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ments that shall afford light rather than profit, imitating the divine creation, which, as we have often observed, only produced light on the first day, and assigned that whole day to its creation, without adding any material work.

If any one then imagine such matters to be of no use, he might equally suppose light to be of no use, because it is neither solid nor material. For | in fact the knowledge of simple natures, when sufficiently investigated and defined, resembles light, which though of no great use in itself, affords access to the general mysteries of effects, and with a peculiar power comprehends and draws with it whole bands and troops of effects, and the sources of the most valuable axioms. So, also, the elements of letters have of themselves separately no meaning, and are of no use, yet are they as it were the original matter in the composition and preparation of speech. The seeds of substances whose effect is powerful, are of no use except in their growth, and the scattered rays of light itself avail not unless collected.

But if speculative subtilties give offence, what must we say of the scholastic philosophers who indulged in them to such excess? And those subtiities were wasted on words, or at least common notions, (which is the same thing,) not on things or nature, and alike unproductive of benefit in their origin and their consequences: in no way resembling ours, which are at present useless, but in their consequences of infinite benefit. Let men be assured that all subtile disputes and discursive efforts of the mind are late and preposterous, when they are introduced subsequently to the discovery of axioms, and that their true or at any rate chief opportunity is when experiment is to be weighed and axioms to be derived from it. They otherwise catch and grasp at nature, but never seize or detain her: and we may well apply to nature that which has been said of opportunity or fortune, "that she wears a lock in front, but is bald behind."

In short, we may reply decisively to those who despise any part of natural history as being vulgar, mean, or subtle and useless in its origin, in the words of a poor woman to a haughty prince who had rejected her petition, as unworthy and beneath the dignity of his majesty: "then cease to reign;" for it is quite certain that the empire of nature can neither be obtained nor administered by one who refuses to pay attention to such matters as being poor and too minute.

122. Again, it may be objected to us as being singular and harsh, that we should with one stroke and assault, as it were, banish all authorities and sciences, and that too by our own efforts, without requiring the assistance and support of any of the ancients.

Now, we are aware, that had we been ready to act otherwise than sincerely, it was not difficult to refer our present method to remote ages, prior

to those of the Greeks, (since the sciences in all probability flourished more in their natural state, though silently, than when they were paraded with the fifes and trumpets of the Greeks;) or even (in parts at least) to some of the Greeks themselves, and to derive authority and honour from thence; as men of no family labour to raise and form nobility for themselves in some ancient line, by the help of genealogies. Trusting, however, to the evidence of facts, we reject every kind of fiction and imposture: and think it of no more consequence to our subject, whether future discoveries were known to the ancients, and set or rose according to the vicissitudes of events and lapse of ages, than it would be of importance to mankind to know whether the new world be the island of Atlantis,* and known to the ancients, or be now discovered for the first time.

With regard to the universal censure we have bestowed, it is quite clear to any one who properly considers the matter, that it is both more probable and more modest than any partial one could have been. For if the errors had not been rooted in the primary notions, some well conducted discoveries must have corrected others that were deficient. But since the errors were fundamental, and of such a nature that men may be said rather to have neglected or passed over things than to have formed a wrong or false judgment of them, it is little to be wondered at, that they did not obtain what they never aimed at, nor arrive at a goal which they had not determined, nor perform a course which they had neither entered upon nor adhered to.

With regard to our presumption, we allow that if we were to assume a power of drawing a more perfect straight line or circle than any one else, by superior steadiness of hand or acuteness of eye, it would lead to a comparison of talent; but if one merely assert that he can draw a more perfect line or circle with a ruler or compasses, than another can by his unassisted hand or eye, he surely cannot be said to boast of much. Now this applies not only to our first original attempt, but also to those who shall hereafter apply themselves to the pursuit. For our method of discovering the sciences, merely levels men's wits, and leaves but little to their superiority, since it achieves every thing by the most certain rules and demonstrations. Whence, (as we have often observed,) our attempt is to be attributed to fortune rather than talent, and is the offspring of time rather than of wit. For a certain sort of chance has no less effect upon our thoughts than on our acts and deeds.

123. We may, therefore, apply to ourselves the joke of him who said, "that water and wine drinkers could not think alike," especially as it hits the matter so well. For others, both an

See Plato's Timæus.

cients and moderns, have, in the sciences, drank a | the scaffolding and ladders when the building is crude liquor like water, either flowing of itself finished. Nor can we indeed believe the case to from the understanding, or drawn up by logic as the wheel draws up the bucket. But we drink and pledge others with a liquor made of many well ripened grapes, collected and plucked from particular branches, squeezed in the press, and at last clarified and fermented in a vessel. It is not, therefore, wonderful that we should not agree with others.

124. Another objection will, without doubt, be made, namely, that we have not ourselves established a correct, or the best goal or aim of the sciences, (the very defect we blame in others.) For, they will say, that the contemplation of truth is more dignified and exalted than any utility or extent of effects: but that our dwelling so long and anxiously on experience and matter, and the fluctuating state of particulars, fastens the mind to earth, or rather casts it down into an abyss of confusion and disturbance, and separates and removes it from a much more divine state, the quiet and tranquillity of abstract wisdom. We willingly assent to their reasoning, and are most anxious to effect the very point they hint at and require. For we are founding a real model of the world in the understanding, such as it is found to be, not such as man's reason has distorted. Now, this cannot be done without dissecting and anatomizing the world most diligently; but we declare it necessary to destroy completely the vain, little, and as it were apish imitations of the world, which have been formed in various systems of philosophy by men's fancies. Let men learn (as we have said above) the difference that exists between the idols of the human mind, and the ideas of the Divine mind. The former are mere arbitrary abstractions; the latter the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as they are imprinted on, and defined in matter, by true and exquisite touches. Truth, therefore, and utility are here perfectly identical, and the effects are of more value as pledges of truth than from the benefit they confer on men.

125. Others may object that we are only doing that which has already been done, and that the ancients followed the same course as ourselves. They may imagine, therefore, that, after all this stir and exertion, we shall at last arrive at some of those systems that prevailed among the ancients: for that they, too, when commencing their meditations, laid up a great store of instances and particulars, and digested them under topics and titles in their commonplace books, and so worked out their systems and arts, and then decided upon what they discovered, and related now and then some examples to confirm and throw light upon their doctrine; but thought it superfluous and troublesome to publish their notes, minutes, and commonplaces, and, therefore, followed the example of builders, who remove VOL. III.-47

have been otherwise. But to any one, not entirely forgetful of our previous observations, it will be easy to answer this objection, or rather scruple. For, we allow that the ancients had a particular form of investigation and discovery, and their writings show it. But it was of such a nature, that they immediately flew from a few instances and particulars, (after adding some common notions, and a few generally received opinions most in vogue,) to the most general conclusions, or the principles of the sciences, and then by their intermediate propositions deduced their inferior conclusions, and tried them by the test of the immovable and settled truth of the first, and so constructed their art. Lastly, if some new particulars and instances were brought forward, which contradicted their dogmas, they either with great subtilty reduced them to one system, by distinctions or explanations of their own rules, or got rid of them clumsily as excep tions, labouring most pertinaciously in the mean time to accommodate the causes of such as were not contradictory to their own principles. Their natural history and their experience were both far from being what they ought to have been, and their flying off to generalities ruined every thing.

126. Another objection will be made against us, that we prohibit decisions, and the laying down of certain principles, till we arrive regularly at generalities by the intermediate steps, and thus keep the judgment in suspense and lead to uncertainty. But our object is not uncertainty, but fitting certainty, for we derogate not from the senses, but assist them, and despise not the understanding, but direct it. It is better to know what is necessary, and not to imagine we are fully in possession of it, than to imagine that we are fully in possession of it, and yet in reality to know nothing which we ought.

127. Again, some may raise this question rather than objection, whether we talk of perfecting natural philosophy alone according to our method, or the other sciences also, such as logic, ethics, politics. We certainly intend to comprehend them all. And as common logic, which regulates matters by syllogisms, is applied not only to natural, but also to every other science, so our inductive method likewise comprehends them all. For we form a history and tables of invention for anger, fear, shame, and the like, and also for examples in civil life, and the mental operations of memory, composition, division, judgment, and the rest, as well as for heat and cold, light, vegetation, and the like. But since our method of interpretation, after preparing and arranging a history, does not content itself with examining the operations and disquisitions of the mind, like common logic; but also inspects the nature of

things, we so regulate the mind that it may be enabled to apply itself in every respect correctly to that nature. On that account we deliver numerous and various precepts in our doctrine of interpretation, so that they may apply in some measure to the method of discovering the quality and condition of the subject-matter of investigation.

the former forever Civil reformation seldom is carried on without violence and confusion, whilst inventions are a blessing and a benefit, without injuring or afflicting any.

Inventions are, also, as it were, new creations and imitations of divine works; as was expressed by the poet :*

"Primum frugiferos fœtus mortalibus ægris

Dididerant quondam præstanti nomine Athenæ Et recreaverunt vitam legesque rogarunt." And it is worthy of remark in Solomon, that whilst he flourished in the possession of his empire, in wealth, in the magnificence of his works, in his court, his household, his fleet, the splendour of his name, and the most unbounded admiration of mankind, he still placed his glory in none of these, but declared, "That it is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of a king to search it out."

Again, let any one but consider the immense difference between men's lives in the most polish

128. Let none even doubt whether we are anxious to destroy and demolish the philosophy, arts, and sciences, which are now in use. On the contrary, we readily cherish their practice, cultivation, and honour. For we by no means interfere to prevent the prevalent system from encouraging discussion, adorning discourses, or being employed serviceably in the chair of the professor or the practice of common life, and being taken, in short, by general consent, as current coin. Nay, we plainly declare, that the system we offer will not be very suitable for such purposes, not being easily adapted to vulgar apprehensions, except by effects and works. To show our sincerity in pro-ed countries of Europe, and in any wild and barfessing our regard and friendly disposition to- barous region of the New Indies, he will think it wards the received sciences, we can refer to the so great, that man may be said to be a god unto evidence of our published writings, (especially man, not only on account of mutual aid and beneour books on the advancement of learning.) We fits, but from their comparative states: the result will not, therefore, endeavour to evince it any of the arts, and not of the soil or climate. further by words; but content ourselves with steadily and professedly premising, that no great progress can be made by the present methods, in the theory or contemplation of science, and that they cannot be made to produce any very abun

dant effects.

129. It remains for us to say a few words on the excellence of our proposed end. If we had done so before, we might have appeared merely to express our wishes, but now that we have excited hope and removed prejudices, it will perhaps have greater weight. Had we performed and completely accomplished the whole, without frequently calling in others to assist in our labours, we should then have refrained from saying any more, lest we should be thought to extol our own deserts. Since, however, the industry of others must be quickened, and their courage roused and inflamed, it is right to recall some points to their


First, then, the introduction of great inventions appears one of the most distinguished of human actions; and the ancients so considered it. For they assigned divine honours to the authors of inventions, but only heroic honours to those who displayed civil merit, (such as the founders of cities and empires, legislators, the deliverers of their country from everlasting misfortunes, the quellers of tyrants, and the like.) And if any one rightly compare them, he will find the judg ment of antiquity to be correct. For the benefits derived from inventions may extend to mankind in general, but civil benefits to particular spots alone; the latter, moreover, last but for a time,

Again, we should notice the force, effect, and consequences of inventions, which are nowhere more conspicuous than in those three which were unknown to the ancients; namely, printing, gunpowder, and the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world; first in literature, then in warfare, and lastly in navigation: and innumerable changes have been thence derived, so that no empire, sect, or star, appears to have exercised a greater powe: and influence on human affairs than these mecha nical discoveries.

It will, perhaps, be as well to distinguish three species and degrees of ambition. First, that of men who are anxious to enlarge their own power in their country, which is a vulgar and degenerate kind; next, that of men who strive to enlarge the power and empire of their country over mankind, which is more dignified, but not less covetous; but if one were to endeavour to renew and enlarge the power and empire of mankind in general over the universe, such ambition (if it may so be termed) is both more sound and more noble than the other two. Now, the empire of man over things is founded on the arts and sciences alone, for nature is only to be commanded by obeying her.

*This is the opening of the sixth book of Lucretius. Bacon probably quoted from memory; the lines are,

Prima frugiferos fœtus mortalibus ægris
Dididerunt quondam præclaro nomine Athenæ
Et recreaverunt, &c.

The teeming corn, that feeble mortals crave,
First, and long since, renowned Athens gave,
And cheered their life-then taught to frame their laws
+ Prov. xxv. 2.

Besides this, if the benefit of any particular invention has had such an effect as to induce men to consider him greater than a man, who has thus obliged the whole race; how much more exalted will that discovery be, which leads to the easy discovery of every thing else! Yet, (to speak the truth,) in the same manner as we are very thankful for light which enables us to enter on our way, to practise arts, to read, to distinguish each other, and yet sight is more excellent and beautiful than the various uses of light; so is the contemplation of things as they are, free from superstition or imposture, error or confusion, much more dignified in itself than all the advantage to be derived from discoveries.

Lastly, let none be alarmed at the objection of the arts and sciences becoming depraved to malevolent or luxurious purposes and the like, for the same can be said of every worldly good; talent, courage, strength, beauty, riches, light itself, and the rest. Only let mankind regain their rights over nature, assigned to them by the gift of God, and obtain that power, whose exercise will be governed by right reason and true religion.

130. But it is time for us to lay down the art of interpreting nature; to which we attribute no absolute necessity (as if nothing could be done without it) nor perfection, although we think that our precepts are most useful and correct. For we are of opinion, that if men had at their command a proper history of nature and experience, and would apply themselves steadily to it, and could bind themselves to two things; 1. To lay aside received opinions and notions; 2. To restrain themselves, till the proper season, from generalization, they might, by the proper and genuine exertion of their minds, fall into our way of interpretation without the aid of any art. For interpretation is the true and natural act of the mind, when all obstacles are removed: certainly, however, every thing will be more ready and better fixed by our precepts.

Yet do we not affirm that no addition can be made to them; on the contrary, considering the mind in its connexion with things, and not merely relatively to its own powers, we ought to be persuaded that the art of invention can be made to grow with the inventions themselves.





1. To generate and superinduce a new nature, or new natures, upon a given body, is the labour and aim of human power: whilst to discover the form or true difference of a given nature, or the nature* to which such nature is owing, or source from whence it emanates, (for these terms approach nearest to an explanation of our meaning,) is the labour and discovery of human knowledge. And, subordinate to these primary labours, are two others of a secondary nature and inferior stamp. Under the first must be ranked the transformation of concrete bodies from one to another, which is possible within certain limits; under the second, the discovery, in every species of generation and motion, of the latent and uninterrupted process, from the manifest efficient and manifest subject-matter up to the given form: and a like discovery of the latent conformation of bodies which are at rest, instead of being in motion.

2. The unhappy state of man's actual knowledge is manifested even by the common asser• Tỏ tí v civaι, or 1⁄2 ovcía of Aristotle. See lib. 3. Metap.

tions of the vulgar. It is rightly laid down, that "true knowledge is that which is deduced from causes." The division of four causes, also, is not amiss: matter, form, the efficient, and end, or final cause." * Of these, however, the latter is so far from being beneficial, that it even corrupts the sciences, except in the intercourse of man with man.


The discovery of form is considered despeAs for the efficient cause, and matter, (according to the present system of inquiry and the received opinions concerning them, by which they are placed remote from, and without any latent process towards form,) they are but desultory and superficial, and of scarcely any avail to real and active knowledge. Nor are we unmindful of our having pointed out and corrected above the error of the human mind, in assigning the first qualities of essence to forms.† For, although nothing exists in nature except individual bodies,

These divisions are from Aristotle's Metaphysics, where

they are termed, 1, 6λn hтo vπоKLÍμεvov. 2, Tổ Tí hy cival 3, ὅθεν ἡ ἄρχη τῆς κινέσεως. 4, τὸ οὐ ἐνέκεν-καὶ τὸ ἄγωνον. + See Aphorism 51, and 2d paragraph of Aphorism 65, tu the first book.

exhibiting clear individual effects according to anxious to be shown some method that will neiparticular laws:* yet, in each branch of learning, ther fail in effect, nor deceive him in the trial of that very law, its investigation, discovery, and it. Secondly, he will be anxious that the predevelopment, are the foundation both of theory scribed method should not restrict him and tie and practice.† This, law, therefore, and its him down to peculiar means, and certain partiparallel in each science, is what we understand cular methods of acting. For he will, perhaps, by the term form, adopting that word because it be at a loss, and without the power or opportunity has grown into common use, and is of familiar of collecting and procuring such means. Now, if there be other means and methods (besides those prescribed) of creating such a nature, they will perhaps be of such a kind as are in his power; yet, by the confined limits of the precept he will be deprived of reaping any advantage from them. Thirdly, he will be anxious to be shown something not so difficult as the required effect itself, but approaching more nearly to practice.


3. He who has learned the cause of a particular nature, (such as whiteness or heat,) in particular subjects only, has acquired but an imperfect knowledge: as he who can induce a certain effect upon particular substances only, among those which are susceptible of it, has acquired but an imperfect power. But he who has only learned the efficient and material cause, (which causes We will lay this down, therefore, as the are variable, and mere vehicles conveying form to genuine and perfect rule of practice; "That it particular substances,) may perhaps arrive at should be certain, free, and preparatory, or having some new discoveries in matters of a similar na-relation to practice." And this is the same thing ture, and prepared for the purpose, but does not as the discovery of a true form. For the form of stir the limits of things, which are much more any nature is such, that when it is assigned, the deeply rooted whilst he who is acquainted with particular nature infallibly follows. It is, thereforms, comprehends the unity of nature in sub- fore, always present when that nature is present, stances apparently most distinct from each other. and universally attests such presence, and is He can disclose and bring forward, therefore, inherent in the whole of it. The same form is (though it has never yet been done,) things which of such a character, that if it be removed, the neither the vicissitudes of nature, nor the industry particular nature infallibly vanishes. It is, thereof experiment, nor chance itself, would ever have fore, absent whenever that nature is absent, and brought about, and which would forever have perpetually testifies such absence, and exists in escaped man's thoughts. From the discovery of no other nature. Lastly, the true form is such, forms, therefore, results genuine theory and free that it deduces the particular nature from some practice. source of essence existing in many subjects, and more known (as they term it) to nature, than the form itself.* Such, then, is our determination and rule with regard to a genuine and perfect theoretical axiom; "that a nature be found convertible with a given nature, and yet such as to limit the more known nature, in the manner of a real genus." But these two rules, the practical and theoretical, are in fact the same, and that which is most useful in practice is most correct in theory.

4. Although there is a most intimate connection and almost an identity between the ways of human power and human knowledge; yet, on account of the pernicious and inveterate habit of dwelling upon abstractions, it is by far the safest method to commence and build up the sciences from those foundations which bear a relation to the practical division, and to let them mark out and limit the theoretical. We must consider, therefore, what precepts, or what direction or guide, a person would most desire, in order to generate and superinduce any nature upon a given body and this not in abstruse, but in the plainest language.


For instance, if a person should wish to superinduce the yellow colour of gold upon silver, or an additional weight, (observing always the laws of matter,) or transparency on an opaque stone, or tenacity in glass, or vegetation on a substance which is not vegetable, we must (I say) consider what species of precept or guide this person would prefer. And, firstly, he will doubtless be

Plato's ideas or forms, are the abstractions or generalizations of distinct species, which have no real existence, individuals only existing.

+ Observe throughout, Bacon's term form means no more than law. See, further, third paragraph of Aphorism 17 of this book.

5. But the rule or axiom for the transformation of bodies is of two kinds. The first regards the body as an aggregate or combination of simple natures. Thus, in gold are united the following circumstances; it is yellow, heavy, of a certain weight, malleable and ductile to a certain extent; it is not volatile, loses part of its substance by fire, melts in a peculiar manner, is separated and dissolved by particular methods, and so of the other natures observable in gold. An axiom, therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from the forms of simple natures. For he who has acquired the forms and metheds of superinducing

Thus, to adopt Bacon's own illustration, motion is a property common to many subjects, from which must be deduced the form of heat, by defining a particular genus of motion convertible with heat. See the First Vintage in Aphorism 20, below.

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