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of Lord Cromwell...... 372 Reasons for removing Lord Coke
Remembrances of his majesty's declaration
The characters of a believing Christian, in
Lord Coke's answer to the fourth question
An advertisement, touching the controver-
Lord Coke's answer to the last question
LORD BACON’S WORK S.
A NATURAL HISTORY,
IN TEN CENTURIES,
In the spring of 1626, Lord Bacon died. In the same year, Dr. Rawley, “his lordship's first and last chaplain," as he always proudly entitles himself, collected and published the different poems which were written to the memory of his honoured master. In the year 1627, he published the Sylva Sylvarum, with an address to the reader, explaining the intention of Lord Bacon in the compilation of this work, and the probable objections which might be made to the publication ; that it was not methodical; and that many of the experiments would be deemed vulgar and trivial.
With respect to the want of method, although, to use the words of Dr. Rawley, “ he that looketh attentively into the work, shall find that they have a secret order,” yet knowing as he did the charms of symmetry in arrangement and beauty of style, and the necessity of adopting them to insure animmediate and favourable reception of abstruse works, Lord Bacon was never misled by the love of order: he did not worship this idol; but“ as Hercules, when he saw the image of Adonis, Venus' minion, in a temple, said in disdain, • Nil sacri es ;' so there are none of Hercules' followers in learning, that is, the more severe and laborious sort of inquirers into truth, but will despise those delicacies and affectations, as indeed capable of no divineness.")
“No man was, for his own sake, less attached to system or ornament than Lord Bacon. A plain unadorned style in aphorisms, in which the Novum Organum is written, is, he invariably states, the proper style for philosophy. In the midst of his own arrangement, in the Advancement of Learning, he says: The worst and most absurd sort of triflers are those who have pent the whole art into strict methods and narrow systems, which men commonly cry up for the sake of their regularity and
Again he says: “It is of great consequence to consider whether sciences should be delivered by way of aphorism or of method. Methodical delivery is more fit to win consent or belief; but less fit to point to action; for they carry a show of demonstration in orb or circle, one part illuminating another; and therefore do more satisfy the understanding; but being that actions in common course of life are dispersed, and not orderly digested, they do best agree with dispersed directions. Lastly, aphorisms representing certain portions only, and as it were fragments of sciences, invite others to contribute and add som g; whereas methodical delivery carrying show of a total and perfect knowledge, forth with secureth men as if they were at the furthest.”
Again, “Science is much injured by the over early and peremptory reduction of knowledge into * It is a small 8vo, of which there is a copy in the British Museum.
. See page 170 of the first volume. VOL. II.-1
arts and method; from which time commonly sciences receive small or no augmentation. But as young men, when they knit and shape perfectly, do seldom grow to a further stature; so knowledge, while it is in aphorisms and observations, it is in growth; but when it once is comprehended in exact methods, it may perchance be further polished and illustrated, and accommodated for use and practice, but it increaseth no more in bulk and substance."1
Again : « And as for the overmuch credit that hath been given unto authors in sciences, in making them dictators, that their words should stand, and not consuls, to give advice; the damage is infinite that sciences have received thereby, as the principal cause that hath kept them low, at a stay, without growth or advancement. For hence it hath come, that in arts mechanical the first devisor comes shortest, and time addeth and perfecteth; but in sciences the first author goeth farthest, and time leeseth and corrupteth. So, we see, artillery, sailing, printing, and the like, were grossly managed at the first, and by time accommodated and refined: but contrariwise, the philosophies and sciences of Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, Hippocrates, Euclides, Archimedes, of most vigour at the first, and by time degenerate and embased; whereof the reason is no other, but that in the former many wits and industries have contributed in one; and in the latter many wits and industries have been spent about the wit of some one, whom many times they have rather depraved than illustrated. For as water will not ascend higher than the level of the first spring-head from whence it descendeth, so knowledge derived from Aristotle, and exempted from liberty of examination, will not rise again higher than the knowledge of Aristotle.” This was the reason why the Sylva Sylvarum was published in Aphorisms, as " he knew well, that there was no other way open to unloose men's minds, being bound, and, as it were, maleficiate, by the charms of deceiving notions and theories, and thereby made impotent for generation of works."
With respect to some of the experiments being vulgar and trivial, Lord Bacon says in the Novum Organum, Quod vero ad rerum utilitatem attinet, vel etiam turpitudinem, quibus (ut ait Plinius) honos præfandus est: eæ res, non minus quam lautissimæ et pretiosissimæ, in Historiam Naturalem recipiendæ sunt. Neque propterea polluitur Naturalis Historia: Sol enim æque palatia et cloacas ingreditur, neque tamen polluitur. Nos autem non Capitolium aliquod aut Pyramidem hominum superbiæ dedicamus aut condimus, sed Templum sanctum ad exemplar mundi in intellectu humano fundamus. Itaque exemplar sequimur. Nam quicquid essentia dignum est, id etiam scientia dig. num; quæ est essentiæ imago. At vilia æque substitunt ac lauta. Quinetiam, ut e quibusdam putridis materiis, veluti Musco et Zibetho, aliquando optimi odores generantur; ita et ab instantiis vilibus et sordidis, quandoque eximia lux et informatio emanant. Verum de hoc nimis multa ; cum hoc genus fastidii sit plane puerile et effæminatum.”3
And again, “with relation to this contempt of natural history, on account of its containing things that are vulgar, ignoble, subtile, or useless in their origins, we should here consider, as an oracle, the saying of the poor woman to the haughty prince, who rejected her petition as a thing below his dignity to take notice of; then cease to reign; for it is certain, that whoever will not attend to matters of this kind, as if they were too minute or trifling, shall never obtain command or rule over nature.”
These two objections stated by Rawley were anticipated by Lord Bacon in the Novum Organum, where he mentions a third objection which is, even at this day, repeatedly urged against the Sylva Sylvarum. “Some,” he says, “ without doubt, upon reading our history and tables of invention, will meet with experiments not well verified, or even absolutely false; and may thence, perhaps, be apt to suspect, that our inventions are built upon doubtful principles, and erroneous foundations. But this is nothing: for such slips must neces
cessarily happen in the beginning. It is but as if here and there a letter should be misplaced, or mistaken, in a writing, or printed book; which does not, usually, much interrupt the reader: as such errors are easily corrected, from the sense of the place. In the same manner let men observe, that experiments may be falsely believed, and received in natural history; and yet soon after be expunged and rejected, when causes and axioms are discovered. Though, it is true, that if there should be many, and frequent, and continued errors, in a natural and experimental history, they cannot be corrected by any felicity of art or genius: and therefore, if in our Natural History, which is collected, and examined, with so much diligence, so rigorous, and, as it were, with so religious a severity, there should sometimes happen any falsity, or mistake, with re
1 Page 173 of the first volume.
:“But for unpolite, or even sordid particulars, which as Pliny observes, require an apology for being mentioned ; even these ought to be received into a Natural History, no less than the most rich and delicate; for Natural History is not defiled by them, any more than the sun, by shining alike upon the palace and the privy. And we do not endeavour to build a Capi. tol, or erect a paramid, to the glory of mankind ; but to found a temple, in imitation of the world, and consecrate it to the human understanding: so that we must frame our model accordingly. For whatever is worthy of existence, is worthy of our knowledge, which is the inage of existence: but ignoble things exist, as well as the noble. Nay, as some excrementitious matters, for example, musk, civet, &c. sometimes produce excellent odours; so sordid instances sometimes afford great light and information. But enough of this; as such a delicacy is perfectly childish and effeminate."
• Article 119.
> Article 120.
gard to particulars; what must be thought of the common Natural History, which in comparison of ours, is so negligent and remiss; or, what of the philosophy, and the sciences, built upon such quicksands? Let no one, therefore, be concerned, if our history has its errors.”
And, in the Advancement of Learning, when treating of credulity, he says, “ The matter of manifest truth is not to be mingled or weakened with matter of doubtful credit; and yet again, rarities and reports that seem incredible are not to be suppressed or denied to the memory of men.”
From the slightest examination of this work it will appear that, not having such a collection of natural history as he had measured out in his mind, which would have required the purse of a prince, and the assistance of a people, Lord Bacon did the best in his power, trying all things but not believing all things, to make such a collection as might render some assistance to future inquirers, by pointing out the mode in which a natural history ought to be complied, without haste in the admission or rejection of received reports. “The rejection,” he says, “which I continally use, of experiments, though it appeareth not, is infinite; but yet if an experiment be probable in the work, and of great use, I receive it, but deliver it as doubtful.”
This, perhaps, will be illustrated by some of the articles in the tenth century of this work, in his inquiry touching the “transmission and influx of immateriate virtues and the force of imagination,” where he thus begins : “ The philosophy of Pythagoras, which afterwards was, by the school of Plato and others, watered and nourished. It was, that the world was one entire perfect living creature; insomuch as Apollonius of Tyana, a Pythagorean prophet, affirmed, that the ebbing and flowing of the sea was the respiration of the world, drawing in water as breath, and putting it forth again. They went on, and inferred, that is the world were a living creature, it had a soul and spirit; which also they held, calling it spiritus mundi, the spirit or soul of the world: by which they did not intend God, for they did admit of a Deity besides, but only the soul or essential form of the universe.” With these vast and bottomless follies men have been in part entertained.
“ But we, that hold firm to the works of God, and to the sense, which is God's lamp, lucerna Dei spiraculum hominis, will inquire with all sobriety and severity, whether there be to be found in the footsteps of nature, any such transmission and influx of immateriate virtues; and what the force of imagination is; either upon the body imaginant, or upon another body; wherein it will be like that labour of Hercules, in purging the stable of Augeas, to separate from superstitious and magical arts and observations, any thing that is clean and pure natural; and not to be either contemned or condemned.”
In this spirit, mistaken for credulity, he says, the sympathy of individuals, that have been entire, or have touched, is of all others the most incredible; yet according unto our faithful manner of examination of nature, we will make some little mention of it. The taking away of warts, by rubbing them with somewhat that asterwards is put to waste and consume, is a common experiment; and I do apprehend it the rather because of my own experience. I had from my childhood a wart upon one of my fingers : afterwards, when I was about sixteen years old, being then at Paris, there grew upon both my hands a number of warts, at the least a hundred, in a month's space. The English ambassador's lady, who was a woman far from superstition, told me one day, she would help me away with my warts : whereupon she got a piece of lard with the skin on and rubbed the warts all over with the fat side; and amongst the rest, that wart which I had had from my childhood : then she nailed the piece of lard, with the fat towards the sun, upon a post of her chamber window, which was to the south. The success was, that within five weeks' space all the warts went quite away: and that wart which I had so long endured for company. But at the rest I did little marvel, because they came in a short time, and might go away in a short time again: but the going away of that which had stayed so long doth yet stick with me.”
Again, " The relations touching the force of imagination, and the secret instincts of nature, are so uncertain, as they require a great deal of examination ere we conclude upon them. I would have it first thoroughly inquired, whether there be any secret passages of sympathy between persons of near blood, as parents, children, brothers, sisters, nurse-children, husbands, wives, &c. There be many reports in history, that upon the death of persons of such nearness, men have had an inward feeling of it. I myself remember, that being in Paris, and my father dying in London, two or three days before my father's death, I had a dream, which I told to diverse English gentlemen, that my father's house in the country was plastered all over with black mortar. There is an opinion abroad, whether idle or no I cannot say, that loving and kind husbands have a sense of their wives breeding children, by some accident in their own body."'3
1 Article 997.
* There are in different parts of the Sylva Sylvarum facts evincing Bacon's life of mind, and faculty of generalizing froin his earliest infancy. See Art. 916, when his mind is at work upon the nature of imagination, most probably before he was twelve years old, when he quitted his father's house for the university, from whence at sixteen, he went with Sir Amyas Paulet to Paris, and returned after his father's death. See also Art. 151, when in Trinity College meditating upon the nature of sound. See also Art. 140, 148, 218.