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POLITICIANS' OBJECTIONS TO LEARNING.
And as for the disgraces which learning receiveth from politicians, they be of this nature; that learning doth soften men's minds, and makes them more unapt for the honour and exercise of arms; that it doth mar and pervert men's dispositions for matter of government and policy; in making them too curious and irresolute by variety of reading; or too peremptory or positive by strictness of rules and axioms; or too immoderate and overweening by reason of the greatness of examples; or too incompatible and differing from the times, by reason of the dissimilitude of examples ; or at least, that it doth divert men's travails from action and business, and bringeth them to a love of leisure and privateness; and that it doth bring into states a relaxation of discipline, whilst every man is more ready to argue, than to obey and execute. Out of this conceit, Cato, surnamed the Censor, one of the wisest men indeed that ever lived, when Carneades the philosopher came in embassage to Rome, and that the young men of Rome began to flock about him, - being allured with the sweetness and majesty of his eloquence and learning, gave counsel in open senate, that they should give him his dispatch with all speed, lest he should infect and inchant the minds and affections of the youth, and at unawares bring in an alteration of the manners and customs of the state. Out of the same conceit, or humour, did Virgil, turning his pen to the advantage of his country, and the disadvantage of his own profession, make a kind of separation between policy and go
vernment, and between arts and sciences, in the verses so much renowned, attributing and challenging the one to the Romans, and leaving and yielding the other to the Grecians ; “ Tu regere imperio populos, Ro“ mane, memento, Hæ tibi erunt artes, &c." So likewise we see that Anytus, the accuser of Socrates, laid it as an article of charge and accusation against him, that he did, with the variety and power of his discourses and disputations, withdraw young men from due reverence to the laws and customs of their country; and that he did profess a dangerous and pernicious science, which was, to make the worse matter seem the better, and to suppress truth by force of eloquence and speech.
But these, and the like imputations, have rather a countenance of gravity, than any ground of justice : for experience doth warrant, that both in persons and in times, there hath been a meeting and concurrence in learning and arms, flourishing and excelling in the same men and the same ages. For, as for men, there cannot be a better, nor the like instance, as of that pair, Alexander the Great and Julius Cæsar the dictator; whereof the one was Aristotle's scholar in philosophy, and the other was Cicero's rival in eloquence: or if any man had rather call for scholars that were great generals, than generals that were great scholars, let him take Epaminondas the Theban, or Xenophon the Athenian ; whereof the one was the first that abated the power of Sparta, and the other was the first that made way to the overthrow of the monarchy
of Persia. And this concurrence is yet more visible in times than in persons, by how much an age is a greater object than a man. For both in Ægypt, Assyria, Persia, Græcia, and Rome, the same times that are most renowned for arms, are likewise most admired for learning; so that the greatest authors and philosophers, and the greatest captains and governors, have lived in the same ages. Neither can it otherwise be : for as, in man, the ripeness of strength of the body and mind cometh much about an age, save that the strength of the body cometh somewhat the more early; so in states, arms and learning, whereof the one correspondeth to the body, the other to the soul of man, have a concurrence or near sequence in times.
And for matter of policy and government, that learning should rather hurt, than enable thereunto, is a thing very improbable : we see it is accounted an error to commit a natural body to empiric physicians, which commonly have a few pleasing receits, whereupon they are confident and adventurous, but know neither the causes of diseases, nor the complexions of patients, nor peril of accidents, nor the true method of cures : we see it is a like error to rely upon advocates or lawyers, which are only men of practice, and not grounded in their books, who are many times easily surprised, when matter falleth out besides their experience, to the prejudice of the causes they handle : so, by like reason, it cannot be but a matter of doubtful con
sequence, if states be managed by empiric statesmen, not well mingled with men grounded in learning. But contrariwise, it is almost without instance contradictory, that ever any government was disastrous that was in the hands of learned go- |
For howsoever it hath been ordinary with politic men to extenuate and disable learned men by the names of pedants; yet in the records of time it appeareth, in many particulars, that the governments of princes in minority (notwithstanding the infinite disadvantage of that kind of state) have nevertheless excelled the government of princes of mature age, even for that reason which they seek to traduce, which is, that by that occasion the state hath been in the hands of pedants : for so was the state of Rome for the first five years, which are so much magnified, during the minority of Nero, in the hands of Seneca, a pedant: so it was again, for ten years' space or more, during the minority of Gordianus the younger, with great applause and contentation in the hands of Misitheus, a pedant: so was it before that, in the minority of Alexander Severus, in like happiness, in hands not much unlike, by reason of the rule of the women, who were aided by the teachers and preceptors. Nay, let a man look into the government of the bishops of Rome, as by name, into the government of Pius Quintus, and Sextus Quintus, in our times, who were both at their entrance esteemed but as pedantical friars, and he shall find that such popes do greater things, and proceed upon truer principles of estate,