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tigation of things and of the true end of understanding.” This has been generally denominated the inductive method, i. e. the experimental method, from the principle of induction, or bringing together facts and drawing from them general principles or truths, by which the author proposes the advancement of all kinds of knowledge. In this consists preeminently the philosophy of Bacon. soning upon conjecture on the laws and properties of nature, but, as Bacon quaintly terms it, “ asking questions of nature,” that is, making experiments, laboriously collecting facts first, and, after a sufficient number has been brought together, then forming systems or theories founded on them.
But this work is rather the summary of a more extensive one he designed, the aphorisms of it being rather, according to Hallam, "the heads or theses of chapters.” But some of these principles are of paramount importance. An instance may be afforded of this, extracted from the “Interpretation of Nature, and Man's dominion over it.” It is the very first sentence in the Novum Organum.“ Man, the servant and interpreter of nature, can only understand and act in proportion as he observes and contemplates the order of nature; more, he can neither know nor do.” This, as has justly been observed, is undoubtedly the foundation of all our real knowledge.
The Novum Organum is so important, that we deem it desirable to present some more detailed accounts of it.
The body of the work is divided into two parts ; the former of which is intended to serve as an introduction to the other, a preparation of the mind for receiving the doctrine.
Bacon begins by endeavoring to remove the pre
judices and to obtain fair attention to his doctrine. He compares philosophy to “ a vast pyramid, which ought to have the history of nature for its basis ; he likens those who strive to erect by the force of abstract speculation to the giants of old, who, according to the poets, endeavored to throw Mount Ossa upon Pelion, and Olympus upon Ossa. The method of “anticipating nature,” he denounces rash, hasty, and unphilosophical ;” whereas, "interpretations of nature, or real truths arrived at by deduction, cannot so suddenly arrest the mind; and when the conclusion actually arrives, it may so oppose prejudice, and appear so paradoxical as to be in danger of not being received, notwithstanding the evidence that supports it, like mysteries of faith."
Bacon first attacks the “ Idols of the Mind," i. e. the great sources of prejudice, then the different false philosophical theories; he afterwards proceeds to show what are the characteristics of false systems, the causes of error in philosophy, and lastly the grounds of hope regarding the advancement of science.
He now aspires, to use his own language, “only to sow the seeds of pure truth for posterity, and not to be wanting in his assistance to the first beginning of great undertakings.” “ Let the human race,” says he further, “regain their dominion over nature, which belongs to them by the bounty of their Maker, and right reason and sound religion will direct the use.”
The second part of the Novum Organum may be divided into three sections. The first is on the discovery of forms, i. e. causes in nature. The second section is composed of tables illustrative of the inductive method, and the third and last is styled the doctrine of instances, i. e. facts regarding the discovery of causes.
Part the third of the Instauratio Magna was to be a Natural History, as he termed it, or rather a history of natural substances, in which the art of man had been employed, which would have been a history of universal nature.
Part 4, to be called Scala intellectus, or Intellectual Ladder, was intended to be, to use his own words, “types and models which place before our eyes the entire process of the mind in the discovery of truth, selecting various and remarkable instances.”
He had designed in the fifth part to give specimens of the new philosophy; a few fragments only of this have been published. It was to be “the fragment of interest till the principal could be raised.”
The sixth and last part was to display a perfect system of philosophy deduced and confirmed by a legitimate, sober, and exact inquiry according to the method he had laid down and invented.” perfect this last part,” says Bacon, “is above our powers and beyond our hopes.”
Let us return, however, for a moment to the commencement, to remark that he concludes the introduction by an eloquent prayer that his exertions may be rendered effectual to the attainment of truth and happiness. But he feels his own inability, for “his days are numbered,' to conduct mankind to the hoped for goal. It was given to him to point out the road to the promised land; but, like Moses, after having descried it from afar, it was denied him to enter the land to which he had
led the way.
LIFE OF HENRY VII.
The Life of Henry VII., published in 1622, is, in the opinion of Hallam, “the first instance in our language of the application of philosophy to reasoning on public events in the manner of the ancients and the Italians. Praise upon Henry is too largely bestowed ; but it was in the nature of Bacon to adınire too much a crafty and selfish policy; and he thought also, no doubt, that so near an ancestor of his own sovereign should not be treated with severe impartiality.” 1
His Letters published in his works are numerous ; they are written in a stiff, ungraceful, formal style; but still, they frequently bear the impress of the writer's greatness and genius. Fragments of them have been frequently quoted in the course of this notice; they have, perhaps, best served to exhibit more fully the man in all the relations of his public and private life.
Amongst his miscellaneous papers there was found after his death a remarkable prayer, which Addison deemed sufficiently beautiful to be published in the Tatler 2 for Christmas, 1710. We extract a passage or two, that may serve to illustrate Bacon's position or his character.
1 Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.
2 No. 267.
“I have, though in a despised weer, procured the good of all men.
If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them, neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure ; but I have been as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness.
“Just are thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in number than the sands of the sea, but have no pro. portion to thy mercies ; for what are the sands of the sea ? Earth, heaven, and all these are nothing to thy mercies.”
Addison observes of this prayer, that for elevation of thought and greatness of expression, “it
rather the devotion of an angel than a
In taking leave of the life and the works of the greatest of philosophers, and alas! the least of men, we have endeavored to present a succinct but faithful narrative — “his glory not extenuated wherein he was worthy, nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered” merited obloquy with his own contemporaries and all posterity.
Our endeavor has been
Verba animi proferre et vitam impendere vero. But his failings, great as they were, are forgotten through his transcendent merit; his faults injured but few, and in his own time alone; his genius has benefited all mankind. The new direction he
to philosophy was the indirect cause of all the modern conquests of science over matter, or, as it
were, over nature. What it has already accomplished, and may yet effect for the whole human race, is incalculable. Macaulay, the historian of England, has been likewise the eloquent narrator of the progress, that owes its origin to the genius of Francis Bacon.
“ Ask a follower of Bacon,” says Macaulay, “ what the new philosophy, as it was called in the time of Charles the