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but if men have failed in their very direction and address, that error will never by good fortune correct itself. Now it hath fared with men in their contemplations, as Seneca saith it fareth with them in their actions, De partibus vitæ quisque deliberat, de summa nemo. A course very ordinary with men who receive for the most part their final ends from the inclination of their nature, or from common example and opinion, never questioning or examining them, nor reducing them to any clear certainty ; and use only to call themselves to account and deliberation touching the means and second ends, and therehy set themselves in the right way to the wrong place. So likewise upon the natural curiosity and desire to know, they have put themselves in way without foresight or consideration of their journey's end.
For I find that even those that have sought knowledge for itself, and not for benefit, or ostentation, or any practical inablement in the course of their life, have nevertheless propounded to themselves a wrong mark, namely, satisfaction, which men call truth, and not operation. For as in the courts and services of princes and states, it is a much easier matter to give satisfaction than to do the business ; so in the inquiring of causes and reasons it is much easier to find out such causes as will satisfy the mind of man, and quiet objections, than such causes as will direct him and give him light to new experiences and inventions. And this did Celsus note wisely and truly, how that the causes which are in use, and whereof the knowledges now received do consist, were in time minors and subsequents to the knowledge of the particulars, out of which they were induced and collected; and that it was not the light of those causes which discovered particulars, but only the particulars being first found, men did fall on glossing and discoursing of the causes ; which is the reason, why the learning that now is hath the curse of barrenness, and is courtesanlike, for pleasure, and not for fruit. Nay, to compare it rightly, the strange fiction of the poets of the transformation of Scylla, seemeth to be a lively emblem of this philosophy and knowledge: a fair woman upward in the parts of show, but when you come to the parts of use and generation, barking monsters; for no better are the endless distorted questions, which ever have been, and of necessity must be, the end and womb of such knowledge.
But yet nevertheless, here I may be : vistaken, by reason of some which have much in their pen the referring sciences to action and the use of man, which mean quite another matter than I do. For they mean a contriving of directions, and precepts for readiness of practice, which I discommend not, so it be not occasion that some quantity of the science be lost; for else it will be such a piece of husbandry, as to put away a manor lying somewhat scattered, to buy in a close that lieth handsomely about a dwelling: But my intention contrariwise is to increase and multiply the revenues and possessions of man, and not to trim up only, or order with conveniency the grounds whereof he is already stated. Wherefore the better to make myself understood, that I mean nothing less than words, and directly to demonstrate the point which we are now upon, that is, what is the true end, scope, or office of knowledge, which I have set down to consist not in any plausible, delectable, reverend, or admired discourse, or any satisfactory arguments, but in effecting and working, and in discovery of particulars not revealed before, for the better endowment and help of man's life; I have thought good to make, as it were, a kalendar or inventory of the wealth, furniture, or means of man, according to his present estate, as far as it is known; which I do not to shew any universality of sense or knowledge, and much less to make a satire of reprehension in respect of wants and errors, but partly because cogitations new had need of some grossness and inculcation to make them perceived, and chiefly to the end, that for the time to come, upon the account and state now made and cast up, it may appear what increase this new manner of use and administration of the stock, if it be once planted, shall bring with it hereafter; and
for the time present, in case I should be prevented by death to propound and reveal this new light as I purpose, yet I may at the least give some awaking note, both of the wants in man's present condition, and the nature of the supplies to be wished; though for mine own part neither do I much build upon my present anticipations, neither do I think ourselves yet learned or wise enough to wish reasonably : for as it asks some knowledge to demand a question not impertinent; so it asketh some sense, to make a wisho not absurd.
The Inventory, or an enumeration and view of in
ventions already discovered in use, together with
a note of the wants, and the nature of the supplies. Being the Xth chapter; and this a small fragment
thereof, being the preface to the Inventory.
THE plainest method, and most directly pertinent to this intention, will be to make distribution of sciences, arts, inventions, works, and their portions, according to the use and tribute which they yield and render to the conditions of man's life, and under those several uses, being as several offices of provisions, to charge and tax what may be reasonably exacted or demanded, not guiding ourselves neither by the poverty of experiences and probations, nor according to the vanity of credulous imaginations; and then upon those charges and taxations to distinguish and present, as it were, in several columns, what is extant and already found, and what is defective and further to be provided. Of which provisions, because in many of them, after the manner of slothful and faulty officers and accomptants, it will be returned, by way of excuse, that no such are to be had, it will be fit to give some light of the nature of the supplies, whereby it will evidently appear, that they are to be compassed and procured. And yet nevertheless on the other side again, it will be as fit to check and controul the vain and void assignations and gifts, whereby certain ignorant, extravagant, and abusing wits have pretended to indue the state of man with wonders, differing as much from truth in nature, as Cæsar's commentaries differeth from the acts of King Arthur, or Huon of Bourdeaux, in story. For it is true that Cæsar did greater things than those idle wits had the audacity to feign their supposed worthies to have done; but he did them not in that monstrous and fabulous manner.
The chapter immediately following the Inventory.
Being the XIth in order, a part thereof. It appeareth then, what is now in proposition, not by general circumlocution, but by particular note, no former philosophy varied in terms or method; no new placet or speculation upon particulars already known; no referring to action, by any manual of practice; but the revealing and discovering of new inventions and operations This to be done without the errors and conjectures of art, or the length or difficulties of experience; the nature and kinds of which inventions have been described as they could be discovered ; for your eye cannot pass one kenning without further sailing: only we have stood upon the best advantages of the notions received, as upon a mount, to shew the knowledges adjacent and confining. If therefore the true end of knowledge, not propounded, hath bred large error, the best and perfectest condition of the same end, not perceived, will cause some declination. For when the butt is set up, men need not rove, but except the white be placed, men cannot level. This perfection we mean, not in the worth of the effects, but in the nature of the direction ; for our purpose is not to stir up mens hopes, but to guide their travels. The fulness of direction to work, and produce any effect, consisteth in two conditions, certainty and liberty. Certainty is, when the direction is not only true for the most part, but infallible. Liberty is, when the direction is not restrained to some definite means, but comprehendeth all the means and ways possible; for the poet saith well, Sapientibus undique late sunt vie ; and where there is the greatest plurality of change, there is the greatest singularity of choice. Besides, as a conjectural direction maketh a casual effect, so a particular and restrained direction is no less casual than uncertain. For those particular means whereunto it is tied, may be out of your power, or may be accompanied with an overvalue of prejudice; and so if for want of certainty in direction, you are frustrated in success, for want of variety in direction, you are stopped in attempt. If therefore your direction be certain, it must refer you, and point you to somewhat, which if it be present, the effect you seek will of necessity follow, else may you perform and not obtain. If it be free, then must it refer you to somewhat, which if it be absent, the effect you seek will of necessity withdraw, else may you have power and not attempt. This notion Aristotle had in light, though not in use. For the two commended rules by him set down, whereby the axioms of sciences are precepted to be made convertible, and which the latter men have not without elegancy surnamed, the one the rule of truth, because it preventeth deceit; the other the rule of prudence, because it freeth election'; are the same thing in speculation and affirmation, which we now observe. An example will make my meaning attained, and yet percase make it thought that they attained it not.
Let the effect to be produced be whiteness; let the first direction be, that if air and water be intermingled, or broken in small portions together, whiteness will ensue; as in snow, in the breaking of the ways of the sea and rivers, and the like. This direction is certain, but very particular; and restrained, being tied but to air and water. Let the second direction be, that if air be mingled as before with any transparent body, such nevertheless as is uncoloured and more grossly transparent than air itself, that then, etc. as glass or crystal, being beaten to fine powder, by the interposition of the air becometh white; the white of an egg, being clear of itself, receiving air by agitation, becometh white, receiving air by concoction be