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THE FOURTH PART
OF THE GREAT INSTAURATION.
SCALING LADDER OF THE INTELLECT; OR, THREAD OF THE LABYRINTH.
It would be difficult to find fault with tnose any fellowship between the ancients and ourwho affirm that "nothing is known," if they had selves, it is principally as connected with this tempered the rigour of their decision by a soften- species of philosophy: as we concur in many ing explanation. For, should any one contend, things which they have judiciously observed and that science rightly interpreted is a knowledge of stated about the varying nature of the senses, the things through their causes, and that the know- weakness of human judgment, and the propriety ledge of causes constantly expands, and by of withholding or suspending assent; to which gradual and successive concatenation rises, as it we might add innumerable other remarks of a were, to the very loftiest parts of nature, so that similar tendency. So that the only difference the knowledge of particular existences cannot be between them and ourselves is, that they affirm properly possessed without an accurate compre- "nothing can be perfectly known by any method hension of the whole of things; it is not easy to whatever; we, that "nothing can be perfectly discover, what can reasonably be observed in known by the methods which mankind have reply. For it is not reasonable to allege, that the hitherto pursued." Of this fellowship we are true knowledge of any thing is to be attained be- not at all ashamed. For the aggregate, if it confore the mind has a correct conception of its sists not of those alone who lay down the abovecauses and to claim for human nature such a cor- mentioned dogma as their peremptory and unrect conception universally, might justly be pro- changeable opinion, but of such also as indirectly nounced perhaps not a little rash, or rather the maintain it under the forms of objection and proof of an ill-balanced mind. They, however, interrogatory, or by their indignant complaints of whom we are writing, shrink not from thus de- about the obscurity of things, confess, and, as it secrating the oracles of the senses, which must were, proclaim it aloud, or suffer it only to transpire lead to a total recklessness. Nay, to speak the from their secret thoughts in occasional and ambitruth, had they even spared their false accusations, guous whispers; the aggregate, I say, comprises, the very controversy itself appears to originate in you will find, the far most illustrious and profound an unreasonable and contentious spirit; since, of the ancient thinkers, with whom no modern need independently of that rigid truth to which they blush to be associated; a few of them may, perrefer, there still remains such a wide field for haps, too magisterially have assumed to decide human exertion, that it would be preposterous, if the matter, yet this tone of authority prevailed not symptomatic of an unsettled and disturbed only during the late dark ages, and now mainintellect, in the anxious grasping at distant ex-tains its ground simply through a spirit of party, tremes, to overlook such utilities as are obvious the inveteracy of habit, or mere carelessness and and near at hand. For, however they may seek, by introducing their distinction of true and probable, to subvert the certainty of science, without at the same time superseding the use or practically affecting the pursuit of it, yet, in destroying the hope of effectually investigating truth, they have cut the very sinews of human industry, and by a promiscuous license of disquisition converted what should have been the labour of discovery, into a mere exercise of talent and disputation.
We cannot, however, deny, that if there be
Yet, in the fellowship here spoken of, it is easy to discover that, agreeing as we do with the great men alluded to, as to the premises of our opinions, in our conclusions we differ from them most widely. Our discrepancies may, indeed, at first sight, appear to be but inconsiderable; they asserting the absolute, and we the modified incompetency of the human intellect; but the practical result is this, that as they neither point out, nor, in fact, profess to expect any remedy for the
defect in question, they wholly give up the busi- ries, lays firm hold of certain fixed principles in ness; and thus, by denying the certainty of the the science, and, with immovable reliance upon senses, pluck up science from its very foundation; them, disentangles (as he will with little effort) whereas, we, by the introduction of a new me- what he handles, if he advances steadily onward, thod, endeavour to regulate and correct the aber- not flinching out of excess either of self-confirations both of the senses and of the intellect. dence or of self-distrust from the object of his The consequence is, that they, thinking the die pursuit, will find he is journeying in the first of finally cast, turn aside to the uncontrolled and these two tracks; and if he can endure to suspend fascinating ramblings of genius; while we, by his judgment, and to mount gradually, and to our different view of the subject, are constrained climb by regular succession the height of things, to enter upon an arduous and distant province, like so many tops of mountains, with persevering which we unceasingly pray we may administer and indefatigable patience, he will in due time to the advantage and happiness of mankind. attain the very uppermost elevations of nature, The introductory part of our progress we de- where his station will be serene, his prospects scribed in our second book, which, having delightful, and his descent to all the practical entered, in the third we treated on the pheno- arts by a gentle slope perfectly easy. mena of the universe, and on history, plunging into and traversing the woodlands, as it were, of nature, here overshadowed (as by foliage) with the infinite variety of experiments; there perplexed and entangled (as by thorns and briers) with the subtilty of acute commentations.
And now, perhaps, by our advance from the woods to the foot of the mountains, we have reached a more disengaged, but yet a more arduous station. For, from history we shall proceed by a firm and sure track, new indeed, and hitherto unexplored, to universals. To these paths of contemplation, in truth, might appositely be applied the celebrated and often quoted illustration of the "double road of active life," of which one branch, at first even and level, conducted the traveller to places precipitous and impassable; the other, though steep and rough at the entrance, terminated in perfect smoothness. In a similar manner, he who, in the very outset of his inqui
It is therefore, our purpose, as in the second book we laid down the precepts of genuine and legitimate disquisition, so in this to propound and establish, with reference to the variety of subjects, illustrative examples; and that in the form which we think most agreeable to truth, and regard as approved and authorized. Yet, we do not alter the customary fashion, as well to all the constituent parts of this formula on absolute necessity, as if they were universally indispensable and inviolable: for we do not hold, that the industry and the happiness of man are to be indissolubly bound, as it were, to a single pillar. Nothing, indeed, need prevent those who possess great leisure, or have surmounted the difficulties infallibly encountered in the beginning of the experiment, from carrying onward the process here pointed out. On the contrary, it is our firm conviction that true art is always capable of advancing. F. W.
THE FIFTH PART
OF THE GREAT INSTAURATION.
PRECURSORS; OR, ANTICIPATIONS OF THE SECOND PHILOSOPHY.
THAT person, in our judgment, showed at once both his patriotism and his discretion, who, when he was asked, "whether he had given to his fellow-citizens the best code of laws," replied, "the best which they could bear." And, certainly, those who are not satisfied with merely thinking rightly, (which is little better, indeed, than dreaming rightly, if they do not labour to realize and effectuate the object of their meditations,) will pursue not what may be abstractedly the best, but the best of such things as appear most likely to be approved. We, however, do not feel ourselves privileged, notwithstanding our great affection for the human commonwealth, our common country, to adopt this legislatorial principle of selection; for we have no authority arbitrarily to prescribe laws to man's intellect, or the general nature of things. It is our office, as faithful secretaries, to receive and note down as such have been enacted by the voice of nature herself; and our trustiness must stand acquitted, whether they are accepted, or by the suffrage of general opinions rejected. Still we do not abandon the hope, that, in times yet to come, individuals may arise who will both be able to comprehend and digest the choicest of those things, and solicitous also to carry them to perfection; and, with this confidence, we will never, by God's help, desist (so long as we live) from directing our attention thitherward, and opening their fountains and uses, and investigating the lines of the roads leading to them.
Yet, anxious as we are with respect to the subjects of general interest and common concern, in aspiring to the greater, we do not condemn the inferior, for those are frequently at a distance, while these are at hand and around us, nor though we offer (as we think) more valuable things, do we therefore put our veto upon things received and ancient, or seek to cover their estimation with the multitude. On the contrary, we earnestly wish them to be amplified and improved, and held in increased regard; as it is no part of VOL. III.-66
our ambition to withdraw men, either all, or altogether, or all at once, from what is established and current. But as an arrow, or other missile, while carried directly onward, still, nevertheless, during its progress incessantly whirls about in rapid rotation; so we, while hurrying forward to more distant objects, are carried round and round by these popular and prevalent opinions. And, therefore, we do not hesitate to avail ourselves of the fair services of this common reason and these popular proofs; and shall place whatever conclusions have been discovered or decided through their medium (which may, indeed, have much of truth and utility in them) on an equal footing with the rest; at the same time protesting against any inferences thence to be drawn in derogation of what we have above stated about the incompetency of both this reason and of these proofs. We have rather, in fact, thrown out the preceding hints, as it were, occasionally, for the sake of such as, feeling their progress impeded by an actual want either of talent or of leisure, wish to confine themselves within the ancient tracts and precincts of science, or, at least, not to venture beyond their immediately contiguous domains; since we conceive that the same speculations may (like tents or resting-places on the way) minister ease and rest to such as, in pursuance of our plan, seek the true interpretation of nature, and find it; and may, at the same time, in some slight degree, promote the welfare of man, and infuse into his mind ideas somewhat more closely connected with the true nature of things, This result, however, we are far from anticipating in confidence of any faculty which we ourselves possess, but we entertain no doubt that any one even of moderate abilities, yet ripened mind, who is both willing and able to lay aside his idols, and to institute his inquiries anew, and to investigate with attention, perseverance, and freedom from prejudice, the truths and computations of natural history, will, of himself, by his genuine and native powers, and by his own simple anti
cipations penetrate more profoundly into nature than he would be capable of doing by the most extensive course of reading, by indefinite abstract speculations, or by continual and repeated disputations; though he may not have brought the ordinary engines into action, or have adopted the prescribed formula of interpretation.
In this, however, we do not wish to be considered as demanding for our own dogma the authority which we have withheld from those of the ancients. We would rather, indeed, testify and proclaim, that we are far from wishing to be
ourselves peremptorily bound by what we are about to bring forward, of whatever character it may be, to the maintenance of the whole of our secondary and inductive philosophy. This result of our meditations we have determined to offer loosely, and unconfined by the circumscription of method; deeming this a form both better adapted to sciences newly springing up as from an old stock, and more suitable to a writer whose present object it is not to constitute an art from combined, but to institute a free investigation of individual existences.
[TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN.]
OF THE EBB AND FLOW OF THE SEA.
THE investigation of the causes of the ebb and | which return at regular periods of the year. That flow of the sea, attempted by the ancients and in consequence of these and similar causes, they then neglected, resumed by the moderns, but rather frittered away than vigorously agitated in a variety of opinions, is generally, with a hasty anticipation, directed to the moon, because of certain correspondences between that motion, and the motion of that orb. But to a careful inquirer certain traces of the truth are apparent, which may lead to surer conclusions. Wherefore, to proceed without confusion, we must first distinguish the motions of the sea, which, though thoughtlessly enough multiplied by some, are in reality found to be only five; of these one alone is eccentric, the rest regular. We may mention first the wandering and various motions of what are called currents: the second is the great sixhours motion of the sea, by which the waters alternately advance to the shore, and retire twice a day, not with exact precision, but with a variation, constituting monthly periods. The third is the monthly motion itself, which is nothing but a cycle of the diurnal motion periodically recurring: the fourth is the half-monthly motion, formed by the increase of the tides at new and full moon, more than at half-moon: the fifth is the motion, once in six months, by which, at the equinoxes, the tides are increased in a more marked and signal manner.
It is the second, the great six-hours or diurnal motion, which we propose for the present as the principal subject and aim of our discourse, treating of the others only incidentally and so far as they contribute to the explanation of that motion.
First, then, as relates to the motion of currents, there is no doubt that to form it the waters are either confined by narrow passages, or liberated by open spaces, or hasten as with relaxed rein, down declivities, or rush against and ascend elevations, or glide along a smooth, level bottom, or are ruffled by furrows and irregularities in the channel, or fall into other currents, or mix with them and become subject to the same influences, or are affected by the annual or trade winds,
vary their states of flow and eddy, both as relates