Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) online

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it their suit, to be again called by the name of " Militcs."
The second speech was thus : Caesar did extremely
affect the name of king ; and some were set on, as he
passed by, in popular acclamation to salute him king ;
whereupon, finding the cry weak and poor, he put it
off thus, in a kind of jest, as if they had mistaken
his surname; " Non rex sum, sed Caesar; " a speech, that
if it be searched, the life and fulness of it can scarce
be expressed : for, first, it was a refusal of the name,
but yet not serious : again, it did signify an infinite
confidence and magnanimity, as if he presumed Caesar
was the greater title, as by his worthiness it is come to
pass till this day : but chiefly, it was a speech of great
allurement toward his own purpose ; as if the state
did strive with him but for a name, whereof mean
families were vested ; for Rex was a surname with the
Romans, as well as King is with us.

The last speech which I will mention, was used to
Metellus ; when Caesar, after war declared, did possess
himself of the city of Rome, at which time entering
into the inner treasury to take the money there accu-
mulated, Metellus, being tribune, forbad him : whereto
Caesar said, " That if he did not desist, he would lay
him dead in the place." And presently taking him-
self up, he added, " Young man, it is harder for me
to speak it, than to do it ;" " Adolescens, durius est
milii hoc dicere, quam faccre." A speech conqioundcd
of the greatest terror and greatest clemency that could
proceed out of the mouth of man.

But to return, and conclude with him : it is evident,
himself knew well his own perfection in learning, and
took it uj)on him: as appeared, when, upon occasion that
some spake, wluit a strange resolution it was in Lucius
Sylla to resign his dictature ; he scoffing at him, to his
own advantage, answered, " That Sylla could not


skill of letters, and therefore knew not how to dic-

And here it were fit to leave this point, touching
the concurrence of military virtue and learning, for
what example should come with any grace, after those
two of Alexander and Caesar ? were it not in regard
of the rareness of circumstance, that I find in one other
particular, as that which did so suddenly pass from
extreme scorn to extreme wonder ; and it is of Xeno-
phon the philosopher, who went from Socrates's
school into Asia, in the expedition of Cyrus the
younger, against king Artaxerxes. This Xenophon
at that time was very young, and never had seen the
wars before ; neither had any command in the army,
but only followed the war as a voluntary, for the love
and conversation of Proxenus his friend. He was
present when Falinus came in message from the great
king to the Grecians, after that Cyrus was slain in
the field, and they a handful of men left to themselves
in the midst of the king's territories, cut off from
their country by many navigable rivers, and many
hundred miles. The message imported that they
should deliver up their arms, and submit themselves
to the king's mercy. To which message before answer
was made, divers of the army conferred familiarly
with Falinus : and amongst the rest Xenophon hap-
pened to say, " Why, Falinus, we have now but these
two things left, our arms and our virtue ; and if we
yield up our arms,how shall we make use of our virtue?"
Whereto Falinus, smiling on him, said, " If I be not
deceived, young gentleman, you are an Athenian, and,
I believe, you study philosophy, and it is pretty that
you say ; but you are much abused, if you think your
virtue can withstand the king's power." Here was the
scorn : the wonder followed ; which was, that this
young scholar, or philosopher, after all the captains
were murdered in parley by treason, conducted those
ten thousand foot, through the heart of all the king's
high countries, from Babylon to Graecia in safety, in
despite of all the king's forces, to the astonishment
of the world, and the encouragement of the Grecians


in time succeeding to make invasion upon the kings of
Persia ; as was after purposed by Jason the Thessa-
lian, attempted by Agesilaus the Spartan, and
achieved by Alexander the IVIacedonian, all upon the
ground of the act of that young scholar.

To proceed now from iniperial and military virtue
to moral and private^\djt;tiiej first, it is an assured
trutET'v^Tiich is contained in the verses ;

" Scilicet ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes,
Emollit mores, nee sinit esse feros."

It taketh away the wildness, and barbarism, and
fierceness of mens minds : but indeed the accent had
need be n])0\\ Jide liter : for a little superficial learning
doth rather work a contrary effect. It taketh away
all levity, temerity, and insolency, by copious sugges-
tion of all doubts and difficulties, and acquainting
the mind to balance reasons on both sides, and to
turn back the first offers and conceits of the mind,
and to accept of nothing but examined and tried. It
taketh away vain admiration of any thing, which is
the root of all weakness : for all things are admired,
either because they are new, or because they are great.
For no\^elty, no man that wadeth in learning or con-
templation throughly, but will find that printed in his
heart, " Nil novi super terram." Neither can any
man marvel at the play of puppets, that goeth behind
the curtain, and adviseth well of the motion. And for
magnitude, as Alexander the great, after he was used
to great armies, and the conquests of the spacious pro-
vinces in Asia, when he received letters out of Greece,
of some fights and services there, which were com-
monly for a passage, or a fort, or some walled iowa at
the most, he said, " It seemed to him, that he was
advertised of the battle of the frogs and the mice, that
the old tales went cf." So certainly, if a man meditate
upon the universal frame of nature, the eartli with men
upon it. the divinencss of souls excepted, will not seem
much other than an ant-hill, where some ants carry
cora.and some carry theiryoung,andsomegoempty, and
all to and fro a little lieap of dust. It taketh away or
mitigateth fear of death, or adverse fortune ; which is.



one of the greatest impediments of virtue, and imper-
fections of manners. For if a man's mind be deeply
seasoned with the consideration of the mortality and
corruptible nature of things, he will easily concur with
Epictetus, who went forth one day, and saw a woman
weeping for her pitcher of earth that was broken ; and
went forth the next day, and saw a woman weeping
for her son that was dead ; and thereupon said, " Heii
vidi fragilem frangi, hodie vidi mortalem mori." And
therefore did Virgil excellently and profoundly couple
the knowledge of causes, and the conquest of all fears
together, as concomitantia :

" Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere cnusas,
Quique inetus omnes, et inexorabilc fatum
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari."

It were too long to go over the particular remedies
which learning doth minister to all the diseases of the
mind, sonietim'es purging tlic ill humours, sometimes
opening the obstructions, sometimes helping digestion,
sometimes increasing appetite, sometimes healing the
wounds and exulcerations thereof, and the like ; and
therefore I will conclude with that which hath " ratio-
nem totius," which is, that it disposeth the constitutionlv
of the mind not to be fixed or settled in the defects Tj
thereof, but still to be capable and susceptible of ||
growth and reformation. For the unlearned man ■
knows not what it is to descend into himself, or to call
himself to account ; nor the pleasure of that " sua-
vissima vita, indies sentire so fieri meliorem." The
good parts he hath, he will learn to shew to the full,
and use them dexterously, but not much to increase
them : tlie faults he liath, he will learn to hide and
coloiu' them, but not much to amend them : like an
ill mower, that mows on still, and never whets his
scythe. ^Vhereas, with the learned man it fares other-
wise that he doth ever intermix the correction and
amendment of his mind, with the use and employ-
nient thereof Nay, farther, in general and in sum,
certain it is, that Veritas and hointas differ but
as the seal and the print : for truth prints goodness ;
and they be the clouds of error, whicli descend in tlie
storms of passions and perturbations.


From moral virtue let us pass on t o mat ter of power
and comm^iidm^utju.and consider -vvliethcr in rigTit
reason there be any comparable with that, where-
with knowledge investeth and crowneth man's na-
ture. We see the dignity of the commandment is
according to the dignity of the commanded : to have
commandment over beasts, as herdmen have, is a
thing contemptible ; to have commandment over
children, as schoolmasters have, is a matter of small
honour ; to have commandment over galley-slaves, is
a disparagement, rather than an honour. Neither is
the commandment of tyrants much better, over people
which have put off the generosity of their minds :
and therefore it was ever holden, that honours in free
monarchies and commonwealths had a sweetness more
than in tyrannies, because the commandment extend-
eth more over the wills of men, and not only over their
deeds and services. And therefore when Virgil putteth
himself forth to attribute to Augustus Caesar the best
of human honours, he doth it in these words :

" victorque voleiites

Per populos dat jura, viamque affectat Olynipo."

But the commandment of knowledge is yet higher
than the commandment over the will ;: for it is*a'com-
mandment over the reason, belief, and understanding
of inan, which is the highest part of the mind, and
givcth law to the will itself: for there is no power
on earth, which settetli up a throne, or chair of
state, in the spirits and souls of men, and in their co-
«;itations, imaginations, opinions, and beliefs, but know-
ledge and learning. And therefore we see the detest-
able and extreme pleasure that arch-heretics, and false
prophets arc transported with, when they once find in
themselves tliat they have a superiority in the faith
and conscience of men ; so great, as, if they have once
tasted of it, it is seldom seen that any torture or per-
secution can make them relinquish or abandon it.
But as this is that which the author of the " Revela-
tion'' calloth '* the depth," or profoundness, " of Satan ;"
so, by argument of contraries, the just and lawful
sovereignty over mens understanding, by force of


truth lightly interpreted, is that which approachctli
nearest to the simiHtude of the divine rule.

As for fortune and advancement, the beneficence
of learning is not so confined to give fortune only to
states and commonwealths, as it doth not likewise give
fortune to particular persons. For it was well noted
long ago, that Homer hath given more men their
livings, than either Sylla, or Caesar, or Augustus ever
did, notwithstanding their great largesses and dona-
tives, and distributions of lands to so many legions ;
and no doubt it is hard to say, whether arms or learning
have advanced greater numbers. And in case of sove-
reignty we see, that if arms or descent have carried away
the kingdom, yet learning hath carried the priesthood,
which ever hath been in some competition with empire.
Again, for the pleasure and delight of knowledge
and learniuir, it far siirpasscth all other iu uatiu"c : for
shall tlie pleasures of the affections so exceed the plea-
sures of the senses, as much as the obtaining of desire
or victory exceedeth a song or a dinner ? and must not,
of consequence, the pleasures of the intellect, or under-
standing, exceed the pleasures of the affections ? We
see in all other pleasures there is a satiety, and after
they be used, their verdure departeth ; which sheweth
well they be but deceits of pleasure, and not pleasures ;
and that it was the novelty which pleased, and not
the quality ; and therefore we soc that voluptuous
men turn friers, and ambitious princes turn melancholy.
But o f knowle dge there is no satiety, but satisfaction
and appetite are perpetually interchangeable ; and
therefore appearcth to be good in itself simply, with-
out fallacy or accident. Neither is that pleasure
of small efficacy and contentment to the mind of
man, which the poet Lucretius describeth elegantly :
" Suave mari magno, turbantibus aequora ventis, etc."
" It is a view of delight, saith he, to stand or walk
upon the shore side, and to see a ship tossed with tem-
pest upon the sea ; or to be in a fortified tower, and
to see two battles join upon a plain ; but it is a pleasure
incomparable for the mind of man to be settled, landed,
and fortified in the certainly of truth, and from thence


to descry and behold the errors, perturbations, labours,
and wanderings up and down of other men."

Lastly, leaving the vulgar arguments that by learn-
ing man excelleth man in that wherein man excelleth
beasts ; that by learning man ascendeth to the heavens
and their motions, where in body he cannot come,
and the like : let us conclude with the dignity and
excellency of knowtedgg^and lieaTning in -that where-
unto man's nature doth most aspire, which isVlmmor-
tality or continuance : for to this tendeth generation,
and raising of houses and families ; to this tend build-
ings, foundations, and monuments ; to this tendeth
the desire of memory, fame, and celebration, and in
effect the strength of all other human desires. We
see then how far the monuments of wit and learning
are more durable than the monuments of power, or
of the hands. For have not the verses of Homer
continued twenty-five hundred years, or more, without
the loss of a syllable or letter ; during which time,
infinite palaces, temples, castles, cities, have been de-
cayed and demolished ? It is not possible to have the
true pictures or statues of Cyrus, Alexander, Caesar ;
no, nor of the kings or great personages of much later
years ; for the originals cannot last, and the copies
cannot but lose of the life and truth. But the images of
mens wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted
from the wrong of time, and capable of perpetual
renovation. Neither are they fitly to be called images,
because they generate still, and cast their seeds in the
mind of others, provoking and causing infinite actions
and opinions in succeeding ages : so that if the inven-
tion of the ship was thought so noble, which carrieth
riches and commodities from place to place, and conso-
ciateth the most remote regions in participation
of their fruits ; how much more are letters to be mag-
nified, which, as ships, pass through the vast seas
of time, and make ages so distant to participate
of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the
one of the other ? Nay farther, we see, some of the
philosopliers which were least divine, and most
immersed in tlie senses, and denied generally the


immortality of the soul ; yet came to this point, that
whatsoever motions the spirit of man could act and
perform without the organs of the body, they thought
might remain after death, which were only those of
the understanding, and not of the affections ; so
immortal and incorruptible a thing did knowledge
seem unto them to be. But we, that know by divine
revelation, that not only the understanding, but the
affections purified ; not only the spirit, but the body
changed, shall be advanced to immortality, do disclaim
in these rudiments of the senses. But it must be remem-
bered both in this last point, and so it may likewise be
needful in other places, that in probation of the dig-
nity of knowledge or learning, I did in the beginning
separate divine testimony from human, which method
I have pursued, and so handled them both apart.

Nevertheless I do not pretend, and I know it will be
impossible for me, by any pleading of mine, to reverse
the judgment, either of jEsop's cock, that preferred
the barley-corn before the gem; or of Midas, that being
chosen judge between Apollo, president of the Muses,
and Pan, god of the flocks, judged for plenty ; or of
Paris, that judged for beauty and love, against wisdom
and power ; or of Agrippina, " Occidat matrem, modo
imperet," that preferred empire with any condition
never so detestable ; or of Ulysses, " qui vetulam
prajtulit immortalitati," being a figure of those which
prefer custom and habit before all excellency ; or of a
number of the like popular judgments. For these
things must continue as they have been ; but so will
that also continue, whereupon learning hath ever relied,
and which faileth not : " Justificata est Sapientia a
filiis suis."









It might seem to have more conveiiience, though it
come often otherwise to pass, excellent king, that
those, which are fruitful in their generations, and
have in themselves the foresight of immortality in
their descendants, should likewise be more careful of
the good estate of future times, unto which, they
know, they must transmit and commend over their
dearest pledges. Queen Elizabeth was a sojourner in
the world, in respect of her unmarried life, and was a
blessing to her own times ; and yet so as the im-
pression of her good government, besides her happy
memory, is not without some effect which doth sur-
vive her. But to your majesty, whom God hath al-
ready blessed with so much royal issue, worthy to
continue and represent you for ever; and whose
youthful and fruitful bed doth yet promise many the
like renovations ; it is proper and agreeable to be
conversant, not only in the transitory parts of good
government, but in tliose acts also which are in their
nature permanent and perpetual : amongst the which,
if affection do not transport me, there is not any more
worthy, than the farther endowment of the world
with sound and fruitfid knowledge. For why should


a few received authors stand up like Hcrcules's
columns ; beyond which there should he no sailing or
discovering, since we have so bright and benign a star
as your majesty, to conduct and prosper us? To return
therefore where we left, it remaineth to consider of
what kind those acts are, which have been undertaken
and performed by kings and others, for the increase
and advancement of learning, wherein I purpose to
speak actively, without digressing or dilating.

Let this ground therefore be laid, that all works are
overcome by amplifcuxle— of rewa,rd, by soundness of
direction, and by the conjunction of labours. The
first multiplieth endeavour, the second preventeth
error, and the third supplieth the frailty of man ; but
the principal of these is direction : for " claudus in via
antevertit cursorem extra viam ; " and Solomon excel-
lently setteth it down, " If the iron be not sharp, it
requireth more strength ; but wisdom is that which
prcvaileth : " signifying, that the invention or election
of the mean is more effectual than any inforcement
or accumulation of endeavours. This I am induced
to speak, for that, not derogating from the noble in-
tention of any that have been deservers towards the
state of learning, I do observe, nevertheless, that their
works and acts are rather matters of magnificence and
memory, than of progression and proficience, and tend
rather to augment the mass of learning, in the multi-
tude of learned men, than to rectify or raise the
sciences themselves.

The works or acts, of mer^ towards learning are
conversant about three Qbjccts'^ ;' ihe places of learning,
^he books of learning, and the persons of the learned.
^ For as water, whether it be the dew of heaven, or the
springs of the earth, doth scatter and lose itself in the
ground, except it be collected into some receptacle,
where it may by union comfort and sustain itself; and
for that cause the industry of man hath made and
framed spring-heads, conduits, cisterns, and pools,
which men have accustomed likewise to beautify and
adorn with accomplishments of magnificence and state,
as well as of use and necessity ; so this excellent


liquor of knowledge, whether it descend from divine
inspiration, or spring from human sense, would spo^
perish and vanish to oblivion, if it were not preseri^^
in books, traditions, conferences, and places appointed;
as universities, colleges, and schools, for the receipt
and comforting of the same.

r^ J The works which concern the i^eats aud places

\~,i^ - ^ of learning are four : foundations and buildings, en-
dowineiits with revenues, endowments with fran-
chises and privileges, institutions and ordinances for
government ; all tending to quietness and privateness
of life, and discharge of cares and troubles ; much
like the stations which Virgil prcscribeth for the
hiving of bees :

" Principio sedes apibus statioque petenda,
Quo neque sit ventis aditus," etc.

The works touching books are two ; first, lil)rgjg,cSj_
which are as the shrines where all the relicks of tlie
ancient saints, full of true virtue, and that without
delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed :
secondly, new^editions of authors, with more correct
impressions, more Faithful translations, more profitable
glosses, more diligent annotations, and the like.
^ The works pertaining to the persons of learned
men, besides the advancement and countenancing of
them in general, are two : the reward and designation
of readers in sciences already extant and invented ;
and the reward and designation of writers and in-
quirers concerning any parts of iGaruiugnot suffici-
ently laboured and prosecuted.

These are summarily the works and acts, wherein
the merits of many excellent princes and other worthy
personages have been conversant. As for any par-
ticular commemorations, I call to mind what Cicero
said, when he gave general thanks; " Difficile non
aliquem, ingratum quenquam praeterire." Let us ra-
tlier, according to the Scriptures, look unto the part
of the race which is before us, than look back to that
which is already attained.

First therefore, amongst so many great foundations
of colh'gcs in Kurope, 1 find strange tlmtthiiyjire


all dedicated to prof^sjjigi^s,, aud uone lei't free to arts
and sci£J]££§^,ayQ^-gc. , 1^^^^ if men judge that learning
should he referred to action, they judge well ; but in
this they fall into the error described in the ancient
fable, in which the other parts of tlie body did suppose
the stomach had been idle, because it neither performed
the office of motion, as the limbs do, nor of sense, as
the head doth ; but yet, notwithstanding, it is the
stomach that digesteth and distributeth to all the
rest: so if any man think philosophy and uni- \
vcrsality to be idle studies, he doth not consider that \
all professions are from thence served and supplied. >
And this I take to be a great cause that hath hin-
dered the progression of learning, because these fun-
damental knowledges have been studied but in 2:)assage.
For if you will have a tree bear more fruit than it hath
used to do, it is not any thing you can do to the
boughs, but it is the stirring of the earth, and putting
new mould about the roots, that must work it. Nei-
ther is it to be forgotten, that this dedicating of foun-
dations and dotations to professory learning, hath not
only had a malign aspect and influence upon the growth
of sciences, but hath also been prejudicial to states
and governments. For hence it proceedeth that
princes find a solitude in regard of able men to serve
them in causes of estate, because there is no education
collegiate which is free, where such as were so disposed
might give themselves to histories, modern lan-
guages, books of policy and civil discourse, and other
the like enablements unto service of state.

And because founders of colleges do plant, and
founders of lectures do water, it followeth well in
order, to speak of the defect which is in public lectures;
namely^i the smallness and mcaujiess f the salary ^. '
orx^Miiii'd, which in most places is assigned unto them ;
whether they be lectures of arts or of professions.
For it is necessary to the progression of sciences, that
readers be of the most able and sufficient men, as
those which are ordained for generating and propaga-

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 52)