Page images

or rather by apt feigning, to have derived imposition of names from reason and intendment; a speculation elegant, and, by reason it searcheth into antiquity, reverent; but sparingly mixed with truth, and of small fruit. This portion of knowledge, touching the notes of things, and cogitations in general, I find not inquired, but deficient. And although it may seem of no great use, considering that words and writings by letters do far excel all the other ways; yet because this part concerneth, as it were, the mint of knowledge, (for words are the tokens current and accepted for conceits, as moneys are for values, and that it is fit men be not ignorant that moneys may be of another kind than gold and silver,) I thought good to propound it to better inquiry.

Concerning speech and words, the consideration of them hath produced the science of Grammar: for man still striveth to reintegrate himself in those benedictions, from which by his fault he hath been deprived; and as he hath striven against the first general curse by the invention of all other arts, so hath he sought to come forth of the second general curse, which was the confusion of tongues, by the art of grammar: whereof the use in a mother tongue is small, in a foreign tongue more; but most in such foreign tongues as have ceased to be vulgar tongues, and are turned only to learned tongues. The duty of it is of two natures; the one popular, which is for the speedy and perfect attaining languages, as. well for intercourse of speech as for understanding

of authors; the other philosophical, examining the power and nature of words, as they are the footsteps and prints of reason: which kind of analogy between words and reason is handled "sparsim," brokenly, though not intirely; and therefore I cannot report it deficient, though I think it very worthy to be reduced into a science by itself.

Unto grammar also belongeth, as an appendix, the consideration of the accidents of words; which are measure, sound, and elevation or accent, and the sweetness and harshness of them; whence hath issued some curious observations in rhetoric, but chiefly poesy, as we consider it, in respect of the verse, and not of the argument: wherein though men in learned tongues do tie themselves to the ancient measures, yet in modern languages it seemeth to me as free to make new measures of verses as of dances; for a dance is a measured pace, as a verse is a measured speech. In these things the sense is better judge than the art;

"Cœnæ fercula nostræ

"Mallem convivis quam placuisse cocis.”

And of the servile expressing antiquity in an unlike and an unfit subject, it is well said, “ Quod tempore antiquum videtur, id incongruitate est maxime "novum."


For ciphers, they are commonly in letters or alphabets, but may be in words. The kinds of ciphers, besides the simple ciphers, with changes, and intermixtures of nulls and non-significants, are

many, according to the nature or rule of the infolding, wheel-ciphers, key-ciphers, doubles, &c. But the virtues of them, whereby they are to be preferred, are three; that they be not laborious to write and read; that they be impossible to decipher; and, in some cases, that they be without suspicion. The highest degree whereof is to write " omnia per "omnia;" which is undoubtedly possible, with a proportion quintuple at most of the writing infolding to the writing infolded, and no other restraint whatsoever. This art of ciphering, hath for relative an art of deciphering, by supposition unprofitable, but, as things are, of great use. For suppose that ciphers were well managed, there be multitudes of them which exclude the decipherer. But in regard of the rawness and unskilfulness of the hands through which they pass, the greatest matters are many times carried in the weakest ciphers.

In the enumeration of these private and retired arts, it may be thought I seek to make a great muster-roll of sciences, naming them for shew and ostentation, and to little other purpose. But let those which are skilful in them judge whether I bring them in only for appearance, or whether in that which I speak of them, though in few marks there be not some seed of proficience. And this must be remembered, that as there be many of great account in their countries and provinces, which, when they come up to the seat of the estate, are but of mean rank and scarcely regarded; so these arts,

being here placed with the principal and supreme sciences, seem petty things; yet to such as have chosen them to spend their labours and studies in them, they seem great matters.

For the method of tradition, I see it hath moved a controversy in our time. But as in civil business, if there be a meeting, and men fall at words, there is commonly an end of the matter for that time, and no proceeding at all; so in learning, where there is much controversy, there is many times little inquiry. For this part of knowledge of method seemeth to me so weakly inquired as I shall report it deficient.

Method hath been placed, and that not amiss, in logic, as a part of judgment: for as the doctrine of syllogisms comprehendeth the rules of judgment upon that which is invented, so the doctrine of method containeth the rules of judgment upon that which is to be delivered; for judgment precedeth delivery, as it followeth invention. Neither is the method or the nature of the tradition material only to the use of knowledge, but likewise to the progression of knowledge: for since the labour and life. of one man cannot attain to perfection of knowledge, the wisdom of the tradition is that which inspireth the felicity of continuance and proceeding. And therefore the most real diversity of method, is of method referred to use, and method referred to progression; whereof the one may be termed magistral, and the other of probation.

The latter whereof seemeth to be "via deserta

"et interclusa." For as knowledges are now delivered, there is a kind of contract of errour between the deliverer and the receiver: for he that delivereth knowledge, desireth to deliver it in such form as may be best believed, and not as may be best examined; and he that receiveth knowledge, desireth rather present satisfaction, than expectant inquiry; and so rather not to doubt, than not to err: glory making the author not to lay open his weakness, and sloth making the disciple not to know his strength.

But knowledge that is delivered as a thread to be spun on, ought to be delivered and intimated, if it were possible, in the same method wherein it was invented; and so is it possible of knowledge induced. But in this same anticipated and prevented knowledge, no man knoweth how he came to the knowledge which he hath obtained. But yet nevertheless, "secundum majus et minus," a man may revisit and descend unto the foundations of his knowledge and consent; and so transplant it into another, as it grew in his own mind. For it is in knowledges as it is in plants: if you mean to use the plant, it is no matter for the roots; but if you mean to remove it to grow, then it is more assured to rest upon roots than slips: so the delivery of knowledges, as it is now used, is as of fair bodies of trees without the roots; good for the carpenter, but not for the planter. But if you will have sciences grow, it is less matter for the shaft or body of the tree, so you look well to the taking up of the roots: of

« PreviousContinue »