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gold, the vintage was rendered more abundant | revelation of hidden objects and the like. One by their labour.
The followers of natural magic, who explain every thing by sympathy and antipathy, have assigned false powers and marvellous operations to things, by gratuitous and idle conjectures: and if they have ever produced any effects, they are rather wonderful and novel than of any real benefit or utility.
In superstitious magic, (if we say any thing at all about it,) we must chiefly observe, that there are only some peculiar and definite objects with which the curious and superstitious arts have in every nation and age, and even under every religion, been able to exercise and amuse themselves. Let us, therefore, pass them over. In the mean time we cannot wonder that the false notion of plenty should have occasioned want.
86. The admiration of mankind with regard to the arts and sciences, which is of itself sufficiently simple and almost puerile, has been increased by the craft and artifices of those who have treated the sciences and delivered them down to posterity. For they propose and produce them to our view so fashioned, and as it were masked, as to make them pass for perfect and complete. For, if you consider their method and divisions, they appear to embrace and comprise every thing which can relate to the subject. And although this frame be badly filled up, and resemble an empty bladder, yet it presents to the vulgar understanding the form and appearance of a perfect science.
The first and most ancient investigators of truth were wont, on the contrary, with more honesty and success, to throw all the knowledge they wished to gather from contemplation, and to ay up for use, into aphorisms, or short, scattered sentences, unconnected by any method, and without pretending or professing to comprehend any entire art. But, according to the present system, we cannot wonder that men seek nothing beyond that which is handed down to them as perfect, and already extended to its full complement.
would not be very wrong in observing, with regard to such pretenders, that there is as much difference in philosophy, between their absurdity and real science, as there is in history between the exploits of Cæsar or Alexander, and those of Amadis de Gaul and Arthur of Britain. For those illustrious generals are found to have actually performed greater exploits, than such fictitious heroes are even pretended to have accomplished, by the means, however, of real action, and not by any fabulous and portentous power. Yet it is not right to suffer our belief in true history to be diminished, because it is sometimes injured and violated by fables. In the mean time we cannot wonder that great prejudice has been excited against any new propositions (especially when coupled with any mention of effects to be produced) by the conduct of impostors who have made a similar attempt, for their extreme absurdity and the disgust occasioned by it, has even to this day overpowered every spirited attempt of the kind.
88. Want of energy, and the littleness and futility of the tasks that human industry has undertaken, have produced much greater injury to the sciences: and yet (to make it still worse) that very want of energy manifests itself in conjunction with arrogance and disdain.
For, in the first place, one excuse, now from its repetition become familiar, is to be observed in every art, namely, that its promoters convert the weakness of the art itself into a calumny upon nature: and whatever it in their hands fails to effect, they pronounce to be physically impossible. But how can the art ever be condemned, whilst it acts as judge in its own cause? Even the present system of philosophy cherishes in its bosom certain positions or dogmas, which (it will be found on diligent inquiry) are calculated to produce a full conviction that no difficult, commanding, and powerful operation upon nature, ought to be anticipated through the means of art; we instanced* above, the alleged different quality of heat in the sun and fire, and composition and mixture. Upon an accurate observation, the whole tendency of such positions is wilfully to circumscribe man's power, and to produce a despair of the means of invention and contrivance, which would not only confound the promises of hope, but cut the very springs and sinews of industry, and throw aside even the chances of expe
87. The ancient theories have received additional support and credit, from the absurdity and levity of those who have promoted the new, especially in the active and practical part of natural philosophy. For there have been many silly and fantastical fellows who, from credulity or imposture, have loaded mankind with promises, announcing and boasting of the prolongation of life, the retarding of old age, the alleviation of pains, the remedying of natural defects, the de-rience. The only object of such philosophers is, ception of the senses, the restraint and excitement of the passions, the illumination and exaltation of the intellectual faculties, the transmutation of substances, the unlimited intensity and multiplication of motion, the impressions and changes of the air, the bringing into our power the management of celestial influences, the divination of future events, the representation of distant objects, the
to acquire the reputation of perfection for their own art, and they are anxious to obtain the most silly and abandoned renown, by causing a belief that whatever has not yet been invented and understood, can never be so hereafter. But if any one attempt to give himself up to things, and to
See Axiom 75.
discover something new, yet he will only propose! and destine for his object, the investigation and discovery of some one invention, and nothing more; as the nature of the magnet, the tides, the heavenly system and the like, which appear enveloped in some degree of mystery, and have hitherto been treated with but little success. Now, it is the greatest proof of want of skill, to investigate the nature of any object in itself alone; for that same nature, which seems concealed and hidden in some instances, is manifest and almost palpable in others; and excites wonder in the former, whilst it hardly attracts attention in the latter. Thus the nature of consistency is scarcely observed in wood or stone, but passed over by the term solid, without any further inquiry about the repulsion of separation, or the solution of continuity. But in water-bubbles the same circumstance appears matter of delicate and ingenious research, for they form themselves into thin pellicles, curiously shaped into hemispheres, so as for an instant to avoid the solution of continuity.
In general, those very things which are considered as secret, are manifest and common in other objects, but will never be clearly seen if the experiments and contemplation of man be directed to themselves only. Yet it commonly happens, that if, in the mechanical arts, any one bring old discoveries to a finer polish, or more elegant height of ornament, or unite and compound them, or apply them more readily to practice, or exhibit them on a less heavy and voluminous scale, and the like, they will pass off as new.
We cannot, therefore, wonder that no magnificent discoveries, worthy of mankind, have been brought to light, whilst men are satisfied and delighted with such scanty and puerile tasks, nay, even think that they have pursued or attained some great object in their accomplishment.
89. Nor should we neglect to observe that natural philosophy has, in every age, met with a troublesome and difficult opponent: I mean superstition, and a blind and immoderate zeal for religion. For we see that among the Greeks those who first disclosed the natural causes of thunder and storms to the yet untrained ears of man, were condemned as guilty of impiety towards the gods. Nor did some of the old fathers of Christianity treat those much better who showed by the most positive proofs (such as no one now disputes) that the earth is spherical, and thence asserted that there were antipodes.
Even in the present state of things, the condition of discussions on natural philosophy is rendered more difficult and dangerous by the sum maries and methods of divines, who, after reducing divinity into such order as they could, and brought it into a scientific form, have proceeded to mingle an undue proportion of the contentious and thorny philosophy of Aristotle with the substance of religion.
The fictions of those who have not feared to deduce and confirm the truth of the Christian religion by the principles and authority of philosophers, tend to the same end, though in a different manner. They celebrate the union of faith and the senses as though it were legitimate, with great pomp and solemnity, and gratify men's pleasing minds with a variety, but, in the mean time, confound most improperly things divine and human. Moreover, in these mixtures of divinity and philosophy, the received doctrines of the latter are alone included, and any novelty, even though it be an improvement, scarcely escapes banishment and extermination.
In short, you may find all access to any species of philosophy, however pure, intercepted by the ignorance of divines. Some, in their simplicity, are apprehensive that a too deep inquiry into nature may penetrate beyond the proper bounds of decorum, transferring and absurdly applying what is said of sacred mysteries in holy writ against those who pry into divine secrets, to the mysteries of nature, which are not forbidden by any prohibition. Others, with more cunning, imagine and consider that if secondary causes be unknown, every thing may more easily be referred to the divine hand and wand; a matter, as they think, of the greatest consequence to religion, but which can only really mean that God wishes to be gratified by means of falsehood. Others fear from past example, lest motion and change in philosophy should terminate in an attack upon religion. Lastly, there are others who appear anxious lest there should be something discovered in the investigation of nature to overthrow, or at least shake religion, particularly among the unlearned. The two last apprehensions appear to resemble animal instinct, as if men were diffident, in the bottom of their minds, and secret meditations, of the strength of religion, and the empire of faith over the senses; and therefore feared that some danger awaited them from an inquiry into nature. But any one who properly considers the subject, will find natural philosophy to be, after the word of God, the surest remedy against superstition, and the most approved support of faith. She is therefore rightly bestowed upon religion as a most faithful attendant, for the one exhibits the will and the other the power of God. was he wrong who observed, "Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God;" thus uniting in one bond the revelation of his will, and the contemplation of his power. In the mean while it is not wonderful that the progress of natural philosophy has been restrained, since religion, which has so much influence on men's minds, has been led and hurried to oppose her through the ignorance of some and the imprudent zeal of others.
90. Again, in the habits and regulations of schools, universities, and the like assemblies, de
If, therefore, any one believe or promise greater things, they impute it to an uncurbed and immature mind, and imagine that such efforts begin pleasantly, then become laborious, and end in confusion. And since such thoughts easily enter the minds of men of dignity and excellent judg. ment, we must really take heed lest we should be captivated by our affection for an excellent and most beautiful object, and relax or diminish the severity of our judgment! and we must diligently examine what gleam of hope shines upon us, and in what direction it manifests itself, so that, banish
stined for the abode of learned men, and the im- | when they have attained a certain degree and provement of learning, every thing is found to be condition they can proceed no further. opposed to the progress of the sciences. For the lectures and exercises are so ordered, that any thing out of the common track can scarcely enter the thoughts and contemplations of the mind. If, however, one or two have perhaps dared to use their liberty, they can only impose the labour on themselves, without deriving any advantage from the association of others and if they put up with this, they will find their industry and spirit of no slight disadvantage to them in making their forFor the pursuits of men in such situations are, as it were, chained down to the writings of particular authors, and if any one dare to dissenting her lighter dreams, we may discuss and weigh from them, he is immediately attacked as a turbulent and revolutionary spirit. Yet how great is the difference between civil matters and the arts; for there is not the same danger from new activity and new light. In civil matters even a change for the better is suspected on account of the commotion it occasions; for civil government is supported by authority, unanimity, fame, and public opinion, and not by demonstration. In the arts and sciences, on the contrary, every department should resound, as in mines, with new works and advances. And this is the rational, though not the actual view of the case: for that administration and government of science we have spoken of, is wont too rigorously to repress its growth.
91. And even should the odium I have alluded to be avoided, yet it is sufficient to repress the increase of science that such attempts and industry was unrewarded. For the cultivation of science and its reward belong not to the same individual. The advancement of science is the work of a powerful genius, the prize and reward belong to the vulgar or to princes, who (with a few exceptions) are scarcely moderately well informed. Nay, such progress is not only deprived of the rewards and beneficence of individuals, but even of popular praise: for it is above the reach of the generality, and easily overwhelmed and extinguished by the winds of common opinions. It is not wonderful, therefore, that little success has attended that which has been little honoured.
92. But by far the greatest obstacle to the advancement of the sciences and the undertaking of any new attempt or department is to be found in men's despair and the idea of impossibility. For men of a prudent and exact turn of thought are altogether diffident in matters of this nature, considering the obscurity of nature, and the shortness of life, the deception of the senses, and weakness of the judgment. They think, therefore, that in the revolutions of ages and of the world there are certain floods and ebbs of the sciences, and that they grow and flourish at one time, and wither and fall off at another, that VOL. III.-46
whatever appears of more sound importance. We must consult the prudence of ordinary life, too, which is diffident upon principle, and in all human matters augurs the worst. Let us then speak of hope, especially as we are not vain promisers, nor are willing to force or ensnare men's judgment, but would rather lead them willingly forward. And, although we shall employ the most cogent means of enforcing hope when we bring them to particulars, and especially those which are digested and arranged in our Tables of Invention, (the subject partly of the second, but principally of the fourth part of the Instauration,) which are indeed rather the very object of our hopes than hope itself; yet to proceed more leniently, we must treat of the preparation of men's minds, of which the manifestation of hope forms no slight part. For, without it, all that we have said tends rather to produce a gloom than to encourage activity or quicken the industry of experiment, by causing them to have a worse and more contemptuous opinion of things as they are than they now entertain, and to perceive and feel more thoroughly their unfortunate condition. We must therefore disclose and prefix our reasons for not thinking the hope of success improbable, as Columbus before his wonderful voyage over the Atlantic gave the reasons of his conviction that new lands and continents might be discovered besides those already known. And these reasons though at first rejected, were yet proved by subsequent experience, and were the causes and beginnings of the greatest events.
93. Let us begin from God, and show that our pursuit from its exceeding goodness clearly proceeds from him, the Author of good and Father of light. Now, in all divine works, the smallest beginnings lead assuredly to some result, and the remark in spiritual matters that "The kingdom of God cometh without observation," is also found to be true in every great work of divine Provi dence; so that every thing glides quietly on without confusion or noise, and the matter is achieved before men either think or perceive that it is commenced. Nor should we neglect to 2 H
mention the prophecy of Daniel of the last days and works it in the understanding. We have of the world,*Many shall run to and fro and good reason, therefore, to derive hope from a knowledge shall be increased," thus plainly hint-closer and purer alliance of these faculties, (the ing and suggesting that Fate (which is Pro- experimental and rational) than has yet been vidence) would cause the complete circuit of attempted. the globe, (now accomplished, or at least going forward by means of so many distant voyages,) and the increase of learning, to happen at the same epoch.
94. We will next give a most potent reason for hope deduced from the errors of the past, and the ways still unattempted. For well was an ill governed state thus reproved, "That which is worst with regard to the past, should appear most consolatory for the future. For if you had done all that your duty commanded, and your affairs proceeded no better, you could not even hope for their improvement; but since their present unhappy situation is not owing to the force of circumstances, but to your own errors, you have reason to hope, that by banishing or correcting the latter, you can produce a great change for the better in the former." So, if men had, during the many years that have elapsed, adhered to the right way of discovering and cultivating the sciences without being able to advance, it would be assuredly bold and presumptuous to imagine it possible to improve; but if they have mistaken the way and wasted their labour on improper objects, it follows that the difficulty does not arise from things themselves, which are not in our power, but from the human understanding, its practice and application, which is susceptible of remedy and correction. Our best plan, therefore, is to expose these errors. For, in proportion as they impeded the past, so do they afford reason to hope for the future. And although we have touched upon them above, yet we think it right to give a brief, bare, and simple enumeration of them in this place.
95. Those who have treated of the sciences have been either empirics or dogmatical. The former like ants only heap up and use their store, the latter like spiders spin out their own webs. The bee, a mean between both, extracts matter from the flowers of the garden and the field, but works and fashions it by its own efforts. The true labour of philosophy resembles hers, for it neither relies entirely or principally on the powers of the mind, nor yet lays up in the memory, the matter afforded by the experiments of natural history or mechanics in its raw state, but changes
*Daniel, c. xii. ver. 4.
+ Hence to Aphorism 108 treats of the grounds of hope to be derived from correcting former errors.
See Demosthenes's 3d Philippic near the beginning, τὸ χείρισον ἐν τοῖς παρεληλυθόσι, τοῦτο προς τὰ μελλοντα
βέλτισον ὑπάρκει. Τί οὖν ἐπὶ τοῦτο; ὅτι οὔτε μικρὸν, οὔτε μέγα οὐδὲν τῶν δεόντων ποιούντων ὑμῶν, κακῶς τὰ πράγματα ἔχει· ἐπείτοιγε εἰ πάνθ' α προσήκει πραττόντων ὑμῶν, οὕτω διέκειτο οὐδ' ἄν ελπὶς ἦν αὐτὰ γένεσθαι βελτίω, νῦν δὲ τῆς μὲν ῥαθυμίας τῆς ὑμετέρας, καὶ τῆς ἀμελείας κεκράτηκε Φίλιππος, τῆς πόλεως δ ̓ οὐ κεκράτηκεν.
96. Natural philosophy is not yet to be found unadulterated, but is impure and corrupted; by logic in the school of Aristotle, by natural theology in that of Plato, by mathematics in the second school of Plato, (that of Proclus and others,) which ought rather to terminate natural philosophy than to generate or create it. We may, therefore, hope for better results from pure and unmixed natural philosophy.
97. No one has yet been found possessed of sufficient firmness and severity, to resolve upon and undertake the task of entirely abolishing common theories and notions, and applying the mind afresh, when thus cleared and levelled, to particular researches. Hence our human reasoning is a mere farrago and crude mass, made up of a great deal of credulity and accident, and the puerile notions it originally contracted.
But if a man of mature age, unprejudiced senses, and clear mind, would betake himself anew to experience and particulars, we might hope much more from such a one. In which respect we promise ourselves the fortune of Alexander the Great, and let none accuse us of vanity till they have heard the tale, which is intended to check vanity.
For Eschines spoke thus of Alexander and his exploits : "We live not the life of mortals, but are born at such a period that posterity will relate and declare our prodigies." As if he considered the exploits of Alexander to be miraculous.
But in succeeding ages* Livy took a better view of the fact, and has made some such observation as this upon Alexander: "That he did no more than dare to despise insignificance." So in our opinion posterity will judge of us, "That we have achieved no great matters, but only set less account upon what is considered important." For the mean time (as we have before observed) our only hope is in the regeneration of the sciences, by regularly raising them on the foundation of experience and building them anew, which I think none can venture to affirm to have been already done or even thought of.
98. The foundations of experience (our sole resource) have hitherto failed completely or have been very weak; nor has a store and a collection of particular facts capable of informing the mind or in any way satisfactory, been either sought after or amassed. On the contrary, learned, but
*See Livy, lib. x. c. 17, where in a digression on the probable effect of a contest between Rome and Alexander the Great, he says: “Non cum Dario rem esse dixisset: quem mulierum ac spadonum agmen trahentem inter purpuram atque aurum, oneratum fortune apparatibus, prædam verius quam hostem, nihil aliud quam ausus vana contemnere, incru entus devicit."
101. But after having collected and prepared an abundance and store of natural history, and of the experience required for the operations of the understanding, or philosophy; still the understanding is as capable of acting on such materials of itself with the aid of memory alone, as any person would be of retaining and achieving by memory the computation of an almanac. Yet meditation has hitherto done more for discovery than writing, and no experiments have been committed to paper. We cannot, however, approve of any mode of discovery without writing, and when that comes into more general use we may have further hopes.
idle and indolent, men received some mere reports | duce a completely different method, order, and of experience, traditions, as it were, of dreams, as progress of continuing and promoting experience. establishing or confirming their philosophy; and For vague and arbitrary experience is (as we have not hesitated to allow them the weight of have observed) mere groping in the dark, and legitimate evidence. So that a system has been rather astonishes than instructs. But when expursued in philosophy with regard to experience, perience shall proceed regularly and uninterruptresembling that of a kingdom or state which edly by a determined rule, we may entertain would direct its councils and affairs according to better hopes of the sciences. the gossip of city and street politicians, instead of the letters and reports of ambassadors and messengers worthy of credit. Nothing is rightly inquired into, or verified, noted, weighed, or measured, in natural history. Indefinite and vague observation produces fallacious and uncertain information. If this appear strange or our complaint somewhat too unjust, (because Aristotle himself, so distinguished a man, and supported by the wealth of so great a king, has completed an accurate history of animals, to which others with greater diligence but less noise have made con- | siderable additions, and others again have composed copious histories and notices of plants, inetals, and fossils,) it will arise from a want of sufficiently attending to and comprehending our present observations. For a natural history compiled on its own account, and one collected for the mind's information as a foundation for philosophy, are two different things. They differ in several respects, but principally in this; the former contains only the varieties of natural species without the experiments of mechanical arts. For as in ordinary life every person's disposition, and the concealed feelings of the mind and passions are most drawn out when they are disturbed; so the secrets of nature betray themselves more readily when tormented by art, than when left to their own course. We must begin, therefore, to entertain hopes of natural philosophy then only, when we have a better compilation of natural history, its real basis and support.
99. Again, even in the abundance of mechanical experiments there is a very great scarcity of those which best inform and assist the understanding. For the mechanic, little solicitous about the investigation of truth, neither directs his attention nor applies his hand to any thing that is not of service to his business. But our hope of further progress in the sciences will then only be well founded, when numerous experiments shall be received and collected into natural history, which, though of no use in themselves, assist materially in the discovery of causes and axioms: which experiments we have termed enlightening, to distinguish them from those which are profitable. They possess this wonderful property and nature, that they never deceive or fail you, for, being used only to discover the natural cause of some object, whatever be the result, they equally satisfy your aim by deciding the question.
100. We must not only search for and procure a greater number of experiments, but also intro
102. Besides this, there is such a multitude and host as it were of particular objects, and lying so widely dispersed, as to distract and confuse the understanding; and we can therefore hope for no advantage from its skirmishing, and quick movements and incursions, unless we put its forces in due order and array by means of proper, and well arranged, and as it were living tables of discovery of these matters which are the subject of investigation, and the mind then apply itself to the ready prepared and digested aid which such tables afford.
103. When we have thus properly and regularly placed before the eyes a collection of particulars, we must not immediately proceed to the investigation and discovery of new particulars or effects, or, at least, if we do so, must not rest satisfied therewith. For, though we do not deny that by transferring the experiments from one art to another, (when all the experiments of each have been collected and arranged, and have been acquired by the knowledge and subjected to the judgment of a single individual,) many new experiments may be discovered, tending to benefit society and mankind, by what we term literate experience; yet comparatively insignificant results are to be expected thence, whilst the more important are to be derived from the new light of axioms, deduced by certain method and rule from the above particulars, and pointing out and defining new particulars in their turn. Our road is not along a plain, but rises and falls, ascending to axioms and descending to effects.
104. Nor can we suffer the understanding to jump and fly from particulars to remote and most general axioms, (such as are termed the principles of arts and things,) and thus prove and make out their intermediate axioms according to the supposed unshaken truth of the former. This