Imatges de pÓgina

with their present ability to say more, and perchance better too, at the sudden for that present than any others can do, use less help of diligence and study than they ought to do, and so have in them commonly less learning and weaker judgment for all deep considerations than some duller heads and slower tongues have.

And therefore ready speakers generally be not the best, plainest, and wisest writers, nor yet the deepest judgers in weighty affairs; because they do not tarry to weigh and judge all things as they should, but having their heads over full of matter, be like pens over full of ink, which will sooner blot than make any fair letter at all. Time was, when I had experience of two ambassadors in one place, the one of a hot head to invent, and of a hasty hand to write; the other cold and staid in both; but what difference of their doings was made by wise men is not unknown to some persons. The Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, had a quick head and a ready tongue, and yet was not the best writer in England. Cicero in Brutus doth wisely note the same in Serg. Galba and Q. Hortensius, who were both hot, lusty, and plain speakers, but cold, loose, and rough writers. And Tully telleth the cause why, saying, when they spoke, their tongue was naturally carried with full tide and wind of their wit; when they wrote, their head was solitary, dull, and calm; and so their style was blunt and their writing cold." The author then quotes a remark from Cicero, to the effect, that the fault in- question is one by which men of much natural ability, but insufficiently instructed, are often found to be characterized. "And therefore," he concludes, "all quick inventors and ready fair speakers must be careful that, to their goodness of nature, they add also in any wise study, labor, leisure, learning, and judgment, and then they shall indeed pass all other (as I know some do in whom all those qualities are fully planted,) or else if they give over much to their wit, and over little to their labor and learning, they will soonest overreach in talk, and farthest come behind in writing, whatsoever they take in hand. The method of epitome is most necessary for such kind of men."

V. Imitation Ascham defines to be " a faculty to express lively and perfectly that example which you go about to follow." "All languages," he continues, "both learned, and mother tongues, be gotten, and gotten solely, by imitation. For as ye use to hear, so ye learn to speak; if ye hear no other, ye speak not yourself; and whom ye only hear, of them ye only learn.

And therefore if ye would speak as the best and wisest do, ye must be conversant where the best and wisest are; but if you be born or brought up in a rude country, ye shall not choose but speak rudely. The rudest man of-all knoweth this to be true.

Yet nevertheless, the rudeness of common and mother tongues is no bar for wise speaking. For in the rudest country, and most barbarous mother language, many be found that can speak very wisely; but in the Greek and Latin tongues, the two only learned tongues, which be kept not in common talk, but in private books, we find always wisdom and eloquence, good matter and good utterance, never or seldom asunder. For all such authors, as be fullest of good matter and right judgment in doctrine, be likewise always most proper in words, most apt in sentence, most plain and pure in uttering the same."

After examining what has been said upon the subject of imitation by various writers, ancient and modern, he advises "a good student to journey through all authors," but to dwell only, "after God's Holy Bible, with Tully in Latin, Plato, Aristotle, Zenophon, Isocrates, and Demosthenes in Greek."



(Translated from the German of Von Raumer, for the American Journal of Education.)

FRANCIS BACON was born at London, on the 22d of January, 1561. His father, Nicholas Bacon, was Lord Keeper of the Seal, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; his mother, whose maiden name was Anna Cook, was a pious and highly intellectual lady, well versed both in the Greek and Latin classics. When quite young, Bacon displayed such a mature judgment, that Queen Elizabeth, who took great pleasure in conversing with him, addressed him as her little Keeper of the Seal. When not quite sixteen years of age, he was placed at Trinity College, Cambridge. His principal instructor there was John Whitgift, a doctor of theology, and afterward Archbishop of Canterbury. While at Cambridge, he bestowed diligent study upon Aristotle, but with all his regard for him, he conceived a distaste for his doctrines; and, even from this early period, we may date the commencement of his warfare against scholasticism.

After he had completed his education at the university, his father, wishing to initiate him in politics, commended him to the charge of Paulett, English ambassador at the Court of France. During Bacon's residence at Paris, his father died, leaving but a moderate property to be divided between himself and his four brothers. In after years, his brother Anthony bequeathed him an independent fortune.

On his return to England, he applied himself with ardor to the study of law, and was soon chosen councilor by Elizabeth; but she did not advance him to any higher post of honor. This was reserved for James I., who made him Lord High Chancellor, with the titles of Verulam and Vice-Count St. Albans.

He married the daughter of a wealthy London alderman, whose name was Burnham, by whom, however, he had no issue.

Six years before his death, he was deposed from his office. And that he had been guilty of misdemeanor therein, is, alas! but too evident. He was convicted of having used his high judicial function in the service of bribery, and James I. could do no more than mitigate the sentence that was pronounced against him, nor could he

ever afterward recover the influence that he had lost, though he sought it with the most fulsome flatteries.

It is truly painful to see a man of such commanding talents sink into such depths of moral degradation. It would appear, in some instances, as if an over-exertion of the intellectual powers operated to the injury of the moral nature; since constant mental labor leaves no time for self-consecration and self-conquest, yea, in the end, destroys all power and capacity therefor,-so much does such labor engross the whole man.

But the closing years of Bacon's life redounded to the inestimable advantage of science; for he gave his undivided attention to it, after his removal from the service of the state.

He died on the 9th of April, 1626, in the 66th year of his age, having lived to be three years older than Shakspeare, whom he survived ten years. Seldom have two such eminent men lived at the same time, and in the same place,-men of such vast, and yet opposite endowments. It would almost appear that, in Bacon, the genius of prose, in Shakspeare, of poetry, came into the world in person: in one, an understanding, the highest, clearest, most searching, and methodical; and, in the other, an imagination of unbounded creative capacity. The poet, it is true, manifested a keen intellectual insight, together with a wonderfully comprehensive knowledge of human nature; but we can hardly concede to Bacon much of that sense of beauty which is so marked an attribute of the poet. Both of them, however, were alike in achieving superior fame by the exercise of their understanding, and in suffering the glory of that fame to be tarnished by the abuse of their imagination. How far justice was meted out to Bacon, we shall be better able to judge in the sequel.

A third great genius, born in the same decade with Shakspeare and Bacon (1571,) deserves mention here, as ranking with the mightiest minds that the world ever produced; I refer to Kepler. But what a remarkable contrast does the mutual non-intercourse of these three giant spirits present to the warm and living fellowship that subsisted between Luther and Melancthon. It is as though they had not known of each other's existence. Bacon, notwithstanding the universality of his writings, has no where made mention of Shakspeare; he treats of dramatic poetry, but utters not a syllable in regard to the greatest dramatist "that ever lived in the tide of times," although this one was even his fellow-citizen. So, likewise, Bacon treats often of astronomy, and introduces Copernicus and Galileo, but Kepler And yet, Kepler must have been known to him, for, in the year 1618, he dedicated his great work, "Harmonice Mundi," to the


self-same King James whom Bacon revered as his great patron, and, in many of his own dedications, had styled a second Solomon.

Bacon's works have appeared in repeated editions, both in separate treatises and in a collected form. Many of them have no bearing upon our present inquiry; such, for instance, as the "Political Speeches," the "Essays, Civil and Moral," the "History of the Reign of Henry VII." etc. On the contrary, his philosophical works proper are of the utmost value in their relation to the science of education, although, on a cursory glance, it may not appear so. What Bacon advanced directly on this subject, is comparatively unimportant; but the indirect influence which, as the founder of the inductive method of philosophizing upon nature, or "real realism," as I have elsewhere styled it, he exerted upon education, this, though we are unable always to analyze it, is nevertheless invaluable. The reader will therefore follow me without surprise, if, in the succeeding pages, I shall appear to have lost sight, for a time, of the purely educational element.

Bacon has himself given us a sketch of the great philosophical work, which he designed to write, and parts of which he completed. The work was called "Instauratio Magna," and it was divided into six parts. The first part was an encyclopedia of all human learning, whether ancient or modern. In this he purposed, especially, to point out deficiencies, and suggest new subjects of inquiry. This part we have; it is the "De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum," is in nine books, and is the best known of all his works. Some portions of it are completely elaborated; others consist of a more or less thoroughly meditated plan. The second part of the "Instauratio Magna," Bacon published under the title of "Novum Organum, Sive judicia vera de interpretatione Natura." He worked upon this part for many years; at his death, there were found twelve different elaborations of it. It is a collection of great thoughts, remarkable for their depth, their freshness, and the extreme nicety with which they are adjusted, the one to the other, and all are intelligibly expressed in aphorisms, whose every word we feel has been carefully weighed.

The third part of the "Instauratio Magna" was designed to present a collection of the facts of natural history, and experimental philosophy, or "Phænomena universi:" some portions of this were completed. In the fourth part, or " Scala intellectus," Bacon gives special applications of his philosophy in examples of the correct method of investigating nature. The fifth, or " Anticipationes philosophiæ secunda," was to be a sketch of the preparations of preceding ages for the final introduction of the new philosophy; while the sixth was to em

body the new philosophy, in all its completeness and grandeur. This crowning part of the whole work Bacon left wholly untouched.

We shall confine our attention, at the present time, however, chiefly to the two first and completest divisions of this great work, viz., to the "De augmentis scientiarum" and the "Novum Organum." But, in order to judge Bacon aright, we must first cast a glance at the intellectual character, not only of the age in which he lived, but of the centuries just preceding.

We have seen that, in those centuries, supreme homage was paid to the word alone in all books, in disputations and declamations, and that thinking men displayed neither sense nor feeling for any thing but language, deriving from this, and basing upon this, all their knowledge. Every avenue to nature, to a direct and independent investigation of the external world, was closed. That gifted monk, Roger Bacon, a most worthy predecessor of Lord Bacon, was, in the middle ages, regarded as a magician; and, as a magician, suffered persecution, because he was not content to view nature through the eyes of Aristotle, choosing rather to go himself to the fountain-head and converse with her, face to face. He maintained that men ought not to be satisfied with traditional and accepted knowledge. Reason and experience were the two sources of science; but experience alone was the parent of a well-grounded certainty, and this true empiricism had hitherto been wholly neglected by most scholars. That Roger Bacon did not speak of experimental knowledge, as a blind man would discourse of colors, is proved by some remarkable expressions of his, anticipatory and unambiguous, upon spectacles, telescopes, and gunpowder. But Roger stood alone in that age of the world, like a solitary preacher in the desert; and hence it was that he was regarded with wonder, as a magician, and persecuted.

But that which showed in Roger Bacon as mere anticipation, and obscure prophecy, appeared, after the lapse of three hundred years, full-formed and clear in Francis Bacon. Even as Luther came forth to strip off the thick veil of human traditions, that had been woven over the revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures, distorting its features, concealing it, and even burying it in oblivion, for multitudes of his fellow men, so did Bacon make war upon the traditions and postulates of men, which had quite darkened over the revelation of God, in the material world. He wished men no longer to put their faith in arbitrary and fanciful glosses upon this revelation, but to go themselves directly to its living record.

He saw, moreover, that the more sagacious intellects of his time were wholly divorced from nature, and wedded to books alone; their

« AnteriorContinua »