« PreviousContinue »
THE Advancement of Learning was published in the year 1605. It is entitled
TVVOO BOOKES OF
Of the proficience and aduancement of Learning, diuine and humane.
TO THE KING.
Printed for Henri Tomes, and are to be sould at his shop in Graies Inne Gate in Holborne. 1605. It is a small thin quarto, of 119 pages, somewhat incorrectly printed, the subjects being distinguished by capitals and italics introduced into the text, with a few marginal notes in Latin. The following is an exact specimen :
HISTORY IS NATVRALL, CIVILE, ECCLESIASTICALL & LITERARY, whereof the three first I allow as extant, the fourth I note as deficient. For no man hath propounded to himselfe the generall state of learning to bee described and represented from age to age, as many haue done the works of nature, & the State ciuile and Ecclesiastical; without which
the History of the world seemeth to me, to be as the Statua of Polyphemus with his eye out, that part being wanting, which doth most shew the spirit, and life of the person.
Of this work he sent a copy, with a letter, to the King; to the university of Cambridge; to Trinity college, Cambridge; to the university of Oxford; to Sir Thomas Bodley; to Lord Chancellor Egerton ; to the Earl of Salisbury; to the Lord Treasurer Buckhurst and to Mr. Matthews. From these letters, which are all in existence, the letter to the Lord Chancellor, as a favourable specimen, is annexed:
66 MAY IT PLEASE YOUR LORDSHIP,
"I humbly present your lordship with a work, wherein, as you have much commandment over the "author, so your lordship hath great interest in "the argument: For to speak without flattery, few "have like use of learning or like judgment in
learning, as I have observed in your lordship. And "again, your lordship hath been a great planter "of learning, not only in those places in the "church which have been in your own gift, but "also in your commendatory vote, no man hath "more constantly held; let it be given to the most deserving, detur digniori: And therefore, both your lordship is beholding to learning and learn'ing beholding to you; which maketh me presume “with good assurance that your lordship will accept
"well of these my labours; the rather because your "lordship in private speech hath often begun to me "in expressing your admiration of his majesty's learning, to whom I have dedicated this work; " and whose virtue and perfection in that kind did chiefly move me to a work of this nature. And "so with signification of my most humble duty and "affection to your lordship, I remain."
Some short time after the publication of this work, probably about the year 1608, Sir Francis Bacon was desirous that the Advancement of Learning should be translated into Latin; and, for this purpose, he applied to Dr. Playfer, the Margaret "professor of divinity in the university of Cambridge.*
• This appears by the following letter, without any date :
“MR. DR. PLAYFER,
"A great desire will take a small occasion to hope and put in "trial that which is desired. It pleased you a good while since, to "express unto me the good liking which you conceived of my book "of the Advancement of Learning; and that more significantly, (as "it seemed to me) than out of courtesie, or civil respect. Myself, "as I then took contentment in your approbation thereof; so I "esteem and acknowledge, not onely my contentment encreased, "but my labours advanced, if I might obtain your help in that na"ture which I desire. Wherein before I set down in plain terms "my request unto you, I will open myself, what it was which I "chiefly sought and propounded to myself in that work; that you "may perceive that which I now desire, to be persuant thereupon. "If I do not much err, (for any judgment that a man maketh of his "own doings, had need be spoken with a Si nunquam fallit Imago, "I have this opinion, that if I had sought mine own commendation, "it had been a much fitter course for me to have done as gardeners "used to do, by taking their seed and slips, and rearing them first "into plants, and so uttering them in pots, when they are in flower, " and in their best state. But for as much as my end was Merit of
Upon the subject of this application Archbishop Tennison says in his Baconiana-"The doc"tor was willing to serve so excellent a person, and "so worthy a design; and, within a while, sent him "a specimen of a latine translation. But men, ge
nerally, come short of themselves when they strive "to out-doe themselves. They They put a force upon
"the State of Learning (to my power) and not Glory; and because 66 my purpose was rather to excite other mens wits than to magnifie "mine own; I was desirous to prevent the uncertainness of mine "own life and times, by uttering rather seeds than plants: Nay and "further, (as the proverb is) by sowing with the basket, rather than "with the hand: Wherefore, since I have onely taken upon me to "ring a bell, to call other wits together, (which is the meanest office) "it cannot but be consonant to my desire, to have that bell heard as "far as can be. And since they are but sparks which can work but upon matter prepared, I have the more reason to wish, that those sparks may fly abroad, that they may the better find and light upon those minds and spirits which are apt to be kindled. And "therefore the privateness of the language considered, wherein it is "written, excluding so many readers; as on the other side, the ob
scurity of the argument in many parts of it, excludeth many others; "I must account it a second birth of that work, if it might be trans"lated into Latin, without manifest loss of the sense and matter. "For this purpose I could not represent to myself any man into "whose hands I do more earnestly desire that work should fall than
yourself; for by that I have heard and read, I know no man, a greater master in commanding words to serve matter. Neverthe"less, I am not ignorant of the worth of your labours, whether "such as your place and profession imposeth, or such as your own "virtue may upon your voluntary election take in hand. But I can "lay before you no other perswasions than either the work itself may affect you with; or the honour of his majesty, to whom it is "dedicated, or your particular inclination to myself; who, as I never "took so much comfort in any labours of my own, so I shall never " acknowledge myself more obliged in any thing to the labours of "another, than in that which shall assist it. Which your labour, "if I can by my place, profession, means, friends, travel, work, "deed, requite unto you, I shall esteem myself so streightly bound "thereunto, as I shall be ever most ready both to take and seek oc"casion of thankfulness. So leaving it nevertheless, Salvá Amicitiâ, as reason is to your good liking. I remain."