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1. FRANCIS BACON thought in this manner. The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works. The physician pronounceth many diseases incurable, and faileth oft in the rest. The alchemists wax old and die in hopes. The magicians perform nothing that is permanent and profitable. The mechanics take small light from natural philosophy, and do but spin on their own little thrids. Chance sometimes discovereth inventions, but that worketh not in years,
ages. So he saw well, that the inventions known are very imperfect, and that new are not like to be brought to light, but in great length of time, and that those which are, came not to light by philosophy.
2. He thought also this state of knowledge was the worst, because men strive (against themselves)
to save the credit of ignorance, and to satisfy themselves in this poverty. For the physician, besides the cauteles of practice, hath this general cautele of art, that he dischargeth the weakness of his art upon supposed impossibilities; neither can his art be condemned, when it self judgeth. That philo- , sophy also, out of which the knowledge of physic which now is in use is bewed, receiveth certain positions and opinions, which if they be well weighed) induce this persuasion, that no great works are to be expected from art, and the hand of man; as in particular, that opinion, that the heat of the sun and fire differ in kind; and that other, that composition is the work of man, and mixture is the work of nature, and the like; all. tending to the circumscription of man's power,' and to artificial despair; killing in men, not only the comfort of imagination, but the industry of triat: only upon vain glory, to have their heart thought perfect, and that all is impossible, that is not already found. The alchemist dischargeth his art upon his own errors, either supposing a misunderstanding of the words of his authors, which maketh him listen after auricular traditions: or else a failing in the true proportions and scruples of practice, which maketh him renew infinitely his trials; and finding also that he lighteth upon some mean esperiments and conclusions by the way,
feedeth upon them, and magnifieth them to the most, and supplieth the rest in hopes. 'The magician, when he findeth something (as he conceiveth) above nature, effected; thinketh, when a breach is once made in nature, that it is all one to perform great things and small; not seeing, that they are but subjects of a certain kind, wherein magic and superstition hath played in all times. The mechanical person, if he can refine an invention, or put two or three observations or practices together in one, or couple things better with their use, or make the work in less or greater volume, taketh himself for an inventor. So he saw well, that men either persuade themselves of new inventions as of impossibilities; or else think they are already extant, but in secret and in few hands; or that they account of those little industries and additions, as of inventions, all which turneth to the averting of their minds from any just and constant labour, to invent further in any quantity.
3. He thought also, when men did set before themselves the variety and perfection of works, produced by mechanical arts; they are apt rather to admire the provisions of man, than to apprehend his wants; not considering, that the original inventions and conclusions of nature, which are the life of all that variety, are not many, nor deeply fetched; and that the rest is but the subtile
and ruled motion of the instrument and hand; and,
l that the shop therein is not unlike the library, which in such number of books containeth (for the far greater part) nothing but iterations, varied sometimes in form, but not new in substance. . So be saw plainly, that opinion of store was a cause of want; and that both works and doctrines ap- . pear many, and are few.
4. He thought also, that knowledge is uttered to men in a form, as if every thing were finished; for it is reduced into arts and methods, which in their divisions do seem to include all that may
be. And how weakly soever the parts are filled, yet they carry the shew and reason of a total; and thereby the writings of some received authors go for the very, art; whereas antiquity used to deliver the knowledge which the mind of man had gathered in observations, aphorisms, or short or dispersed sentences, or small tractates of some parts that they had diligently meditated and laboured; which did invite men, both to ponder that which was invented, and to add and supply further. But now, sciences are delivered as to be believed and accepted, and not be examined and further discovered; and the succession is between master and disciple, and not between inventor and tinuer or advancer; and therefore sciences stand at a stay, and have done for many ages, and that
which is positive is fixed, and that which is question is kept question, so as the columns of no further proceeding are pitched. And therefore he saw plainly, men had cut themselves off from further invention; and that it is no marvel, that that is not obtained which hath not been attempted, but rather shut out and debarred.
5. He thought also, that knowledge is almost generally sought either for delight and satisfaction, or for gain or profession, or for credit and ornament, and that every of these are as Atalanta's balls, which hinder the race of invention. For men are so far in these courses from seeking to increase the mass of knowledge, as of that mass which is, they will take no more than will serve their turn: and if any one amongst so many seeketh knowledge for itself, yet he rather seeketh to know the variety of things, than to discern of the truth and causes of them; and if his inquisition be yet more severe, yet it tendeth rather to judgment than to invention; and rather to dicover truth in controversy, than new matter; and if his heart be so large as he propoundeth to himself further discovery or invention, yet it is rather of new discourse and speculation of causes, thạn of effects and operations. And as for those that have so much in their mouths, action and use and practice, and the referring of sciences thereunto; they