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catalogue of particular histories—the A B C, Teacher of Nature—and a Preface to a Natural History—are merely introductory arguments, for attempting and obtaining a surer natural and experimental philosophy. Then follow the titles of six particular monthly histories,—the history of the Winds, the history of Rarity and Density, the history of Gravity and Levity, the history of the Sympathies and Antipathies of things, the history of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt, and the history of Life and Death : three of these, the first, second, and last, have been preserved; but the aditus only of the other three are extant. This part is completed so far as the diligence of editors has extended, with some Questions concerning Metals, and some Thoughts on the Nature of Things. In the midst of much that looks like “wood, hay, and stubble,” to a modern reader, there will be found “ gold, and silver, and precious stones,” of the greatest value; an aphorism that will stand the severest test, or an axiom that might shine, like a diamond, on the brow of Philosophy herself.
Of the Fourth and Fifth Parts of the Instauration, we have only two brief and general intimations—the mere aditus of the intended treatises.
The Opuscula Philosophica, or lesser pieces, would be sufficient of themselves to make good his claims as a philosopher. They either helped to prepare the way for his greater works, of which some of them were the germs, and afterwards formed portions; or they were the mere overflows of an active and exhaustless mind. We shall briefly notice two of them, The Wisdom of the Ancients, and the New Atlantis.
The former of these writings, which appeared soon after the Advancement of Learning, is an attempt to deliver the supposed philosophy of the ancient fables, and was of course especially intended to propitiate the lovers of antiquity towards his meditated innovations. From the title we might be led to expect an account of the various systems of philosophy which prevailed amongst them; but the sole object is to interpret the meaning, and extract the hidden wisdom, of those fables, which have been transmitted to our time along with the ancient mythology. It is a serious attempt to indicate the useful, and reproduce the beautiful, from the apparently incongruous fictions of past ages; not“ to write toys and trifles, and to assume the same liberty in applying, that the poets assumed in feigning." In his selection of these fables, the author has manifested his usual judgment. We find none of a strictly historical nature : they are all capable of a natural, moral, or political interpretation. The historical myths have given no small trouble to the student of antiquity.
In some instances, as in the case of Livy, the predominant inspiration of whose narrative is the old Roman poems, all reasonable expectation is exceeded, if a Niebuhr can even separate, much more if he can extract, the fact from the fable; and it is perhaps the wiser plan in matters of so much uncertainty as ancient traditionary history, not to attempt the separation. Bacon has, therefore, wisely deserted this region of the fabulous domain, for one which promises to yield more important fruit. While it is evident, on the slightest examination, that these ancient fictions involve some important truths : “seeing some of them are observed to be so absurd and foolish in the very relation, that they show, and as it were proclaim, a parable afar off,”-it is at the same time an extremely difficult matter to ascertain the precise moral at which they point. But, as might have been conjectured, the most ancient are the least obscure; and accordingly, in selecting his specimens of the more lucid fable, Bacon has travelled beyond the more civilized period of Grecian history, beyond the time even of Homer and Hesiod, by whom“ many of these fables, though selected and celebrated,” seem not to have been invented to the “better times” of a yet earlier state of society. Referring to the fables which he has endeavoured to interpret, he says, “ seeing they are diversely related by writers that lived near about one and the self-same time, we may easily perceive that they were common things derived from precedent memorials, that they became various by reason of the diverse ornaments bestowed on them by particular relations; and the consideration of this must need increase in us a great opinion of them,
as not to be accounted either the effects of the times or inventions of poets, but as sacred relics or abstracted airs of better times, which by tradition from more ancient nations fell into the trumpets and flutes of the Grecians.” Such is the kind of fables which Bacon deals with, with higher wisdom as an interpreter, than the ancients discovered as inventors. It so happens that the longest are the best ; and we may refer the reader to the last section in the De Augmentis on Poetry, for “ the learning ” concerning them.
The New Atlantis, which was not published until after the author's death, is the fragment of a philosophical romance, in which he intended to exhibit the model of an institution for the discovery of works, or a college and commonwealth for the interpretation of nature with a view to the arts of life. There is a Robinson Crusoe reality about it. The fiction possesses all the earnestness of a bonâ fide report from some newly-found country, where reason is the ruler, and man is becoming paramount. The author evidently availed himself of the spirit of enterprise that had been so recently excited and gratified, to direct its ardours and its energies into the strange land of probable wonders ; and he who was but a prophet speaks like a missionary. This fragment was written in the maturity of his genius; and the fancy of so illustrating his own method shows the depth of his confidence in it, and the height of his expectations from it. We shall not deal so presumptuously with the reader, as to hint at the marvels so gravely described in this beginning of an account of Novus Orbis.
These are the Opera Philosophica, which have won such lasting fame for their author, and exerted so powerful an influence on the world. The era of experimental investigation commences with them; and the principles, if not the manual directories, of his method, have been acted upon ever since. It does not derogate from his “ titles manifold” to the respect and gratitude of his species, that he was no discoverer himself—that he explained no phenomena, and unfolded no physical law : he did neither ; but he was, nevertheless, the master-spirit of those who did. He discovered the law of discovery, and was the first to interpret, after the most comprehensive survey of all existing knowledges, and the most profound inquiry into the condition of all mental achievements, the universal law of interpretation. He delivered the abstract precepts which "shut men up," as it were, to that philosophy of philosophies, of which he was the ablest and the first expounder, and of which the great discoverers are but the verifiers.
We should more than exhaust the space allotted to a preface, were we to quote a tithe of the eulogies which have been lavished upon our author on account of these philosophical writings. The encomia of mere single sentences would fill a volume. But while we omit the innumerable extravaganzas, whether of home or foreign manufacture, which have been uttered in ancient or modern tongues, on this prolific theme; we may be allowed to select two poetical compliments which we have seldom seen quoted, and never in juxta-position, the one by his friend Herbert, on receiving the Great Instauration ; and the other by Thomson in his celebrated apostrophe to England-each of which is highly characteristic of the period of its composition.
“Quis iste tandem ? non enim vultu ambulat
Degentium olim Emancipator: luminis
Now for the more modern compliment.
“ Thine is a Bacon, hapless in his choice,
With radiant finger points to heaven again." We have now reviewed, in the most slight and cursory manner, the principal writings of Francis Bacon,—the Moralist, the Politician, the LAWYER, the Orator, the HistoRIAN, the TheolOGIAN, the Poet, and the Philosopher. In the course of our very brief examination, he has come before us in each of these high characters; distinguished in all, pre-eminent, if not peerless, in the last. All were combined to an unparalleled extent in this single individual ; but all were subordinate to the Philosophical character, into which the rest may be resolved. Each of them must, of course, be taken into account in any estimate of such a genius ; and after contemplating separately so great a variety and diversity of parts, our admiration is turned into absolute wonder, when we see them forming one harmonious whole. The imperial genius of philosophy is over all; and each in its turn, kindling under the lustre that radiates from this common centre, receives but to reflect back its splendours.
Bacon must doubtless be considered as one of the most extraordinary men which the world has seen. There is scarcely a department of knowledge which he has not visited and improved. There is scarcely a book of solid merit published, in which his name does not occur, and in which his authority is not referred to.
Whatever may be the subject, and wherever the literary or scientific labourer may be employed, there comes a light from this author, of illustration and guidance : and yet he was a man of practical pursuits, wending his way through this every-day world, as busy as the
busiest with all its cares, and as anxious as the most anxious to discharge the functions of its journeyman. His engagements appear to have been those which demanded an almost undivided attention; and yet while engaged in the most practical of pursuits, he was distinguished beyond all comparison in those which are strictly theoretical. Belonging to a profession the most noble and arduous—in which, from the multiplicity of the subjects which it embraces, and the responsibility of dealing with the emergent cases of daily occurrence, there is necessitated a vision at once contracted and intense; and engaging largely in the politics of the day, which require of their votary as absolute a devotion,-in both of which he had to compete with the first men of his time—with the vast knowledge and subtlety of Coke, with those wily panderers to prerogative and popularity the Cecils, with the crafty and sullen Somerset, with the rapacious and unconscienced Buckingham,- for subordinates; and with the mistress of modern Europe and her wayward successor,-for principals, and in those assemblies of his fellow-citizens in both Houses of Parliament, which have tried and tasked the highest powers, without a rival in oratorical and senatorial abilities, -he yet commanded the leisure that is requisite for pursuits of the highest and most beneficial nature, in which he has earned his immortal repute—succeeding beyond all contemporary success in the former avocations, and working out for himself an endless reputation in the latter. The intellect of Bacon was such as to make way through all obstacles to its destiny. It made for itself a solitude in the midst of society, and created for itself a retirement in the very midst of the most bustling, pressing, and exciting crowd of engagements. His delights, in common with those of all the true benefactors of the species, have been realized in the midst of them; and he sighs not for the sounding seashore, or the up-country waterfall, which almost drive man into himself; or the sequestered valley, or the solemn woods, whose stillness leads to reflection, and is therefore, with the most of those that fly to them, a mere place of resort for physical activity; but the habitable portions of the earth, and the children of men, are ever the spheres and the objects of all these delights—thinking in the midst of distraction, accumulating in the midst of privations, and gathering every where the materials of profit and action. This is that mental absorption, which takes in all, and makes uses of all; to which every thing is aliment, by virtue of a vigour that tires not, a charity that fails not, a humility for which nothing is too low, and a comprehension for which, humanly speaking, nothing is too high or too minute.
It would comparatively be an easy task, to discriminate between the various powers of this wonderful intellect,-to ascribe to him a reason of the most comprehensive grasp, exercising itself upon multifarious subjects, or an imagination keeping pace with that reason, and as wonderful in all its creations as the reason was wonderful in the premises upon which it dealt; but we must leave these things to the reader, to whom we have been catering throughout our prologue. Bacon was enabled to feel that he lived in a grand juncture of affairs, requiring the union of high genius and wisdom answerably to deal with, and he foresaw it, felt it, and turned it to the best account. He devoted himself the exigencies not only of his time, but of his race. He was, as we have seen, busy with the one; but the fact of his opinions being valuable now-a-days, shows that he was devoted to the other; and that it was not merely for the times in which he lived that he was living, but for succeeding tiines as well. He was literally, that man, with whom all men should be acquainted; both by way of encouragement and instruction—by way of failure and example. To act for the moment, and yet act for posterity; to act for a party, and yet act for a people; to be the glory of a faction and also of a nation ; to act for a kingdom as a minister, and yet for the human race as their servitor; to be bold before the intellect of all past times, and weak before minions; to serve princes, to discuss with judges, to attend assemblies, and to control legislative gatherings,—and yet to electrify and revivify science; to be Hercules abroad, and to fall before the most trumpery vanity in his own breast ;-was Francis Bacon.
THE TWO BOOKS OF
PROFICIENCE AND ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING,
DIVINE AND HUMAN.
THE FIRST BOOK.
TO THE KING.
There were, under the law, excellent king, both of the body are sequestered) again revived and redaily sacrifices, and freewill offerings; the one pro- stored : such a light of nature I have observed in ceeding upon ordinary observance, the other upon a your majesty, and such a readiness to take flame devout cheerfulness: in like manner there belongeth and blaze from the least occasion presented, or the to kings from their servants, both tribute of duty, least spark of another's knowledge delivered. And and presents of affection. In the former of these, I as the Scripture saith of the wisest king, “That his hope I shall not live to be wanting, according to my heart was as the sands of the sea ;" which though most huinble duty, and the good pleasure of your it be one of the largest bodies, yet it consisteth of majesty's employments : for the latter, I thought it the smallest and finest portions ; so hath God given more respective to make choice of some oblation, your majesty a composition of understanding adwhich might rather refer to the propriety and excel- mirable, being able to compass and comprehend the lency of your individual person, than to the business greatest matters, and nevertheless to touch and apof your crown and state.
prehend the least; whereas it should seem an imWherefore, representing your majesty many times possibility in nature, for the same instrument to unto my mind, and beholding you not with the in- make itself fit for great and small works. And for quisitive eye of presumption, to discover that which your gift of speech, I call to mind what Cornelius the Scripture telleth me is inscrutable, but with the Tacitus saith of Augustus Cæsar: “ Augusto proobservant eye of duty and admiration; leaving aside fluens, et quæ principem deceret, eloquentia fuit." the other parts of your virtue and fortune, I have For, if we note it well, speech that is uttered with been touched, yea, and possessed with an extreme labour and difficulty, or speech that savoureth of the wonder at those your virtues and faculties, which the affectation of art and precepts, or speech that is philosophers call intellectual; the largeness of your framed after the imitation of some pattern of elocapacity, the faithfulness of your memory, the swift quence, though never so excellent; all this has someness of your apprehension, the penetration of your what servile, and holding of the subject. But your judgment, and the facility and order of your elocu majesty's manner of speech is indeed prince-like, tion : and I have often thought, that of all the per flowing as from a fountain, and yet streaming and sons living, that I have known, your majesty were branching itself into nature's order, full of facility the best instance to make a man of Plato's opinion, and felicity, imitating none, and inimitable by any. that all knowledge is but remembrance, and that the And as in your civil estate there appeareth to be an mind of man by nature knoweth all things, and emulation and contention of your majesty's virtue hath but her own native and original notions (which with your fortune; a virtuous disposition with a forby the strangeness and darkness of this tabernacle tunate regiment; a virtuous expectation, when time