« ForrigeFortsæt »
popularity of opinion to measure of reason) may appear in that, we see men are more curious what they put in a new vessel, than into a vessel seasoned; and what mould they lay about a young plant, than about a plant corroborate; so as the weakest terms and times of all things use to have the best applications and helps. And will you hearken to the Hebrew Rabbins? "Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;" say the youth is the worthier age, for that visions are nearer apparitions of God than dreams. And let it be noted, that howsoever the condition of life of pedants hath been scorned upon theatres, as the ape of tyranny; and that the modern looseness or negligence hath taken no due regard to the choice of schoolmasters and tutors; yet the ancient wisdom of the best times did always make a just complaint, that states were too busy with their laws, and too negligent in point of education; which excellent part of ancient discipline hath been in some sort revived of late times by the colleges of the Jesuits; of whom, although in regard of their superstition I may say, "quo meliores, eo deteriores;" yet in regard of this, and some other points concerning human learning and moral matters, I may say, as Agesilaus said to his enemy Pharnabaus, "Talis quum sis, utinam noster esses." And thus much touching the discredits drawn from the fortunes of learned men.
end, if the reputation and reverence towards the poverty of friars had not borne out the scandal of the superfluities and excesses of bishops and prelates." So a man might say, that the felicity and delicacy of princes and great persons had long since turned to rudeness and barbarism, if the poverty of learning had not kept up civility and honour of life: but without any such advantages, it is worthy the observation, what a reverend and honoured thing poverty of fortune was, for some ages, in the Roman state, which nevertheless was a state without paradoxes: for we see what Titus Livius saith in his introduction: "Cæterum aut me amor.negotii suscepti fallit aut nulla unquam respublica nec major, nec sanctior, nec bonis exemplis ditior fuit; nec in quam tam seræ avaritia luxuriaque immigraverint; nec ubi tantus ac tam diu paupertati ac parsimoniæ honos fuerit." We see likewise, after that the state of Rome was not itself, but did degenerate, how that person, that took upon him to be counsellor to Julius Cæsar after his victory, where to begin his restoration of the state, maketh it of all points the most summary to take away the estimation of wealth: "Verum hæc, et omnia mala pariter cum honore pecuniæ desinent: si neque magistratus, neque alia vulgo cupiendia, venalia erunt." To conclude this point, as it was truly said, that "rubor est virtutis color," though sometimes it come from vice; so it may be fitly said that "paupertas est virtutis fortuna," though sometimes it may proceed from misgovernment and accident. Surely Solomon hath pronounced it both in censure, "Qui festinat ad divitias, non erit insons; and in precept;"Buy the truth, and sell it not ;" and so of wisdom and knowledge: judging that means were to be spent upon learning, and not learning to be applied to means. And as for the privateness, or obscureness (as it may be in vulgar esti-I for my part cannot find any disgrace to learning mation accounted) of life of contemplative men; it is a theme so common, to extol a private life not taxed with sensuality and sloth, in comparison and to the disadvantage of a civil life, for safety, liberty, pleasure, and dignity, or at least freedom from indignity, as no man handleth it, but handleth it well such a consonancy it hath to men's conceits in the expressing, and to men's consents in the allowing. This only I will add, that learned men forgotten in states, and not living in the eyes of men, are like the images of Cassius and Brutus in the funeral of Junia: of which not being represented, as many others were, Tacitus saith, "Eo ipso præfulgebant, quod non visebantur."
And for meanness of employment, that which is most traduced to contempt is that the government of youth is commonly allotted to them; which age, because it is the age of least authority, it is transferred to the disesteeming of those employments wherein youth is conversant, and which are conversant about youth. But how unjust this traducement is (if you will reduce things from
As touching the manners of learned men, it is a thing personal and individual: and no doubt there be amongst them, as in other professions, of all temperatures: but yet so as it is not without truth, which is said, that "abeunt studia in mores," studies have an influence and operation upon the manners of those that are conversant in them. But upon an attentive and indifferent review,
can proceed from the manners of learned men not inherent to them as they are learned; except it be a fault (which was the supposed fault of Demosthenes, Cicero, Cato the Second, Seneca, and many more) that, because the times they read of are commonly better than the times they live in, and the duties taught better than the duties practised, they contend sometimes too far to bring things to perfection, and to reduce the corruption of manners to honesty of precepts, or examples of too great height. And yet hereof they have caveats enough in their own walks. For Solon, when he was asked whether he had given his citizens the best laws, answered wisely, "Yea of such as they would receive:" and Plato, find ing that his own heart could not agree with the corrupt manners of his country, refused to bear place or office; saying, "That a man's country was to be used as his parents were, that is, with humble persuasions, and not with contestations." And Cæsar's counsellor put in the same caveat. "Non ad vetera instituta revocans quæ jampridem
yet it will receive an open allowance, and therefore, needs the less disproof or excusation.
corruptis moribus ludibrio sunt:" and Cicero noteth | depth of their corrupt principles may despise it, this error directly in Cato the Second, when he writes to his friend Atticus: "Cato optime sentit, sed nocet interdum reipublicæ; loquitur enim tanquam in republica Platonis, non tanquam in fæce Romuli." And the same Cicero doth excuse and expound the philosophers for going too far, and being too exact in their prescripts, when he saith, "Isti ipsi præceptores virtutis et magistri, videnter fines officiorum paulo longius quam natura vellet protulisse ut cum ad ultimum animo contendissemus, ibi tamen, ubi oportet, consisteremus:" and yet himself might have said, " Monitus sum minor ipse meis :" for it was his own fault, though not in so extreme a degree.
Another fault likewise much of this kind hath been incident to learned men; which is, that they have esteemed the preservation, good, and honour of their countries or masters before their own fortunes or safeties. For so saith Demosthenes unto the Athenians: "If it please you to note it, my counsels unto you are not such whereby I should grow great amongst you, and you become little amongst the Grecians: but they be of that nature, as they are sometimes not good for me to give, but are always good for you to follow." And so Seneca, after he had consecrated that Quinquennium Neronis to the eternal glory of learned governors, held on his honest and loyal course of good and free counsel, after his master grew extremely corrupt in his government. Neither can this point otherwise be; for learning endueth men's minds with a true sense of the frailty of their persons, the casualty of their fortunes, and the dignity of their soul and vocation: so that it is impossible for them to esteem that any greatness of their own fortune can be a true or worthy end of their being and ordainment; and therefore are desirous to give their account to God, and so likewise to their masters under God (as kings and the states that they serve) in these words; "Ecce tibi lucrefeci," and not "Ecce mihi lucrefeci;" whereas the corrupter sort of mere politicians, that have not their thoughts established by learning in the love and apprehension of duty, nor ever look abroad into universality, do refer all things to themselves, and thrust themselves into the centre of the world, as if all lines should meet in them and their fortunes; never caring, in all tempests, what becomes of the ship of state, so they may save themselves in the cockboat of their own fortune: whereas men that feel the weight of duty, and know the limits of self-love, use to make good their places and duties, though with peril; and if they stand in seditions and violent alterations, it is rather the reverence which many times both adverse parts do give to honesty, than any versatile advantage of their own carriage. But for this point of tender sense, and fast obligation of duty which learning doth endue the mind withal, howsoever fortune may tax it. and many in the
Another fault incident commonly to learned men, which may be more probably defended than truly denied, is, that they fail sometimes in applying themselves to particular persons which want of exact application ariseth from two causes: the one, because the largeness of their mind can hardly confine itself to dwell in the exquisite observation or examination of the nature and customs of one person: for it is a speech for a lover, and not for a wise man: "Satus magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus." Nevertheless I shall yield, that he that cannot contract the sight of his mind, as well as disperse and dilate it, wanteth a great faculty. But there is a second cause, which is no inability, but a rejection upon choice and judgment; for the honest and just bounds of observation, by one person upon another, extend no farther but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution in respect of a man's self: but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him or wind him or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous; which as in friendship it is want of integrity, so towards princes or superiors is want of duty. For the custom of the Levant, which is, that subjects do forbear to gaze or fix their eyes upon princes, is in the outward ceremony barbarous, but the moral is good; for men ought not by cunning and bent observations to pierce and penetrate into the hearts of kings, which the Scripture hath declared to be inscrutable.
There is yet another fault (with which will conclude this part) which is often noted in learned men, that they do many times fail to observe decency and discretion in their behaviour and carriage, and commit errors in small and ordinary points of action, so as the vulgar sort of capacities do make a judgment of them in greater matters by that which they find wanting in them in smaller. But this consequence doth often deceive men, for which I do refer them over to that which was said by Themistocles, arrogantly and uncivilly being applied to himself out of his own mouth; but, being applied to the general state of this question, pertinently and justly; when being invited to touch a lute, he said, "he could not fiddle, but he could make a small town a great state." So, no doubt, many may be well seen in the passages of government and policy, which are to seek in little and punctual occasions. I refer them also to that which Plato said of his master Socrates, whom he compared to the gallipots of apothecaries, which on the outside had apes, and owls, and antiques, but contained within sovereign and precious liquors and confections; acknowledging
that to an external report he was not without superficial levities and deformities, but was inwardly replenished with excellent virtues and powers. And so much touching the point of manners of learned men.
and convenience, cannot be disallowed; for though they may have some outward baseness, yet in a judgment truly made, they are to be accounted submissions to the occasion, and not to the person.
Now I proceed to those errors and vanities which have intervened amongst the studies them
principal and proper to the present argument; wherein my purpose is not to make a justification of the errors, but, by a censure and separation of the errors, to make a justification of that which is good and sound, and to deliver that from the aspersion of the other. For we see, that it is the manner of men to scandalize and deprave that which retaineth the state and virtue, by taking advantage upon that which is corrupt and degenerate: as the heathens in the primitive church used to blemish and taint the Christians with the faults and corruptions of heretics. But nevertheless I have no meaning at this time to make any exact animadversion of the errors and impediments in matters of learning, which are more secret and remote from vulgar opinion, but only to speak untó such as do fall under or near unto a popular observation.
But in the mean time I have no purpose to give allowance to some conditions and courses base and unworthy, wherein divers professors of learn-selves of the learned, which is that which is ing have wronged themselves, and gone too far; such as were those trencher philosophers, which in the later age of the Roman state were usually in the houses of great persons, being little better than solemn parasites; of which kind Lucian maketh a merry description of the philosopher that the great lady took to ride with her in her coach, and would needs have him carry her little dog, which he doing officiously and yet uncomely, the page scoffed, and said, "That he doubted, the philosopher of a Stoic would turn to be a Cynic." But above all the rest, the gross and palpable flattery, whereunto many not unlearned have abased and abused their wits and pens, turning, as Du Bartas saith, Hecuba into Helena, and Faustina into Lucretia, hath most diminished the price and estimation of learning. Neither is the modern dedication of books and writings, as to patrons, to be commended: for that books, such There be therefore chiefly three vanities in as are worthy the name of books, ought to have studies, whereby learning hath been most trano patrons but truth and reason. And the an-duced. For those things we do esteem vain, cient custom was to dedicate them only to private and equal friends, or to entitle the books with their names; or if to kings and great persons, it was to some such as the argument of the book was fit and proper for; but these and the like courses may deserve rather reprehension than de-fall out to be these three distempers, as I may fence.
Not that I can tax or condemn the morigeration or application of learned men to men in fortune. For the answer was good that Diogenes made to one that asked him in mockery, " How it came to pass that philosophers were the followers of rich men, and not rich men of philosophers?" He answered soberly, and yet sharply," Because the one sort knew what they had need of, and the other did not." And of the like nature was the answer which Aristippus made, when having a petition to Dionysius, and no ear given to him, he fell down at his feet; whereupon Dionysius stayed, and gave him the hearing, and granted it; and afterward some person, tender on the behalf of philosophy, reproved Aristippus, that he would offer the profession of philosophy such an indignity as for a private suit to fall at a tyrant's feet: but he answered, "It was not his fault, but it was the fault of Dionysius, that had his ears in his feet." Neither was it accounted weakness, but discretion in him that would not dispute his best with Adrianus Cæsar; excusing himself, "That it was reason to yield to him that commanded thirty legions." These and the like applications, and stooping to points of necessity VOL. I.-22
which are either false or frivolous, those which either have no truth, or no use: and those persons we esteem vain, which are either credulous or curious; and curiosity is either in matter or words; so that in reason as well as in experience, there
term them, of learning; the first, fantastical learn-
vere inquisition of truth, and the deep progress into philosophy, it is some hinderance; because it is too early satisfactory to the mind of man, and quencheth the desire of further search, before we come to a just period: but then if a man be to have any use of such knowledge in civil occasions, of conference, counsel, persuasion, discourse, or the like; then shall he find it prepared to his hands in those authors which write in that manner. But the excess of this is so justly contemptible, that as Hercules, when he saw the image of Adonis, Venus's minion, in a temple, said in disdain," Nil sacri es ;" so there is none of Hercules's 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. And thus much of the first disease or distemper of learning,
opinions, had against the schoolmen; who were hastily to be condemned, to clothe and adorn the generally of the contrary part, and whose writings obscurity, even of philosophy itself, with sensible were altogether in a differing style and form; tak- and plausible elocution; for hereof we have great ing liberty to coin and frame new terms of art to examples in Xenophon, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, express their own sense, and to avoid circuit of and of Plato also in some degree: and hereof, speech, without regard to the pureness, pleasant-likewise, there is great use: for surely, to the seness, and, as I may call it, lawfulness of the phrase or word. And again, because the great labour that then was with the people, (of whom the Pharisees were wont to say, " Execrabilis ista turba, quæ non novit legem,") for the winning and persuading of them, there grew of necessity in chief price and request eloquence and variety of discourse, as the fittest and forciblest access into the capacity of the vulgar sort: so that these four causes concurring, the admiration of ancient authors, the hate of the schoolmen, the exact study of languages, and the efficacy of preaching, did bring in an affectionate study of eloquence and copia" of speech, which then began to flourish. This grew speedily to an excess; for men began to hunt more after words than matter; and more after the choiceness of the phrase, and the round and clean composition of the sentence, and the sweet falling of the clauses, and the varying and The second, which followeth, is in nature worse illustration of their works with tropes and figures, than the former: for as substance of matter is than after the weight of matter, worth of subject, better than beauty of words, so, contrariwise, vain soundness of argument, life of invention or depth matter is worse than vain words: wherein it of judgment. Then grew the flowing and watery seemeth the reprehension of St. Paul was not only vein of Osorius, the Portugal bishop, to be in price. proper for those times, but prophetical for the times Then did Sturmius spend such infinite and curious following; and not only respective to divinity, but pains upon Cicero the orator, and Hermogenes the extensive to all knowledge: "Devita profanas rhetorician, besides his own books of periods, and vocum novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis imitation, and the like. Then did Car of Cam-scientiæ." For he assigneth two marks and bridge, and Ascham, with their lectures and writ-badges of suspected and falsified science: the one, ings, almost deify Cicero and Demosthenes, and allure all young men, that were studious, unto that delicate and polished kind of learning. Then did Erasmus take occasion to make the scoffing echo; "Decem annos consumpsi in legendo Cicerone;" and the echo answered in Greek, "Ovɛ, " Asine." Then grew the learning of the schoolmen to be utterly despised as barbarous. In sum, the whole inclination and bent of those times was rather towards "copia" than weight.
the novelty and strangeness of terms; the other, the strictness of positions, which of necessity doth induce oppositions, and so questions and altercations. Surely, like as many substances in nature, which are solid do putrefy and corrupt into worms; so it is the property of good and sound knowledge, to putrefy and dissolve into a number of subtle, idle, unwholesome, and, as I may term them, vermiculate questions, which have indeed a kind of quickness, and life of spirit, but no soundness of matter, or goodness of quality. This kind of degenerate learning did chiefly reign amongst the schoolmen; who having sharp and strong wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety of reading, (but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors, chiefly Aristotle their dictator, as their persons were shut up in the cells of monasteries and colleges,) and knowing little history, either of nature or time, did out of no great quantity of matter, and infinite agitation of wit, spin out unto us those laborious webs of learning, which are extant in their books. For the wit and mind of man, if it work upon matter, which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited But yet, notwithstanding, it is a thing not thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider
Here, therefore, is the first distemper of learning, when men study words and not matter: whereof though I have represented an example of late times, yet it hath been, and will be "secundum majus et minus" in all time. And how is it possible but this should have an operation to discredit learning, even with vulgar capacities, when they see learned men's works like the first letter of a patent or imned book which though it hath large flourishes, yet it is but a letter? It seems to me that Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem or portraiture of this vanity for words are but the images of matter; and except they have life of reason and invention, to fall in love with them is all one as to fall in love with a picture.
worketh his web, then it is endless and brings forth | universality of reading and contemplation, they indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit.
had proved excellent lights, to the great advancement of all learning and knowledge; but as they are, they are great undertakers indeed, and fierce with dark keeping: but as in the inquiry of the divine truth, their pride inclined to leave the oracle of God's word, and to vanish in the mixture of their own inventions; so in the inquisition of nature, they ever left the oracle of God's works, and adored the deceiving and deformed images, which the unequal mirror of their own minds, or a few received authors or principles, did represent unto them. And thus much for the second disease of learning.
For the third vice or disease of learning, which
the foulest; as that which doth destroy the essential form of knowledge, which is nothing but a representation of truth: for the truth of being and the truth of knowing are one, differing no more than the direct beam and the beam, reflected. This vice therefore brancheth itself into two sorts; delight in deceiving, and aptness to be deceived; imposture and credulity; which, although they appear to be of a diverse nature, the one seeming to proceed of cunning, and the other of simplicity, yet certainly they do for the most part concur: for as the verse noteth,
"Percontatorem fugito, nam garrulus idem est;" an inquisitive man is a prattler; so, upon the like reason, a credulous man is a deceiver: as we see it in fame, that he that will easily believe rumours,
This same unprofitable subtilty or curiosity is of two sorts; either in the subject itself that they handle, when it is a fruitless speculation or controversy, whereof there are no small number both in divinity and philosophy, or in the manner or method of handling of a knowledge, which amongst them was this; upon every particular position or assertion to frame objections, and to those objections, solutions; which solutions were for the most part not confutations but distinctions; whereas indeed the strength of all sciences is, as the strength of the old man's fag-concerneth deceit or untruth, it is of all the rest got, in the band. For the harmony of a science, supporting each part the other, is and ought to be the true and brief confutation and suppression of all the smaller sort of objections. But, on the other side, if you take out every axiom, as the sticks of the faggot, one by one, you may quarrel with them, and bend them, and break them at your pleasure so that, as was said of Seneca, "Verborum minutiis rerum frangit pondera ;" so a man may truly say of the schoolmen, "Quæstionum minutiis, scientiarem frangunt soliditatem." For were it not better for a man in a fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small watch candle into every corner? And such is their method, that rests not so much upon evidence of truth proved by arguments, authorities, simili-will as easily augment rumours, and add sometudes, examples, as upon particular confutations and solutions of every scruple, cavillation, and objection; breeding for the most part one question as fast as it solveth another; even as in the former resemblance, when you carry the light into one corner, you darken the rest: so that the fable and fiction of Scylla seemeth to be a lively image of this kind of philosophy or knowledge: who was transformed into a comely virgin for the upper parts: but then "Candida succinctarn latrantibus inquina monstris:" so the generalities of the schoolmen are for a while good and proportion-ports and narrations of miracles wrought by marable; but then, when you descend into their distinctions and decisions, instead of a fruitful womb, for the use and benefit of man's life, they end in monstrous altercations and barking questions. So as it is not possible but this quality of knowledge must fall under popular contempt, the people being apt to contemn truth upon occasion of controversies and altercations, and to think they are all out of their way which never meet: and when they see such digladiation about subtilties, and matters of no use or moment, they easily fall upon that judgment of Dionysius of Syracuse, "Verba ista sunt senum otiosorum."
Notwithstanding, certain it is that if those schoolmen, to their great thirst of truth and unwearied travail of wit, had joined variety and
what to them of his own: which Tacitus wisely noteth, when he saith, "Fingunt simul creduntque:" so great an affinity hath fiction and belief.
This facility of credit, and accepting or admitting things weakly authorized or warranted, is of two kinds, according to the subject: for it is either a belief of history, or, as the lawyers speak, matter of fact; or else of matter of art and opinion. As to the former, we see the experience and inconvenience of this error in ecclesiastical history; which hath too easily received and registered re
tyrs, hermits, or monks of the desert, and other holy men, and their relics, shrines, chapels, and images: which though they had a passage for a time, by the ignorance of the people, the superstitious simplicity of some, and the politic toleration of others, holding them but as divine pocsies; yet after a period of time, when the mist began to clear up, they grew to be esteemed but as old wives' fables, impostures of the clergy, illusions of spirits, and badges of antichrist, to the great scandal and detriment of religion.
So in natural history, we see there hath not been that choice and judgment used as ought to have been; as may appear in the writings of Plinius, Cardanus, Albertus, and divers of the Arabians, being fraught with much fabulous