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sics of the schools. As already observed, * the school-divines, whose livelihood lay in hammering shrines for this superannuated study,'-attempted to discredit the doctrines of Bacon's Philosophical Writings by alleging that they favoured atheism ; 'but this censure,' says Osborn,' was overbalanced by a greater weight of glory from strangers.' † As a specimen of the opinions of some of Bacon's opponents, the following passage may be cited from the Arcana Microcosmi of Alexander Ross, published in the year 1652, about twenty-five years after Bacon's death. “I have,' says he, "cursorily run over my lord Bacon's New Philosophy, and find that philosophy is like wine, the older the better. For, whereas Aristotle had, within infinite pains and industry, and not without singular dexterity, reduced all entities into certain heads, and placed them in ten classes or predicaments to avoid confusion, and that we might, with the more
* Ante, p. 167. + Osborn's Works, p. 446.
facility, find out the true genus and difference of things; which Aristotelian way hath been received and approved by all universities, and the wise men since his time in all ages, as being the most consonant to reason; yet these New Philosophers, as if they were wiser than all the world besides, have, like fantastic travellers, left the old beaten path, to find out ways unknown, and have reduced his comely order into chaos; jumbling the predicaments so together, that their scholars can never find out the true genus of things.' *
• Ross's Arcana Microcosmi, p. "263; Ed. Phil. Trans. vol. 8, p. 395. Alexander Ross was a most multifarious writer, as may be seen from the list of his works, which he prefixed to 'A View of all Religions in the World,'—a curious, and in some respects valuable book. His works are, however, now almost forgotten, but his name is immortalized in Butler's inimitable poem :
“There was an ancient sage philosopher,
That had read Alexander Ross over;
Hudibras, cant. 2.
In spite, however, of all this opposition, the Baconian Philosophy became more and more studied; and as early as 1645, (only nineteen years after Bacon's death,) an experimental philosophical society was formed in London, by Dr. John Wallis, the celebrated mathematician, Dr. Wilkins, (afterwards Bishop of Chester,) Dr. Goddard, and some other distinguished men of that day: 'Our business,' says Wallis, was to discourse and consider of things appertaining to what hath been called the New Philosophy; which from the times of Galileo and Bacon, bath been much cultivated in Italy, France, Germany, and other parts abroad, as well as with us in England. In about three years afterwards, Drs. Wilkins, Wallis, and Goddard, having removed to Oxford, they formed another society, with a similar object; which reckoned among its members some of the most learned men in the University, including the honourable, and ever-to-be-honoured, Robert Boyle. The
London society still continued its meetings; and after the King's return, in 1660, was much increased by the accession of several new members. In 1662, it was incorporated under the title of Royal Society for the improving of Natural Knowledge.*
The first suggestion of a society of this sort is admitted to have originated with Bacon; who, in his New Atlantis, sketched an alluring description of an institution dedicated to the study of nature and her laws; giving to it the name of Solomon's House, or the College of the Six Days' Works.t
* See Note (F.) Bishop Wilkins, says Aubrey, was the principal reviver of experimental philosophy (secundum mentem Domini Baconi,) at Oxford. He left a legacy of four hundred pounds to the Royal Society, and, had he been able, would have given more.'-Vol. 2, p. 583. See Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Biography, vol. 6, pp. 501—504, 535.
f Bacon's Works, vol. 2, pp. 323, 348. This fable,' [New Atlantis,] says Rawley, who published it after Bacon's death, “my lord devised, to the end that he might exhibit therein a model or description of a col. lege, instituted for the interpreting of nature, and the
In his History of the Royal Society, published in 1667, Dr. Sprat expressly says, that it was first devised by Bacon; and adds, 'if my desires could have prevailed with some excellent friends of mine, who engaged me to this work, there should have been no other preface to the History of the Royal Society, but some of his writings.'* The testimony of Mr. Oldenburg, who was the first secretary to the society, may likewise be adduced, to show that Bacon was then admitted to be the founder of the
producing of great and marvellous works, for the benefit of men. And even so far his lordship hath proceeded, as to finish that part. Certainly the model is more vast and high than can possibly be imitated in all things; notwithstanding most things therein are within men's power to effect. His lordship thought, also, in this present fable, to have composed a frame of laws, or of the best state or mould of a commonwealth ; but foreseeing it would be a long work, his desire of collecting the Natural History diverted him, which he preferred many degrees before it.'—Preface to the New Atlantis.
* Sprat's Hist. of the Royal Society, p. 35.