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and methods which enable it to reveal the structure of the moral, social, and physical world, and the springs by which their several phenomena are produced; and the application of this knowledge to the increase of human enjoyment and per. fectibility. Bacon's mind was strongly objective, and the first exercise of its powers appears directed to seize with tenacity on external facts, and from the appearances which they presented, without any reference to the innate faculties, to reason out the laws which controlled or produced them. He saw nature and society in a perpetual flow about him,-states falling and rising, -new languages growing in refinement,-old dropping into desuetude,-fashions and manners changing with governments, and new feelings and sensibilities clinging round the advent of a new creed. The world of nature presented to his mind phenomena as striking as the world of man. The change of the seasons, the tides of the ocean, the alternation of day and night, the motion of the planets, the perpetual renovation and decay of species, and the diversified combination of different substances and qualities, were all mysteries which he was as anxious to unveil as the phenomena of society, but to none of which the ancient philosophies presented him with any direct solution. No one had previously attempted from a comparison of the effects of different governments, or of different courses of training, to conclude what system of law or education was the most adapted to perfect society, and to lead man's nature to its highest development. No one before Bacon had asked himself by what process has civilization attained its present aspect, what are the elements that enter into its structure, how can the good be fostered, and the bad eliminated; or had attempted to evolve from these speculations the general principles that conspire to work the decline or the renovation of nations. The empiric element had been almost as completely abandoned in the field of nature. Aristotle appears to have been the only Greek philosopher that troubled himself about collecting facts, and making them the basis of his physical inquiries. Yet his rationalistic bias prevented him from exercising the patient scrutiny necessary to embody their real properties in language, and pursuing, without the admission of any adventitious element, the trains of inference which their action involved. Some of the ancient physicists had condescended in astronomical researches to regard facts, and were rewarded for their pains with some glimpses of the Newtonian theory of the heavens; but in the general departments of physical science men rushed up to abstract principles, seeking, by à priori deductions, without any reference to tangible phenomena, to construct all the furniture of the universe. Bacon was the first to point out effectively the futility of these attempts to limit man's efforts in physical inquiry to the confines of nature, the first to assert with power.
the glorious principle, that knowledge must be synonymous
The immortal aphorism, Tiomo naturæ minister et interpres, with which he opens the “Novum Organon,” is the epitome of his views, and at one stroke disposes of all the cogmogonies and contentions of the ancients.
Bacon looked into nature with the same spirit he was disposed to investigate everything else, and which, to us who have been brought up under the light that his system has shed upon the world, it appears incredible that any man should have mistaken. What, he inquired, is the present organization of substances ? how far do they invade each other's confines P by what process do they reach the successive stages of growth and decay? seeking to evolve by the rigid pursuit of such inquiries, their constituent elements, and the general laws by which they are regulated and controlled. Hence the three great centres round which his inquiries revolved in every investigation were the latent structure (latens schematismus), or the secret organization of the parts which mould and determine its appearance: and the latent process (latens processus ad formam), or the changes which occur in their parts, simultaneous with renovation and decay; and the forms, or the simple constituents, involved in the production of the phenomena, and the laws which regulate their action. Bacon's idea of the powers which the result of such pursuits would confer upon man, were of the most sanguine description, and in some respects have been fully accomplished. To the application of his method to physiology we owe those sani. tary measures which have put society as far out of the reach of plague, as gunpowder has placed it beyond the assault of savages. A thousand diseases, before deemed incurable, have been prevented, mitigated, or stayed; the body fortified against physical waste and consumption of strength, and human life prolonged. By examining nature in the manner he pointed out, we have made the ocean reveal the secret of its motions, the planets expound the forces which retain them in their orbits, the rainbow declare the laws of its formation, and the comets announce the periods of their return. From the facts we have obtained through his instrumentality, we can weigh the sun and moon as in a balance, compute their respective distances to the greatest nicety, estimate the speed with which they and all the planets revolve, and correctly ascertain the time which an atom of matter, or a ray of light, falling from their surface, will reach our earth. If the inhabitants of Jupiter are similarly circumstanced to ourselves, but have had no Bacon among them, it is very possible we know more about the fluctuations of their atmosphere, and the motion of their satellites, than they know themselves. Directed by the spirit of his method, we transmit thought across seas and continents with the same speed and facility that
we communicate it by speech ; we sail against wind and tide, and rush through the air with the velocity of an arrow. We can sonr with the bird to the skies, or explore with fish the buttom of the ocean ; we can conduct the lightning innocuous to the ground, and arrest the progress of the watery column on the wave!
But splendil as have been the results of his method, Bacon, if alive now, would only consider these as gleams of the dawn of that day whose bright effulgence he had anticipated. To obtain a knowledge of the laws of nature which should enable men to overcome natural obstacles, and annihilate time and space, may fairly be deemed insignificant to him who sought to fathom the entire process of her changes, and to make her render up all her secrets, that he might reverse the order and the times of her productions; perform that frequently which she performs rarely accomplish with few things what she produces with many; crowd into one spot the productions of different climates and nations, and effect in a moment the transmutations of seasons and ages. He viewed nature much in the same light as Pythagoras, and the exposition of the doctrine of the Samian in the last book of the Metamorphoses does not transcend Bacon's belief in the flux of physical nature.
“Nec species sua cuique manet : Rerumque novatrix
Ex alíis alias reparat natura figuras.
Ovid, Metam. lib. xv. 252 9. If he knew and could command the constituent elements by which such transformations were produced, as his forms imported, he might fairly rival the divinities of Ovid in power over exter. nal nature. He could not see why, by availing himself of such knowledge he should not eliminate the old nature of any body, and invest it with new ; why he should not transmute glass into stone, bones into earth, leaves into wood, invest tin with all the properties of gold, and charcoal with the qualities of the diamond.* To avert summer droughts or autumnal rains were
e. g. “Si quis argento cupiat superinducere flavum colorem auri, aut augmentum ponderis (servatis legibus materiæ) aut lapidi alicui non diaphano diaphancitatem aut vitris tenacitatem, aut corpori alicui non vegitabili vegitationem ; videndum est, quale quis preceptum aut deductionem potissimum sibi dari exoptet.” He then proceeds to give the rules of this trans. mutation :—“Primum intuetur corpus, ut turmam sive conjugationem naturarum simplicium, ut in auro hæc convenirent ; quod sit flavum ; quod sit ponderosum, ad pondus tale ; quod sit malleabile aut ductile, ad extensionem talem ; quod non fiat volatile, nec deperdat de quanto suo per ignem ; quod fuat Auore tali ; quod separetur et solvatur modis
trities with Bacɔn. He sought to hurl the thunderbolt with Jupiter, to command the storm with Juno, to create heat and manufacture metals with Vulcan, to pour golden fruits on the earth with Ceres, and arrest the plague with Apollo. All those powers, the exercise of any one of which the ancients thought suffi. cient to occupy the life of a deity, Bacon sought to unite in his single grasp, and bend to the iron mandate of his will.* We were to have spring fruits and autumnal blossoms, December roses and June icicles. The wines of Picardy were to be manufactured in the cellars of London, and the aromatic odours of the south regale the drawing-rooms of St. James. Nature was to be startled with the production of new species of plants and beasts, Rich harvests to spring up without seed; and the creation of beasts, birds, and fish, even out of the earth's slime, to crown the triumph of man.
It is needless to say that were such results achieved, man would be a god upon earth, and nothing could be wanting to paradisal felicity but the gift of immortality. Could man claim every element as his own, -sport in the deep like a nereid, and explore the heavens like a bird; could he direct the lightning and the shower, call up the winds, and awaken the storm at his pleasure; could be arrest blight and disease, and command harvests and fruits to spring out of the earth where, when, and how he pleased; such a thing as social misery could not exist, and the only limit to human power and enjoy. ment would simply be the restrictive law designed to mark out the boundaries of individual action, and make the liberty of the one consistent with the happiness of the many. That we shall arrive at such a golden period is the opinion of many; that we are progressing in the direction of some of its landmarks, cannot be denied by any one who contrasts the state of physical science in the present century, with its low condition in Bacon's time. We see no reason why he who can control the thunderbolt, should not direct the cloud where to discharge its treasures; why the mind which has unlocked the arcana of the heavens should not wring from the earth some of its latent secrets ; why he who explores the air in a frail parachute, should not exchange his paper boat for wings, and tread with the eagle the blue vault of heaven. At least such achievements seem less visionary to us talibus; et similiter de cæteris naturis quæ in auro concurrunt. Itaque hujusmodi axioma rem deducit ex formis naturarum simplicium. Nam qui formas et modos novit superinducendi flavi, ponderis, ductilis, fixi, Auoris, solutionem, et sic de reliquis et eorum graduationes et modos ; videbit et curabit, ut ista confungi possint in aliquo corpore, unde se quator transformatio in aurum."—Nov. Org. ii. 4 and 5.
* For a corroboration of these viows we refer the reader, once for all, to Bacon's own statement in the description of Solomon's house, at the end of the New Atlantis.
than the triumphs of the present age would have been regarded by a very recent ancestry. Had a denizen even of the eighteenth century been asked whether it was more likely that steam-carriages should be invented than that man should fly, he would undoubtedly have pronounced for the wings. It seems far more practicable to soar above seas and continents, than to sail against wind and tide, or to make mere vapour transport vast crowds through space with the speed of a bird. Sage men may regard the transmutation of metals as the dreams of idle alchem. ists; but how would the philosophers of the last generation have scouted the man who promised to turn old rags into sugar, starch into honey, and sawdust into a substitute for flour. We are surrounded with a world of phenomena, forming the distinct sciences unknown in Bacon's day, which only await a philosopher who will investigate them in his spirit, to render up a crowd of facts which will work as great a revolution in society as the modern achievements of chemistry and mechanics. Electricity, magnetism, and galvanism are to us precisely what optics and astronomy were to Bacon; and we doubt not that, as these phenomena relate more particularly to terrestrial objects, they are big with results destined to enlarge man's power over nature, and to lay bare many secrets which veil the confines of the spiritual world. When we survey the discoveries of the last two centuries, we certainly have no reason to complain of the slowness of the progress, or, to despair with the Greeks and Romans, of further advance, and retrace our steps to avoid the languor of monotony.* The new acquisitions in knowledge and power over nature, exceed each other in importance : classes of empirical facts are gradually raising the subjects they involve to the rank of exact sciences ; and as these are perfected by the restless tide of human reason, other phenomena of a more startling character succeed. The law of the Baconian physics is progress. The goal of one generation becomes the starting-post of the next: what is wondered at as the witchcraft of to-day, becomes the craft and profession of to-morrow.
Bacon no doubt intended, as his words import, to investigate the moral sciences in a similar spirit, but he seems to have been impressed with too gloomy an idea of the depravity of the will to indulge in glowing pictures of social felicity. Of course the only state of society that could bear any contrast to the results of physical inquiries pursued after his method, would be a charming millennium, in which every community moved under the impulse of reason and justice, and each of their component mem.
* Paterculus, speaking of the old civilization, says :-Quod summo studio petitum est, ascendit in summuni, difficilisque in perfecto mora est; and then concludes, that sooiety seeing further advance impossible, fell into diasoluteness.