Page images

in retribution, and more according to revealed providence: because true history representeth actions and events more ordinary, and less interchanged, therefore poesy endueth them with more rareness, and more unexpected and alternative variations: so as it appeareth that, poesy serveth and conferreth to magnanimity, morality and to delectation. And therefore it was ever thought to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise and erect the mind, by submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bow the mind unto the nature of things. And we see, that by these insinuations and congruities with man's nature and pleasure, joined also with the agreement and consort it hath with music, it hath had access and estimation in rude times and barbarous regions, where other learning stood excluded.

The division of poesy which is aptest in the propriety thereof (besides those divisions which are common unto it with history, as feigned chronicles, feigned lives, and the appendices of history, as feigned epistles, feigned orations, and the rest) is into Poesy Narrative, Representative, and Allusive.

The Narrative is a mere imitation of history, with the excesses before remembered; choosing for subject commonly wars and

love, rarely state, and sometimes pleasure or mirth.

Representative is as a visible history; and is an image of actions as if they were present, as history is of actions in nature as they are that is past.

Allusive or parabolical is a narration applied only to express some special purpose or conceit: which latter kind of parabolical wisdom was much more in use in the ancient times, as by the fables of Esop, and the brief sentences of the Seven, and the use of hieroglyphics, may appear. And the cause was, for that it was then of necessity to express any point of reason, which was more sharp or subtile than the vulgar in that manner; because men in those times wanted both variety of examples and subtilty of conceit: and as hieroglyphics were before letters, so parables were before arguments and nevertheless now, and at all times, they do retain much life and vigour; because reason cannot be so sensible, nor examples so fit.


But there remaineth yet another use of poesy parabolical, opposite to that which we last mentioned: for that tendeth to demonstrate and illustrate that which is taught or delivered, and this other to retire and obscure it: that is, when the secrets and mysteries of

religion, policy, or philosophy, are involved in fables or parables. Of this in divine poesy we see the use is authorised. In heathen poesy we see the exposition of fables doth fall out sometimes with great felicity; as in the fable that the giants being overthrown in their war against the gods, the Earth their mother, in revenge thereof, brought forth Fame,

"Illam Terra parens, irâ irritata deorum, Extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Ence ladoque


Progenuit." 1

expounded, that when Princes aud Monarchs have suppressed actual and open rebels, then the malignity of the people, which is the mother of rebellion, doth bring forth libels and slanders, and taxations of the state, which is of the same kind with rebellion, but more feminine. So in the fable, that the rest of the gods having conspired to bind Jupiter, Pallas called Briareus with his hundred hands to his aid, expounded, that monarchies need not fear any curbing of their absoluteness by mighty subjects, as long as by wisdom they keep the hearts of the people, who will be sure to come in on their side. So in the fable, that Achilles was brought up under Chiron the Centuar, who was part a man and part a beast, expounded ingeniously, but corruptly, by Machiavel, that it belongeth to the education and discipline of princes to know as well how to play the part of the lion in violence, and the fox in guile, as of the man in virtue and justice. Nevertheless, in many the like encounters, I do rather think that the fable was first, and the exposition then devised, than that the moral was first, and hereupon the fable framed. For I find it was an ancient vanity in Chrysippus, that troubled himself with great contention to fasten the assertions of the Stoics upon the fictions of the ancient poets; but yet that all the fables and fictions of the poets were but pleasure and not figure, I interpose no opinion. Surely of those poets which are now extant, even Homer himself, (notwithstanding he was made a kind of Scripture by the latter schools of the Grecians,) yet I should without any difficulty pronounce that his fables had no such inwardness in his own meaning; but

1 Enrag'd against the gods, revengeful earth Produc'd her last of the Titanian birth.

what they might have upon a more original tradition is not easy to affirm, for he was not the inventor of many of them.

In this third part of learning, which is poesy, I can report no deficience. For being as a plant that cometh of the lust of the earth, without a formal seed, it hath sprung up and spread abroad more than any other kind: but to ascribe unto it that which is due, for the expressing of affections, passions, corruptions, and customs, we are beholding to poets more than to the philosophers' works; and for wit and eloquence, not much less than to orators' harangues. But it is not good to stay too long in the theatre. Let us now pass on to the judicial place or palace of the mind, which we are to approach and view with more reverence and attention.

The knowledge of man is as the waters, some descending from above, and some springing from beneath; the one informed by the light of nature, the other inspired by divine revelation. The light of nature consisteth in the notions of the mind and the reports of the senses for as for knowledge which man receiveth by teaching, it is cumulative and not original; as in a water that, besides his own spring-head, is fed with other springs and streams. So then according to these two differing illuminations or originals, knowledge is first of all divided into Divinity and Philosophy.

In Philosophy the contemplations of man do either penetrate unto God, or are circumferred to nature, or are reflected or reverted upon himself. Out of which several inquiries there do arise three knowledges, Divine philosophy, Natural philosophy, and Human philosophy or Humanity. For all things are marked and stamped with this triple character of the power of God, the difference of nature, and the use of man. But because the distributions and partitions of knowledge are not like several lines that meet in one angle, and so touch but in a point; but are like branches of a tree, that meet in a stem, which hath a dimension and quantity of entireness and continuance, before it come to discontinue and break itself into arms and boughs: therefore it is good, before we enter into the former distribution, to erect and constitute one universal science, by the name of " Philosophia Prima," primitive or summary philosophy, as the main

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

and common way, before we come where the ways part and divide themselves; which science, whether I should report as deficient or not, I stand doubtful. For I find a certain rhapsody of natural theology, and of divers parts of logic; and of that part of natural philosophy which concerneth the principles; and of that other part of natural philosophy which concerneth the soul or spirit: all these strangely commixed and confused; but being examined, it seemeth to me rather a depredation of other sciences, advanced and exalted unto some height of terms, than anything solid or substantive of itself. Nevertheless I cannot be ignorant of the distinction which is current, that the same things are handled but in several respects. As for example, that logic considereth of many things as they are in notion, and this philosophy as they are in nature; the one in appearance, the other in existence; but I find this difference better made than pursued. For if they had considered quantity, similitude, diversity, and the rest of those external characters of things, as philosophers, and in nature, their inquiries must of force have been of a far other kind than they


For doth any of them, in handling quantity, speak of the force of union, how and how far it multiplieth virtue? Doth any give the reason, why some things in nature are so common, and in so great mass, and others so rare, and in so small quantity? Doth any, in handling similitude and diversity, assign the cause why iron should not move to iron, which is more like, but move to the loadstone, which is less like? Why in all diversities of things there should be certain participles in nature, which are almost ambiguous to which kind they should be referred? But there is a mere and deep silence touching the nature and operation of those common adjuncts of things, as in nature: and only a resuming and repeating of the force and use of them in speech or argument. Therefore, because in a writing of this nature I avoid all subtilty, my meaning touching this original or universal philosophy is thus, in a plain and gross description by negative: "That it be a receptacle for all such profitable observations and axioms as fall not within the compass of any of the special parts of philosophy or sciences, but are more common and of a higher stage.'

Now that there are many of that kind, need not to be doubted. For example: is not the rule, “Si inæqualibus æqualia addas, omnia erunt inæqualia,` ་་། an axiom as well of justice as of the mathematics? And is there not a true coincidence between commutative and distributive justice, and arithmetical and geometrical proportion? Is not that other rule, "Quæ in eodem tertio conveniunt, et inter se conveniunt," a rule taken from the mathematics, but so potent in logic as all syllogisms are built upon it? Is not the observation, "Omnia mutantur, nil interit, "3 a contemplation, in philosophy thus, that the quantum of nature is eternal? in natural theology thus, that it requireth the same omnipotence to make somewhat nothing, which at the first made nothing somewhat? according to the scripture, "Didici quòd omnia opera, quæ fecit Deus, perseverent in perpetuum; non possumus eis quicquam addere nec auferre."4 Is not the ground which Machiavel wisely and largely discourseth concerning governments, that the way to establish and preserve them, is to reduce them "ad principia,"5 a rule in religion and nature, as well as in civil administration? Was not the Persian magic a reduction or correspondence of the principles and architectures of nature to the rules and policy of governments? Is not the precept of a musician, to fall from a discord or harsh accord upon a concord or sweet accord, alike true in affection? Is not the trope of music, to avoid or slide from the close or cadence, common with the trope of rhetoric of deceiving expectation? Is not the delight of the quavering upon a stop in music the same with the playing of light upon the water?

"Splendet tremulo sub lumine pontus." G Are not the organs of the senses of one kind with the organs of reflection, the eye with a

1 If equals be added to unequals, the wholes will be unequal.

2 Things which agree with one and the same third, or middle term, agree with each other.

3 All things are changed; nothing perishes.

4 I have learned that all the works which God has made endure for ever; we cannot either add to them or take away.

5 To principles.

6 The sea resplendent with the trembling light."

glass, the ear with a cave or strait determined and bounded? Neither are these only similitudes, as men of narrow observation may conceive them to be, but the same footsteps of nature, treading or printing upon several subjects or matters. This science, therefore, as I understand it, I may justly report as deficient: for I see sometimes the profounder sort of wits, in handling some particular argument, will now and then draw a bucket of water out of this well for their present use; but the spring-head thereof seemeth to me not to have been visited: being of so excellent use, both for the disclosing of nature, and the abridgment of art.

This science being therefore first placed as a common parent like unto Berecynthia,7 which had so much heavenly issue,

"Omnes cœlicolas, omnes super alta tenentes :"8

we may return to the former distribution of the three philosophies, divine, natural, and human,

And as concerning Divine Philosophy or Natural Theology, it is that knowledge or rudiment of knowledge concerning God, which may be obtained by the contemplation of his creatures; which knowledge may be truly termed divine in respect of the object, and natural in respect of the light. The bounds of this knowledge are, that it sufficeth to convince atheism, but not to inform religion and therefore there was never miracle wrought by God to convert an atheist, because the light of nature might have led him to confess a God: but miracles have been wrought to convert idolaters and the superstitious, because no light of nature extendeth to declare the will and true worship of God. For as all works do show forth the power and skill of the workman, and not his image; so it is of the works of God, which do show the omnipotency and wisdom of the maker, but not his image: and therefore therein the heathen opinion differeth from the sacred truth; for they supposed the world to be the image of God, and man to be an extract or compendious image of the world; but the Scriptures never vouchsafe to attribute

7 Cybele, fabled to be the mother of the Gods. 8 "All the divinities who rule in Heaven."

to the world that honour, as to be the image of God, but only the work of his hands; neither do they speak of any other image of God, but man: wherefore by the contemplation of nature to induce and enforce the acknowledgment of God, and to demonstrate his power, providence, and goodness, is an excellent argument, and hath been excellently handled by divers.

But on the other side, out of the contemplation of nature, or ground of human knowledge, to induce any verity or persuasion concerning the points of faith, is in my judgment not safe: "Da fidei quæ fidei sunt," For the heathens themselves conclude as much in that excellent and divine fable of the golden chain: "That men and gods were not able to draw Jupiter down to the earth; but, contrariwise, Jupiter was able to draw them up to heaven."

So as we ought not to attempt to draw down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason; but contrariwise to raise and advance our reason to the divine truth. So as in this part of knowledge, touching divine philosophy, I am so far from noting any deficience, as rather note an excess; whereunto I have digressed; because of the extreme prejudice which both religion and philosophy have received and may receive, by being commixed together; as that which undoubtedly will make an heretical religion, and an imaginary and fabulous philosophy.

Otherwise it is of the nature of angels and spirits, which is an appendix of theology, both divine and natural, and is neither inscrutable nor interdicted; for, although the Scripture saith, "Let no man deceive you in sublime discourse touching the worship of angels, pressing into that he knoweth not," &c.; yet, notwithstanding, if you observe well that precept, it may appear thereby that there be two things only forbidden, adoration of them, and opinion fantastical of them, either to extol them farther than appertaineth to the degree of a creature, or to extol a man's knowledge of them farther than he hath ground. But the sober and grounded inquiry which may arise out of the passages of holy Scriptures, or out of the gradations of

1 Give to faith what belongs to faith.

nature, is not restrained. So of degenerate and revolted spirits, the conversing with them or the employment of them is prohibited, much more any veneration towards them but the contemplation or science of their nature, their power, their illusions, either by Scripture or reason, is a part of spiritual wisdom. For so the apostle saith, "We are not ignorant of his stratagems." And it is no more unlawful to inquire the nature of evil spirits than to inquire the force of poisons in nature, or the nature of sin and vice in morality. But this part touching angels and spirits I cannot note as deficient, for many have occupied themselves in it; I may rather challenge it, in many of the writers thereof, as fabulous and fantastical.

Leaving therefore divine philosophy or natural theology (not divinity or inspired theology, which we reserve for the last of all, as the haven and sabbath of all man's contemplations) we will now proceed to Natural Philosophy.

If then it be true that Democritus said, "That the truth of nature lieth hid in certain deep mines and caves:" and if it be true likewise that the alchemists do so much inculcate, that Vulcan is a second nature, and imitateth that dexterously and compendiously, which nature worketh by ambages and length of time, it were good to divide natural philosophy into the mine and the furnace; and to make two professions or occupations of natural philosophers, some to be pioneers and some smiths; some to dig, and some to refine and hammer: and surely I do best allow of a division of that kind, though in more familiar and scholastical terms; namely, that these be the two parts of natural philosophy,-the inquisition of causes, and the production of effects, speculative and operative; natural science and natural prudence. For as in civil matters there is a wisdom of discourse and a wisdom of direction, so is it in natural. And here I will make a request, that for the latter, or, at least, for a part thereof, I may revive and reintegrate the misapplied and abused name of Natural Magic; which, in the true sense, is but natural wisdom or natural prudence; taken according to the ancient acceptation, purged from vanity and superstition. Now, although it be true, and

« PreviousContinue »