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as if the thing that they sought had been by prevention surprised by others.
So it fared in particular with the eloquence of that age, that when their successors found that hardly they could equal, by no means excel their predecessors, they began to neglect the study thereof, and both to write and speak for many hundred years in a rustical manner; till this latter revolution brought the wheel about again, by inflaming gallant spirits to give the onset afresh, with straining and striving to climb unto the top and height of perfection, not in that gift only, but in every other skill in any part of learning.
For I do not hold it an erroneous conceit to think of every science, that as now they are professed, so they have been before in all precedent ages, though not alike in all places, nor at all times alike in one and the same place, but according to the changings and twinings of times, with a more exact and plain, or with a more rude and obscure kind of teaching.
And if the question should be asked, what proof I have of it, I have the doctrine of Aristotle, and of the deepest learned clerks, of whom we have any means to take any notice, that as there is of other things, so there is of sciences ortus et interitus, which is also the meaning, if I should expound it, of nihil novum sub sole, and is as well to be applied ad facta, as ad dicta, ut nihil neque dictum neque factum, quod non est dictum et factum prius. I have farther for my warrant that famous complaint of Solomon to his son against the infinite making of books in his time, of which in all congruity it must needs be understood, that a great part were observations and instructions in all kind of literature: and of those there is not now so much as one petty pamphlet, only some parts of the bible excepted, remaining to posterity.
As then there was not, in like manner, any footing to be found of millions of authors that were long before Solomon, and yet we must give credit to that which he affirmed, that whatsoever was then, or had been before, it could never be truly pronounced of it, Behold this is new.
Whereupon I must for my final conclusion infer,
seeing all the endeavours, study and knowledge of mankind, in whatsoever art or science, have ever been the same, as they are at this present, though full of mutabilities, according to the changes and accidental occasions of ages and countries, and clerks dispositions, which can never be but subject to intention and remise sion, both in their devices and practices of their knowledge: if now we should accord in opinion with you, First, to condemn our present knowledge of doubts and incertitudes, which you confirm but by averment, without other force of argument: And then to disclaim all our axioms and maxims, and general assertions that are left by tradition from our elders to us, which, for so it is to be pretended, have passed all probations of the sharpest wits that ever were: And lastly, to devise, being now become again as it were abecedarii, by the frequent spelling of particulars to come to the notice of the true generals, and so afresh to create new principles of sciences: the end of all would be that, when we shall be dispossessed of the learning which we have, all our consequent travels will but help us in a circle to conduct us to the place from whence we set forward, and bring us to the happiness to be restored in integrum: which will require as many ages as have marched before us, to be perfectly achieved.
And this I write with no dislike of increasing our knowledge with new-found devices, which is undoubtedly a practice of high commendation, in regard of the benefit they will yield for the present; that the world hath ever been, and will assuredly for ever continue very full of such devisors, whose industry hath been very obstinate and eminent that way, and hath produced strange effects, above the reach and the hope of mens common capacities; and yet our notions and theorems have always kept in grace both with them, and with the rarest that ever were named among the learned.
By this you see to what boldness I am brought by your kindness, that if I seem to be too saucy in this contradiction, it is the opinion that I hold of your noble disposition, and of the freedom in these cases that you will afford your special friend, that hath induced me to do it. And although I myself, like a carrier's horse,
cannot balk the beaten way in which I have been trained, yet such is my censure of your Cogitata, that I must tell you, to be plain, you have very much wronged yourself and the world, to smother such a treasure so long in your coffer; for though I stand well assured, for the tenor and subject of your main discourse, you are not able to impannel a substantial jury in any university that will give up a verdict to acquit you of error, yet it cannot be gainsaid, but all your treatise over doth abound with choice conceits of the present state of learning, and with so worthy contemplations of the means to procure it, as may persuade any student to look more narrowly to his business, not only by aspiring to the greatest perfection of that which is now-a-days divulged in the sciences, but by diving yet deeper into, as it were, the bowels and secrets of nature, and by enforcing of the powers of his judgment and wit, to learn of St. Paul, consectari meliora dona: which course, would to God, to whisper so much in your ear, you had followed at the first, when you fell into the study of such a study as was not worthy such a student. Nevertheless being so as it 'is, that you are therein settled, and your country soundly served, I cannot but wish with all my heart, as I do very often, that you may gain a fit reward to the full of your deserts, which I hope will come with heaps of happiness and honour.
Yours to be used and commanded,
ONE kind of boldness doth draw on another, insomuch as, methinks I should offend not to signify, that before the transcript of your book be fitted for the press, it will be requisite for you to cast a censor's eye upon the stile and the elocution; which in the framing of some periods, and in divers words and phrases, will hardly go for current, if the copy brought to me be just the same that you would publish.
Rawley's XCIX. To Mr. MATTHEW, upon sending to him a part of Instauratio Magna.
I PLAINLY perceive by your affectionate writing touching my work, that one and the same thing affecteth us both; which is, the good end to which it is dedicated; for as to any ability of mine, it cannot merit that degree of approbation. For your caution for church-men and church-matters, as for any impediment it might be to the applause and celebrity of my work, it moveth me not; but as it may hinder the fruit and good which may come of a quiet and calm passage to the good port to which it is bound, I hold it a just respect; so as to fetch a fair wind I go not too far about. But the truth is, that I at all have no occasion to meet them in my way; except it be as they will needs confederate themselves with Aristotle, who, you know, is intemperately magnified by the schoolmen; and is also allied, as I take it, to the jesuits, by Faber, who was a companion of Loyola, and a great Aristotelian.. I send you at this time the only part which hath any harshness; and yet I framed to myself an opinion, that whosoever allowed well of that preface, which you so much commend, will not dislike, or at least ought not to dislike, this other speech of preparation; for it is written out of the same spirit, and out of the same necessity: nay, it doth more fully lay open, that the question between me and the ancients, is not of the virtue of the race, but of the rightness of the way. And to speak truth, it is to the other but as palma to pugnus, part of the same thing more large. You conceive aright, that in this, and the other, you have commission to impart and communicate them to others according to your discretion. Other matters I write not of. Myself am like the miller of Granchester, that was wont to pray for peace amongst the willows; for while the winds blew, the windmills wrought, and the water-mill was less customed. So I see that controversies of religion must
binder the advancement of sciences. Let me conclude with my perpetual wish towards yourself, that the approbation of yourself, by your own discreet and temperate carriage, may restore you to your country, and your friends to your society. And so I commend you to God's goodness.
I THANK you for your last, and pray you to believe, that your liberty in giving opinion of those writings which I sent you, is that which I sought, which I expected, and which I take in exceeding good part; so good as that it makes me recontinue, or rather continue my hearty wishes of your company here, that so you might use the same liberty concerning my actions, which now you exercise concerning my writings. For that of queen Elizabeth, your judgment of the temper and truth of that part, which concerns some of her foreign proceedings, concurs fully with the judgment of others, to whom I have communicated part of it; and as things go, I suppose they are likely to be more and more justified and allowed. And whereas you say, for some other part, that it moves and opens a fair occasion, and broad way, into some field of contradiction: on the other side it is written to me from the lieger* at *SirGeorge Paris, and some others also, that it carries a manifest impression of truth with it, and that it even convinces as it grows. These are their very words; which I write not for mine own glory, but to shew what variety of opinion rises from the disposition of several readers. And I must confess my desire to be, that my writings should not court the present time, or some few places, in such sort as might make them either less general to persons, or less permanent in future ages. As to the Instauration, your so full approbation thereof I read with much comfort, by how much more my heart is upon it; and by how much less I expected consent and concurrence in a matter so obscure. Of this I can assure you, that though