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experiments; and new effects and experiments contain much that is light and common, mean and from those causes and axioms.
illiberal, too refined and merely speculative, and, And, although any one of moderate intelligence as it were, of no use, and this, perhaps, may and ability will observe the indications and divert and alienate the attention of mankind. sketches of many noble effects in our tables of With regard to what is common; let men reflect, inventions, (which form the fourth part of the that they have hitherto been used to do nothing Instauration, and also in the examples of parti- but refer and adapt the causes of things of rare cular instances cited in the second part, as well occurrence to those of things which more freas in our observations on history, (which is the quently happen, without any investigation of the subject of the third part; yet we candidly confess causes of the latter, taking them for granted and that our present natural history, whether compiled / admitted. from books or our own inquiries, is not sufficiently Hence they do not inquire into the causes of copious and well ascertained to satisfy, or even gravity, the rotation of the heavenly bodies, heat, assist, a proper interpretation.
cold, light, hardness, softness, rarity, density, If, therefore, there be any one who is more dis- liquidity, solidity, animation, inanimation, similiposed and prepared for mechanical art, and inge- tude, difference, organic formation, but taking nious in discovering effects, than in the mere them to be self-evident, manifest, and admitted, management of experiment, we allow him to they dispute and decide upon other matters of less employ his industry in gathering many of the frequent and familiar occurrence. fruits of our history and tables in his way,
and But we (who know that no judgment can be applying them to effects, receiving them as inte- formed of that which is rare or remarkable, and rest till he can obtain the principal. For our own much less any thing new brought to light, withpart, having a greater object in view, we condemn out a previous regular examination and discovery all hasty and premature rest in such pursuits, as of the causes of that which is common, and the we would Atalanta's apple (to use a common causes again of those causes) are necessarily allusion of ours;) for we are not childishly am- compelled to admit the most common objects into bitious of golden fruit, but use all our efforts to our history. Besides, we have observed that make the course of art outstrip nature, and we nothing has been so injurious to philosophy as hasten not to reap moss or the green blade, but this circumstance, namely, that familiar and frewait for a ripe harvest.
quent objects do not arrest and detain men's con118. There will be some, without doubt, who, templation, but are carelessly admitted, and their on a perusal of our history and tables of inven- causes never inquired after; so that information tion, will meet with some uncertainty, or perhaps on unknown subjects is not more often wanted fallacy, in the experiments themselves, and will than attention to those which are known. thence, perhaps, imagine that our discoveries are 120. With regard to the meanness or even the built on false foundations and principles. There filthiness of particulars, for which (as Pliny obis, however, really nothing in this, since it must serves) an apology is requisite, such subjects are needs happen in beginnings. For it is the same no less worthy of admission into natural history as if in writing or printing one or two letters than the most magnificent and costly: nor do they were wrongly turned or misplaced, which is no at all pollute natural history, for ine sun enters great inconvenience to the reader, who can easily alike the palace and the privy, and is not thereby by his own eye correct the error; let men in the polluted. We neither dedicate nor raise a capitol same way conclude that many experiments in or pyramid to the pride of man, but rear a holy natural history may be erroneously believed and temple in his mind, on the model of the universe, admitted, which are easily expunged and rejected which model therefore we imitate. For that afterwards by the discovery of causes and axioms. which is deserving of existence is deserving of It is, however, true that if these errors in natural knowledge, the image of existence. Now, the history and experiments become great, frequent, mean and splendid alike exist. Nay, as the and continued, they cannot be corrected and finest odours are sometimes produced from putrid amended by any dexterity of wit or art. If, then, matter, (such as musk and civet,) so does valuable even in our natural history, well examined and light and information emanate from mean and compiled with such diligence, strictness, and (I sordid instances. But we have already said too might say) reverential scruples, there be now and much, for such fastidious feelings are childish then something false and erroneous in the details, and effeminate. what must we say of the common natural history, 121. The next point requires a more accurate which is so negligent and careless when compared consideration, namely, that many parts of oni with ours ? or of systems of philosophy and the history will appear to the vulgar, or even any sciences based on such loose soil, or rather quick- mind accustomed to the present state of things, sand ? Let none then be alarmed by such observa- fantastically and uselessly refined. Hence ire
have in regard to this matter said from the first, 119. Again, our history and experiments will and must again repeat, that we look for experi
ments that shall afford light rather than profit, | to those of the Greeks, (since the sciences in all imitating the divine creation, which, as we have probability flourished more in their natural state, often observed, only produced light on the first though silently, than when they were paraded day, and assigned that whole day to its creation, with the fifes and trumpets of the Greeks;) or without adding any material work.
even (in parts at least) to some of the Greeks If any one then imagine such matters to be of themselves, and to derive authority and honour no use, he might equally suppose light to be of no from thence; as men of no family labour to raise use, because it is neither solid nor material. For and form nobility for themselves in some ancient in fact the knowledge of simple natures, when line, by the help of genealogies. Trusting, howsufficiently investigated and defined, resembles ever, to the evidence of facts, we reject every light, which though of no great use in itself, kind of fiction and imposture: and think it of affords access to the general mysteries of effects, no more consequence to our subject, whether future and with a peculiar power comprehends and discoveries were known to the ancients, and set draws with it whole bands and troops of effects, or rose according to the vicissitudes of events and and the sources of the most valuable axioms. So, lapse of ages, than it would be of importance to also, the elements of letters have of themselves mankind to know whether the new world be the separately no meaning, and are of no use, yet are island of Atlantis,* and known to the ancients, or they as it were the original matter in the com- be now discovered for the first time. position and preparation of speech. The seeds With regard to the universal censure we have of substances whose effect is powerful, are of no bestowed, it is quite clear to any one who prouse except in their growth, and the scattered rays perly considers the matter, that it is both more proof light itself avail not unless collected.
bable and more modest than any partial one could But if speculative subtilties give offence, what have been. For if the errors had not been rooted must we say of the scholastic philosophers who in the primary notions, some well conducted indulged in them to such excess? And those discoveries must have corrected others that were subtilties were wasted on words, or at least com- deficient. But since the errors were fundamental, mon notions, (which is the same thing,) not on and of such a nature that men may be said rather things or nature, and alike unproductive of benefit to have neglected or passed over things than to in their origin and their consequences : in no way have formed a wrong or false judgment of them, resembling ours, which are at present useless, but it is little to be wondered at, that they did not in their consequences of infinite benefit. Let obtain what they never aimed at, nor arrive at a men be assured that all subtile disputes and dis- goal which they had not determined, nor perform cursive efforts of the mind are late and preposte- a course which they had neither entered upon nor rous, when they are introduced subsequently to adhered to. the discovery of axioms, and that their true or at With regard to our presumption, we allow that any rate chief opportunity is when experiment is if we were to assume a power of drawing a more to be weighed and axioms to be derived from it. perfect straight line or circle than any one else, They otherwise catch and grasp at nature, but by superior steadiness of hand or acuteness of never seize or detain her: and we may well apply eye, it would lead to a comparison of talent; but to nature that which has been said of opportunity if one merely assert that he can draw a more pero or fortune, “ that she wears a lock in front, but is fect line or circle with a ruler or compasses, than bald behind."
another can by his unassisted hand or eye, he In short, we may reply decisively to those who surely cannot be said to boast of much. Now this despise any part of natural history as being vul- applies not only to our first original attempt, but gar, mean, or subtle and useless in its origin, in also to those who shall hereafter apply themthe words of a poor woman to a haughty prince selves to the pursuit. For our method of diswho had rejected her petition, as unworthy and covering the sciences, merely levels men's wits, beneath the dignity of his majesty : “ then cease and leaves but little to their superiority, since it to reign;" for it is quite certain that the empire achieves every thing by the most certain rules of nature can neither be obtained nor administered and demonstrations. Whence, (as we have often by one who refuses to pay attention to such mat- observed,) our attempt is to be attributed to forters as being poor and too minute.
tune rather than talent, and is the offspring of 122. Again, it may be objected to us as being time rather than of wit. For a certain sort of singular and harsh, that we should with one chance has no less effect upon our thoughts than stroke and assault, as it were, banish all authori- on our acts and deeds. ties and sciences, and that too by our own efforts,
123. We may, therefore, apply to ourselves without requiring the assistance and support of the joke of him who said, “ that water and wine any of the ancients.
drinkers could not think alike,” especially as it Now, we are aware, that had been ready to hits the matter so well.
For others, both annot otherwise than sincerely, it was not difficult to refer our present method to remote ages, prior
See Plato's Timæus.
cients and moderns, have, in the sciences, drank a the scaffolding and ladders when the building is crude liquor like water, either flowing of itself finished. Nor can we indeed believe the case to from the understanding, or drawn up by logic as have been otherwise. But to any one, not enthe wheel draws up the bucket. But we drink tirely forgetful of our previous observations, it and pledge others with a liquor made of many will be easy to answer this objection, or rather well ripened grapes, collected and plucked from scruple. For, we allow that the ancients had a particular branches, squeezed in the press, and at particular form of investigation and discovery, last clarified and fermented in a vessel. It is not, and their writings show it. But it was of such therefore, wonderful that we should not agree a nature, that they immediately flew from a few with others.
instances and particulars, (after adding some 124. Another objection will, without doubt, be common notions, and a few generally received made, namely, that we have not ourselves esta- opinions most in vogue,) to the most general conblished a correct, or the best goal or aim of the clusions, or the principles of the sciences, and sciences, (the very defect we blame in others.) then by their intermediate propositions deduced For, they will say, that the contemplation of their inferior conclusions, and tried them by the truth is more dignified and exalted than any test of the immovable and settled truth of the utility or extent of effects : but that our dwelling first, and so constructed their art. Lastly, if so long and anxiously on experience and matter, some new particulars and instances were brought and the fluctuating state of particulars, fastens the forward, which contradicted their dogmas, they mind to earth, or rather casts it down into an either with great subtilty reduced them to one abyss of confusion and disturbance, and separates system, by distinctions or explanations of their and removes it from a much more divine state, own rules, or got rid of them clumsily as excepthe quiet and tranquillity of abstract wisdom. tions, labouring most pertinaciously in the mean We willingly assent to their reasoning, and are time to accommodate the causes of such as were most anxious to effect the very point they hint not contradictory to their own principles. Their at and require. For we are founding a real natural history and their experience were both model of the world in the understanding, such as far from being what they ought to have been, it is found to be, not such as man's reason has and their flying off to generalities ruined every distorted. Now, this cannot be done without dis- thing. secting and anatomizing the world most diligent- 126. Another objection will be made against ly; but we declare it necessary to destroy com- us, that we prohibit decisions, and the laying pletely the vain, little, and as it were apish imita- down of certain principles, till we arrive regulartions of the world, which have been formed in ly at generalities by the intermediate steps, and various systems of philosophy by men's fancies. thus keep the judgment in suspense and lead to Let men learn (as we have said above) the differ- uncertainty. But our object is not uncertainty, ence that exists between the idols of the human but fitting certainty, for we derogate not from mind, and the ideas of the Divine mind. The the senses, but assist them, and despise not the former are mere arbitrary abstractions; the latter understanding, but direct it. It is better to know the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as what is necessary, and not to imagine we are they are imprinted on, and defined in matter, by fully in possession of it, than to imagine that we true and exquisite touches. · Truth, therefore, are fully in possession of it, and yet in reality to and utility are here perfectly identical, and the know nothing which we ought. effects are of more value as pledges of truth than 127. Again, some may raise this question rather from the benefit they confer on men.
than objection, whether we talk of perfecting na125. Others may object that we are only doing tural philosophy alone according to our method, that which has already been done, and that the or the other sciences also, such as logic, ethics, ancients followed the same course as ourselves. politics. We certainly intend to comprehend They may imagine, therefore, that, after all this them all. And as common logic, which regulates stir and exertion, we shall at last arrive at some matters by syllogisms, is applied not only to naof those systems that prevailed among the an- tural
, but also to every other science, so our incients : for that they, too, when commencing their ductive method likewise comprehends them all. meditations, laid up a great store of instances For we form a history and tables of invention for and particulars, and digested them under topics anger, fear, shame, and the like, and also for exand tiles in their commonplace books, and so amples in civil life, and the mental operations of worked out their systems and arts, and then de- memory, composition, division, judgment, and the cided upon what they discovered, and related rest, as well as for heat and cold, light, vegetanow and then some examples to confirm and tion, and the like. But since our method of in throw light upon their doctrine; but thought it terpretation, after preparing and arranging a his superfluous and troublesome to publish their tory, does not content itself with examining thu notes, minutes, and commonplaces, and, therefore, operations and disquisitions of the mind, like followed the example of builders, who remove common logic; but also inspects the nature of
things, we so regulate the mind that it may be the former forever. Civil reformation seldom is
“ Primum frugiferos fætus mortalibus ægris 128. Let none even doubt whether we are anx- Dididerant quondam præstanti nomine Athena ious to destroy and demolish the philosophy, arts,
Et recreaverunt vitam legesque rogarunt." and sciences, which are now in use. On the con- And it is worthy of remark in Solomon, that trary, we readily cherish their practice, cultivation, whilst he flourished in the possession of his emand honour. For we by no means interfere to pire, in wealth, in the magnificence of his works, prevent the prevalent system from encouraging in his court, his household, his fleet, the splendour discussion, adorning discourses, or being employ- of his name, and the most unbounded admiration ed serviceably in the chair of the professor or the of mankind, he still placed his glory in none of practice of common life, and being taken, in these, but declared, f “That it is the glory of short, by general consent, as current coin. Nay, God to conceal a thing, but the glory of a king to we plainly declare, that the system we offer will search it out." not be very suitable for such purposes, not being Again, let any one but consider the immense easily adapied to vulgar apprehensions, except by difference between men's lives in the most polisheffects and works. To show our sincerity in pro-ed countries of Europe, and in any wild and barsessing our regard and friendly disposition to- barous region of the New Indies, he will think it wards the received sciences, we can refer to the so great, that man may be said to be a god unto evidence of our published writings, (especially man, not only on account of mutual aid and beneour books on the advancement of learning.) We fits, but from their comparative states : the result will not, therefore, endeavour to evince it any of the arts, and not of the soil or climate. further by words ; but content ourselves with Again, we should notice the force, effect, and steadily and professedly premising, that no great consequences of inventions, which are nowhere progress can be made by the present methods, in more conspicuous than in those three which were the theory or contemplation of science, and that unknown to the ancients; namely, printing, gunthey cannot be made to produce any very abun- powder, and the compass. For these three have dant effects.
changed the appearance and state of the whole 129. It remains for us to say a few words on world; first in literature, then in warfare, and the excellence of our proposed end. If we had lastly in navigation: and innumerable changes done so before, we might have appeared merely have been thence derived, so that no empire, sect, to express our wishes, but now that we have ex
or star, appears to have exercised a greater power cited hope and removed prejudices, it will perhaps and influence on human affairs than these mecha have greater weight. Had we performed and nical discoveries. completely accomplished the whole, without fre
It will, perhaps, be as well to distinguish thres quently calling in others to assist in our labours, species and degrees of ambition. First
, that of we should then have refrained from saying any men who are anxious to enlarge their own power inore, lest we should be thought to extol our own in their country, which is a vulgar and degenerate deserts. Since, however, the industry of others kind; next, that of men who strive to enlarge the must be quickened, and their courage roused and power and empire of their country over mankind, inflamed, it is right to recall some points to their which is more dignified, but not less covetous; memory.
but if one were to endeavour to renew and enlarge First, then, the introduction of great inventions the power and empire of mankind in general over appears one of the most distinguished of human the universe, such ambition (if it may so be actions ; and the ancients so considered it. For termed) is both more sound and more noble than they assigned divine honours to the authors of the other two. Now, the empire of man over inventions, but only heroic bonours to those who things is founded on the arts and sciences alone, displayed civil merit, (such as the founders of for nature is only to be commanded by obeying her. cities and empires, legislators, the deliverers of their country from everlasting misfortunes, the * This is the opening of the sixth book of Lucretius. Ba
con probably quoted from memory; the lines are, Titellers of tyrants, and the like.) And if any
Primæ frugiferos fætus mortalibus ægris me rightly compare them, he will find the judg
Dididerunt quondam præclaro nomine Albenæ "tent of antiquity to be correct. For the benefits
Et recreaverunt, &c. teptuned from inventions may extend to mankind The teeming corn, that feeble mortals crave, * Fogeral, but civil benefits to particular spots First, and long since, renowned Athens gave,
And cheered their life--then taught to frame their laws emas. the latter, Derrer, last but for a time,
INTE Besides this, if the benefit of any particular 130. But it is time for us to lay down the art invention has had such an effect as to induce men of interpreting nature; to which we attribute no to consider him greater than a man, who has thus absolute necessity (as if nothing could be done obliged the whole race; how much more exalted without it) nor perfection, although we think that will that discovery be, which leads to the easy our precepts are most useful and correct. For we discovery of every thing else! Yet, (to speak the are of opinion, that if men had at their command truth,) in the same manner as we are very thankful a proper history of nature and experience, and for light which enables us to enter on our way, to would apply themselves steadily to it, and could practise arts, to read, to distinguish each other, bind themselves to two things ; 1. To lay aside and yet sight is more excellent and beautiful than received opinions and notions ; 2. To restrain themthe various uses of light; so is the contemplation selves, till the proper season, from generalization, of things as they are, free from superstition or they might, by the proper and genuine exertion imposture, error or confusion, much more digni- of their minds, fall into our way of interpretation fied in itself than all the advantage to be derived without the aid of any art. For interpretation is from discoveries.
| Prov. xxv 2.
the true and natural act of the mind, when all obLastly, let none be alarmed at the objection of stacles are removed : certainly, however, every the arts and sciences becoming depraved to ma- thing will be more ready and better fixed by our levolent or luxurious purposes and the like, for the precepts. same can be said of every worldly good; talent, Yet do we not affirm that no addition can be courage, strength, beauty, riches, light itself, and made to them; on the contrary, considering the the rest. Only let mankind regain their rights mind in its connexion with things, and not merely over nature, assigned to them by the gift of God, relatively to its own powers, we ought to be perand obtain that power, whose exercise will be suaded that the art of invention can be made to governed by right reason and true religion. grow with the inventions themselves.
THE SECOND BOOK OF
A PHORI SMS,
INTERPRETATION OF NATURE, OR THE REIGN OF MAN.
1. To generate and superinduce a new nature, tions of the vulgar. It is rightly laid down, that or new natures, upon a given body, is the labour "true knowledge is that which is deduced from and aim of human power : whilst to discover the causes.” The division of four causes, also, is ' form or true difference of a given nature, or the not amiss: matter, form, the efficient, and end, or nature * to which such nature is owing, or source final cause.* Of these, however, the latter is so from whence it emanates, (for these terms ap- far from being beneficial, that it even corrupts the proach nearest to an explanation of our meaning,) sciences, except in the intercourse of man with is the labour and discovery of human knowledge. man. The discovery of form is considered despeAnd, subordinate to these primary labours, are
As for the efficient cause, and matter, (actwo others of a secondary nature and inferior cording to the present system of inquiry and the stamp. Under the first must be ranked the received opinions concerning them, by which transformation of concrete bodies from one to they are placed remote from, and without any another, which is possible within certain limits; latent process towards form,) they are but desul. under the second, the discovery, in every species tory and superficial, and of scarcely any avail to of generation and motion, of the latent and unin- real and active knowledge. Nor are we unmindterrupted process, from the manifest efficient and ful of our having pointed out and corrected above manifest subject-matter up to the given form: and the error of the human mind, in assigning the a like discovery of the latent conformation of first qualities of essence to forms. For, although bodies which are at rest, instead of being in nothing exists in nature except individual bodies,
* These divisions are from Aristotle's Metaphysics, whero 2. The unhappy state of man's actual know they are terned, 1, üln i rò vtOkei pevov. 2, -8 tí hv tivas
3, όθεν ή άρχη της κινεσεως. 4, το ού ένεκεν-και το άγωνο», ledge is manifested even by the common asser- + See Aphorismı 51, and 2d paragraph of Aphorism 65, la * To rinv civar, or fi ovoia of Aristotle. See lib. 3. Metap.
the first book.