Imágenes de páginas




The two following pieces (which complete the first part of the Philosophical Works) were first published by Gruter in 1653. They are not included in Dr. Rawley's Opuscula (1658), nor mentioned in his list of Bacon's later writings. As to the date of their composition, I can find no grounds even for a guess. Either of them might apparently have been written at any time after the plan of the Instauratio in its six parts had been once conceived. Gruter places them among what he calls Impetus Philosophici; which merely means that they came to him as loose sheets without any direction under what title to arrange them. There can be no doubt however that they were intended as prefaces to the fourth and fifth parts of the Instauratio respectively; nor is there any reason to suppose that they had been either abandoned or superseded. Being unable therefore to follow the order of composition, I follow the order of matter, and put them here where they were meant ultimately to stand.

With these prefaces the collection of works published or designed for publication as parts of the Instauratio Magna must close. Of the fourth part not even any fragment has come down to us, unless the Inquisitio legitima de Motu, sive Filum Labyrinthi, be taken for one. But though this was undoubtedly intended to be “veræ et legitimæ de rebus inquisitionis exemplar," -- and such it was the business of the fourth part to exhibit, -I rather think that it was designed originally for the second part (as the example in which the new method was to be set forth), and that the Inquisitio de Formâ Calidi was




substituted for it. I have preferred therefore to place it among the works abandoned or superseded.

With regard to the fifth part however, I am not so confident that Mr. Ellis is right in refusing a place in it to the De Fluru et Refluxu, the Thema Cæli, the De Principiis atque Originibus, and the Cogitationes de Naturâ Rerum; all which he classes as casional writings, not belonging to the circuit of the Instauratio. It is true that they were written long before the publication of the Novum Organum, and that they do not come within the circuit of Bacon's work on the Interpretation of Nature as originally projected. That work (to judge by the title, which has fortunately been preserved) was to be distributed into three books, the first to prepare the mind, the second to explain the method, the third to exhibit the results of the method applied. It must therefore have been designed to cover the ground occupied by the second and sixth parts of the Instauratio, and perhaps also that occupied by the third and fourth; but could not have been meant to contain anything answering to the first and fifth. My own impression however is, that one of Bacon's objects in enlarging the design was to make a place in the great structure for occasional writings of this kind, which could not have properly come into any of those three books originally planned. The addition of the third and fourth parts indeed, - that is, the assigning of a separate part to the Phenomena Universi, and a separate part to the Scala Intellectus, - may be regarded as a development merely of the original idea; for the exposition of the new method could not be complete without at least one perfect example of an inquiry legitimately conducted through all the processes and ending in the discovery of the form; nor could such an example be exhibited without a specimen of the “historia naturalis et experimentalis quæ sit in ordine ad condendam philosophiam,” in reference at least to that one subject. But the matter to be contained in the first and fifth was avowedly extraneous to the main design; and the addition of these is most easily accounted for by supposing that in prefixing the first, Bacon meant to make a place for the Advancement of Learning and for a variety of miscellaneous works not bearing on natural philosophy; and in interpolating the fifth, for sundry philosophical speculations which his studies had suggested to him, and which he regarded as guesses worth pre


serving ; though, being no better than “anticipationes mentis," - conclusions derived through an imperfect logical machinery from imperfect knowledge, - they were to be looked upon as provisional only, and by no means as specimens of the Philosophia Secunda.

If there be any truth in this conjecture, the pieces which I have mentioned have a fair claim to a place among the Prodromi, and might follow the preface. In deference however to Mr. Ellis's judgment I have placed them in a class by themselves. If any reader prefers to regard them as belonging to the Instauratio, he has only to pass to the next volume, overlook the titlepage, and read on.

This collection of the fragments of the Great Instauration as Bacon left it could hardly however have been concluded more appropriately than with the two short pieces which follow; in which we see the vision which suggested the enterprise, the grounds of reason which seemed to justify it as sober and practicable, the hope which sustained and the spirit which regulated it, still as fresh as when he started; but the end as far off as ever, and all the laborious preparations for the future harvest breaking off abruptly in a reiteration of the exhortations, warnings, and promises, with which they were commenced.

Atque opere in medio defixa reliquit aratra !

J. S.




DIFFICILIS sane foret reprehensio eorum quibus nihil sciri placuit, si decretum durum interpretatione molliore correxissent. Si quis enim asserat, hoc ipsum scire, recte acceptum,

. esse per causas scire ; causarum autem cognitionem gliscere, et serie et veluti catena perpetua ad notissima naturæ scandere, adeo ut particularium rerum cognitio, absque exacta universæ naturæ comprehensione, proprie non absolvatur; non facile invenias quod sano cum judicio contradici possit. Nam et veram alicujus rei scientiam haberi posse antequam mens in causarum explicatione plane consistat, minus consentaneum ; et perfectam universi cognitionem humanæ naturæ attribuere atque asserere, temerarium fortasse quiddam atque impotentis cujusdam animi censeri possit. Verum illi contra, nulla hujusmodi usi interpretatione aut moderatione, sensuum oracula prorsus profanare non veriti sunt; quod cum summa rerum desperatione conjunctum est. Quod si verum omnino dicendum sit; etiamsi ab hac calumnia abstinuissent, tamen hæc ipsa lis intempestive et contentiose mota videatur; cum citra istam quam intelligere videntur ipsissimam veritatem tantus humanæ industriæ pateat campus, ut sit res præpostera et quasi mentis commotæ et perturbatæ, de extremis obtinendis solicitum tantas in medio sitas utilitates prætermittere. Nam utcunque per veri et probabilis distinctionem, scientiæ certitudinem destruere, usum retinere, videri volunt; atque, quoad activam partem, delectum rerum illæsum relinquere; tamen, sublata ex animis hominum veritatis exquirendæ spe, proculdubio nervos inquisitioni humanæ inciderunt, et promiscua quærendi

« AnteriorContinuar »