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in a very gracious and sensible epistle, declaring the book “ a most acceptable present," and his“ firm resolution to read it through with care and attention;” and assuring the author, " that he could not have made choice of a subject more befitting his place, and his methodical and universal knowledge.”
This “ gracious acceptance” of the book was, of course, a “ singular comfort ” to the chancellor ; and on the 19th October, he thanked his Majesty for his condescension in a splendid letter. As the king, however, had carefully avoided all reference to the “ help he had solicited, Bacon adroitly availed himself of “ this comfortable beginning,” to renew his application “ to be aiding to him to set men on work for the collecting of a natural and experimental history,” gravely tempting him with the pleasures of science; and he expresses a hope that “ many noble inventions would be discovered for man's use,” in the king's times ; " for who can tell, now that this mine of truth is opened, how the veins go ; and what lieth higher, and what lieth lower ?” But the complimentary turn at the commencement of this letter is worthy of the “Wisdom of the ancients," where after comparing the king to a star, and quoting the famous “ astrum Cæsaris” of Virgil, he thus evolves the application—“ This work, which is for the bettering of men's bread and wine, which are the characters of temporal blessings, and sacraments of eternal, I hope, by God's holy providence, will be ripened by Cæsar's star.”
Passing by the other presentation epistles, it will be seen from an early letter to Mr. Matthew, who was anxious to smooth down impediments to his friend's scheme, that some portion of this part of the work was finished in October 1609. The “churchmen
were not, in Matthew's opinion, to be unnecessarily ruffled, and “ church matters ” were not to be disturbed. Bacon knew that “ churchmen,” political churchmen, were not to be conciliated, and therefore did his best not to offend them. These“ impediments,” the political “churchmen,” were the same all over the world, and freedom of thought must necessarily be obnoxious to them. Touch their power, and you touch them; and whatever might have been their diversities of doctrine or politics, and wherever the attempt might have been made, the shock is universally felt and resented. If the Novum Organum had been published at Rome instead of London, its author would have been handed over to the Inquisition. The Jesuits, the schoolmen, the political churchmen, had formed an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the mighty shade of Aristotle; and to this day they have never forgiven the Verulam for casting him out to this day the Novum Organum is a branded and forbidden book by the Vatican, Mr. Matthew was an exile at the time on account of his identification with this class of men. Bacon thus alludes to his " caution
your caution as to churchmen and church matters, as for any impediment it might be to the applause and celebrity of my work, it moveth me not; but as it may hinder the fruit and good part which it is bound, I hold it a just respect, so as to fetch a fair wind I go not far about. But the truth is that I at all have no occasion to meet them in my way, except it be as they will needs confederate themselves with Aristotle, who, you know, is intemperately magnified by the schoolmen ; and is also allied, as I take it, to the Jesuits by Faber, who was a companion of Loyola, and a great Aristotelian.” The “part ” sent with this letter showed “ that the question between him and the ancients, was not of the virtue of the race, but of the rightness of the way.” We must not omit an amusing comparison—“ Other matters I write not of; myself am like the miller of Grancester, that was wont to pray for peace amongst the willows; for while the winds blew, the wind-mills wrought and the water-mill was less customed. So I see that controversies of religion must hinder the advancement of sciences.”
In another beautiful letter to Matthew, after confessing his desires to be “ that his writings should not count the present time or some few places in such sort as might make them either less general to persons or less permanent in future ages," he says, “ As to the
Instauration, your so full approbation thereof I read with much comfort, by how much more my heart is upon it, and by how much less I expected consent and concurrence in a matter so obscure. Of this I can assure you, that though many things of great hope decay with youth, and multitude of civil businesses is wont to diminish the price, though not the delight, of contemplation, yet the proceeding in that work doth gain with me upon my affection and desire, both by years and businesses. And therefore I hope even by this, that it is wellpleasing to God, from whom and to whom all good moves."
In his letter to Bishop Andrews, in 1622, he speaks of this work as that which he“ did most esteem,” and declared his intention of proceeding with the “ new parts thereof." But this design was never accomplished.
It should be observed, that the several tracts which are now prefixed to the De Augmentis, formed the introductory tracts of the Novum Organum ; and this arrangement was not altered by the author himself, when he published the former work. But there can be no doubt, that the transfer was judiciously made, and is still properly retained ; because the tracts in question were merely advertisements to the Great Instauration, and not to that part of it to which they were first prefixed, and Bacon has expressly declared that he intended the De Augmentis to serve as the basis or first part of that work, to which these tracts are simply preliminary. We have therefore, notwithstanding Mr. Montagu's caveat against it, preferred the old arrangement to that which he has thought proper to adopt ; and we will proceed at once to a brief examination of the Instauratio Magna, in the order in which it stands.
The Sic Cogitavit is the first of the small tracts, and fitly is it placed in the front. Franciscus de Verulamio sic cogitavit, talemque apud se rationem instituit ; quam virentibus et posteris notam fieri, ipsorum interesse putavit. It is a brief and solemn announcement of the necessity of trying a “ new way,” and his motives for attempting it. Then comes the Præfatio, which, the reader will bear in mind, is not the preface to the De Augmentis, but to the Instauration ; and it contains the pith of the whole matter. He discusses the state of the sciences, discovers their low condition, and shows that a different way must be opened, and other aids procured, in order to advance them. This Preface is a master-piece of writing; and it unites, with a magical facility, all the graces of the florid style, with the most substantial matter—with thought the boldest, yet calm ; the profoundest, yet clear; the most minute and subtle, yet comprehensive. Many things will the reader find in it which he will meet with elsewhere, but Bacon's repetitions of himself, like those of Demosthenes, are always improvements. In the appeal to the Deity, after expressing his convictions and announcing his plan, in this flowing and figurative manner, he uses the exquisite form of supplication (the Student's) already quoted, and concludes with some excellent “admonitions” respecting the limits of human reason, and some very fair requests touching the matter in hand. A thorough school-man must have read this Preface with more than admiration; and if he set down the writer for a madman, he must have been convinced of his inspiration.
The Distributio Operis contains the several divisions of the work, with the arguments of each division. The following are the six divisions or parts, into which it was proposed to distribute the Magna Instauratio.
I. Partitionis Scientiarum,—the Partition of Sciences.
II. Novum Organum, sive Indicia de Interpretatione Nature,—the New Organ, or Directions for the Interpretation of Nature.
III. Phænomena Universi, sive Historia Naturalis et Experimentalis ad condendam Philosophiam,—the Phenomena of the World, or Natural and Experimental History for the building up of Philosophy.
IV. Scala Intellectus,—the Ladder of the Understanding.
V. Prodromi, sive Anticipationes Philosophie Secunda,—the Forerunners, or Anticipations of the Second Philosophy.
VI. Philosophia Secunda, sive Scientia Activa,—the Second Philosophy, or Active Science.
It was a part of his design to deliver every thing with all possible plainness and perspicuity—“ for the nakedness of the mind, as once of the body, is the companion of innocence and simplicity;” and he proceeds to exhibit the order of the work, and the reasons for it. This small piece, well studied, will enable us to form some idea of the author's design, of which the first two divisions only were completed; and as we are not aware of any other account of it, at once so full and succinct, we shall present a short outline of it.
The first part exhibits the sum or universal description of the science or learning then possessed, in order to improve the labours of the ancient, as well as to introduce what is new. Deserted plots are to be found in the very midst of cultivated ones, and he intended to point them out, though this might bring about some change in the accustomed divisions and partitions, as an addition to the whole varies the parts. But he promises to assist in supplying the desiderata that may be noted. For these designs of his were no slight, super ficial notions-mere desires and good wishes—but practicable and within compass.
Having examined into the ancient arts, the next thing is to enable the human intellect to advance; therefore to the second part belongs the doctrine concerning a better and more perfect use of reason in the investigation of things, and concerning the true helps of the understanding in the interpretation of nature. This new logic, while it agreed with the old in its professed object, differed from it in three things : viz. ipso fine, ordine demonstrandi, et inquirendi initiis. The end was not arguments, but arts; not things consentaneous to principles, but principles themselves ; not probable reasons, but designations and indications of works. And from a diversity of intention, there ensues a diversity of effect; in the one an adversary is to be overcome by disputation, in the other nature, by works. The demonstrations of the vulgar logic accorded with their end, employing syllogisms, and passing over induction. He rejects demonstration by the former, as it proceeds confusedly, and lets nature escape out of our hands; as it is barren of operations, and remote from practice, and incompetent to the active part of sciences. For though the things which are coincident in a middle term, are in themselves coincident, yet the syllogism consists of propositions, propositions of words, and words are the tokens and signs of the things; and if the notions of the mind themselves (“ quæ verborum quasi anima sunt”) be improperly and rashly abstracted, or not sufficiently defined or limited, all is lost. He therefore leaves it to its jurisdiction,“ in artes populares et opinabiles,” with which he does not meddle, and makes use of induction. The order also is different, as well as the initials of inquiring; for instead of proceeding immediately from the sense, and some few “particulars,” to the highest “ generals,” axioms are gradually to be raised into general truths, by solution and separation of experience, and advised rejections and exclusions, by questioning the prime notions of the intellect, by guarding the very senses themselves, and purifying the understanding of every thing that may hinder the reception, conception, and erection of truths. By clearly showing what the nature of things, and what the nature of the mind, would bear, he presumed that he had prepared and adorned (the divine goodness being present at the rites) thalamum mentis et universi, the bride-chamber of the mind and of the universe ; and his epithalamium was,“ ut ex eo connubio auxilia humana, et stirps inventorum, quæ necessitates ac miserias hominum aliqua ex parte docent et subigant, suscipiatur.
But his object was not only to point out and fortify the way, but to proceed in it; and therefore the third part of the work was to comprise 'the Phenomena Universi, or such an experimental and natural history, as shall be fundamental to the building up, as it were, of natural philosophy. For the method must have materials, and all must be sought from the very things themselves ; nor can all the wits in the world be a substitute for this laborious acquisition. And as nothing of this sort had been accomplished, and that which had been attempted had merely furnished depraved matter for the preposterous subtleties of argu
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 disperse 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 by 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 Phenomena Universi. The Scala Intellectus was to be applied to the Phenomena 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 Secunda 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 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
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 anticipating 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,