Imágenes de páginas

corruptis moribus ludibrio sunt:" and Cicero noteth | this error directly in Cato the Second, when he writes to his friend Atticus: "Cato optime sentit, sed nocet interdum reipublicæ; loquitur enim Another fault incident commonly to learned tanquam in republica Platonis, non tanquam in men, which may be more probably defended than fæce Romuli." And the same Cicero doth ex- truly denied, is, that they fail sometimes in applycuse and expound the philosophers for going too ing themselves to particular persons: which want far, and being too exact in their prescripts, when of exact application ariseth from two causes: the he saith, "Isti ipsi præceptores virtutis et magis-one, because the largeness of their mind can hardly tri, videnter fines officiorum paulo longius quam confine itself to dwell in the exquisite observanatura vellet protulisse ut cum ad ultimum animo tion or examination of the nature and customs of contendissemus, ibi tamen, ubi oportet, consiste- one person: for it is a speech for a lover, and not remus:" and yet himself might have said, " Mo- for a wise man: "Satus magnum alter alteri nitus sum minor ipse meis:" for it was his own theatrum sumus." Nevertheless I shall yield, fault, though not in so extreme a degree. that he that cannot contract the sight of his mind, as well as disperse and dilate it, wanteth a great faculty. But there is a second cause, which is no inability, but a rejection upon choice and judgment; for the honest and just bounds of observation, by one person upon another, extend no farther but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution in respect of a man's self: but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him or wind him or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous; which as in friendship it is want of integrity, so towards princes or superiors is want of duty. For the custom of the Levant, which is, that subjects do forbear to gaze or fix their eyes upon princes, is in the outward ceremony barbarous, but the moral is good; for men ought not by cunning and bent observations to pierce and penetrate into the hearts of kings, which the Scripture hath declared to be inscrutable.

Another fault likewise much of this kind hath been incident to learned men; which is, that they have esteemed the preservation, good, and honour of their countries or masters before their own fortunes or safeties. For so saith Demosthenes unto the Athenians: "If it please you to note it, my counsels unto you are not such whereby I should grow great amongst you, and you become little amongst the Grecians: but they be of that nature, as they are sometimes not good for me to give, but are always good for you to follow." And so Seneca, after he had consecrated that Quinquennium Neronis to the eternal glory of learned governors, held on his honest and loyal course of good and free counsel, after his master grew extremely corrupt in his government. Neither can this point otherwise be; for learning endueth | men's minds with a true sense of the frailty of their persons, the casualty of their fortunes, and the dignity of their soul and vocation : so that it is impossible for them to esteem that any greatness of their own fortune can be a true or worthy end of their being and ordainment; and therefore are There is yet another fault (with which I will desirous to give their account to God, and so like- conclude this part) which is often noted in learnwise to their masters under God (as kings and the ed men, that they do many times fail to observe states that they serve) in these words; "Ecce tibi decency and discretion in their behaviour and lucrefeci," and not "Ecce mihi lucrefeci;" where- carriage, and commit errors in small and ordinary as the corrupter sort of mere politicians, that have points of action, so as the vulgar sort of capacities not their thoughts established by learning in the do make a judgment of them in greater matters love and apprehension of duty, nor ever look by that which they find wanting in them in smaller. abroad into universality, do refer all things to But this consequence doth often deceive men, for themselves, and thrust themselves into the centre which I do refer them over to that which was said of the world, as if all lines should meet in them by Themistocles, arrogantly and uncivilly being and their fortunes; never caring, in all tempests, applied to himself out of his own mouth; but, what becomes of the ship of state, so they may being applied to the general state of this question, save themselves in the cockboat of their own for- pertinently and justly; when being invited to tune: whereas men that feel the weight of duty, touch a lute, he said, "he could not fiddle, but and know the limits of self-love, use to make good he could make a small town a great state." So, their places and duties, though with peril; and | no doubt, many may be well seen in the passages if they stand in seditions and violent alterations, of government and policy, which are to seek in it is rather the reverence which many times both little and punctual occasions. I refer them also adverse parts do give to honesty, than any versa- to that which Plato said of his master Socrates, tile advantage of their own carriage. But for whom he compared to the gallipots of apothecathis point of tender sense, and fast obligation of ries, which on the outside had apes, and owls, duty which learning doth endue the mind withal, and antiques, but contained within sovereign and howsoever fortune may tax it. and many in the precious liquors and confections; acknowledging

depth of their corrupt principles may despise it, yet it will receive an open allowance, and therefore, needs the less disproof or excusation.

that to an external report he was not without superficial levities and deformities, but was inwardly replenished with excellent virtues and powers. And so much touching the point of manners of learned men.

and convenience, cannot be disallowed; for though they may have some outward baseness, yet in a judgment truly made, they are to be accounted submissions to the occasion, and not to the person.

But in the mean time I have no purpose to give Now I proceed to those errors and vanities allowance to some conditions and courses base which have intervened amongst the studies themand unworthy, wherein divers professors of learn- selves of the learned, which is that which is ing have wronged themselves, and gone too far; principal and proper to the present argument; such as were those trencher philosophers, which wherein my purpose is not to make a justification in the later age of the Roman state were usually of the errors, but, by a censure and separation of in the houses of great persons, being little better the errors, to make a justification of that which is than solemn parasites; of which kind Lucian good and sound, and to deliver that from the asmaketh a merry description of the philosopher persion of the other. For we see, that it is the that the great lady took to ride with her in her manner of men to scandalize and deprave that coach, and would needs have him carry her little which retaineth the state and virtue, by taking dog, which he doing officiously and yet uncomely, advantage upon that which is corrupt and degenethe page scoffed, and said, “That he doubted, the rate: as the heathens in the primitive church used philosopher of a Stoic would turn to be a Cynic." | to blemish and taint the Christians with the faults But above all the rest, the gross and palpable and corruptions of heretics. But nevertheless I flattery, whereunto many not unlearned have have no meaning at this time to make any exact abased and abused their wits and pens, turning, animadversion of the errors and impediments in as Du Bartas saith, Hecuba into Helena, and matters of learning, which are more secret and Faustina into Lucretia, hath most diminished the remote from vulgar opinion, but only to speak price and estimation of learning. Neither is the unto such as do fall under or near unto a popular modern dedication of books and writings, as to observation. patrons, to be commended: for that books, such There be therefore chiefly three vanities in as are worthy the name of books, ought to have studies, whereby learning hath been most trano patrons but truth and reason. And the an-duced. For those things we do esteem vain, cient custom was to dedicate them only to private which are either false or frivolous, those which and equal friends, or to entitle the books with either have no truth, or no use: and those persons their names; or if to kings and great persons, it we esteem vain, which are either credulous or was to some such as the argument of the book curious; and curiosity is either in matter or words; was fit and proper for; but these and the like so that in reason as well as in experience, there courses may deserve rather reprehension than de-fall out to be these three distempers, as I may fence. term them, of learning; the first, fantastical learning; the second, contentious learning; and the last, delicate learning; vain imaginations, vain altercations, and vain affectations; and with the last I will begin. Martin Luther, conducted no doubt by a higher Providence, but in discourse of reason, finding what a province he had undertaken against the Bishop of Rome and the degenerate traditions of the church, and finding his own solitude being noways aided by the opinions of his own time, was enforced to awake all antiquity, and to call former times to his succour, to make a party against the present time. So that the ancient authors, both in divinity and in humanity, which had long time slept in libraries, began This by generally to be read and revolved. consequence did draw on a necessity of a more exquisite travail in the languages original, wherein those authors did write, for the better understanding of those authors, and the better advantage of pressing and applying their words. And thereof grew again a delight in their manner of style and phrase, and an admiration of that kind of writing; which was much furthered and precipitated by the enmity and opposition that the propounders of those primitive, but seeming new


Not that I can tax or condemn the morigeration or application of learned men to men in fortune. For the answer was good that Diogenes made to one that asked him in mockery, "How it came to pass that philosophers were the followers of rich men, and not rich men of philosophers?" He answered soberly, and yet sharply, "Because the one sort knew what they had need of, and the other did not.” And of the like nature was the answer which Aristippus made, when having a petition to Dionysius, and no ear given to him, he fell down at his feet; whereupon Dionysius stayed, and gave him the hearing, and granted it; and afterward some person, tender on the behalf of philosophy, reproved Aristippus, that he would offer the profession of philosophy such an indignity as for a private suit to fall at a tyrant's feet: but he answered, "It was not his fault, but it was the fault of Dionysius, that had his ears in his feet." Neither was it accounted weakness, but discretion in him that would not dispute his best with Adrianus Cæsar; excusing himself, "That it was reason to yield to him that commanded thirty legions." These and the like applications, and stooping to points of necessity VOL. I.-22

opinions, had against the schoolmen; who were hastily to be condemned, to clothe and adorn the generally of the contrary part, and whose writings obscurity, even of philosophy itself, with sensible were altogether in a differing style and form; tak- and plausible elocution; for hereof we have great ing liberty to coin and frame new terms of art to examples in Xenophon, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, express their own sense, and to avoid circuit of and of Plato also in some degree: and hereof, speech, without regard to the pureness, pleasant-likewise, there is great use for surely, to the severe inquisition of truth, and the deep progress into philosophy, it is some hinderance; because it is too early satisfactory to the mind of man, and quencheth the desire of further search, before we come to a just period: but then if a man be to have any use of such knowledge in civil occasions, of conference, counsel, persuasion, discourse, or the like; then shall he find it prepared to his hands in those authors which write in that manner. But the excess of this is so justly contemptible, that as Hercules, when he saw the image of

ness, and, as I may call it, lawfulness of the phrase or word. And again, because the great labour that then was with the people, (of whom the Pharisees were wont to say, " Execrabilis ista turba, quæ non novit legem,") for the winning and persuading of them, there grew of necessity in chief price and request eloquence and variety of discourse, as the fittest and forciblest access into the capacity of the vulgar sort: so that these four causes concurring, the admiration of ancient authors, the hate of the schoolmen, the exact study of languages, and the efficacy of preaching, did | Adonis, Venus's minion, in a temple, said in disbring in an affectionate study of eloquence and dain, " Nil sacri es ;" so there is none of Hercules's "copia" of speech, which then began to flourish. | followers in learning, that is, the more severe and This grew speedily to an excess; for men began laborious sort of inquirers into truth, but will to hunt more after words than matter; and more | despise those delicacies and affectations, as indeed after the choiceness of the phrase, and the round capable of no divineness. And thus much of the and clean composition of the sentence, and the first disease or distemper of learning. sweet falling of the clauses, and the varying and The second, which followeth, is in nature worse illustration of their works with tropes and figures, than the former: for as substance of matter is than after the weight of matter, worth of subject, better than beauty of words, so, contrariwise, vain soundness of argument, life of invention or depth matter is worse than vain words: wherein it of judgment. Then grew the flowing and watery seemeth the reprehension of St. Paul was not only vein of Osorius, the Portugal bishop, to be in price. proper for those times, but prophetical for the times Then did Sturmius spend such infinite and curious following; and not only respective to divinity, but pains upon Cicero the orator, and Hermogenes the extensive to all knowledge: "Devita profanas rhetorician, besides his own books of periods, and vocum novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis imitation, and the like. Then did Car of Cam-scientiæ.” For he assigneth two marks and bridge, and Ascham, with their lectures and writ-badges of suspected and falsified science: the one, ings, almost deify Cicero and Demosthenes, and the novelty and strangeness of terms; the other, allure all young men, that were studious, unto that the strictness of positions, which of necessity doth delicate and polished kind of learning. Then did induce oppositions, and so questions and altercaErasmus take occasion to make the scoffing echo; tions. Surely, like as many substances in nature, "Decem annos consumpsi in legendo Cicerone ;" which are solid do putrefy and corrupt into and the echo answered in Greek, "Ovɛ, “ Asine." worms; so it is the property of good and sound Then grew the learning of the schoolmen to be knowledge, to putrefy and dissolve into a number utterly despised as barbarous. In sum, the whole of subtle, idle, unwholesome, and, as I may term inclination and bent of those times was rather to- them, vermiculate questions, which have indeed a wards "copia" than weight. kind of quickness, and life of spirit, but no soundness of matter, or goodness of quality. This kind of degenerate learning did chiefly reign amongst the schoolmen; who having sharp and strong wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety of reading, (but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors, chiefly Aristotle their dictator, as their persons were shut up in the cells. of monasteries and colleges,) and knowing little

Here, therefore, is the first distemper of learning, when men study words and not matter: whereof though I have represented an example of late times, yet it hath been, and will be “secundum majus et minus" in all time. And how is it possible but this should have an operation to discredit learning, even with vulgar capacities, when they see learned men's works like the first letter of a patent or .imned book which though it hath large flou-history, either of nature or time, did out of no rishes, yet it is but a letter? It seems to me that Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem or portraiture of this vanity for words are but the images of matter; and except they have life of reason and invention, to fall in love with them is all one as to fall in love with a picture. But yet, notwithstanding, it is a thing not thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider

great quantity of matter, and infinite agitation of wit, spin out unto us those laborious webs of learning, which are extant in their books. For the wit and mind of man, if it work upon matter, which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited

worketh his web, then it is endless and brings forth | universality of reading and contemplation, they indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fine- had proved excellent lights, to the great advanceness of thread and work, but of no substance or ment of all learning and knowledge; but as they profit. are, they are great undertakers indeed, and fierce with dark keeping: but as in the inquiry of the divine truth, their pride inclined to leave the oracle of God's word, and to vanish in the mixture of their own inventions; so in the inquisition of nature, they ever left the oracle of God's works, and adored the deceiving and deformed images, which the unequal mirror of their own minds, or a few received authors or principles, did represent unto them. And thus much for the second disease of learning.

For the third vice or disease of learning, which concerneth deceit or untruth, it is of all the rest the foulest; as that which doth destroy the essential form of knowledge, which is nothing but a representation of truth: for the truth of being and the truth of knowing are one, differing no more than the direct beam and the beam reflected. This vice therefore brancheth itself into two sorts; delight in deceiving, and aptness to be deceived; imposture and credulity; which, although they appear to be of a diverse nature, the one seeming to proceed of cunning, and the other of simplicity, yet certainly they do for the most part concur: for as the verse noteth,

This same unprofitable subtilty or curiosity is of two sorts; either in the subject itself that they handle, when it is a fruitless speculation or controversy, whereof there are no small number both in divinity and philosophy, or in the manner or method of handling of a knowledge, which amongst them was this; upon every particular position or assertion to frame objections, and to those objections, solutions; which solutions were for the most part not confutations but distinctions; whereas indeed the strength of all sciences is, as the strength of the old man's faggot, in the band. For the harmony of a science, supporting each part the other, is and ought to be the true and brief confutation and suppression of all the smaller sort of objections. But, on the other side, if you take out every axiom, as the sticks of the faggot, one by one, you may quarrel with them, and bend them, and break them at your pleasure: so that, as was said of Seneca, “Verborum minutiis rerum frangit pondera ;" so a man may truly say of the schoolmen, "Quæstionum minutiis, scientiarem frangunt soliditatem." For were it not better for a man in a fair "Percontatorem fugito, nam garrulus idem est ;" room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small an inquisitive man is a prattler; so, upon the like watch candle into every corner? And such is their reason, a credulous man is a deceiver: as we see method, that rests not so much upon evidence of it in fame, that he that will easily believe rumours, truth proved by arguments, authorities, simili- will as easily augment rumours, and add sometudes, examples, as upon particular confutations what to them of his own: which Tacitus wisely and solutions of every scruple, cavillation, and noteth, when he saith, "Fingunt simul creduntobjection; breeding for the most part one question|que:" so great an affinity hath fiction and belief. as fast as it solveth another; even as in the former This facility of credit, and accepting or admitresemblance, when you carry the light into one ting things weakly authorized or warranted, is of corner, you darken the rest: so that the fable and two kinds, according to the subject: for it is either fiction of Scylla seemeth to be a lively image of a belief of history, or, as the lawyers speak, matthis kind of philosophy or knowledge: who waster of fact; or else of matter of art and opinion. transformed into a comely virgin for the upper As to the former, we see the experience and inconparts: but then "Candida succinctam latrantibus venience of this error in ecclesiastical history; inguina monstris:" so the generalities of the which hath too easily received and registered reschoolmen are for a while good and proportion- ports and narrations of miracles wrought by marable; but then, when you descend into their dis- tyrs, hermits, or monks of the desert, and other tinctions and decisions, instead of a fruitful womb, holy men, and their relics, shrines, chapels, and for the use and benefit of man's life, they end in images: which though they had a passage for a monstrous altercations and barking questions. So time, by the ignorance of the people, the superstias it is not possible but this quality of knowledge tious simplicity of some, and the politic toleration must fall under popular contempt, the people being of others, holding them but as divine poesies; yet apt to contemn truth upon occasion of controver- after a period of time, when the mist began to sies and altercations, and to think they are all out clear up, they grew to be esteemed but as old of their way which never meet: and when they wives' fables, impostures of the clergy, illusions see such digladiation about subtilties, and mat- of spirits, and badges of antichrist, to the great ters of no use or moment, they easily fall upon scandal and detriment of religion. that judgment of Dionysius of Syracuse, "Verba ista sunt senum otiosorum."

So in natural history, we see there hath not been that choice and judgment used as ought to have been; as may appear in the writings of Plinius, Cardanus, Albertus, and divers of the Arabians, being fraught with much fabulous

Notwithstanding, certain it is that if those schoolmen, to their great thirst of truth and unwearied travail of wit, had joined variety and

matter, a great part not only untried; but noto-] comes shortest, and time addeth and perfecteth : riously untrue, to the great derogation of the credit but in sciences the first author goeth farthest, of natural philosophy with the grave and sober and time leaseth and corrupteth. So, we see, kinds of wits: wherein the wisdom and integrity artillery, sailing, printing, and the like, were of Aristotle is worthy to be observed: that, having grossly managed at the first, and by time accommomade so diligent and exquisite a history of living dated and refined: but contrariwise, the philosocreatures, hath mingled it sparingly with any vain phies and sciences of Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, ɔr feigned matter; and yet, on the other side, hath Hippocrates, Euclides, Archimedes, of most vigour cast all prodigious narrations, which he thought at the first, and by time degenerate and embased ; worthy the recording, into one book; excellently whereof the reason is no other, but that in the discerning that matter of manifest truth, (such, former many wits and industries have contributed whereupon observation and rule were to be built,) in one; and in the latter many wits and industries was not to be mingled or weakened with matter of have been spent about the wit of some one, whom doubtful credit; and yet again, that rarities and many times they have rather depraved than illusreports that seem incredible are not to be sup-trated. For as water will not ascend higher than pressed or denied to the memory of men. the level of the first spring-head from whence it descendeth, so knowledge derived from Aristotle, and exempted from liberty of examination, will not rise again higher than the knowledge of Aristotle. And therefore, although the position be good, "Oportet discentem credere," yet it must be coupled with this, "Oportet edoctum judicare;" for disciples do owe unto their masters only a temporary belief, and a suspension of their own judgment until they be fully instructed, and not an absolute resignation, or perpetual captivity: and therefore, to conclude this point, I will say

And as for the facility of credit which is yielded to arts and opinions, it is likewise of two kinds; either when too much belief is attributed to the arts themselves, or to certain authors in any art. The sciences themselves, which have had better intelligence and confederacy with the imagination of man than with his reason, are three in number; astrology, natural magic, and alchymy; of which sciences, nevertheless, the ends or pretences are noble. For astrology pretendeth to discover that correspondence or concatenation, which is between the superior globe and the inferior: natural | no more, but so let great authors have their due, magic pretendeth to call and reduce natural phi- as time, which is the author of authors, be not losophy from variety of speculations to the mag-deprived of his due, which is, further and further nitude of works: and alchymy pretendeth to make to discover truth. separation of all the unlike parts of bodies, which in mixtures of nature are incorporate. But the derivations and prosecutions to these ends, both in the theories and in the practices, are full of error and vanity; which the great professors themselves have sought to veil over and conceal by enigmatical writings, and refering themselves to auricular traditions and such other devices, to save the credit of impostures; and yet surely to alchymy this right is due, that it may be compared to the husbandman whereof Esop makes the fable; that, when he died, told his sons, that he had left unto them gold buried under ground in his vineyard; and they digged over all the ground, and gold they found none; but by reason of their stirring and digging the mould about the roots of their vines, they had a great vintage the year following; so assuredly the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature, as for the use of man's life.

Thus have I gone over these three diseases of learning; besides the which, there are some other rather peccant humours than formed diseases; which nevertheless are not so secret and intrinsic, but that they fall under a popular observation and traducement, and are therefore not to be passed over.

The first of these is the extreme affecting of two extremities; the one antiquity, the other novelty: wherein it seemeth the children of time do take after the nature and malice of the father. For as he devoureth his children, so one of them seeketh to devour and suppress the other; while antiquity envieth there should be new additions, and novelty cannot be content to add, but it must deface: surely, the advice of the prophet is the true direction in this matter, "State super vias antiquas, et videte quænam sit via recta et bona, et ambulate in ea." Antiquity deserveth that reverence, that men should make a stand thereupon, and discover what is the best way; but when the discovery is well taken, then to make progression. And to speak truly, "Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi." These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient "ordine retrogrado," by a computation backwards from ourselves.

And as for the over much credit that hath been given unto authors in sciences, in making them dictators, that their words should stand, and not consuls, to give advice; the damage is infinite that sciences have received thereby, as the principal cause that hath kept them low, at a stay, without growth or advancement. For hence it hath! Another error, induced by the former, is a discome, that in arts mechanical the first deviser trust that any thing should be now to be found

« AnteriorContinuar »