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if it were completed, would not without the Natural History much advance the Instauration of the Sciences, whereas the Natural History without the Organum would advance it not a little. And therefore, I have thought it better and wiser by all means and above all things to apply myself to this work. May God, the Founder, Preserver, and Renewer of the universe, in His love and compassion to men, protect and rule this work both in its ascent to His glory and in its descent to the good of man, through His only Son, God with us.
THE RULE OF THE PRESENT HISTORY.
ALTHOUGH at the end of that part of my Organum which has been published precepts are laid down concerning Natural and Experimental History, yet I think it right to give a description at once more exact and more succinct of the rule and structure of the History I am now entering upon.
To the Titles contained in the Catalogue which relate to Concretes, I superadd Titles of Abstract Natures (which I have mentioned there as a History reserved for myself). Such are "The Different Configurations of Matter," or "Forms of the First Class," "Simple Motions," "Sums of Motions," "Measures of Motions," and some other things; whereof I have constructed a new Alphabet, and placed it at the end of this volume.
The titles in the catalogue (seeing it is beyond my power to handle them all) I have not taken in order, but made a selection; choosing those whereof the inquiry was either most important in respect of use, or most convenient on account of the abundance of experiments, or most difficult and noble from the obscurity of the thing, or such as opened the widest fields for examples by reason of the difference between the several titles, compared one with the other.
In each Title, after an Introduction or Preface, Particular Topics or Articles of Inquiry are immediately proposed, as well to give light in the present, as to stimulate further inquiry. For questions are at our command, though facts are not. I do not however in the history itself tie myself to the precise order of the questions, lest what was meant for a help should become a hindrance.
The History and Experiments occupy the first place. These, if they exhibit an enumeration and series of particular things, are collected into tables; otherwise they are taken separately. Since history and experiments very often fail us, especially
those Experiments of Light and Crucial Instances by which the understanding may determine on the true causes of things, I give Injunctions touching new experiments contrived, as far as can be at present foreseen, to meet the special object of inquiry. And such Injunctions form a kind of Designed History. For what other course is open to us on first entering on our path? In the case of any more subtle experiment the method which I have employed is explained; for there may be a mistake, and it may stimulate others to devise better and more exact methods. Admonitions and cautions concerning the fallacies of things, and the errors and scruples which may occur in inquiry and discovery, are interspersed; to dispel and as it were exorcise as much as possible all delusions and false appearances.
I insert my own observations on the history and experiments, that the interpretation of nature may the more advance.
Speculations, and what may be called rudiments of interpretation concerning causes, are introduced sparingly, and rather as suggesting what the cause may be than defining what it is.
Such Rules or imperfect axioms as occur to us in the course of inquiry, and where we do not yet pronounce, we set down and prescribe, but only provisionally. For they are useful, if not altogether true.
Never forgetful likewise of the good of man (though the light itself is more worthy than the things which it reveals), I append some Reminders concerning Practice for the attention and remembrance of men. For such and so unfortunate, I well know, is the insensibility of mankind, that sometimes, if they be not warned, they will pass by and neglect things which lie in their very path.
Works and Things Impossible, or at least not yet discovered, are propounded according as they fall under the several titles. And along with them those discoveries of which man is already possessed, which are nearest and most akin to such impossibles; that men's industry may be excited and their spirits encouraged.
It is evident from what has been said that the present history not only supplies the place of the third part of the Instauration; but is no mean preparation for the fourth part, by reason of the titles from the Alphabet, and the Topics; and for the sixth part, by reason of the major observations, the speculations, and the provisional rules.
HISTORY OF THE WINDS:
THE FIRST TITLE IN THE NATURAL AND EXPERIMENTAL
FOR THE FOUNDATION OF PHILOSOPHY:
WHICH IS THE THIRD PART OF THE INSTAURATIO MAGNA.