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liarizing abstruse subjects: but to such instances he did not confine himself. He was too well acquainted with our nature, merely to explain truth without occasionally raising the mind by noble and lofty images to love it. It must not be supposed that, because he illustrated his thoughts, he was misled by imagination, which never had precedence, but always followed in the train of his reason : or, because he had recourse to arrangement, that he was enslaved by method, which he always disliked, as impeding the progress of knowledge. It is, therefore, his constant admonition, that a plain, unadorned style, in aphorisms, is the proper style for philosophy; and in aphorisms the Novum Organum and his tract on Universal Justice are composed. But, although this was his general opinion; although he was too well acquainted with what he terms the idols of the mind, to be diverted from truth by the love of order; yet knowing the charms of theory and system, and the necessity of adopting them to insure a favourable reception for abstruse works, he did not reject these garlands, at once the ornament and fetters of science. They may now, perhaps, be laid aside, and the noble temple which he raised may be destroyed; but its gorgeous magnificence will never be forgotten, and amidst the ruins a noble statue will be seen by every true worshipper of beauty and of knowledge. To form a correct judgment of the merits of this treatise it is but justice to the author to remember, both the time when it was written and the persons for whom it was composed, “length and ornament of speech being fit for persuasion of multitudes, although not for information of kings.” The work is divided into two books: the first consisting of his dedication to the King;—of his statement of the objections to learning, by divines, by politicians, and from the errors of learned men; —and of some of the advantages of knowledge. If, in compliance with the custom of the times, or from an opinion that wisdom, although it ought not to stoop to persons, should submit to occasions, or from a morbid anxiety to accelerate the advancement of knowledge, Bacon could delude himself by the supposition that his fulsome dedication to the King was consistent either with the simplicity or dignity of philosophy, he must have forgotten what Seneca said to Nero, “Suffer me to stay here a little longer with thee, not to flatter thine ear, for that is not my custom, as I have always preferred to offend by truth than to please by flattery.” He must have forgotten that when Æsop said to Solon, “Either we must not come to princes, or we must seek to please and content them;” Solon answered, “Either we must not come to princes at all, or we must speak truly, and counsel them for the best.” He must have forgotten his own doctrine, that books ought to have no patrons but truth and reason, and he must also have forgotten his own nervous and beautiful admonition, that “the honest and just bounds of observation by one person upon another extend no further 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 with respect to 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 it is want of duty.” If his work had been addressed to the philosophy of the country, instead of having confined his professional objections to divines and politicians, he would have explained that, as our opinions always constitute our intellectual and often our worldly wealth, prejudice is common to us all, and is particularly conspicuous amongst all professional men with respect to the sciences which they profess. His objections to learning from the errors of learned men contain his observations upon the study of words; upon useless knowledge; and upon falsehood, called by him delicate learning; contentious learning; and fantastical learning; all of them erroneously considered objections to learning; as the study of words is merely the selection of one species of knowledge; and contentious learning is only the conflict of opinion, which ever exists when any science is in progress, and the way from sense to the understanding is not sufficiently cleared ; and falsehood is one of the consequences
attendant upon inquiry, as our opinions, being
and their light shines like a mighty sea-mark into the abyss of time,
“Still green with bays each ancient altar stands.”
But, notwithstanding these advantages, Bacon says, “the studying words and not matter is a distemper of learning, of which Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem ; for words are but the images of matter, and to fall in love with them is all one as to fall in love with a picture.”
These different subjects are classed under the quaint expression of “Distempers of learning;” to which, that the metaphor may be preserved, he has appended various other defects, under the more quaint term of “peccant Humours of Learning.”
His observations upon the advantages of learning, although encumbered by fanciful and minute analysis, abound with beauty; for, not contenting himself with the simple position with which philosophy would be satisfied, that knowledge teaches us how to select what is beneficial, and avoid what is injurious, he enumerates various modes, divine and human, by which the happiness resulting from knowledge ever has been and ever will be manifested.
After having stated what he terms divine proofs of the advantages of knowledge, he says, the human proofs are:
1. Learning diminishes afflictions from nature.