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that to an external report he was not without su-J and convenience, cannot be disallowed ; for perficial levities and deformities, but was inwardly though they may have some outward baseness, replenished with excellent virtues and powers. yet in a judgment truly made, they are to be acAnd so much touching the point of manners of counted submissions to the occasion, and not to learned men.
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 enethe 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 learnNot that I can tax or condemn the morigeration ing; the second, contentious learning; and the or application of learned men to men in fortune. last, delicate learning; vain imaginations, vain For the answer was good that Diogenes made to altercations, and vain affectations; and with the one that asked him in mockery,“ How it came to last I will begin. Martin Luther, conducted no pass that philosophers were the followers of rich doubt by a higher Providence, but in discourse men, and not rich, men of philosophers?" He of reason, finding what a province he had underanswered soberly, and yet sharply, “ Because the taken against the Bishop of Rome and the degeneone sort knew what they had need of, and the rate traditions of the church, and finding his own other did not.” And of the like nature was the solitude being noways aided by the opinions of answer which Aristippus made, when having a his own time, was enforced to awake all antiquity, petition to Dionysius, and no ear given to him, and to call former times to his succour, to make a he fell down at his feet; whereupon Dionysius party against the present time. So that the anstayed, and gave him the hearing, and granted it; cient authors, both in divinity and in humanity, and afterward some person, tender on the behalf which had long time slept in libraries, began of philosophy, reproved Aristippus, that he would generally to be read and revolved. This by offer the profession of philosophy such an indig- consequence did draw on a necessity of a more nity as for a private suit to fall at a tyrant's feet : exquisite travail in the languages original, wherebut he answered, “ It was not his fault, but it in those authors did write, for the better underwas the fault of Dionysius, that had his ears in standing of those authors, and the better advanhis feet.” Neither was it accounted weakness, tage of pressing and applying their words. And but discretion in him that would not dispute his thereof grew again a delight in their manner of best with Adrianus Cæsar; excusing himself, style and phrase, and an admiration of that kind “ That it was reason to yield to him that com- of writing; which was much furthered and precimanded thirty legions." These and the like pitated by the enmity and opposition that the applications, and stooping to points of necessity I propounders of those primitive, but seeming new 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 seness, and, as I may call it, lawfulness of the vere inquisition of truth, and the deep progress phrase or word. And again, because the great into philosophy, it is some hinderance; because labour that then was with the people, (of whom it is too early satisfactory to the mind of man, and the Pharisees were wont to say, “ Execrabilis ista quencheth the desire of further search, before we turba, quæ non novit legem,”) for the winning come to a just period : but then if a man be to and persuading of them, there grew of necessity in have any use of such knowledge in civil occasions, chief price and request eloquence and variety of of conference, counsel, persuasion, discourse, or discourse, as the fittest and forciblest access into the like; then shall he find it prepared to his the capacity of the vulgar sort : so that these four hands in those authors which write in that manner. causes concurring, the admiration of ancient au- But the excess of this is so justly contemptible, thors, the hate of the schoolmen, the exact study that as Hercules, when he saw the image of 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, “Ovc, “ 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 soundHere, therefore, is the first distemper of learning, ness of matter, or goodness of quality. This kind when men study words and not matter: whereof of degenerate learning did chiefly reign amongst though I have represented an example of late times, the schoolmen; who having sharp and strong yet it hath been, and will be " secundum majus et wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety mimuis” in all time. And how is it possible but this of reading, (but their wits being shut up in the should have an operation to discredit learning, even cells of a few authors, chiefly Aristotle their dicwithi vulgar capacities, when they see learned tator, as their persons were shut up in the cells men's works like the first letter of a patent or of monasteries and colleges,) and knowing little .imped 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 great quantity of matter, and infinite agitation of Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem or por- wit, spin out unto us those laborious webs of traiture of this vanity: for words are but the learning, which are extant in their books. For images of matter; and except they have life of the wit and mind of man, if it work upon matter, reason and invention, to fall in love with them is which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, all one as to fall in love with a picture.
worketh according to the stuff, and is limited But yet, notwithstanding, it is a thing not thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider
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 This same unprofitable subtilty or curiosity is with dark keeping : but as in the inquiry of the of two sorts ; either in the subject itself that they divine truth, their pride inclined to leave the handle, when it is a fruitless speculation or con- oracle of God's word, and to vanish in the mixture troversy, whereof there are no small number both of their own inventions; so in the inquisition of in divinity and philosophy, or in the manner or nature, they ever left the oracle of God's works, method of handling of a knowledge, which and adored the deceiving and deformed images, amongst them was this ; upon every particular which the unequal mirror of their own minds, or position or assertion to frame objections, and to a few received authors or principles, did reprethose objections, solutions ; which solutions sent unto them. And thus much for the second were for the most part not confutations but dis- disease of learning. tinctions; whereas indeed the strength of all For the third vice or disease of learning, which sciences is, as the strength of the old man's fag- concerneth deceit or untruth, it is of all the rest got, in the band. For the harmony of a science, the foulest; as that which doth destroy the essensupporting each part the other, is and ought to be tial form of knowledge, which is nothing but a the true and brief confutation and suppression of representation of truth : for the truth of being all the smaller sort of objections. But, on the and the truth of knowing are one, differing no other side, if you take out every axiom, as the more than the direct beam and the beam, reflected. sticks of the faggot, one by one, you may quarrel | This vice therefore brancheth itself into two sorts ; with them, and bend them; and break them at delight in deceiving, and aptness to be deceived ; your pleasure : so that, as was said of Seneca, impasture and credulity ; which, although they * Verborum minutiis rerum frangit pondera ;" so appear to be of a diverse nature, the one seeming a man may truly say of the schoolmen, “ Quæs- to proceed of cunning, and the other of simplicity, tionum minutiis, scientiarem frangunt solidita- yet certainly they do for the most part concur: for tem.” For were it not better for a man in a fair as the verse noteth, room to set up one great light, or branching can- “Percontatorem fugito, nam garrulus idem est;" dlestick 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 some
tudes, examples, as upon particular confutations what to them of his own : which Tacitus wisely vand solutions of every scruple, cavillation, and noteth, when he saith, “ Fingunt simul credunt
objection; 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 was ter 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 So in natural history, we see there hath not ista sunt senum otiosorum."
been that choice and judgment used as ought to Notwithstanding, certain it is that if those have been ; as may appear in the writings of schoolmen, to their great thirst of truth and un- Plinius, Cardanus, Albertus, and divers of the weuried travail of wit, had joined variety and Arabians, being fraught with much fabulous
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, or 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
And as for the facility of credit which is yield- descendeth, so knowledge derived from Aristotle, ed to arts and opinions, it is likewise of two kinds; and exempted from liberty of examination, will either when too much belief is attributed to the not rise again higher than the knowledge of Arisarts themselves, or to certain authors in any art. totle. And therefore, although the position be The sciences themselves, which have had better good, “ Oportet discentem credere," yet it must intelligence and confederacy with the imagination be coupled with this, “Oportet edoctum judiof man than with his reason, are three in number; care ;" for disciples do owe unto their masters astrology, natural magic, and alchymy; of which only a temporary belief, and a suspension of their sciences, nevertheless, the ends or pretences are own judgment until they be fully instructed, and noble. For astrology pretendeth to discover that not an absolute resignation, or perpetual captivity: correspondence or concatenation, which is be- and therefore, to conclude this point, I will say tween 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 Thus have I gone over these three diseases of in mixtures of nature are incorporate. But the learning; besides the which, there are some other derivations and prosecutions to these ends, both rather peccant humours than formed diseases ; ? in the theories and in the practices, are full of which nevertheless are not so secret and intrinsic, error and vanity; which the great professors but that they fall under a popular observation and themselves have sought to veil over and conceal tradueement, and are therefore not to be passed by enigmatical writings, and refering themselves over. to auricular traditions and such other devices, to The first of these is the extreme affecting of save the credit of impostures; and yet surely to two extremities; the one antiquity, the other alchymy this right is due, that it may be compared novelty : wherein it seemeth the children of time to the husbandman whereof Æsop makes the do take after the nature and malice of the father. fable; that, when he died, told his sons, that he For as he devoureth his children, so one of them had left unto them gold buried under ground in seeketh to devour and suppress the other ; while his vineyard; and they digged over all the ground, antiquity envieth there should be new additions, and gold they found none; but by reason of their and novelty cannot be content to add, but it must stirring and digging the mould about the roots of deface: surely, the advice of the prophet is the their vines, they had a great vintage the year fol- true direction in this matter, “State super vias lowing; so assuredly the search and stir to make antiquas, et videte quænam sit via recta et bona, gold hath brought to light a great number of good et ambulate in ea.” Antiquity deserveth that and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well reverence, that men should make a stand therefor the disclosing of nature, as for the use of man's upon, and discover what is the best way; but life.
when the discovery is well taken, then to make And as for the over much credit that hath been progression. And to speak truly, “ Antiquitas given unto authors in sciences, in making them sæculi juventus mundi.” These times are the dictators, that their words should stand, and not ancient times, when the world is ancient, and consuls, to give advice; the damage is infinite not those which we account ancient “ordine rethat sciences have received thereby, as the princi- trogrado,” by a computation backwards from ourpal cause that hath kept them low, at a stay, with- selves. out 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
out, which the world should have missed and neither is it possible to discover the more remote passed over, so long time ; as if the same objec- and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but tion were to be made to time that Lucian maketh upon the level of the same science, and ascend to Jupiter and other the heathen gods; of which not to a higher science. he wondereth that they begot so many children in Another error hath proceeded from too great a old time, and begot none in his time; and asketh reverence, and a kind of adoration of the mind and whether they were become septuagenary, or understanding of man: by means ereof, men whether the law Papía, made against old men's have withdrawn themselves too much from the marriages, had restrained them. So it seemeth contemplation of nature, and the observations of men doubt lest time is become past children and experience, and have tumbled up and down in generation ; wherein, contrariwise, we see com- their own reason and conceits. Upon these intelmonly the levity and inconstancy of men's judg- lectualists, which are, notwithstanding, commonments, which, till a matter be done, wonder that ly taken for the most sublime and divine philosoit can be done; and, as soon as it is done, wonder phers, Heraclitus gave a just censure, saying, again that it was no sooner done: as we see in “ Men sought truth in their own little worlds, and the expedition of Alexander into Asia, which at not in the great and common world;" for they first was prejudged as a vast and impossible en- disdain to spell, and so by degrees to read in the terprise : and yet afterwards it pleaseth Livy to volume of God's works; and contrariwise, by make no more of it than this : “ Nil aliud, quàm continual meditation and agitation of wit, do urge bene ausus est vana contemnere :" and the same and as it were invocate their own spirits to dihappened to Columbus in the western navigation. vine, and give oracles unto them, whereby they But in intellectual matters it is much more com- are deservedly deluded. mon; as may be seen in most of the propositions Another error that hath some connexion with of Euclid; which, till they be demonstrate, they this latter, is, that men have used to infect their seem strange to our assent; but being demon- meditations, opinions, and doctrines, with some strate, our mind accepteth of them by a kind of conceits which they have most admired, or some relation, (as the lawyers speak,) as if we had sciences which they have most applied ; and known them before.
given all things else a tincture according to them, Another error, that hath also some affinity with utterly untrue and improper. So hath Plato the former, is a conceit that of former opinions or intermingled his philosophy with theology, and sects, after variety and examination, the best hath Aristotle with logic; and the second school of still prevailed, and suppressed the rest; so as, if Plato, Proclus and the rest, with the mathematics. a man should begin the labour of a new search, For these were the arts which had a kind of he were but like to light upon somewhat formerly primogeniture with them severally. So have the rejected, and by rejection brought into oblivion : alchymists made a philosophy out of a few exas if the multitude, or the wisest, for the multi-periments of the furnace; and Gilbertus, our tude's sake, were not ready to give passage rather countryman, hath made a philosophy out of the to that which is popular and superficial, than to observations of a loadstone. So Cicero, when, that which is substantial and profound; for the reciting the several opinions of the nature of the truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of soul, he found a musician that held the soul was a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that but a harmony, saith pleasantly, “ Hic ab arte sua which is light and blown up, and sinketh and non recessit,” &c. But of these conceits Aristotle drowneth that which is weighty and solid. speaketh seriously and wisely, when he saith,
Another error, of a diverse nature from all the "Qui respiciunt ad pauca, de facili pronuntiant." former, is the over early and peremptory reduction Another error is an impatience of doubt, and of knowledge into arts and methods; from which haste to assertion without due and mature sustime commonly sciences receive small or no aug- pension of judgment. For the two ways of conmentation. But as young men, when they knit templation are not unlike the two ways of action, and shape perfectly, do seldom grow to a further commonly spoken of by the ancients; the one stature : so knowledge, while it is in aphorisms plain and smooth in the beginning, and in the end and observations, it is in growth ; but when it impassable; the other rough and troublesome in once is comprehended in exact methods, it may the entrance, but after a while fair and even: so perchance be further polished and illustrated, it is in contemplation; if a man will begin with and accommodated for use and practice; but it certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will increaseth no more in bulk and substance. be.content to begin with doubts he shall end in
Another error which doth succeed that which we certainties. Jast mentioned, is, that after the distribution of Another error is in the manner of the tradition particular arts and sciences, men have abandoned and delivery of knowledge, which is for the most universality, or “philosophia prima ;" which can- part magistral and peremptory, and not ingenuous not hut cease and stop all progression. For no and faithful; in a sort as may be soonest believed, perfect discovery can he made upon a flat or level, and not easiliest examined. It is true, that in