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Such is the outline. It is not, however, the mere outline to which the Advancement of Learning is indebted for its ascendency. It includes a system minutely arranged and adorned with all the beauties of composition, the happiness of familiar illustration, the power of words, and the splendour of imagina
When speaking of the truth which is elicited from the pursuit of error, he says:
"Yet surely to alchemy this right is due, that it may be compared to the husbandman whereof Esop makes the fable; that, when be died, told his sons, that he had left unto them gold buried under ground in his vineyard; and they digged over all the ground, and gold they found none; but by reason of their stirring and digging the mould about the roots of their vines, they had a great vintage the year following: so assuredly the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature, as for the use of man's life."
When speaking of the proper ascendency of intellect, he
"The honest and just bounds of observation, by one person upon another, extend no farther, but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution, in respect of a man's self: but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him, or wind him, or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous."
When speaking of one of the advantages of learning, he
"Neither is certainly that other merit of learning, in repressing the inconveniences which grow from man to man, much inferiour to the former, of relieving the necessities which arise from nature, which merit was lively set forth by the ancients in that feigned relation of Orpheus's theatre, where all beasts and birds assembled, and, forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature : wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge; which as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained: but if these instruments be silent, or that sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion."
VOL. III. PART I.
And, when speaking of one of the errors of learning, he
"But the greatest errour of all the rest is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge: for men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to the benefit and use of man: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a terras, for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect, or a tower of state, for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground, for strife and contention; or a shop, for profit or sale, and not a rich storehouse, for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of man's estate."
Such is the extent of the outline, such the symmetry in the arrangement, such the beauty of the style. They have been, as Bacon foresaw they would be, causes, and only temporary causes, of the preference which has been given to the Advancement of Learning. He was too well acquainted with what he terms the idols of the mind, to be diverted from the truth either by the love of order or by the love of beauty. He knew the charms of theories and systems, and the necessity of adopting them to insure a favorable reception for abstruse works, but he was not misled by them. It did not require his sagacity to predict such observations as, two centuries after his death, have been made upon his classification by the philosophers of our times. The scaffolding which he raised may, without danger,
now be removed.
Professor Stewart, after various observations upon the arrangements of Bacon and D'Alembert, says, "If the foregoing strictures be well founded, it seems to follow, that not only the endeavours of Bacon and D'Alembert to classify the sciences and arts according to a logical division of our faculties, is altogether unsatisfactory, but that every future attempt of the same kind may be expected to be liable to similar objections."Bentham in his Chrestomathia, speaking of Bacon's arrangement, says, "Of the sketch given by D'Alembert the leading principles are, as he himself has been careful to declare, taken from that given by Lord Bacon. Had it been entirely his own, it would have been, beyond comparison, a better one. For the age of Bacon, Bacon's was a precocious and precious fruit of the union of learning with science for the age of D'Alembert, it will, it is believed, be found but a poor production, below the
author as well as the age."-The Chrestomathia then contains various objections to these systems of arrangement, and suggests another system which, perhaps, after the lapse of two more centuries, will share the same fate.
No man was, for his own sake, less attached to system or ornament than Lord Bacon. A plain, unadorned style in aphorisms, in which the Novum Organum is written, is, he invariably states, the proper style for philosophy. In the midst of his own arrangement, in the Advancement of Learning, he says:
"The worst and most absurd sort of triflers are those who have pent the whole art into strict methods and narrow systems, which men commonly cry up for the sake of their regularity and style."
In another part, he says:
"It is of great consequence to consider whether sciences should be delivered by way of aphorism or of method. For it is a thing worthy to be precisely noted, that it hath been often taken into custom, that men, out of a few axioms and observations upon any subject, have made a compleat and solemn art, filling it with some discourses of wit, illustrating it with examples, and knitting it together by some method. But that other way of delivery by aphorisms brings with it many advantages whereto delivery by method doth not approach. For first, it tries the writer whether he be superficial or solid in knowledge: for aphorisms, except they should be altogether ridiculous, cannot be made but out of the pyth and heart of sciences : for illustration and excussion are cut off; variety of examples is cut off; deduction and connexion are cut off; description of practice is cut off; so there remaineth nothing to fill the aphorisms, but a good quantity of observations. And therefore no man can suffice, nor in reason will attempt to write aphorisms, who is not copiously furnished and solidly grounded. But in methods,
Tantum series, juncturaque pollet:
As oftentimes they make a great shew of I know not what singular art, which if they were disjointed, separated, and laid open, would come to little or nothing. Secondly, methodical delivery is more fit to win consent or belief; but less fit to point to action; for they carry a shew of demonstration in orb or circle, one part illuminating another; and therefore do more satisfy the understanding; but being that actions in common course of life are dispersed, and not orderly digested, they do best agree with dispersed directions. Lastly, aphorisms representing certain portions only, and as it were fragments of sciences, invite others to contribute, and add something; whereas methodical delivery carrying shew of a total and perfect knowledge forthwith secureth men as if they were at the furthest."
"The Advancement of Learning is impeded by the over early and peremptory reduction of knowledge into arts and methods, which, once done, commonly sciences receive small or no augmentation. For as young men, when they knit and shape perfectly, do seldom grow to a further stature: so knowledge, whilst it is dispersed into aphorisms and observations, may grow and shoot up; but once entered and comprehended in methods, it may, perchance, be farther polished and fashioned and accommodated for use and practice, but increaseth no more in bulk and substance."
His opinion of the use of ornament for philosophical composition is of the same nature;
"The studying words and not matter is," he says, "so justly contemptible, that, as Hercules when he saw the image of Adonis, Venus's minion, in a temple, said, in disdain, nil sacri es: so there are none of Hercules's followers in learning, that is, the more severe and laborious sort of enquirers into truth, but will despise those delicacies and affectations as capable of no divineness. Indeed it seems to me, that Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem or portraiture of this vanity: for words are but the images of matter, and, except they have life of reason and invention, to fall in love with them is all one, as to fall in love with a picture. But yet, notwithstanding, it is a thing not hastily to be condemned, to clothe and adorn the obscurity, even of philosophy itself, with sensible and plausible elocution."
Such is the nature of this extraordinary work, which we quit with reluctance in the words of Bacon, who, when looking back at the conclusion of his labors, says:
"Thus have we made, as it were, a small globe of the intellectual world, as faithfully as we could, together with a designation and description of those parts which I find not constantly occupate, or not well converted by the industry and labours of men. In which work if I have any where receded from the opinion of the ancients, I desire that posterity would so judge of my intentions, as that this was done with a mind of further progression and proficience in melius; and not out of a humour of innovation or transmigration in aliud: for I could not be true and constant to myselfe, or the argument which I have in hand, if I had not resolvedly determined to adde to the inventions of others, so farre as I was able. And I am as willing, and as sincerely wish, that later ages may goe beyond me hereafter, as I have endeavoured to goe beyond others now. And how faithfully I have dealt in this businesse may appeare even by this, that I have propounded my opinions every where naked and unarmed, not seeking to prejudicate the liberty of others by the pugnacity of confutations. For in any thing which I have well set downe, I am in good hope that it will come so to passe, that if in the first reading a scruple or objection be moved, in the second reading an answer will be ready made; and in those things wherein I have chanc't to erre, I am sure I have not
prejudiced the right by litigious arguments, which commonly are of this nature, That they procure authority to error, and derogate from good inventions; for from dubitation error acquires honour, truth suffers repulse. And now I call to mind an answer Themistocles made, who, when an ambassador in a set speech had boasted great matters of a small village, takes him up thus, Friend, your words would require a citty. Surely I suppose it may be justly objected to me, that my words require an age, a whole age perchance to prove them, and many ages to perfect them. Notwithstanding, seeing the greatest matters are owing unto their principles, it is enough to me that I have sowen unto posterity and the immortall God, whose divine Majesty I humbly implore through his Son and our Saviour, that he would vouchsafe gratiously to accept these and such like sacrifices of humane understanding, seasoned with religion as with salt, and incensed to his glory."
Without any of the advantages of arrangement or ornament, the Novum Organum appeared "naked and unarmed" in the year 1620, when Bacon was Chancellor. It is written in aphorisms, and thus begins:
"1. Man, who is the servant and interpreter of nature, can act and understand no farther than he has, either in operation or in contemplation, observed of the method and order of nature,
"2, Neither the hand without instruments, nor the unassisted understanding, can do much; they both require helps to fit them for business and as instruments of the hand either serve to excite motion, or direct it; so the instruments of the mind either suggest to, or guard and preserve, the understanding."
In this style, without any appeal except to the understanding, he proceeds through the whole work: unless, indeed, in his Inquiries upon the grounds of hope for the further advancement of science, he may be considered as having deviated for a moment from the path which he had prescribed for his progress, It is when speaking of himself he says
"We judge also that mankind may conceive some hopes from our example, which we offer, not by way of ostentation, but because it may be useful. If any one, therefore, should despair, let him consider a man as much employed in civil affairs as any other of his agea man of no great share of health, who must therefore have lost much time; and yet, in this undertaking, he is the first that leads the way, unassisted by any mortal, and steadfastly entering the true path, that was absolutely untrod before, and submitting his mind to things, may somewhat have advanced the design."
Although the Novum Organum was published, it was not composed when Bacon was Chancellor. In his letter to the King, dated 12th October, 1621, he says, "There be two of