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mentation, there was no hope of greater advancement and progress, but in the total restoration of the sciences; and he accordingly proposed to erect a natural history which should differ as much from that in vogue, as his logic; in the end, or office; in the mass, or congeries ; in subtlety ; in the selection and arrangement. The office of his natural history was to afford light to invention; as for the congeries of it, his compilation was to embrace a history of nature “ vexed by art,” as well as free and unrestrained; for the subtlety, he was to project those experiments which, though not of independent value, should have the same reference to things and works as the letters of the alphabet have to speech, and words; and his selection of reports and experiments, he was to neglect fables and vanities, and exhibit the manner of conducting his inquiries, so that proofs may be examined ; and to dis
; perse monitions, and samples, and conjectures, that every thing fantastic may be exposed and abjured ; and thus secure an access unto nature, and present solid, prepared matter for the understanding. The result of Bacon's own researches under this division, appears in the Sylva Sylvarum, published after his death, and consisting of a collection of ten centuries (or one thousand) experiments, many of which are very curious, though hy no means coming up to the high mark of his own theory. But it was “a royal work, requiring the purse of a prince, and the assistance of a people,” the work of many, and the work of ages, and not to be looked for at the hands of any single individual.
Part fourth, or Scala Intellectus, appears to have been designed for a special illustration of the rules and directions of the Novum Organum, for building up a sound philosophy by means of particular histories, framed out of the Phænomena Universi. The Scala Intellectus was to be applied to the Phænomena Universi, or (to use the other figurative titles of the third and fourth portions of the work) the Filum Labyrinthi was to be the clue of the Sylva Sylvarum. The author never published any thing with a view to supply the fourth part, but he probably meant by the “ ladder of the understanding,” an exposition of the mental process of invention itself, by illustrating the steps and progress of the mind in ascending from particular to general truths, from phenomena to axioms; in fact it would have been a treatise of mental philosophy, and thus Mr. Locke might have been anticipated.
Part fifth, Prodromi, sive Anticipationes Secundæ Philosophie, was to have been the forerunners, the anticipations, or in other words, an introduction to the sixth part, or the secondary philosophy; and would have consisted, we presume, for it is by no means clear, of probable, but not grounded observations, casual experiments, and supposed facts, which, though the certitude be not settled, and they are merely the result of vulgar demonstrations, may nevertheless have a great share of truth and utility.
The sixth and last part of the work, Philosophia Secunda, sive Scientia Activa, was to be the grand result of all the rest ; the philosophy educed and constituted out of such a legitimate, pure, and strict inquiry as that already recommended and prepared ; a consummation which he confesses to be far above his strength, and beyond his hopes, but towards which he is confident he had made a beginning. The conclusion of this extraordinary programme is wonderfully fine, and as a passage, a burst of eloquence, the noblest ever penned by one who has penned the noblest. He finds his way direct to men's business and bosoms, by telling them that it was not mere contemplative felicity which was concerned in this matter, but their affairs, their fortunes, their power over works. He repeats his own immortal axiom, Homo naturæ minister et interpres, an axiom which it became the loftiest of men to pronounce; and after speaking, with power and high authority, to his fellow-men, as an interpreter, he humbly supplicates from above, as their representative, “ the largess of new alms to mankind.”
The first part of the Instauration, according to this Distribution, nainely, the Partitiones Scientiarum, is supplied by the Advancement of Learning, which was published in 1609, and translated, for the purpose of occupying this position, in 1624, with “ great and ample
additions.” The two books of the one were extended to nine. It is rather remarkable that the first of the philosophical works of such an author should also have been the last ; or rather that, after so considerable a lapse of time, such a man should have found that his first work would suffice in substance, and with a few formal alterations, for a basis of his “ Great Work.” As the first book of the one is almost a literal translation of the first book of the other, we shall take the English in preference to the Latin, in this account of the work.
The title itself explains the design of the work, De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum. The dignity of learning is asserted in the first part and the first book, and the remaining books are devoted to its advancement.
Before we examine either of these divisions, let us look at the dedication of it to King James, which is properly put as a part (and though but a page, it is no mean part) of the work. Its composition is beautiful. Flattery the most fulsome is presented with such grace, as to confer a dignity upon his very prostration; the writer is greater than the king. As the form of these things is a matter of taste, and there is no standard, mere conformity with the manner of an age should not be confounded with sycophancy. The puffs of Elizabeth and James please every one, and deceive nobody. Who thinks the less of Spencer, Raleigh, or Shakspeare for their over-wrought compliments ? Surely then it is sheer invidiousness to call Bacon a prodigy of obsequiousness. His compliments are a mixture
a of ingenuousness with ingenuity, of lofty bearing and generous obeisance, of mental grandeur with feudal homage. There was nothing of the literateur about the gigantic race to which he belonged,-it was reserved for the degenerate creatures of a more hollow period to bespeak fees for their servility, and huckster for their praise. Our author was sufficiently aware of the value of his performance; and who does not sympathize with the philosopher, as his great initiative work advanced, as to the party who was to be selected for the forthcoming honour? Great had been his anxieties, travels, and straits; but as the new reign opened upon his assiduous anticipation, the prize of civil, and the guerdon of literary, honour glittered within his reach. James was more of a scholar than king; and this “ conjunction ” determined his choice. He declares against dedications, but cunningly slips in a very complimentary exception.
« Neither is the modern dedications of books and writings, as to patrons, to be commended : for that books such as are worthy the name of books, ought to have no patrons but truth and reason. And the ancient custom was, to dedicate them only to private and equal friends, or to entitle the books with their names ; or if to kings and great persons, it was to some such as the argument of the book was fit and proper for.” When Bacon determined to present this “ free-will offering” to his Majesty, we have observed that he tendered his oblation with superlative eloquence and address. Without antiepating his pleasure who enters upon this high work for the first time, we may be permitted to quote a part of the concluding sentence, or rather strain, upon the king's learning “ in all literature and erudition, divine and human." • For it seemeth much in a king if, by the compendious extractions of other men's wits and labours, he can take hold of any superficial ornaments and shows of learning, or if he countenance and prefer learning and learned men: but to drink indeed of the true fountains of learning, nay, to have such a fountain of learning in himself, in a king, and in a king born, is almost a miracle. And the more, because there is met in your Majesty a rare conjunction, as well of divine and sacred literature, as of profane and human; so as your Majesty standeth invested of that triplicity which in great veneration was ascribed to the ancient Hermes: the power and fortune of a king, the knowledge and illumination of a priest, and the learning and universality of a philosopher.” But all this sounding adulation was evidently intended to set off and illustrate the solid compliment which the servant was paying to his royal master. “This propriety inherent, and individual attribute in your Majesty, deserveth to be expressed,
not only in the fame and admiration of the present time, nor in the history or tradition of the ages succeeding; but also in some solid work, fixed memorial, and immortal monument, bearing a character or signature, both of the power of a king, and the difference and perfection of such a king.” And therefore he sends this treatise as “ tending to that end."
The age of Bacon has generally been styled the learned age, and yet our author felt himself called upon to vindicate its dignity! But that learning was absolutely confined (so far as it gives the name to that age) to a knowledge of the Greek and Latin authors; it was a learning acquired in a very different spirit from that in which it was originally promulged ; it was, therefore, a jealous learning, and Bacon, though a perfect master of it himself, was about to become in some respects its impugner. He therefore maintained and asserted, with great force and unparalleled richness of diction, the dignity of learning. But he so asserted it, as to show the most rigid devotees of antiquity, while he captivated them by the variety and splendour of his vindication, that “there were more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in their philosophy.”
The first book, therefore, maintains “the excellency of learning and knowledge.” This may seem, now-a-days, to be a needless expenditure of time and trouble, but it was a triumphant effort then, and there has not been any thing equal to it since. The examination of our early impressions and fundamental notions, is a useful, but a most difficult procedure, as any one who has tried to think or write continuously on things taken for granted, will at once acknowledge. In this discourse, therefore, on learning itself, the modern scholar will find set forth, with logical precision and consummate clearness, facts and principles of permanent value in relation to it.
The discredits and disgraces which learning has received from ignorance, “but ignorance severally disguised,” are first considered : these include the objections to learning, “ appearing sometimes in the zeal and jealousy of divines, sometimes in the severity and arrogancy of politicians, and sometimes in the errors and imperfections of learned men." Divines allege, “that the aspiring to overmuch knowledge was the original temptation and sin, whereupon ensued the fall of man ; that knowledge hath in it somewhat of the serpent, and therefore when it entereth into a man, it maketh him swell; that Solomon gives a censure, " that there is no end of making books, and that much
study is a weariness of the flesh;" and that “in spacious knowledge there is much contristation, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth anxiety;” that St. Paul gives a caveat, “ that we be not spoiled through vain philosophy;" that experience demonstrates how learned men have been arch-heretics, how learned times have been inclined to atheism, and how the contemplation of second causes doth derogate from our dependence upon God, who is the first cause. It cannot be denied that the objections of divines are not fairly stated; and they are objections which the reader will hear at present, uttered by some of them in high and low places, at the mystic shrine, and the cloudy coterie, and in the broad world. We have no space for the “reprehension" of this fallax, but it would be a good exercise for the student, who may be startled with them, to try to answer them himself, before turning to our author.
The objections of politicians are stated with equal fairness, and answered with equal success : “ That learning doth soften men's minds, and makes them more unapt for the honour and exercise of arms; that it doth mar and pervert men’s dispositions for matter of government and policy, in making them too curious and irresolute by variety of reading, or too peremptory or positive by strictness of rules and axioms, or too immoderate and overweening by reason of the greatness of examples, or too incompatible and differing from the times by reason of the dissimilitude of examples; or at least that it doth divert men's travels from action and business, and bringeth them to a love of leisure and privateness; and that it doth bring into states a relaxation of discipline, whilst every man is more ready to argue than to obey and execute.” Here again are enumerated and most fairly set forth,
all the objections of the politicians—we yet hear of them from them, and they are yet used and acted on. Let Bacon furnish the reply, and the objectors, wherever ensconced, must fall with their objections.
The " discredits,” from “the errors and imperfections of learned men themselves," are next considered. Those which may arise from their fortune, or condition, such as scarcity of means, privateness of life, and meanness of employments, or from their manners, are soon disposed of.
The “vanities” which have been mixed up with their studies, at least such as fall under a “popular observation,” are next animadverted upon: and vanities in studies are declared to be chiefly of three sorts ; the fantastical, the contentious, the delicate learning ; vain imaginations, vain altercations, and vain affectations. The accounts of the “first distemper of learning, when men study words and not matter ;” of the second, when they follow speculations of “unprofitable subtility or curiosity;" and of the third,“ delight in deceiving, and aptness to be deceived,” are replete with the soundest observations. Having “gone over these three diseases of learning,” he notices briefly, but with the finest touch, "some other rather peccant humours than formed diseases, which nevertheless are not so secret and intrinsic, but that they fall under a popular observation and traducement :” such as an affectation of antiquity or novelty, diffidence of the possibility of new discoveries, strong prepossessions that the best opinions have always prevailed, a premature reduction of knowledge to methods and systems, the neglect or abandonment of the philosophia prima, too great a reverence of the mind withdrawing men from experience, the infection of general philosophy with particular arts, conceits, or studies, “impatience of doubt and haste to assertion,” peremptory tradition of knowledge, narrow views and objects, and mistaking the true end of knowledge. We quote the account of this last mentioned "peccant humour," as a sample of his “ dissection” of them all.
“ But the greatest error of all the rest, is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or furthest end of learning and 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; 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 men: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit ; or a terrace, 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."
He then weighs the dignity of knowledge " in the balance with other things," and takes the value by testimonies and arguments divine and human. From the “wisdom of God," the knowledge of angels, the production of light, the employments of Paradise, the learning of prophets and apostles, and the procedures of the Redeemer, he argues upon divine testi- . mony and evidence the true dignity and value of learning. He then adduces “human proof,” and,“ in so large a field,” the selection of them is as choice as the statement is beautiful. He shows that the inventors of arts were even deified by the heathens, and how civil policy was regulated and states advanced by learning. Its dignity is lastly asserted from its moral effects; and after going over four particulars, he conducts the argument, on human grounds alone, to the verge of immortality.
“Let us conclude with the dignity and excellency of knowledge and learning, in that whereunto man's nature doth most aspire, which is immortality 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 infi nite 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!”
The public means of promoting learning, “ by amplitude of reward, by soundness of direction, and by conjunction of labours," are then considered, and urged upon the attention of the king. The public acts of merit towards learning are conversant about places, books, and teachers : places must have convenient buildings, endowments, franchises, and ordinances; books require libraries, &c.; and teachers should be readers in the present arts and sciences, and inquirers after new ones; and six desiderata are pointed out, all of which, except the last, a public or authorized institution, for the discovery of arts, have been since to a considerable extent supplied.
We now come to the main subject of the work, the Partitiones Scientiarum, or the Distribution of Knowledge. Bacon had “ taken all knowledge to be his province," and his object here is to survey the whole field of learning, visiting every quarter of it, and reporting the state of its various departments. In order to facilitate so extensive an inquiry, he refers the subjects of investigation to those faculties, with which they were supposed to be principally concerned—“ History to the Memory, Poetry to the Imagination, and Philosophy to the Reason.” That this division, whatever may be its convenience, is
" logically erroneous is almost self-evident; and it has been largely shown to be so by Dugald Stewart, in the Preface to his Preliminary Dissertation, and Jeremy Bentham, in the second part of his Chrestomathia. The latter, and the greater philosopher of the two, asks, What is the primary source of this division? “Not the nature of the subject, and its respective parts, but the nature of the several human faculties, which, by a strange misconception, are respectively considered as applying themselves exclusively to different parts of it. Strange indeed may this misconception be pronounced : at any rate, if it be true, that when these faculties come to be mentioned, so it is that, of all the branches into which the body of the arts and sciences has ever been or ever can be divided, not a single one can be mentioned, upon which the whole list of the human faculties cannot be shown to be, in some way or other, applied.” Both Stewart and Bentham were occupied at the same time, each without the knowledge of the other, on the same task of examining this threefold distribution of Bacon's. The former concluded his critical strictures by acknowledging that it was more easy to point out its defects than to supply them; but the latter laboured on, and struck out “ the first lines of a Tabular Diagram of the principal and most extensive branches of art and science, framed in the exhaustively-bifurcate method,” of which the success would have been complete, if the nomenclature had been simpler. These two philosophers, however, speak with great respect of Bacon's design. Bentham says, “ for the age of Bacon, his sketch
, was a precocious and precious fruit of the union of learning with genius ;” and Stewart is far from concluding that it was “the abortive offspring of a warm imagination,” but “in every