Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

iheir vines, they had a great vintage the year following: so assuredly the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature, as for the use of man's life.

2. In authors. Authors should be as consuls to advise, not as dictators to command.

Let great authors have their due, as time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is, further and further to discover truth.

PECCANT HUMOURS OF LEARNING. 1. The extreme affecting either of antiquity or novelty 46

State super vias antiquas, et videte quænam sit via recta et bona, et ambulate in eu."

Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi." These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado,by a compu

tation backward from ourselves.(c) 2. A suspicion that there is nothing new. 3. A conceit that of former opinions or sects, after variety and examination, the best hath prevailed

54 The truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a riter or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which

is weighty and solid. 4. The over early and peremptory reduction of knowledge into arts and methods

48 As young men, when they knit and shape perfectly, do seldom grow to a further stature; so knowledge, while it is in aphorisms und observations, it is in growth; but when it once is comprehended in eract methods, it may perchance be further polished and illustrated, and accommodated for use and practice; but it increaseth no more in bulk and substunce.(d)

1

!

(c) See note (C) at the end.

(d) See note (D) at the end.

с

5. The abandoning universality

48 No perfect discovery can be made upon a flat or a level: neither is it possible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the level of the

same science, and ascend not to a higher seience.(e) 6. The having too much reverence for the human mind .

49 Upon these intellectualists, which ure, notwithstanding, commonly taken for the most sublime and divine philosophers, Heraclitus gave a just censure, saying, " Men sought truth in their own little worlds, and not in the great and

common world." 7. The tainting doctrines with favourite opinions. 8. Impatience of doubt, and haste to assertion. (f) o. The delivering knowledge too peremptorily.(g) 10. Being content to work on the labours of others instead of inventing

51 11. The mistaking the furthest end of knowledge.(h)

51 Men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity, and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation ; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to the benefit and use of man : as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit ; or a Terrasse for u wandering and variable mind to walk up and down wilh a fair prospect; or a tower of state, for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground, for strife and contention ; or a shop, for profit or sale; and not a rich storehouse, for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of man's estate.

ADVANTAGES OF LEARNING

53

I have no purpose to enter into a laudative of learning,

(e) See note (E) at the end.
(g) See note (G) at the end.

(f) See note (F) at the end.
(h) See note (H) at the end.

or to make a hymn to the muses ; (though I am og opinion that it is long since their rites were duly celebruted :) but my intent is, without varnish or amplification, justly to weigh the dignity of knowledge in the balance with other things, to take the true value thereof by testimonies and

arguments divine and human. Different proofs of the advantages of knowledge. 1. Divine proofs

53
1. Before the creation.*
2. After the creation.

1. Before the flood.
2. After the flood.
1. Before christianity

57 In the law of the leprosy, it is said, If the whiteness have overspread the flesh, the patient may pass abroad for clean ; but if there be any whole flesh remaining, he is to be shut up for unclean ;" one of them noteth a principle of nature, that putrefaction is more con

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

When there were no depths I was brought forth ; when there were no fountains abounding with water.

Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.

While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

When he prepared the heavens I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his coinmandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.

PROVERBS, chap. viii.

.

tagious before maturity than after : and another noteth a position of moral philosophy, that men abandoned to vice do not so much corrupt manners, as those that are half good and half evil.

2. After christianity. 2. Human proofs

60 1. Learning relieves man's afflictions which arise from nature

60 Founders and uniters of states and cities, lawgivers, ertirpers of tyrants, fathers of the people, and other eminent persons in civil merit, were honoured but with the titles of worthies or demi-gods; such as were Hercules, Theseus, Minos, Romulus, and the like: on the other side, such as were inventors and authors of new arts, endowments, and commodities towards man's life, were ever consecrated amongst the gods themselves : as were Ceres, Bacchus, Mercurius, Apollo, and others : and justly; for the merit of the former is confined within the circle of an age or a nation and is like fruitful showers, which though they be profitable and good, yet serve but for that season, and for a latitude of ground where they fall; but the other is indeed like the benefits of heaven, which are permanent and universal. The former, again, is mixed with strife and perturbation ; but the latter hath the true character of divine presence, coming

in aura leni,without noise or agitation.(i) 2. Learning represses the inconveniences which

grow from to man.

man

63 In Orpheus's theatre, all beasts and birds assembled; and forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together listening to the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but

every

beast returned to his own nature : wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge ; which as long

(ii Sce notcil, at the end.

as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religon, sweetly touched with eloquence and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and con

fusion. 3. Proof of this position by shewing the conjunction between learning in the prince and happiness in the people.

64 But for a tablet, or picture of smaller volume, (not presuming to speak of your majesty that liveth,) in my judgment the most excellent is that of queen Elizabeth, your immediate predecessor in this part of Britain ; a princess that, if Plutarch were now alive to write lives by parallels, would trouble him, I think, to find for her a parallel amongst women. This lady was endued with learning in her ser singular, and rare even amongst masculine princes ; whether we speak of learning, language, or of science, modern or ancient, divinity or humanity: and unto the very last year of her life she was accustomed to appoint set hours for reading, scarcely any young student in an university more daily, or more duly. As for her government, I assure myself, I shall not exceed, if I do affirm that this part of the island never had forty-five years of better times; and yet not through the calmness of the season, but through the wisdom of her regimen. For if there be considered of the one side, the truth of religion established, the constant peace and security, the good administration of justice, the temperate use of the prerogative, not slackened, nor much strained, the flourishing state of learning, sortable to so ercellent a patroness, the convenient estate of wealth and means, both of crown and subject, the habit of obedience, and the moderation of discontents; and there be considered, on the other side, the differences of religion, the troubles of neighbour countries, the ambition of Spain, and opposition of Rome, and then, that she was solitary and of herself : these things, I say, considered, as I could not have chosen an instance so recent and so proper, so, I suppose, I could not have chosen one more remarkable or eminent to the pur

« AnteriorContinuar »