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eyes of them that look on; so such men's industries are in the eyes of others, or at least in regard of their own designments : only learned men love business, as an action according to nature, as agreeable to health of mind, as exercise is to health of body, taking pleasure in the action itself, and not in the purchase ; so that of all men they are the most indefatigable, if it be towards any business which can hold or detain their mind.'
. And that learning should take up too much time or leisure; I answer,' says Bacon, the most active or busy man that hath been or can be, hath, no question, many vacant times of leisure, while he expecteth the tides and returns of business, (except he be either tedious and of no dispatch, or lightly and unworthily ambitious to meddle in things that may be better done by others :) and then the question is, but how those spaces and times of leisure shall be filled and spent; whether in pleasures or in studies;
as was well answered by Demosthenes to his adversary Æschines, that was a man given to pleasure, and told him, that his orations did smell of the lamp: “Indeed,” said Demosthenes, “there is a great difference between the things that you and I do by lamp-light.” So as no man need doubt that learning will expulse business; but rather it will keep and defend the possession of the mind against idleness and pleasure, which otherwise at unawares may enter, to the prejudice of both.'
Again, for that other conceit, that learning should undermine the reverence of laws and government, it is assuredly a mere depravation and calumny, without all shadow of truth. For to say, that a blind custom of obedience should be a surer obligation than duty taught and understood, it is to affirm, that a blind man may tread surer by a guide than a seeing man can by a light. And it is without all controversy, that learning doth make the minds of men gentle, ge
nerous, maniable, and pliant to government; whereas ignorance makes them churlish, thwarting, and mutinous: and the evidence of time doth clear this assertion, considering that the most barbarous, rude, and unlearned times, have been most subject to tumults, seditions, and changes.'
He then exposes, with consummate skill, the errors among learned men themselves, which commonly cleave the fastest, springing either from their fortune, their manners, or the nature of their studies. His obser, vations on that distemper of learning, when men study words and not matter, show that he had the justest notions on a subject which afterwards exercised the gigantic intellect of Locke. How is it possible,' he asks, but this should have an operation to discredit learning, even with vulgar capa; cities, when they see learned men's works like the first letter of a patent or limned book, which, though it hath large flourishes, yet it is but a letter. For the wit and mind of man,' he adds, 'if it work upon matter, which is the contemplation of creatures of God, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and brings forth, indeed, cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit.'
Another error, he says, is an impatience of doubt, and haste to assertion without due suspension of judgment. “For the two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action, commonly spoken of by the ancients; the one plain and smooth in the beginning, and in the end impassable; the other rough and troublesome in the extreme, but after a while fair and even: so it is in contemplations : if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.' With the same sagacity he examines va
rious other peccant humours' which have hindered the advancement of learning: but the greatest error of all the rest, he says, is the mistaking the true end of knowledge; for 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 men: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a tarrasse, for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state, for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground, for strife or 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.'