Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

mirror, requiring to be levelled and polished, or discharged of its false imaginations and perverted notions, before it can be set to receive and reflect the light of truth and just informa. tion : and the levelling part is of four kinds, with respect to the four different forts of idols, or false notions, that possess the mind. These idols are either acquired or natural; and pro. ceed either from the doctrines and fects of philosophers, the perverted and corrupt laws and methods of demonftration; or else are in. nate and inherent in the very constitution of the mind itself.

The first labour, therefore, is to discharge and free the mind from its swarms of false theories, which occafion such violent conflicts and oppositions, Tlie next point is to release it from the slavery of perverted demonstrations : and the last is to put a check upon

this seduceing power of the mind, and either to pluck up those innate idols by the root, or, if that cannot be done, to point them out, that they may be thoroughly known and watched, and so have the depravities which they occasion corrected. This levelling part, therefore, is performed by three kinds of confutations : viz, the confutation of philofophies, the confutation of demonstrations, and the confuta. rion of the natural unaslisted reason.

When thus the mind is rendered equable and unbiased, the work proceeds to set it in a proper situation ; and, as it were, with a benevolent aspect to the remaining indructions ;

whereby

whereby the business of preparing the mind is fill further carried on; and the whole drift of this ensuing part is only to possess mankind with a juit opinion of the whole Inftauration for a time, that they may wait with patience the issue and event thereof, upon folid assureances of some confiderable benefit and advantage from it when its scope shall come to be well understood ; and thence it proceeds difinctly to obviare all the objections and false fuspicions which may be raised about it, through the prevailing notions and prejudices drawn from religious confiderations, those of abstract speculation, natural prudence, distruit, levity, &c. thus endeavouring to pacify and allay every wind of opposition,

To render this preparation still more compleat and perfect, the next thing is, to raise the mind from the languor and torpidity it may contract from the apparent miraculous nature of the thing; and, as this wrong dif position of the mind cannot be rectified with out the discovery of caufes, the work proceeds to mark out all the impediments which have hitherto perverfly retarded and blocked the way of true philosophy; and thus makes iš appear no wonder at all that mankind mould have been so long entangled and perplexed with errors,

When the ways of removing these impediments are shewn, there follows a chain of arguments for establishing a solid foundation of

hope,

14

hope, for the better suceess of genuine and and serviceable philosophy in future ; for it is hereby demonstrated, that, though the interpretation of nature intended by the Instauration may indeed be difficult, yet much the greater parts of the difficulties attending it are in the power of man to remove; as arising, not from the nature of the senses and things themselves, but only require that the mind be rectified, in order to their removal : and this first general part concludes with an account of the excellence of the end in view.

The preparatory part being thus dispatched, the work proceeds to the bufiness of information, the perfecting of the understanding, and the delivery of the art of working with this new machine in the interpretation of nature. This is laid down in three several branches, with regard to the fenfe, the memory, and the reason

;

each whereof is affifted in its turn.

This work he addressed to his majesty, who, in his letter dated October 16, 1620, tells him, that he could not have made him a more acceptable present; and, that, for his part, he could not express his thanks better, than by informing him of the resolution he had taken to read it through with care and attention, though he should steal fome hours from

his sleep, having otherwise as little spare time ato read as his lordship had to write it ; with many other gracious expređions which fully demonitrate how much the chancellor was in the king's good graces, and how high an efteem. he had for his parts and learning.

monstrate years,

The famous Sir Henry Wotton, to whom: his lordship fent three copies of this book, wrote him a large letter of praise in return ;; which, as we have no room for compliments, we shall omit. He received the like tribute of commendation from such as were the most learned, or so affected to be thought, in this and in the neighbouring nations; yet, after all, this performance was rather praised than, read, and more generally applauded than un-, derstood. This produced a kind of latents: censure, a fort of owl like criticism, that durft not abide day-light. Honest Ben. Johnson produced this to the world a little after our author's death ; when he very generously, as.. well as judiciously, gave this character of the Novum Organum: That, though, by moita fuperficial men, who cannot get beyond the ti.. tle of Nominals, it is not penetrated or under: stood, really openeth all defects of learning whatsoever, and is a books,

Qui longum noto scriptori prorogat ævum.

To latest times shall hand the author's name.

We need not wonder at this, when we con fider the pains it cost the noble Verulam : for: Dr. Rawley assures us, that he had seen twelve.' copies revised, altered, and corrected, year by

IS.

I mean,

[ocr errors]

year, before it was reduced into the form in which it was published. We must however allow that it is not absolutely perfect, as appears from what a moit ingenious and judicious writer has delivered upon it, with that modesty, circumspection, and good senfe, which is difcernible in all his writings. The person

is the late learned and excellent Mr. Baker, of St. John's college in Cambridge ; who allows that my lord Bacon faw clearer into the defects of the art of reasoning than most men did ; and, being neither satisfied with the vulgar logic, nor with the reformations that were made, suitable to his vaft and enterprising genius, attempted a logic wholly new and plain, which is laid down in his Novum Or. ganum.

“ The way of fyllogising," says he, “ seemed to him very fallacious, and too dependent upon words to be much relied on; his search was after things, and therefore he brought in a new way of arguing from induction, and that grounded upon observations and experiments." But the fame gentleman observes, That “this plan, as laid by him, looks liker an universal art than a distinct logic; and the design is too great, and the induction too large, to be made by one man, or, any society of men in one age, if at all practicable ; for, whatever opinion he might have of the conclusiveness of this way, one cross circumstance in an experiment would as easily overthrow his induction, as an ambiguous

word

« AnteriorContinuar »