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many suckers or sponges which continually draw and attract increase of knowledge; whence it comes that things which, if doubts had not preceded, would have been passed by lightly without observation, are through the suggestion of doubts attentively and carefully observed. But these two advantages are scarcely sufficient to countervail one inconvenience which will intrude itself, if it be not carefully debarred; which is that a doubt if once allowed as just, and authorised as it were, immediately raises up champions on either side, by whom this same liberty of doubting is transmitted to posterity; so that men bend their wits rather to keep the doubt up than to determine and solve it. Of this examples everywhere occur both in

. lawyers and scholars, who when a doubt has been once admitted will have it remain for ever a doubt, and hold to authority in doubting as much as in asserting; whereas the legitimate use of reason is to make doubtful things certain and not certain things doubtful. Wherefore I say that a calendar of doubts or problems in nature is wanting, and I would wish it to be taken in hand; if only care be taken that as knowledge daily increases (which it certainly will, if men listen to me) those doubts which are clearly sifted and settled be blotted out from the list. And to this calendar I would annex another of no less utility; for seeing that in every inquiry there are found things plainly true, things doubtful, and things plainly false, it would be most advantageous to add to the calendar of doubts a calendar of falsehoods and popular errors prevalent either in natural history or the dogmas of philosophers; that the sciences may be no longer troubled with them.

With regard to the dogmas of the ancient philosophers, as those of Pythagoras, Philolaus, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras, Parmenides, Leucippus, Democritus, and the rest, (which men usually pass over with disdain), it will not be amiss to look upon them somewhat more modestly. For though Aristotle, after the Ottoman fashion, thought that he could not reign with safety unless he put all his brethren to death, yet for those who aim not at dominion or authority but at the inquiry and illustration of truth, it cannot but seem a useful thing to behold at one view the several opinions of different men touching the nature of things. Not however that there is any hope of gaining any truth of the purer kind from these or the like theories. For as the same phenomena, the same calculations, are compatible with the astronomical principles both of Ptolemy and Copernicus; so this common experience of which we are now in possession, and the ordinary face of things, may adapt itself to many

different theories ; whereas to find the real truth requires another manner of severity and attention. For as Aristotle says elegantly, “ that children when they begin to lisp call every woman mother, but afterwards come to distinguish their own,” so certainly experience when in childhood will call every philosophy mother, but when it comes to ripeness it will discern the true mother. In the meantime it will be good to peruse the several differing systems of philosophy, like different glosses upon nature; whereof it may be that one is better in one place and another in another. Therefore I wish a work to be compiled with diligence and judgment out of the lives of the ancient philosophers, the collection of placita made by Plutarch, the citations of Plato, the confutations of Aristotle, and the scattered notices which we have in other books, both ecclesiastical and heathen (Lactantius, Philo, Philostratus, and the rest), concerning the ancient philosophies. For I do not find any such work extant. But here I must give warning

. that it be done distinctly, so that the several philosophies may be set forth each throughout by itself, and not by titles packed and faggoted up together, as has been done by Plutarch. For when a philosophy is entire, it supports itself, and its doctrines give light and strength the one to the other; whereas if it be broken, it will seem more strange and dissonant. Certainly when I read in Tacitus of the actions of Nero or Claudius, invested with all the circumstances of times, persons, and occasions, I see nothing in them very improbable ; but when I read the same in Suetonius Tranquillus, gathered into titles and common places, and not presented in order of time, they seem something prodigious and quite incredible. And the case is the same in philosophy, when propounded entire and when dissected and dismembered. Neither do I exclude from this calendar of the dogmas of the old philosophers modern theories and doctrines; such as that of Theophrastus Paracelsus, eloquently reduced into a body and harmony by Severinus the Dane; or that of Telesius of Consentium, who revived the philosophy of Parmenides, and so turned the weapons of the Peripatetics against themselves; or of Patricius the Venetian, who sublimated the fumes of the Platonists; or of our country

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man Gilbert, who revived the doctrines of Philolaus ; or of any other worthy to be admitted. Of these however (since their entire works are extant) I would only have summaries made therefrom and added to the rest. And so much for Physic and its Appendices.

For Metaphysic, I have already assigned to it the inquiry of Formal and Final Causes ; which assignation, as far as it relates to Forms, may seem nugatory; because of a received and inveterate opinion that the Essential Forms or true differences of things cannot by any human diligence be found out; an opinion which in the meantime implies and admits that the invention of Forms is of all parts of knowledge the worthiest to be sought, if it be possible to be found. And as for the possibility of finding it, they are ill discoverers who think there is no land where they can see nothing but sea. But it is manifest that Plato, a man of sublime wit (and one that surveyed all things as from a lofty cliff), did in his doctrine concerning Ideas descry that Forms were the true object of knowledge; howsoever he lost the fruit of this most true opinion by considering and trying to apprehend Forms as absolutely abstracted from matter; whence it came that he turned aside to theological speculations, wherewith all his natural philosophy is infected and polluted. But if we fix our eyes diligently seriously and sincerely upon action and use, it will not be difficult to discern and understand what those Forms are the knowledge whereof may wonderfully enrich and benefit the condition of men. For as to the Forms of Substances (Man only excepted, of whom the Scripture saith, “That He made man of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” I and not as of all other creatures, “ Let the earth or the waters bring forth,” 2)—the Forms of Substances I say (as they are now by compounding and transplanting multiplied) are so perplexed and complicated, that it is either vain to inquire into them at all, or such inquiry as is possible should be put off for a time, and not entered upon until forms of a more simple nature have been rightly investigated and discovered. For as it would be neither easy nor of any use to inquire the form of the sound which makes any word, since words, by composition and transposition of letters, are infinite; whereas to inquire the form of the sound which makes any simple letter (that is, by what collision or application of the I Gen, ii. 7.

2 Gen. i. 20 24.


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instruments of voice it is produced) is comprehensible, nay easy; and yet these forms of letters once known will lead us directly to the forms of words; so in like manner to inquire the form of a lion, of an oak, of gold, nay even of water or air, is a vain pursuit; but to inquire the form of dense, rare, hot, cold, heavy, light, tangible, pneumatic, volatile, fixed, and the like, as well configurations as motions, which in treating of Physic I have in great part enumerated (I call them Forms of the First Class), and which (like the letters of the alphabet) are not many and yet make up and sustain the essences and forms of all substances ;— this, I say, it is which I am attempting, and which constitutes and defines that part of Metaphysic of which we are now inquiring. Not but that Physic takes consideration of the same natures likewise (as has been said); but that is only as to their variable causes. For example; if the cause of whiteness in snow or froth be inquired, it is well rendered, that it is the subtle intermixture of air and water. But nevertheless this is far from being the form of whiteness, seeing that air intermixed with powdered glass or crystal, would create a similar whiteness, no less than when mixed with water; it is only the efficient cause, which is nothing else than the vehicle of the form. But if the inquiry be made in Metaphysic you will find something of this sort; that two transparent bodies intermixed, with their optical portions arranged in a simple and regular order, constitute whiteness. This part of Metaphysic I find deficient; whereat I marvel not, because I hold it not possible that the Forms of things can be invented by that course of invention hitherto used; the root of the evil, as of all others, being this; that men have used to sever and withdraw their thoughts too soon and too far from experience and particulars, and have given themselves wholly up to their own meditations and arguments.

But the use of this part of Metaphysic, which I reckon amongst the deficient, is of the rest the most excellent in two respects; the one, because it is the duty and virtue of all knowledge to abridge the circuits and long ways of experience (as much as truth will permit), and to remedy the ancient complaint that “life is short and art is long."i And this is best

” performed by collecting and uniting the axioms of sciences into more general ones, and such as may comprehend all individual cases.

For knowledges are as pyramids, whereof

| Hippocrates, Aph. i. 1.


history and experience are the basis. And so of Natural Philosophy the basis is Natural History; the stage next the basis is Physic; the stage next the vertical point is Metaphysic. As for the cone and vertical point (“ the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end,”' namely, the summary law of nature) it may fairly be doubted whether man's inquiry can attain to it. But these three are the true stages of knowledge; which to those that are puffed up with their own knowledge, and rebellious against God, are indeed no better than the giants' three hills;

Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam,

Scilicet atque Ossæ frondosum involvere Olympum :: but to those who abasing themselves refer all things to the glory of God, they are as the three acclamations : Holy, Holy, Holy. For God is holy in the multitude of his works, holy in the order or connexion of them, and holy in the union of them. And therefore the speculation was excellent in Parmenides and Plato (although in them it was but a bare speculation), “ that all things by a certain scale ascend to unity.” So then always that knowledge is worthiest which least burdens the intellect with multiplicity; and this appears to be Metaphysic, as that which considers chiefly the simple forms of things (which I have above termed forms of the first class); since although few in number, yet in their commensurations and co-ordinations they make all this variety. The second respect which ennobles this part of Metaphysic, is that it enfranchises the power of men to the greatest liberty, and leads it to the widest and most extensive field of operation. For Physic carries men in narrow and restrained ways, imitating the ordinary flexuous courses of Nature ; but the ways of the wise are everywhere broad; to wisdom (which was anciently defined to be the knowledge of things divine and human) there is ever abundance and variety of means. For physical causes give light and direction to new inventions in similar matter. But whosoever knows any Form, knows also the utmost possibility of superinducing that nature upon every variety of matter, and so is less restrained and tied in operation, either to the basis of the matter or to the condition of the efficient; which kind of

1 Eccles. iii. Il.
2 Virg. Georg. i. 281.:

Mountain on mountain thrice they strove to heap,
Olympus, Ossa, piled on Pelion's steep.

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