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2. Learned men reject from choice and judgment.

The honest and just bounds of observation, by one person upon another, extend no farther but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution in respect of a man's self; but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him or wind him or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous.

4. Learned men are negligent in their behaviour.

Learned men should not stoop to persons, although they ought to submit to occasions. (a)

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1. It is the study of words, and not of matter.


How is it possible but this should have an operation to discredit learning, even with vulgar capacities, when they see learned men's works like the first letter of a patent or limned book; which though it hath large flourishes, yet it is but a letter? It seems to me that Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem or portraiture of this vanity for words are but the images of matter; and except they have life of reason and invention, to fall in love with them is all one as to fall in love with a picture.

(a) See note (A) at the end.

2. Origin of the prevalence of delicate learning in late

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3. Delicate learning exists more or less in all times 4. Attention to style ought not to be neglected

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But yet, notwithstanding, it is a thing not hastily to be condemned, to clothe and adorn the obscurity, even of philosophy itself, with sensible and plausible elocution:

But the excess of this is so justly contemptible, that as Hercules, when he saw the image of Adonis, Venus' minion, in a temple, said in disdain, "Nil sacri es;" so there is none of Hercules' followers in learning, that is, the more severe and laborious sort of inquirers into truth, but will despise those delicacies and affectations, as indeed capable of no divineness,

Contentious Learning.

1. It is vanity of matter, useless knowledge, and is worse than vanity of words


As many substances in nature; which are solid, do putrify and corrupt into worms: so it is the property of good and sound knowledge, to putrify and dissolve into a number of subtle, idle, unwholesome, and, as I may term them, vermiculate questions, which have indeed a kind of quickness, and life of spirit, but no soundness of matter, or goodness of quality.

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3. Contentious learning reigned chiefly amongst the schoolmen 38 The wit and mind of man, if it work upon matter, which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and brings forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit.

(b) See note (B) at the end,

4. Unprofitable curiosity is of two sorts: 1. Fruitless speculation.

2. Erroneous modes of investigation.


Were it not better for a man in a fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to about with a small watch candle into every corner?

The generalities of the schoolmen are for a while good and proportionable; but then, when you descend into their distinctions and decisions, instead of a fruitful womb, for the use and benefit of man's life, they end in monstrous altercations and barking questions.

5. It is to be lamented that the learning of the schoolmen was so confined

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If those schoolmen, to their great thirst of truth and unwearied travail of wit, had joined variety and universality of reading and contemplation, they had proved excellent lights, to the great advancement of all learning and knowledge; but as they are, they are great undertakers indeed, and fierce with dark keeping.

Phantastical Learning.

1. It is falsehood, and is the foulest of all the distempers of


2. Different sorts, and their connection.

1. Imposture.

2. Credulity.

1. In matters of fact.

1. In ecclesiastical history.

2. In natural history.

2. In arts and sciences.

1. In arts and sciences.

Surely to alchemy this right is due, that it may be compared to the husbandman whereof Æsop makes the fable; that, when he died, told his sons, that he had left unto them gold buried under ground in his vineyard; and they digged over all the ground, and gold they found none; but by reason of their stirring and digging the mould about the roots of

their vines, they had a great vintage the year following : so assuredly the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature, as for the use of man's life.

2. In authors.

Authors should be as consuls to advise, not as dictators to command.

Let great authors have their due, as time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is, further and further to discover truth.


1. The extreme affecting either of antiquity or novelty


"State super vias antiquas, et videte quænam sit via recta et bona, et ambulate in ea."

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Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi." These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient "ordine retrogrado,” by a computation backward from ourselves. (c)

2. A suspicion that there is nothing new.

3. A conceit that of former opinions or sects, after variety and examination, the best hath prevailed

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The truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.

4. The over early and peremptory reduction of knowledge into arts and methods


As young men, when they knit and shape perfectly, do seldom grow to a further stature; so knowledge, while it is in aphorisms and observations, it is in growth; but when it once is comprehended in exact methods, it may perchance be further polished and illustrated, and accommodated for use and practice; but it increaseth no more in bulk and substance.(d)

(c) See note (C) at the end. (d) See note (D) at the end.


5. The abandoning universality


No perfect discovery can be made upon a flat or a level: neither is it possible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the level of the same science, and ascend not to a higher seience. (e)

6. The having too much reverence for the human mind.


Upon these intellectualists, which are, notwithstanding, commonly taken for the most sublime and divine philosophers, Heraclitus gave a just censure, saying, " Men sought truth in their own little worlds, and not in the great and common world."

7. The tainting doctrines with favourite opinions.

S. Impatience of doubt, and haste to assertion. (f)

9. The delivering knowledge too peremptorily.(g)

10. Being content to work on the labours of others instead of


11. The mistaking the furthest end of knowledge. (h)



Men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity, and inquisitive apperite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and 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 man: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a Terrasse 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.



I have no purpose to enter into a laudative of learning,

(e) See note (E) at the end.
(g) See note (G) at the end.

(f) See note (F) at the end.
(h) See note (H) at the end.

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