« PreviousContinue »
or learning have advanced greater numbers. And in case of sovereignty we see, that if arms or descent have carried away the kingdom, yet learning hath carried the priesthood, which ever hath been in some competition with empire.
Again, for the pleasure and delight of knowledge and learning, it far surpasseth all other in nature: for, shall the pleasures of the affections so exceed the pleasures of the senses, as much as the obtaining of desire or victory exceedeth a song or a dinner; and must not, of consequence, the pleasures of the intellect, or understanding, exceed the pleasures of the affections? We see in all other pleasures there is satiety, and after they be used, their verdure departeth; which sheweth well they be but deceits of pleasure, and not pleasures; and that it was the novelty which pleased, and not the quality; and therefore we see that voluptuous men turn friers, and ambitious princes turn melancholy. But of knowledge there is no satiety, but satisfaction and appetite are perpetually interchangeable; and therefore appeareth to be good in itself simply, without fallacy or accident. Neither is that pleasure of small efficacy and contentment to the mind of man, which the poet Lucretius describeth elegantly:
Suave mari magno, turbantibus æquora centis, etc. "It is a view of delight, saith he, to stand or walk "upon the shore side, and to see a ship tossed with "tempest upon the sea; or to be in a fortified tower, "and to see two battles join upon a plain; but it is a pleasure incomparable, for the mind of man to be settled, landed, and fortified in the certainty of "truth, and from thence to descry and behold the "errors, perturbations, labours, and wanderings up "and down of other men,"
Lastly, leaving the vulgar arguments, that by learning man excelleth man in that wherein man excelleth beasts; that by learning man ascendeth to the heavens and their motions, where in body he cannot come, and the like let us conclude with the dignity and excellency of knowledge and learning in that where
unto man's nature doth most aspire, which is, im mortality or continuance for to this tendeth generation, and raising of houses and families; to this tend buildings, foundations, and monuments; to this tendeth the desire of memory, fame, and celebration, and in effect the strength of all other human desires. We see then how far the monuments of wit and learning are more durable than the monuments of power, or of the hands. For have not the verses of Homer continued twenty-five hundred years, or more, without the loss of a syllable or letter; during which time, infinite palaces, temples, castles, cities, have been decayed and demolished? It is not possible to have the true pictures or statues of Cyrus, Alexander, Cæsar; no, nor of the kings or great personages of much later years; for the originals cannot last, and the copies cannot but lose of the life and truth. But the images of men's wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted from the wrong of time, and capable of perpetual renovation. Neither are they fitly to be called images, because they generate still, and cast their seeds in the minds of others, provoking and causing infinite actions and opinions in succeeding ages: so that, if the invention of the ship was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and commodities from place to place, and consociateth the most remote regions in participation of their fruits; how much more are letters to be magnified, which, as ships, pass through the vast seas of time, and make ages so distant to participate of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the one of the other? Nay farther, we see, some of the philosophers which were least divine, and most immersed in the senses, and denied generally the immortality of the soul; yet came to this point, that whatsoever motions the spirit of man could act and perform without the organs of the body, they thought, might remain after death, which were only those of the understanding, and not of the affections; so immortal and incorruptible a thing did knowledge seem unto them to be. But we, that know by divine revelation,
that not only the understanding, but the affections purified; not only the spirit, but the body changed, shall be advanced to immortality, do disclaim these rudiments of the senses. But it must be remembered both in this last point, and so it may likewise be needful in other places, that in probation of the dignity of knowledge or learning, I did in the beginning separate divine testimony from human, which method I have pursued, and so handled them both apart.
Nevertheless I do not pretend, and I know it will be impossible for me, by any pleading of mine, to reverse the judgment, either of Æsop's cock, that preferred the barley-corn before the gem; or of Midas, that being chosen judge between Apollo, president of the Muses, and Pan, god of the flocks, judged for plenty; or of Paris, that judged for beauty and love, against wisdom and power; or of Agrippina, occidat matrem modo imperet, that preferred empire with any condition never so detestable; or of Ulysses, qui vetulam prætulit immortalitati, being a figure of those which prefer custom and habit before all excellency; or of a number of the like popular judgments. For these things must continue as they have been but so will that also continue, whereupon learning hath ever relied, and which faileth not: justificata est Sapientia a filiis suis.
FRANCIS BACON :
PROFICIENCE AND ADVANCEMENT OF
DIVINE AND HUMAN.
To the king.
IT might seem to have more convenience, though it come often otherwise to pass, excellent king, that those, which are fruitful in their generations, and have in themselves the foresight of immortality in their descendents, should likewise be more careful of the good estate of future times, unto which, they know, they must transmit and commend over their dearest pledges. Queen Elizabeth was a sojourner in the world, in respect of her unmarried life, and was a blessing to her own times; and yet so as the impression of her good government, besides her happy memory, is not without some effect which doth survive her. But to your majesty, whom God hath already blessed with so much royal issue, worthy to continue and represent you for ever; and whose youthful and fruitful bed doth yet promise many the like renovations; it is proper and agreeable to be conversant, not only in the transitory parts of good government, but in those acts also which are in their nature permanent and perpetual: amongst the which, if affection do not transport me, there is not any more worthy, than the farther endowment of the world with sound and fruitful knowledge. For why should
a few received authors stand up like Hercules's columns; beyond which there should be no sailing or discovering, since we have so bright and benign a star as your majesty, to conduct and prosper us? To return therefore where we left, it remaineth, to consider of what kind those acts are, which have been undertaken and performed by kings and others, for the increase and advancement of learning: wherein I purpose to speak actively, without digressing or dilating.
Let this ground therefore be laid, that all works are overcome by amplitude of reward, by soundness of direction, and by the conjunction of labours. The first multiplieth endeavour, the second preventeth error, and the third supplieth the frailty of man; but the principal of these is direction: for claudus in via antevertit cursorem extra viam ; and Solomon excellently setteth it down, If the iron be not sharp, it requireth more strength; but wisdom is that which prevaileth: signifying, that the invention or election of the mean is more effectual than any inforcement or accumulation of endeavours. This I am induced to speak, for that, not derogating from the noble intention of any that have been deservers towards the state of learning, I do observe, nevertheless, that their works and acts are rather matters of magnificence and memory, than of progression and proficience, and tend rather to augment the mass of learning, in the multitude of learned men, then to rectify or raise the sciences themselves.
The works or acts of merit towards learning are conversant about three objects: the places of learning, the books of learning, and the persons of the learned. For as water, whether it be the dew of heaven, or the springs of the earth, doth scatter and lose itself in the ground, except it be collected into some receptacle, where it may by union comfort and sustain itself, and for that cause the industry of man hath made and framed spring-heads, conduits, cisterns, and pools, which men have accustomed likewise to beautify and adorn with accomplishments of magnificence and state, as well as of use and necessity; to this excel