Imatges de pàgina

spirits of an earlier period, like Empedocles, Anaxagoras, &c., excepted. True, indeed, was that saying of the Egyptian priests, " the Greeks continue children forever, having neither an antiquity of science, nor a science of antiquity. For they have the nature of boys, inasmuch as they are full of loquacity, but incapable of reproduction, and their wisdom is therefore rich in words but poor in deeds.”

Elsewhere, he says, “To speak truly, 'antiquitas seculi, juventus mundi,' and these times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient. Hence those elder generations fell short of many of our present knowledges; they knew but a small part of the world, and but a brief period of history; we, on the contrary, are acquainted with a far greater extent of the old world, besides having uncovered a new hemisphere, and we look back and survey long periods of history."

This passage is the embodiment of that ultra anti-classical view, against which, in Bacon's own day, Bodley, and, in our own times, Goethe, have so earnestly protested. How prejudicial to the cause of education it must be we can readily imagine, for it sounds in our ears with the authority of a voice from the past, cheering on our narrow-minded realists in their opposition to the study of the ancients.

But though it is not possible for us entirely to exculpate Bacon in this bis judgment of antiquity, yet, in strict justice, we ought to make all due allowance for his point of view. His was the philosophy of nature; a knowledge of nature, and power over her by virtue of that knowledge, were his aim. “ What have the ancients done in this particular,” he asked; but gave no thought to Homer, Sophocles, Demosthenes, and Phidias; and seeing, as in a vision, the air-pumps, electric telegraphs, and steam-engines, the seventy-eight thousand species of animals, the seventy-eight thousand species of plants, of our day,—seeing all these rewards of knowledge and power, which were to flow from the adoption of his method, he looked upon the ancients with indifference. But even from this point of view, he should have conceded to them far more than he did. It is enough that we mention the determinations of latitude and longitude, the length of a meridian, the precession of the equinoxes; enough that we speak of the great Hipparchus, of Archimedes, and Apollonius of Perga, of Hippocrates, of Aristotle's “ History of Animals,” and the “Garden of Plants” of Theophrastus. And how much more could I bring forward in proof of the greatness of the Greeks, even in natural philosophy! And, more than all, what shall we say of those great fundamental thoughts, which have tested the human intellect for more than two thousand years ?

Bacon's hostility to Aristotle was mainly to be ascribed to the scholastics, who called themselves his disciples, though their master's works were not known to them, save through the medium of unfaithful translations. He concedes to them “sharp wit " indeed, but adds " that it only worked upon itself, as the spider worketh her web, and brought forth mere cobwebs of learning, and nothing more."

But we find bim no more favorable to the anti-scholastics, whom we may style the philologists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. “At the time of Martin Luther, an affected study of eloquence began to flourish. There arose a great enmity and opposition to the scholastics, because they considered no whit the pureness of their style, but took the liberty to coin and frame new and barbarous terms of art, to express their own sense, and to avoid circuit of speech. This enmity speedily ended in producing the opposite extreme ; for men began to hunt more after words than matter, and more after the choiceness of the phrase, and the round and clean composition of the sentence, than after the weight of matter, soundness of argument, life of invention, or depth of judgment. Then did Sturmius spend such infinite and curious pains upon Cicero and Hermogenes. Then did Erasmus take occasion to make the scoffing echo, Decem annos consumpsi in legendo Cicerone,' and the echo answered in Greek, • 'Ove,' asine.” “In sum,” he concludes, “ the whole inclination and bent of those times was rather toward copia than weight."

We have now sufficiently characterized Bacon's polemics. The foregoing paragraph proves that he regarded wbat the philologists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries styled realism, as wholly distinct from the realism that his philosophy required. This latter I have ventured to call “real realism,” in contrast with the verbal realism of the philologists, who knew roses and wine only as they were described in the verses of Anacreon and Horace.

Though there were many before Bacon, especially artists and craftsmen, who lived in communion with nature, and who, in manifold ways, transfigured and idealized her, and unveiled her glory; and though their sense for nature was, in a measure, highly cultivated, so that they attained to a practical understanding of her ways, yet this understanding of theirs was, so to speak, at its highest, merely instinctive; for it led them to no scientific deductions, and yielded them no thoughtful, sure, and legitimate dominion over her.

To the scholars of that day Bacon's doctrine was wholly new, It summoned then to leave for a while their books, which had been their vital element,

"And with untrammeled thought
To talk with nature, face to face."

Thus Bacon was the father of the modern lvalists, and, as I shall take occasion to show hereafter, of realistic principles of instruction. Traces, moreover, are to be found in bim of the harsh and repulsive features which characterize our modern matter-of-fact philosophy. As an instance in point, consider the sentence which he pronounced Against the ancients; how he weighed them in the scales of his own philosophy, and found them wanting; how low an estimate he set upon what they did bring to pass, counting it all as the result of pure accident, because not arrived at by means of systematic induction. The exquisite sense of beauty, and the high culture of art of the ancients, seemed, in fact, to have been wholly ignored by the prosaic Bacon, as it is by the realists of the present age.

His method itself, likewise, and still more that which by virtue of this method he accomplished, in the way of observation and experiment, are open to many objections. He tells us that he is about to wed the human intellect to nature, and on this announcement we look to see a joyful marriage and a union of love. But, instead of this, he presents us with a slow and wearisome plan of a siege, for the reduction of the stronghold of nature, whom he apparently desires us to starve into a surrender. For proof of this we need only turn to his "History of the Winds," written upon this plan, to say nothing of numerous kindred paragraphs, scattered throughout the second book of his "Novum Organum." He had evidently convinced himself that, with the aid of his method of induction, men could as intelligently and surely advance to the accomplishment of their aims, in the subjection of nature, as an able general predicts, to a certainty, that a fortress, to wbich he has laid siege, will surrender within a given time. If earlier observers, without such method, had made any progress in the investigation of nature, this, according to Bacon, should be ascribed to accident. “But this method makes us independent of accident, for it is all.comprehending and infallible. Nay, it is a way in which the blind can .not err, a way too which places the man of bumble capacity on a level with the genius.”

These words appear addressed to us by Pestalozzi and the Pestalozzians. But such a view is derogatory to the gifts which God has

his chosen children. What though Bacon, by the use of his method, has built a solid waggon track to Helicon? The soaring intellects of a Kepler and a Galileo need no such beaten course; they are already upon the mountain-top, before the waggoners are ready to set forth.

This anti-genial element of the Baconian method Goethe has treated with a well-merited severity. When a man of fertile imagin

lavished upon

ation and keen insight fixes his attention upon one important fact, seizes the law revealed therein, and holds fast that law, the results that he brings to pass are more far-reaching in their scope and influence, than when an adust and hackneyed plodder, wearys himself through long years in a methodical heaping together of myriads of isolated and less important facts, without once detecting the character and essence of the simplest of them all. For consider how truth flashed in upon the mind of Galileo, while watching the vibrations of a pendant chandelier, “ a striking proof,” says Goethe, “ that for the man of genius, one fact is better than a thousand.” For, according to him, in scientific researches every thing depends on what may be styled the “aperçu," or the instantaneous, intuitive recognition of the principle that underlies a given phenomenon.

But some one will ask, “ do you then reject Bacon's method of induction in all its particulars ?" By no means. It is only this idea of an equalizing scale applied to the mind, and his view that there is no other road to knowledge than the one that he has marked out, that merit our reproof.

In fact, Bacon himself, with a most happy inconsistency, often employs expressions that disarm all attack. For instance, take the following: “When a man brings to the contemplation of nature an open sense and a mind that is unentangled by the prejudices of tradition, he needs no such method." The favorites of fortune, the miracleworkers, as Luther calls them, are gifted with this unclouded vision;

to this class Goethe himself belonged. With a lively sensibility, a ? (refined organism) and a passionate love for nature, he needed not that

any should say to him, 'open thine eyes and look around thee.' To him, the author of the lines,

“ Nature is good and kind

Who clasps me to her breast," a marriage between the soul and the outward world was already a settled fact. “They that are whole need not a physician.” But these miracle-workers are, alas, too rare; and most men must make use of a method which shall stimulate their sluggish spirits into life

and energy

As it regards the manner in which Bacon illustrated his method, as in the History of the Winds," so severely commented upon by Goethe, he should be judged, in a measure, by the general tone of natural science in his own age. To Goethe's eloquent apology for “ aperçus” or intuitive perceptions, Bacon might have replied, “your principles underlying phenomena, are what I have denominated "forms,” which I nevertheless can not unveil by means of a single

fact taken symbolically, but only by induction, by a comparison of many facts, representing the varied shapes of one and the same Proteus.”

In short, despite the objectionable manner in which Bacon, here and there, endeavored, in the concrete, to maintain, realize, and prove the deep and solid foundation-principles which he advanced, the truth of those principles remains yet unassailed; and, like a vital germ, they have grown, and are bearing fruit even to the present day. Bacon originated no school, but something greater and wider in its scope. He was the founder of the direct mode of questioning nature, a mode open alike to all, whatever their talent or abilities. He was, as we have before intimated, the creator of the practical experimentalism of the present day, which explores the world for material to work up into manufactured fabrics, and to him may be ascribed the present prevailing tendency, of the English nation especially, to utilitarianism, to that perfect subjection of nature, by the aid of science, that will lead men finally to a true rational magic.

I have now endeavored to present a brief abstract of Bacon's philosophy. I have also occasionally adverted to the influence which it has exerted upon mental culture, and, as a consequence, upon methods of instruction; an influence which, at the distance of two centuries, is still in the ascendant. But there are also many passages in the “ De augmentis scientiarum” which have a direct bearing upon education. Of this nature is the second chapter of the Sixth Book, in which he treats of "prudentia traditiva," or knowledge delivered, and characterizes various methods of teaching. He gives the preference to the genetic method, where the teacher "transplants knowledge into the scholar's mind, as it grew in his own." Whatever is imparted in this way, will take root, flourish, and bear fruit. He commends aphorisms: "For representing a knowledge broken, they do invite men to inquire farther; whereas systems, carrying a show of a total, do secure men as if they were at farthest.” “Methods should vary according to the subject to be taught, for in knowledge itself there is great diversity.”

In one place he treats most strenuously and earnestly of the importance of education. “A gardener,” he says, “ takes more pains with the young than with the full-grown plant; and men commonly find it needful, in any undertaking, to begin well. We give scarce a thought to our teachers, and care little for what they may be, and yet we are forever complaining, because rulers are rigid in the matter

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