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stanced, we may, with some reason, wonder that no consequences followed,.. that the same age in which the knowledge implied in such experiments was to be found, should not have produced minds capable of pursuing them to some great and useful result. So, too, with regard to the invention of printing: the ancients missed it, though the sepulchral lamps show us that Greek potters imprinted their names upon their ware; and though, among their gallants, it was the custom for an amorist to impress the name of his mistress in the dust, or upon the damp earth, with letters fixed upon his shoe.
. It is not surprizing that the prism should, for generations, have been given to children as a plaything, and sent out, among other baubles, as a toy for savages, before Newton used it as an instrument of science, because it required an intellect like Newton's to analyse the phenomenon which it presented: but in these cases the application was direct and easy, and to purposes of common and obvious utility.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Some discoveries have been the effect of mere chance,.. that of glass for example, which has given astronomers the telescope, entomology its animalcular world, old age its second sight, and which contributes to the comfort of every class in society, not less than to the luxuries and elegancies of those who are most favoured by fortune. Others have been the result of fortuitous experiments in the use of herbs and mineral substances; and these found their way slowly into general use, because some selfish interest not unfrequently withheld them for its own purposes. Your manufacturers and artificers have their secrets at this day, as the priests of Greece and Egypt had theirs,..
; SIR THOMAS MORE.
Remember that one mighty discovery was withheld by a friar, in mercy to mankind.
No finer proof of foresight and true greatness of mind has ever been given than in that illustrious instance; for Roger Bacon's motives cannot be mistaken. He desired the praise of knowledge, and yet was contented to forego the honour of this discovery, till a secret, of which he anticipated the destructive application, should be brought to light by some future experimentalist, less humane, or less considerate than himself. But no merit must be claimed for the friars on his score.
It is for his country, not his order, to glory in the man whom that order condemned to imprisonment, not for his supposed skill in magic, but for those opinions* which he derived from studying the Scriptures, wherein he was versed beyond any other person of his age. ji?
ii SIR THOMAS MORE.
In what a different state of feeling did Johannes de Rupescissa speculate upon chemical discoveries, when het advised that the art of composing his cordial .corroborative, of which brandy was the chief constituent, should be kept carefully as a state secret, lest it should come to the knowledge of the enemies of the church; and that, as a sure means of rendering
* Erat hic vir miri ingenii, subtilioris quam felicis; nulla erat litterarum facultas in quâ non esset exercitatissimus
, et in sacrå Scriptura ultra omnes versatissimus. Sed ea quorundam indoles, ut dum non plus sapiant, quam oporteat, atque ultra communem receptamque doctrinam quidquam novi non dicant, nihil se dixisse putent. Non ea debet esse in sacris doctrinis libertas dicendi vel opinandi ; in aliis liberalibus scientiis quod novum, gratum ; in istis quod vetustum, securum. Sua antiquitate sacræ litteræ commendantur ; sat suå vetustate consistunt.-Wadding, A.D. 1278, $ 26.
It is evident from this : passage, that the annalist of the Friars Minorite regarded Roger Bacon more as a heretic than as the greatest and wisest man of his order and his age,
* L. 8. de Remediis Generalibus. c. 8. p. 133. Basilicæ, 1561. The chapter will be found among the supplementary notes to this volume.
Christian armies victorious, a dose should be given to every man before the battle began !
MONTESINOS.. How different also was the temper of this the elder Bacon, from the blind temerity with which certain modern experiments upon the nature and effect of certain poisons have been promulgated. It was right that such experiments should be made and carefully recorded, for the advancement of science, because we are justified in presuming that this must ultimately be for the benefit of mankind; but they should have been published in a language which would have confined the knowledge to that class of persons for whom it was designed, To render it accessible* to every one, was putting into the hands of the wicked more formidable means of mischief than had before ever been known.
SIR, THOMAS MORE. . So that the craft which conceals knowledge for its own sinister purposes may sometimes be less injurious to society, than is the rashness which promulgates it without consideration of consequences.
MONTESINOS. The rashness may produce greater immediate
* The most important and fearful of these experiments, were copied into magazines and provincial newspapers !
mischief, but surely not so much lasting evil. For the evil which arises from any increase and misdirection of human power can be only for a time.
SIR THOMAS MORE..
Only for a time! Think for a moment, Montesinos, you who exist in time, what time is to those who are in a state of suffering! Plague, pestilence and famine are but for a time. You put up your prayers, and not without perpetual cause, that you may be spared from such visitations. And there is no less cause for praying that you may be delivered from the social plague, the moral pestilence which you have been preparing for yourselves. You have ploughed and manured the ground, and sown the seed and watered it: if you reap as you have sown, God have mercy upon those who see the harvest !
You would make me apprehend then, that we have advanced in our chemical and mechanical discoveries faster than is consistent with the real welfare of society.
SIR THOMAS MORE. You cannot advance in them too fast, provided that the moral culture of the species keep pace with the increase of its material powers. Has it been so ? The question may be resolved if