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SECOND BOOK OF FRANCIS BACON
PROFICIENCE AND ADVANCEMENT OF
DIVINE AND HUMAN.
TO THE KING.
It might seem to have more convenience, though it come often otherwise to pass, (excellent King,) that those which are fruitful in their generations, and have in themselves the foresight of immortality in their descendants, should likewise be more careful of the good estate of future times; unto which they know they must transmit and commend over their dearest pledges. Queen Elizabeth was a sojourner in the world in respect of her unmarried life; and was a blessing to her own times; and yet so as the impression of her good government, besides her happy memory, is not without some effect which doth survive her. But to your Majesty, whom God hath already blessed with so much royal issue, worthy to continue and represent you for ever, and whose youthful and fruitful bed doth yet promise many the like renovations, it is proper and agreeable to be conversant not only in the transitory parts of good government, but in those acts also which are in their nature permanent and perpetual. Amongst the which (if affection do not transport me) there is not any more worthy than the further endowment of the world with sound and fruitful knowledge: for why should a few received authors stand up like Hercules' Columns, beyond which there should be no sailing or discovering, since we have so bright and benign a star
· This last clause is omitted in the translation. See note p. 277. VOL. III.
as your Majesty to conduct and prosper us? To return therefore where we left, it remaineth to consider of what kind those acts are, which have been undertaken and performed by kings and others for the increase and advancement of learning : wherein I purpose to speak actively without digressing or dilating
Let this ground therefore be laid, that all works are overcomen by amplitude of reward, by soundness of direction, and by the conjunction of labours. The first multiplieth endeavour, the second preventeth error, and the third supplieth the frailty of man. But the principal of these is direction : for claudus in via antevertit cursorem extra viam ; [the cripple that keeps the way gets to the end of the journey suoner than the runner who goes aside ;] and Salomon excellently setteth it down, If the iron be not sharp, it requireth more strength; but wisdom is that which prevaileth ; signifying that the invention or election of the mean is more effectual than any inforcement or accumulation of endeavours. This I am induced to speak, for that (not derogating from the noble intention of any that have been deservers towards the state of learning) I do observe nevertheless that their works and acts are rather matters of magnificence and memory than of progression and proficience, and tend rather to augment the mass of learning in the multitude of learned men than to rectify or raise the sciences themselves.
The works or acts of merit towards learning are conversant about three objects; the places of learning, the books of learning, and the persons of the learned. For as water, whether it be the dew of heaven or the springs of the earth, doth scatter and leese itself in the ground, except it be collected into some receptacle, where it may by union comfort and sustain itself; and for that cause the industry of man hath made and framed spring-heads, conduits, cisterns, and pools, which men have accustomed likewise to beautify and adorn with accomplishments of magnificence and state, as well as of use and necessity; so this excellent liquor of knowledge, whether it descend from divine inspiration or spring from human sense, would soon perish and vanish to oblivion, if it were not preserved in books, traditions, conferences, and places appointed, as universities, colleges, and schools, for the receipt and comforting of the
The works which concern the seats and places of learning are four ; foundations and buildings, endowments with revenues, endowments with franchises and privileges, institutions and ordinances for government; all tending to quietness and privateness of life, and discharge of cares and troubles; much like the stations which Virgil prescribeth for the hiving of bees:
Principio sedes apibus statioque petenda,
The works touching books are two: first libraries, which are as the shrines where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue and that without delusion or imposture?, are preserved and reposed; secondly, new editions of authors, with more correct impressions, more faithful translations, more profitable glosses, more diligent annotations, and the like.
The works pertaining to the persons of learned men (besides the advancement and countenancing of them in general) are two: the reward and designation of readers in sciences already extant and invented; and the reward and designation of writers and inquirers concerning any parts of learning not sufficiently laboured and prosecuted.
These are summarily the works and acts, wherein the merits of many excellent princes and other worthy personages have been conversant. As for any particular commemorations, I call to mind what Cicero said, when he gave general thanks; Difficile non aliquem, ingratum quenquam præterire : [it were hard to remember all, and yet ungracious to forget any]. Let us rather, according to the Scriptures, look unto that part of the race which is before us than look back to that which is already attained.
First therefore, amongst so many great foundations of colleges in Europe, I find it strange that they are all dedicated to professions, and none left free to arts and sciences at large. For if men judge that learning should be referred to action, they judge well; but in this they fall into the error described in the ancient fable; in which the other parts of the body did suppose the stomach had been idle, because it neither per
This clause is omitted in the De Augmentis. See note p. 277.
formed the office of motion, as the limbs do, nor of sense, as the head doth; but yet notwithstanding it is the stomach that digesteth and distributeth to all the rest. So if any man think philosophy and universality to be idle studies, he doth not consider that all professions are from thence served and supplied. And this I take to be a great cause that hath hindered the progression of learning, because these fundamental knowledges have been studied but in passage. For if you will have a tree bear more fruit than it hath used to do, it is not any thing you can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring of the earth and putting new mould about the roots that must work it. Neither is it to be forgotten that this dedicating of foundations and dotations to professory learning hath not only had a malign aspect and influence upon the growth of sciences, but hath also been prejudicial to states and governments. For hence it proceedeth that princes find a solitude in regard of able men to serve them in causes of estate, because there is no education collegiate which is free; where such as were so disposed might give themselves to histories, modern languages, books of policy and civil discourse, and other the like enablements unto service of estate.
And because founders of colleges do plant and founders of lectures do water, it followeth well in order to speak of the defect which is in public lectures; namely, in the smallness and meanness of the salary or reward which in most places is assigned unto them '; whether they be lectures of arts, or of professions. For it is necessary to the progression of sciences that readers 2 be of the most able and sufficient men; as those which are ordained for generating and propagating of sciences, and not for transitory use. This cannot be, except their condition and endowment be such as may content the ablest man to appropriate his whole labour and continue his whole age in that function and attendance; and therefore must have a proportion answerable to that mediocrity or competency of advancement which may be expected from a profession or the practice of a profession. So as, if you will have sciences flourish, you must observe David's military law, which was, That those which staid with the carriage should have equal part with those which were in the action ; else will the carriages be
In the De Augmentis he adds præsertim apud nos.
? i, e, lecturers,
ill attended : So readers in sciences are indeed the guardians of the stores and provisions of sciences whence men in active courses are furnished, and therefore ought to have equal entertainment with them; otherwise if the fathers in sciences be of the weakest sort or be ill-maintained,
Et patrum invalidi referent jejunia nati: [the poor keeping of the parents will appear in the poor constitution of the offspring.]
Another defect I note, wherein I shall need some alchemist to help me, who call upon men to sell their books and to build furnaces; quitting and forsaking Minerva and the Muses as barren virgins, and relying upon Vulcan. But certain it is that unto the deep, fruitful, and operative study of many sciences, specially natural philosophy and physic', books be not only the instrumentals; wherein also the beneficence of men hath not been altogether wanting; for we see spheres, globes, astrolabes, maps, and the like, have been provided as appurtenances to astronomy and cosmography, as well as books: we see likewise that some places instituted for physic have annexed the commodity of gardens for simples of all sorts, and do likewise command the use of dead bodies for anatomies. But these do respect but a few things. In general, there will hardly be any main proficience in the disclosing of nature, except there be some allowance for expenses about experiments; whether they be experiments appertaining to Vulcanus or Dædalus, furnace or engine, or any other kind; and therefore as secretaries and spials of princes and states bring in bills for intelligence, so you must allow the spials and intelligencers of nature to bring in their bills, or else you shall be ill advertised.
And if Alexander made such a liberal assignation to Aristotle of treasure for the allowance of hunters, fowlers, fishers, and the like, that he might compile an History of nature, much better do they deserve it that travail? in Arts of nature.3
Another defect which I note, is an intermission or neglect in
si, e, in working upon and altering nature by art. The meaning is expressed more clearly in the translation: majus quiddam debetur iis qui non in sultibus naturæ pererrant, sed in labyrinthis artium viam aperiunt : the compiler of a history of nature being likened to a wanderer through the woods, the “ travailer in arts of nature” to one who makes his way through a labyrinth.