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spials of princes and states bring in bills for intelligence, so you must allow the spials and intelligencers of nature to bring in their bills, or else you shall be ill advertised.
And if Alexander made such a liberal assignation to Aristotle of treasure for the allowance of hunters, fowlers, fishers, and the like, that he might compile an history of nature, much better do they deserve it that travel in arts of nature.
Another defect which I note, is an intermission or neglect, in those which are governors in the universities, of consultation; and in princes, or superior persons, of visitation : to enter into account and consideration, whether the readings, exercises, and other customs appertaining unto learning, anciently begun, and since continued, be well instituted or no, and thereupon to ground an amendment or reformation in that which shall be found inconvenient. For it is one of your majesty's own most wise and princely maxims, “ That in all usages and prece
dents, the times be considered wherein they first “ began, which, if they were weak or ignorant, it “ derogateth from the authority of the usage, and “ leaveth it for suspect.” And therefore, in as much as most of the usages and orders of the universities were derived from more obscure times, it is the more requisite they be re-examined. In this kind I will give an instance or two, for example-sake, of things that are the most obvious and familiar: the one is a matter, which though it be ancient and general, yet I hold it to be an error, which is, that scholars in universities come too soon and too unripe to logic and rhetoric, arts fitter for graduates than children and novices; for these two, rightly taken, are the gravest of sciences, being the arts of arts, the one for judgment, and the other for ornament. And they be the rules and directions how to set forth and dispose matter; and therefore for minds empty and unfraught with matter, and which have not gathered that which Cicero calleth sylva and supellex, stuff and variety, to begin with those arts, as if one should
learn to weigh, or to measure, or to paint the wind, doth work but this effect, that the wisdom of those arts, which is great and universal, is almost made contemptible, and is degenerate into childish sophistry and ridiculous affectation. And farther, the untimely learning of them hath drawn on, by consequence, the superficial and unprofitable teaching and writing of them, as fittest indeed to the capacity of children. Another, is a lack I find in the exercises used in the universities, which do make too great a divorce between invention and memory; for their speeches are either premeditate in virbis conceptis, where nothing is left to invention; or merely extemporal, where little is left to memory; whereas, in life and action there is least use of either of these, but rather of intermixtures of premeditation and invention, notes and memory; so as the exercise fitteth not the practice, nor the image the life; and it is ever a true rule in exercises, that they be framed as near as may be to the life of practice, for otherwise they do pervert
, the motions and faculties of the mind, and not prepare them. The truth whereof is not obscure, when scholars come to the practices of professions, or other actions of civil life, which when they set into, this want is soon found by themselves, and sooner by others. But this part, touching the amendment of the institutions and orders of universities, I will conclude with the clause of Cæsar's letter to Oppius and Balbus, Hoc quemadmodum fieri possit, nonnulla mihi in mentem veniunt, et multa reperiri possunt : de iis rebus rogo vos, ut cogitationem suscipiatis.
Another defect, which I note, ascendeth a little higher than the precedent; for as the proficience of learning consisteth much in the orders and institutions of universities in the same states and kingdoms, so it would be yet more advanced, if there were more intelligence mutual between the universities of Europe than now there is. We see there be many orders and foundations, which, though they be divided under several sovereignties and territories, yet they take themselves to have a kind of contract, fraternity, and correspondence one with another, insomuch, as they have provincials and generals. And surely, as nature createth brotherhood in families, and arts mechanical contract brotherhoods in commonalties, and the anointment of God superinduceth a brotherhood in kings and bishops: so in like manner there cannot but be a fraternity in learning and illumination, relating to that paternity, which is attributed to God, who is called the Father of illuminations or lights.
The last defect which I will note is, that there hath not been, or very rarely been, any public designation of writers or inquiries concerning such parts of knowledge, as may appear not to have been already sufficiently laboured or undertaken : unto which point it is an inducement to enter into a view and examination what parts of learning have been prosecuted, and what omitted; for the opinion of plenty is amongst the causes of want, and the great quantity of books maketh a show rather of superfluity than lack; which surcharge, nevertheless, is not to be remedied by making no more books, but by making more good books, which, as the serpent of Moses, might devour the serpents of the enchanters.
The removing of all the defects formerly enumerated, except the last, and of the active part also of the last, which is the designation of writers, are opera basilica ; towards which the endeavours of a private man may be but as an image in a cross-way, that may point at the way, but cannot go it. But the inducing part of the latter, which is the survey of learning, may be set forward by private travel : wherefore I will now attempt to make a general and faithful perambulation of learning, with an inquiry what parts thereof lie fresh and waste, and not improved and converted by the industry of man; to the end that such a plot, made and recorded to memory, may both minister light to any public designation, and also serve to excite voluntary endeavours: wherein nevertheless, my purpose is at this time to note only omissions and deficiencies, and not to make any redargution of errors, or incomplete prosecutions : for it is one thing to set forth what ground lieth unmanured, and another thing to correct ill husbandry in that which is manured.
In the handling and undertaking of which work I am not ignorant what it is that I do now move and attempt, nor insensible of mine own weakness to sustain my purpose; but my hope is, that if my extreme love to learning carry me too far, I may obtain the excuse of affection ; for that “it is not granted
to man to love and to be wise.” But, I know well, I can use no other liberty of judgment than I must leave to others; and I, for my part, shall be indifferently glad either to perform myself, or accept from another that duty of humanity; Nam qui erranti comiter monstrat viam, etc. I do foresee, likewise, that of those things which I shall enter and register, as deficiencies and omissions, many will conceive and censure, that some of them are already done and extant; others to be but curiosities, and things of no great use; and others to be of too great difficulty, and almost impossibility to be compassed and effected : but for the two first, I refer myself to the particulars ; for the last, touching impossibility, I take it, those things are to be held possible which may be done by some person, though not by every one ; and which may be done by many, though not by any one; and which may be done in succession of ages, though not within the hour-glass of one man's life; and which may be done by public designation, though not by private endeavour.
But, notwithstanding, if any man will take to himself rather that of Solomon, Dicit piger, Leo est in via, than that of Virgil, Possunt quia posse videntur : I shall be content that my labours be esteemed but as the better sort of wishes, for as it asketh some knowledge to demand a question not impertinent, so it requireth some sense to make a wish not absurd.
THE parts of human learning have reference to the three parts of man's understanding, which is -the seat of learning: History to his Memory, Poesy to his Imagination, and Philosophy to his Reason. Divine learning receiveth the same distribution, for the spirit of man is the same, though the revelation of oracle and sense be diverse : so as theology consisteth also of history of the Church; of parables, which is divine poesy; and of holy doctrine or precept: for as for that part which seemneth supernumerary, which is prophecy, it is but divine history; which hath that prerogative over human, as the narration may be before the fact, as well as after.
HISTORY is Natural, Civil, Ecclesiastical, and Literary; whereof the three first I allow as extant, the fourth I note as deficient. For no man hath propounded to himself the general state of learning to be described and represented from age to age, as many have done the works of nature, and the state civil and ecclesiastical; without which the history of the world seemeth to me to be as the statue of Polyphemus with his eye out, that part being wanting which doth most shew the spirit and life of the person : and yet I am not ignorant, that in divers particular sciences, as of the jurisconsults, the mathematicians, the rhetoricians, the philosophers, there are set down some small memorials of the schools, authors, and books; and so likewise some barren relations touching the invention of arts or usages.
But a just story of learning, containing the antiquities and originals of knowledges and their sects, their inventions, their traditions, their diverse administrations and managings, their flourishings, their oppositions, decays, depressions, oblivions, removes, with the causes and occasions of them, and all other events concerning learning, throughout the ages of the world, I may truly affirm to be wanting.
The use and end of which work, I do not so much design for curiosity, or satisfaction of those that are the lovers of learning, but chiefly for a more serious