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“ gusto profluens, et quæ principem deceret, elo
quentia fuit.” For, if we note it well, speech that is uttered with labour and difficulty, or speech that savoureth of the affectation of art and precepts, or speech that is framed after the imitation of some pattern of eloquence, though never so excellent, all this has somewhat servile, and holding of the subject. But your majesty's manner of speech is indeed prince-like, flowing as from a fountain, and yet streaming and branching itself into nature's order, full of facility and felicity, imitating none, and inimitable by any. And as in your civil estate there appeareth to be an emulation and contention of your majesty's virtue with your fortune ; a virtuous disposition with a fortunate regiment; a virtuous expectation, when time was, of your greater fortune, with a prosperous possession thereof in the due time; a virtuous observation of the laws of marriage, with most blessed and happy fruit of marriage ; a virtuous and most Christian desire of peace, with a fortunate inclination in your neighbour princes thereunto: so likewise, in these intellectual matters, there seemeth to be no less contention between the excellency of your majesty's gifts of nature, and the universality and perfection of your learning. For I am well assured that this which I shall say is no amplification at all, but a positive and measured truth; which is, that there hath not been since Christ's time any king or temporal monarch, which has been so learned in all literature and erudition, divine and human. For let a man seriously and diligently re
volve and peruse the succession of the emperors of Rome; of which Cæsar the dictator, who lived some years before Christ, and Marcus Antoninus, were the best learned ; and so descend to the emperors of Græcia, or of the West; and then to the lines of France, Spain, England, Scotland, and the rest, and he shall find this judgment is truly made. 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 shews 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. This propriety, inherent and individual attribute in your majesty, deserveth to be expressed not only in the fame and admiration of the present time, nor in the history or tradition of the ages succeeding ; but also in some solid work, fixed memorial, and immortal monument, bearing a character or signature both of the power of a king, and the difference and perfection of such a king.
Therefore I did conclude with myself, that I
could not make unto your majesty a better oblation, than of some treatise tending to that end, whereof the sum will consist of these two parts; the former, concerning the excellency of learning and knowledge, and the excellency of the merit and true glory in the augmentation and propagation thereof: the latter, what the particular acts and works are, which have been embraced and undertaken for the advancement of learning; and again, what defects and undervalues I find in such particular acts: to the end, that though I cannot positively or affirmatively advise
your majesty, or propound unto you framed particulars; yet I may excite your princely cogitations to visit the excellent treasure of your own mind, and thence to extract particulars for this purpose, agreeable to your magnanimity and wisdom.
In the entrance to the former of these, to clear the way, and, as it were, to make silence, to have the true testimonies concerning the dignity of learning to be better heard, without the interruption of tacit objections ; I think good to deliver it from the discredits and disgraces which it hath received, all from ignorance, but ignorance severally disguised ; appearing sometimes in the zeal and jealousy of divines; sometimes in the severity and arrogancy of politicians; and sometimes in the errors and imperfections of learned men themselves.
I hear the former sort say, that knowledge is of those things which are to be accepted of with great limitation and caution; that the aspiring to over
much knowledge, was the original temptation and sin, whereupon ensued the fall of man ; that knowledge hath in it somewhat of the serpent, and therefore where it entereth into a man it makes him swell; “ Scientia inflats” that Solomon gives a censure, “ That there is no end of making books, and that “much reading is a weariness of the flesh;” and again in another place, “ That in spacious knowledge “ there is much contristation, and that he that in“ creaseth knowledge increaseth anxiety;" that St. Paul gives a caveat, “ That we be not spoiled through “ vain philosophy;" that experience demonstrates how learned men have been arch-heretics, how learned times have been inclined to atheism, and how the contemplation of second causes both derogate from our dependance upon God, who is the first cause.
To discover then the ignorance and error of this opinion, and the misunderstanding in the grounds thereof, it may well appear these men do not observe or consider, that it was not the pure knowledge of nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise, as they were brought before him, according unto their proprieties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God's commandments, which was the form of the temptation. Neither is it any quantity of knowledge, how great soever, that can make the mind of man to swell; for nothing can fill, much less extend the soul of man, but God and
the contemplation of God; and therefore Solomon speaking of the two principal senses of inquisition, the eye and the ear, affirmeth that the
is never satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing; and if there be no fulness, then is the continent greater than the content: so of knowledge itself, and the mind of man, whereto the senses are but reporters, he defineth likewise in these words, placed after that calendar or ephemerides, which he maketh of the diversities of times and seasons for all actions and purposes; and concludeth thus : “God hath made all things “ beautiful, or decent, in the true return of their sea“ sons : Also he hath placed the world in man's “ heart, yet cannot man find out the work which God
worketh from the beginning to the end:” declaring, not obscurely, that God hath framed the mind of man as a mirror or glass, capable of the image of the universal world, and joyful to receive the impression thereof, as the eye joyeth to receive light; and not only delighted in beholding the variety of things, and vicissitude of times, but raised also to find out and discern the ordinances and decrees, which throughout all those changes are infallibly observed. And although he doth insinuate that the supreme or summary law of nature, which he calleth,
« The “ work which God worketh from the beginning to the
end, is not possible to be found out by man;" yet that doth not derogate from the capacity of the mind, but may be referred to the impediments, as of shortness of life, ill conjunction of labours, ill tradition of knowledge over from hand to hand, and many