Counsellor of his Most Christian Majesty, Knight of the Order
of the Holy Ghost, Field Marshal and Commander,
Seneschal and Governor of Rouergue, and His
Majesty’s Lieutenant in Auvergne, my
Lord and Worshipful Patron
MOST ILLUSTRIOUS LORD:—
In the pleasure which you derive from the possession of this work of mine I recognize your Lordship’s magnanimity. The disappointment and discouragement I have felt over the ill-fortune which has followed my other books are already known to you. Indeed, I had decided not to publish any more of my work. And yet in order to save it from complete oblivion, it seemed to me wise to leave a manuscript copy in some place where it would be available at least to those who follow intelligently the subjects which I have treated. Accordingly I chose first to place my work in your Lordship’s hands, asking no more worthy depository, and believing that, on account of your affection for me, you would have at heart the preservation of my studies and labors. Therefore, when you were returning home from your mission to Rome, I came to pay my respects in person as I had already done many times before by letter. At this meeting I presented to your Lordship a copy of these two works which at that time I happened to have ready. In the gracious reception which you gave these I found assurance of their preservation. The fact of your carrying them to France and showing them to friends of yours who are skilled in these sciences gave evidence that my silence was not to be interpreted as complete idleness. A little later, just as I was on the point of sending other copies to Germany, Flanders, England, Spain and possibly to some places in Italy, I was notified by the Elzevirs that they had these works of mine in press and that I ought to decide upon a dedication and send them a reply at once. This sudden and unexpected news led me to think that the eagerness of your Lordship to revive and spread my name by passing these works on to various friends was the real cause of their falling into the hands of printers who, because they had already published other works of mine, now wished to honor me with a beautiful and ornate edition of this work. But these writings of mine must have received additional value from the criticism of so excellent a judge as your Lordship, who by the union of many virtues has won the admiration of all. Your desire to enlarge the renown of my work shows your unparalleled generosity and your zeal for the public welfare which you thought would thus be promoted. Under these circumstances it is eminently fitting that I should, in unmistakable terms, gratefully acknowledge this generosity on the part of your Lordship, who has given to my fame wings that have carried it into regions more distant than I had dared to hope. It is, therefore, proper that I dedicate to your Lordship this child of my brain. To this course I am constrained not only by the weight of obligation under which you have placed me, but also, if I may so speak, by the interest which I have in securing your Lordship as the defender of my reputation against adversaries who may attack it while I remain under your protection.
And now, advancing under your banner, I pay my respects to you by wishing that you may be rewarded for these kindnesses by the achievement of the highest happiness and greatness.
I am your Lordship’s
Most devoted Servant,
Arcetri, 6 March, 1638.
"I think with your friend that it has been
of late too much the mode to slight the
learning of the ancients."
Phil. Trans. 64, 445. (1774.)
After his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Roman Inquisition had banned publication of any work by Galileo, including any he might write in the future. After the failure of attempts to publish the work in France, Germany, or Poland, it was picked up by Lowys Elsevier in Leiden, The Netherlands, where the writ of the Inquisition was of little account.
The same three men as in the Dialogue carry on the discussion, but they have changed. Simplicio, in particular, is no longer the stubborn and rather dense Aristotelian; to some extent he represents the thinking of Galileo's early years, as Sagredo represents his middle period. Salviati remains the spokesman for Galileo.