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THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.
TO THE KING.
It might seem to have more convenience, excellent King, though it come often otherwise to pass, that those who are fruitful in their generations, and have as it were the foresight of immortality in their descendants, should likewise be more careful than other men of the good estate of future times, to which they know they must transmit these their dearest pledges. Queen Elizabeth, rather a sojourner in the world than an inhabitant, in respect of her unmarried life, was an ornament to her own times and prospered them in many ways. But to your Majesty (whom God in His goodness has already blessed with so much royal issue, worthy to continue and represent you for ever, and whose youthful and fruitful bed still promises more) it is proper and convenient not only to shed a lustre (as you do) on your own age, but also to extend your care to those things which all memory may preserve and which are in their nature eternal. Amongst which (if affection for learning transport me not) there is not any more noble or more worthy than the further endowment of the world with sound and fruitful knowledge. For how long shall we let a few received authors stand up like Hercules' columns, beyond which there shall be no sailing or discovery in science, when we have so bright and benign a star as your Majesty to conduct and prosper us?
For the first book (which relates to the Dignity of Learning), see Vol. III. p. 261. The Latin differs so little from the English in that book, that a translation would be little else than a reprint. And the eight remaining books of the De Augmentis Scientiarum, considered as a treatise on the Divisions of the Sciences, are complete in themselves.-J. S.
To return then to the matter in hand: let us now review and consider with ourselves what has hitherto been done by kings and others for the increase and advancement of learning, and what has been left undone; and let us discuss the question solidly and distinctly, in a style active and masculine, without digressing or dilating. We may begin then by assuming (which will not be disputed) that all the greatest and most difficult works are overcome either by amplitude of reward, or by prudence and soundness of direction, or by conjunction of labours; whereof the first stimulates endeavour, the second removes uncertainty and error, and the third supplies the frailty of man. But of these three, prudence and soundness of direction, that is, the pointing out and setting forth of the straight and ready way to the thing which is to be done,must be placed first. For the cripple in the right way (as the saying is) outstrips the runner in the wrong. And Solomon observes, most aptly to the point in question, that "if the iron be blunt it requireth more strength, but wisdom is that which prevaileth;" signifying that the prudent choice of the mean is more effectual for the purpose than either the enforcement or the accumulation of endeavours. This I am induced to say, for that (not derogating from the honour of those who have been in any way deservers towards the state of learning) I observe nevertheless that most of their works and acts have had in view rather their own magnificence and memory than the progress and advancement of learning, and have rather augmented the number of learned men than raised and rectified the sciences themselves.
The works or acts which pertain to the advancement of learning are conversant about three objects; the places of learning, the books of learning, and the persons of the learned. For as water, whether it be the dew of Heaven or the springs of the earth, easily scatters and loses itself in the ground, except it be collected into some receptacle where it may by union and consort comfort and sustain itself (and for that cause the industry of man has devised aqueducts, cisterns, and pools, and likewise beautified them with various ornaments, for magnificence and state as well as for use and necessity); so this excellent liquor of knowledge, whether it descend from divine inspiration or spring from human sense, would soon perish and vanish into oblivion, if it were not preserved in books, tradi
tions, and conferences; and especially in places appointed for such matters, as universities, colleges, and schools, where it may have both a fixed habitation and means and opportunity of increasing and collecting itself.
And first, the works which concern the places of learning are four; buildings, endowments with revenues, grants of franchises and privileges, and institutions and ordinances of government; all tending (for the most part) to retirement and quietness of life, and a release from cares and trouble; like the stations which Virgil prescribes for the hiving of honey bees. Principio sedes apibus statioque petenda, Quo neque sit ventis aditus, &c.'
The principal works touching books are two; first, libraries, which are as the shrines wherein all the relics of the ancient saints full of true virtue are preserved. Secondly, new editions of authors, with more correct impressions, more faithful translations, more profitable commentaries, more diligent annotations, and the like.
The works pertaining to the persons of the learned (besides the advancement and countenancing of them in general) are likewise two. The remuneration and designation of lecturers in arts already extant and invented; and the remuneration and appointment of writers and inquirers concerning those parts of learning not yet sufficiently laboured or prosecuted.
These are summarily the works and acts wherein the merits of many excellent princes and other illustrious personages towards learning have been manifested. As for the particular commemoration of any one who has deserved well of literature, I call to mind what Cicero said when, on his return from exile, he gave general thanks; "It is hard to remember all, ungrateful to pass by any."2 Let us rather (after the advice of Scripture) look forward to that part of the race which is still to be run, than look back to that which has been passed.
First therefore, among so many noble foundations of colleges in Europe, I find it strange that they are all dedicated to professions, and none left free to the study of arts and sciences at large. For if men judge that learning should be referred to use and action, they judge well; but it is easy in this to fall
Virg. Georg. iv. 8.:-First for thy bees a quiet station find,
2 Cicero, Post Red. c. 12.
into the error pointed at in the ancient fable; in which the other parts of the body found fault with the stomach, because it neither performed the office of motion as the limbs do, nor of sense, as the head does; but yet notwithstanding it is the stomach which digests and distributes the aliment to all the rest. So if any man think that Philosophy and Universality are idle and unprofitable studies, he does not consider that all arts and professions are from thence supplied with sap and strength. And this I take to be a great cause, which has so long hindered the more flourishing progress of learning; because these fundamental knowledges have been studied but in passage, and not drunk deeper of. For if you will have a tree bear more fruit than it has used to do, it is not anything you can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring of the earth, and putting richer mould about the roots, that must work it. Neither is it to be forgotten that this dedication of colleges and societies to the use only of professory learning has not only been inimical to the growth of the sciences, but has also been prejudicial to states and governments. For hence it proceeds that princes when they have to choose men for business of state find a wonderful dearth of able men around them; because there is no collegiate education designed for these purposes, where men naturally so disposed and affected might (besides other arts) give themselves especially to histories, modern languages, books of policy and civil discourse; whereby they might come better prepared and instructed to offices of state.
And because founders of Colleges do plant, and founders of Lectures do water, I must next speak of the deficiencies which I find in public lectures; wherein I especially disapprove of the smallness of the salary assigned to lecturers in arts and professions, particularly amongst ourselves. For it is very necessary to the progression of sciences that lecturers in every sort be of the most able and sufficient men; as those who are ordained not for transitory use, but for keeping up the race and succession of knowledge from age to age. This cannot be, except their condition and endowment be such that the most eminent professors may be well contented and willing to spend their whole life in that function and attendance, without caring for practice. And therefore if you will have sciences flourish, you must observe David's military law; which was, "That those who stayed with the baggage should have equal
part with those who were in the action;" else will the baggage be ill attended. So lecturers in sciences are as it were the keepers and guardians of the whole store and provision of learning, whence the active and militant part of the sciences is furnished; and therefore they ought to have equal entertainment and profit with the men of active life. Otherwise if the fathers in sciences be not amply and handsomely maintained, it will come to pass, as Virgil says of horses,
Et patrum invalidi referent jejunia nati;2
the poor keeping of the parents will be seen in the weakliness of the children.
I will now notice another defect, wherein I should call in some alchemist to help me; one of those who advise the studious to sell their books and build furnaces, and forsaking Minerva and the Muses as barren virgins, to rely upon Vulcan. But certain it is that for depth of speculation no less than for fruit of operation in some sciences (especially natural philosophy and physic) other helps are required besides books. Wherein also the beneficence of men has not been altogether wanting; for we see spheres, globes, astrolabes, maps, and the like have been provided and prepared as assistants to astronomy and cosmography, as well as books. We see likewise that some places instituted for physic have gardens for the examination and knowledge of simples of all sorts, and are not without the use of dead bodies for anatomical observations. But these respect but a few things. In general, it may be held for certain that there will hardly be any great progress in the unravelling and unlocking of the secrets of nature, except there be a full allowance for expenses about experiments; whether they be experiments appertaining to Vulcan or Dædalus (that is, the furnace or engine), or any other kind. And therefore as secretaries and emissaries of princes are allowed to bring in bills of expenses for their diligence in exploring and unravelling plots and civil secrets, so the searchers and spies of nature must have their expenses paid, or else you will never be well informed of a great number of things most worthy to be known. For if Alexander made such a liberal assignation of money to Aristotle, to support hunters, fowlers, fishers and the like, that he might be better furnished for compiling a History of Animals; 2 Georg. iii. 128.
1 Sam. xxx. 24.