« السابقةمتابعة »
Ders possessed the sanctuary of the heart undefiled, and a breast glowing with in-born honour.
Bacon held forth no such prospects. He had only to look within to be convinced of the delusion. Even with regard to what Comte calls sociology, it is not probable that the completest knowledge of the different processes involved in the production of individual stages of civilization, or in the generation of the various phases of mental growth, could have invested man with any other power than that of removing obstacles to the regular development of his social endowments. There are some things which time and a disciplined train of habits and customs only can accomplish. A nation is not rendered martial or commercial in an age, though it know all the steps, and have at its disposition all the means that concur to the adoption of that character. Chaucer could trace the gradations through which the ancient languages passed from barbarism to elegance, without being able to improve his own. If we knew the process involved in the generation of every link of mental capacity, from a child speculating on bubbles to a Newton weighing worlds, the result could invest us with no other power than that of assisting nature by an adequate system of education. In casting the horoscope of the future, or tracing with certain hand the
of civilization, who shall account for the appearance of such men as Dante and Shakespeare, who have created a language; of Cromwell and Luther, who have revolutionized empires; of Newton and Archimedes, who have introduced a new element into science.
Bacon thought his method quite as applicable to the phenomena of the social world as to physical nature, and determined to apply it to every subject which fell under his consideration. The empiric element had been totally neglected by the Greek sages, who found the world too young to give them facts in suffi. cient abundance to invest them with a scientific character. Bacon's penetrating mind saw at a glance the lacunes which had been left in learning through the neglect of this essential constituent of all knowledge ; and deeming their existence rendered the entire fabric insecure, resolved on a grand restoration of all the sciences.
The plan of his INSTAURATIO Magna was on a scale of epic grandeur. The creative fancy of Dante or Milton never called up more gorgeous images than those suggested by Bacon's design, and we question much whether their worlds surpass his in affording scope for the imagination. His view extended over all time; penetrated into the circumstances under which each science had arisen, and the motives for which it was pursued; traced the
illusions which had led the greatest intellects to misinterpret the | facts which nature put into their hands ; and distinctly saw the
action of the causes which had rendered physical inquiries stationary and unproductive, and the moral sciences incomplete, With the wand of a superior intelligence, he pointed out the boundaries of human knowledge; mapped out and circumam. bulated its different provinces ; crumbled into dust the fragile systems which reason had erected on false foundations; showed what part of its labours might stand after the rubbish had been cleared away; and put into the hands of the human race the only method by which they could build themselves an abiding habitation.* His mind brooded over all nature, and making her tripartite kingdom tributary to the undertaking, opened the only quarries whence the materials for the reconstruction of the physical sciences, decayed and corroded to the foundations, could be drawn.t He next designed to exhibit all the laws and methods of inference employed in the production of real knowledge; and erect the intricate scaffolding by means of which every science might be raised from the foundations of empiricism. From the basis of particulars, the mind was to be carried up to intermediary axioms, and thence to universal laws, which were to comprehend in their statement every subordinate degree of generality, and to unfold to the gaze of the spectator the order of the universe, as exhibited to angelic intelligences. From this, the highest platform of human vision, the mind might dart its glance through the corresponding series of inverted reasonings from generals to particulars, by which these laws and axioms are traced back to their remote consequences, and all particular propositions deduced from them,—as well those by whose immediate consideration it rose to its elevation as those of which it had no previous knowledge. I Then were to arise the stately tem of science, with their proud parapets and decorated pediments, in all their breadth of light and harmony of proportion, revealing the glories of the universe to man amidst long vistas of receding columns, and glimpses of internal splendour !
* The two first parts of the Instauratio Magna, viz. the partition of the sciences, and the Novum Organon.
† The third part, Sylva Sylvarum, or Natural History.
I The fourth part of the Instauration, Scala Intellectus, or ladder of the understanding, which he did not live to execute.
$ The fifth and sixth part, Prodromi, or Anticipations of the Second Philosophy; and Scientia Activa, or the Second Philosophy itself. The sciences are destined to undergo constant enlargement, as new phenomena perpetually present themselves for elaboration. Bacon calls these new additions, while in an unfinished state, prodromi, or anticipations of the second philosophy. The primary philosophy he designed to consist of a series of general principles, which are comprised in the action of the universal laws. l'hus, the dicta de omni et nullo and “two things which are equal to a third thing, are equal to each other,” being involved in the inferences of logic and yeometry, would form a part of the primary philosophy.
Such was the glorious vision which Bacon saw in prospect, and in part laboured to realize. If on descending into a minute survey of his views, some false notions, and crude generalizations present themselves, we must remember the age in which he lived, and find an excuse for him in the alınost super. human obstacles which then obstructed the march of the physical sciences. Society in the sixteenth century was but slowly emerging from civil barbarism : human reason, for two thousand years, had been pent up within the region of ethics and school-divinity; and the first men who had ventured to lead it out into the broad field of nature, were either imprisoned for heresy or burnt for witchcraft. Ramus expiated his opposition to Aristotle with his blood. Vanini and Giordano Bruno were burnt as atheists. Telesius and Campanella were hunted about from city to city like wild beasts; Galileo was imprisoned by the Inquisition at Rome, and Descartes persecuted by the Protestant tribunals of Holland.* Every attempt to advance the Aristotelian physics which had remained stationary since the days of the Lyceum, had ended on every side in expatriation, imprisonment, or death. It was an age of violent fluctuation and change. The struggle waged between the two philosophies was, to a great degree, embittered by the strife between the two creeds; reason and faith alternately invaded each other's province, and the voice of truth was lost in the clamour of their followers. The modern languages, occupying a transitory position between barbarism and refinement, reflected the turbulent features of the times, and defeated every attempt at subtile reasoning or refined analysis in which they became the instrument. The stream of learning which the recent sacking of Constantinople had suddenly turned upon Europe, perplexed and bewildered men's minds, unfixing, like a gush of light suddenly let in upon a darkened vision, the true relations of things, and investing shadows with the appearance of realities. The human soul was stirred from its depths. Men suddenly found themselves in the midst of treasures, which, however they might admire, they were unable to appreciate ; and the anomalous position awakened new trains of thought, for which their language afforded no adequate expression. If the wisest of mortals should lay the foundations of a new philosophy during such a disturbed epoch, it would be but denying him attributes above humanity, to ascribe to his work the defects of his situation.
* We do not agree with the cant that represents the former of those ag martyrs to philosophy. They did not content themselves with reforming science, but supposing that the social and ecclesiastical institutions of the epoch stood in need of like service, began to assail princes and bishops with the same virulence as Aristotle and the schoolmen. These dignitarios, in answering their logic by another kind of weapon, were simply providing for their own safety and the general peace of their gaz!nięcta,
The Instauratio Magna, it must be admitted, is deficient in method. Bacon could not penetrate at once to the essential attributes of things, and divide them according to their distinguishing difference. It does not appear to have oc. curred to him that in the production of every creation of intellect, memory, imagination, and reason harmoniously con. cur, and that it is impossible to achieve the slightest triumph of genius without calling into simultaneous action the agency of these faculties, and blending their variegated resources in the elaboration of thought. Memory and reason are the woof and the warp of the intellectual tissue; and no such thing as consecutive judgment can be produced if they perform their functions apart, and refuse to interlace their resources. Of course each of the triune faculties will more or less prepon derate according to the nature of the subject in which they are engaged. gination plays an inferior part to memory in the historian, as reason to imagination in the philosopher, but still in due subordination to the severe canons of judgment which sits as the controlling umpire in every grand operation of genius. Imagination may be more exercised by the poet who creates. than by the historian who narrates ; but the thought will not de entertained for a moment, that memory is the presiding faculty in the historian, and imagination in the fabulist. In proportion as men are endowed with these faculties, they require the augmentation of the power, which weighs and balances facts, refines images, and gives to the shadows which their
memory or fancy calls up, a graphic and life-breathing motion. If al! the ordinary men of our day were provided with prodigious memories, without any increase of the rationalistic faculty, the number of diners-out with a ready stock of composed matter on subjects political, religious, scientific, and legendary, might be increased, but history could not be benefited by the addition of a single page worth the reading. Men would become so many parrots; the world would certainly retrograde, and the rationalistic element, which now tolerably manages to keep up with every man's accumulation of facts, would be entirely overpowered by a deluge of useless particularities. Imagination stands in the same relation to the poet as memory to the historian ; and if all men were blessed with the command of ideality which Dante and Milton enjoyed, without a proportionate influx of judgment and memory, we might have an endless flood of legends, but not one epic. So strict is the union of these three powers, even in productions of opposite tendencies, that it may be doubted whether imagination is not as necessary to the geometrician who invents, as to the poet who creates; and whether memory may
not play a more distinguished part in the productions of the philosopher than of the historian.
The human mind for nearly two thousand years, had beer. lulled into an entire forgetfulness of objective facts, during all that period regarding the Aristotelian physics as the highest fruits that reason could reap from scientific inquiry ; and it required a man of Bacon's breadth of capacity and spirit-stirring eloquence, to throw all the energy of his nature into the opposite element, and by showing how the splendid treasures it contained might be reaped, and the errors of the Greeks retrieved, to awaken the world from its slumbers, and set it on the road of physical discovery. If his nomenclature was logically incorrect, the empirical views out of which it arose gave men's minds, perverted by speculative reasoning, a strong objective bent. If his scientific method was defective, it led men to abandon pure rationalistic inquiry, which had produced all the fruit it was capable of yielding, and to explore the fields of nature, where treasures undreamt of lay concealed. If he placed the end of philosophy in the discovery of visionary and chimerical objects, the pursuit led men to the detection of the laws of phenomena, which has already tripled man's power over nature, and enriched the intellect with the possession of a new world. Science can afford to overlook errors which balanced the onesided tendencies of the human mind, turned the vessel aside from a barren coast, and shot it right into the harbour of discovery. The triumph to which his spirit led, rectified the mistakes with which it was accompanied, and left mankind nothing to gather from the mine of nature which he opened, but the pure ore of truth. His fervent appeals still thunder in the ear of every generation, irrespective of creed or nation ; while the trains of light which they leave behind them stimulate every succeeding race to renewed efforts in the path of discovery. The human mind had never been so profoundly stirred since the times of Archimedes and Aristotle, as on the day when this mighty magician spake: the wheels of science, which had stood still for two thousand years, impelled by his breath, began to move, and the spirit of Europe was evoked on all sides to impart to them accelerated velocity. Pascal and Torricelli, guided by his rules, established the properties of air. and Newton, in the spirit of his method, and directed by his hints, threw back the curtain of the heavens, revealed the laws of light, explained the phenomena of the tides, and peopled space with worlds! Nurtured in his school, Boyle transformed hydro. statics from a loose assemblage of facts into a deductive science : Watt constructed the steam-engine, which has annihilated space and economized the labour of millions; and Franklin rivalled the glories of the ancient Prometheus, in snatching the electric fira