtaining the sun's parallax, and hence the
distance of the sun from the earth; he shall predict the return of that
mysterious body which we call a comet. Herschel shall construct a
telescope which magnifies two thousand times, and add another planet to
our system beyond the mighty orb of Saturn. Roemer shall estimate the
velocity of light from the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites. Bessell
shall pass the impassable gulf of space and measure the distance of some
of the fixed stars, although such is the immeasurable space between the
earth and those distant suns that the parallax of only about thirty has
yet been discovered with our finest instruments,--so boundless is the
material universe, so vast are the distances, that light, travelling one
hundred and sixty thousand miles with every pulsation of the blood, will
not reach us from some of those remote worlds in one hundred thousand
years. So marvellous shall be the victories of science, that the
perturbations of the planets in their courses shall reveal the
existence of a new one more distant than Uranus, and Leverrier shall
tell at what part of the heavens that star shall first be seen.

So far as we have discovered, the universe which we have observed with
telescopic instruments has no limits that mortals can define, and in
comparison with its magnitude our earth is less than a grain of sand,
and is so old that no genius can calculate and no imagination can
conceive when it had a beginning. All that we know is, that suns exist
at distances we cannot define. But around what centre do they revolve?
Of what are they composed? Are they inhabited by intelligent and
immortal beings? Do we know that they are not eternal, except from the
divine declaration that there _was_ a time when the Almighty fiat went
forth for this grand creation? Creation involves a creator; and can the
order and harmony seen in Nature's laws exist without Supreme
intelligence and power? Who, then, and what, is God? "Canst thou by
searching find out Him? Knowest thou the ordinances of Heaven? Canst
thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of
Orion?" What an atom is this world in the light of science! Yet what
dignity has man by the light of revelation! What majesty and power and
glory has God! What goodness, benevolence, and love, that even a sparrow
cannot fall to the ground without His notice,--that we are the special
objects of His providence and care! Is there an imagination so lofty
that will not be oppressed with the discoveries that even the
telescope has made?

Ah, to what exalted heights reason may soar when allied with faith! How
truly it should elevate us above the evils of this brief and busy
existence to the conditions of that other life,--

"When the soul,
Advancing ever to the Source of light
And all perfection, lives, adores, and reigns
In cloudless knowledge, purity, and bliss!"

AUTHORITIES.

Delambre, Histoire de l'Astronomie; Arago, Histoire de l'Astronomie;
Life of Galileo, in Cabinet Library; Life of Galileo, by Brewster; Lives
of Galileo, by Italian and Spanish Literary Men; Whewell's History of
Inductive Sciences; Plurality of Worlds; Humboldt's Cosmos; Nichols'
Architecture of the Heavens; Chalmers' Astronomical Discourses; Life of
Kepler, Library of Useful Knowledge; Brewster's Life of Tycho Brahe, of
Kepler, and of Sir Isaac Newton; Mitchell's Stellar and Planetary
Worlds; Bradley's Correspondence; Airy's Reports; Voiron's History of
Astronomy; Philosophical Transactions; Everett's Oration on Galileo;
Life of Copernicus; Bayly's Astronomy; Encyclopaedia Britannica, Art.
_Astronomy_; Proctor's Lectures.

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