Francis Bacon.

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bodies of trees without the roots ; good for the car-
De metho- pcutcr, but uot for the planter. But if you will have
five* ad^'^' scicuccs grow, it is less matter for the shaft or body of
fiiios sci. the tree, so you look well to the taking up of the
roots : of which kind of delivery the method of the
mathematics, in that subject, hath some shadow ; but
generally I see it neither put in ure nor put in inqui-
sition, and therefore note it for deficient.

Another diversity of method there is, which hath
some affinity with the former, used in some cases by
the discretion of the ancients, but disgraced since by
the impostures of many vain persons, who have made
it as a Mse light for their counterfeit merchandises ;
and that is, enigmatical and disclosed. The pretence
whereof is to remove the vulgar capacities from being
admitted to the secrets of knowledges, and to reserve
them to selected auditors, or wits of such sharpness as
can pierce the veil.

Another diversity of method, whereof the conse-
quence is great, is the delivery of knowledge in apho-
risms, or in methods ; wherein we may observe, thai"
it hath been too much taken into custom, out of a few
axioms or observations upon any subject to make a
solemn and formal art, filling it with some discourses,
and illustrating it with examples, and digesting it
into a sensible method ; but the writing in aphorisms
hath many excellent virtues, whereto the writing in
metliod doth not approach.

For first it tricth tlie writer, whether he be super-


ficial or solid : for aphorisms, except they should be
ridiculous, cannot Be inadc but of the pith and heart
of sciences \ for discourse of illustration is cut off, re-
citals of examples are cutoff; discourse of connection
and order is cut off; descriptions of practice are cut
off; so there remaineth nothing to fill the aphorisms,
but some good quantity of observation : and therefore
no man can suffice, nor in reason will attempt to write
aphorisms, but he that is sound and grounded. But
in methods,

Tantum series juncturaque pellet,
Taiitum de medio sumptis accedit honoris ;

as a man shall make a great show of an art, which, if
it were disjointed, would come to little. Secondly,
methods are more fit to win consent or belief, but less
fit to point to action ; for they carry a kind of demon-
stration in orb or circle, one part illuminating another,
and therefore satisfy. But particulars being dispersed,
do best agree with dispersed directions. And lastly,
aphorisms, representing a knowledge broken, do in-
vite men to inquire farther ; whereas methods carry-
ing the show of a total, do secure men as if they were
at farthest.

Another diversity of method, which is likewise of
great weight, is, the liandling of knowledge by as-
sertions, and their proofs ; or by questions, and their
determinations ; the latter kind whereof, if it be im-
mddefately followed, is as prejudicial to the proceed-
ing of learning, as it is to the ])roceeding of an army
to go about to besiege every little fort or hold. For
if the field be kept, and the sum of the enterprise
pursued, those smaller things will come in of them-
selves ; indeed a man would not leave some important
piece enemy at his back. In like manner, the use of
confutation in the delivery of sciences ought to be very
sparing ; and to serve to remove strong preoccupations
and prejudgments, and not to minister and excite
disputations and doubts.

Anotljcr_diyers ity o f metliods is according to the
subject or matteF which is Tiandled ; for there is a
great difference in delivery of the mathematics, which



are the most abstracted of knowledges, and policy,
which is the most immersed ; and howsoever conten-
tion hath been removed, touching the uniformity of
method in multiformity of matter ; yet we see how that
opinion, besides the weakness of it, hath been of ill
desert towards learning, as that which taketh the way
to reduce learning to certain empty and barren gene-
ralities ; being but the very husks and shells of sci-
ences, all the kernel being forced out and expulsed with
the torture and press of the method: And therefore as
I did allow well of particular topics for invention, so do
I allow likewise of particular methods of tradition.

Another diversity of judgment in the delivery and
teaching of knowledge, is according unto the light and
presuppositions of that which is delivered ; for that
knowledge which is new and foreign from opinions re-
ceived, is to be delivered in another form than that
that is agreeable and familiar ; and therefore Aristotle,
when he thinks to tax Democritus, doth in truth com-
mend him, where he saith, " If we shall indeed dis-
pute, and not follow after similitudes," etc. For
those, whose conceits are seated in popular opinions,
need only but to prove or dispute ; but those whose
conceits are beyond popular opinions, have a double
labour ; the one to make themselves conceived, and
the other to prove and demonstrate : so tliat it is of
necessity with them to have recourse to similitudes
and translations to express themselves. And tliere-
fore in the infancy of learning, and in rude times,
when those conceits wliich are now trivial were then
new, the world was full of parables and similitudes ;
for else would men either liave passed over without
mark, or else rejected for paradoxes, tliat whicli was
offered, before they had understood or judged. tSo in
divine learning, we see how frequent jiarables and
tropes are : for it i« a rule, " Tliat whatsoever science
is not consonant to i)resu})positions, must pray in aid
of similitudes."

There be also other diversities of mctliods vulgar
and received : as that of resolution or analj/sis, of con-
stitution or systasis, of concealment or cryptic, etc.


which I do allow well of, though I have stood upon

those which are least handled and ohserved. All which De pmHcn-

I have rememhered to this purpose, hecause I would "'^. ^'^aditi-

11 ' onis,

erect and constitute one general inquiry, which seems
to me deficient, touching the wisdom of tradition.

But unto thisjiartofknawledge concerning mctJiod,
doth farther belong, not only tlie architecture of the
whole frame of a work, but also the several beams and
columns thereof, not as to their stuff, but as to their
quaatity and figure : and therefore method consider-
eth not only the disposition of tlie argument or subject,
but likewise the propositions ; not as to their truth
or matter, but as to their limitation and manner. For
herein Ramus merited better a great deal in reviving
the good rules of propositions, Kcc^oXa TrpuTov kocto.
TravToc, etc. than he did in introducing the canker of
epitomes ; and yet, as it is the condition of human
things, that, according to the ancient fables, " The
most precious things have the most pernicious keep-
ers ;" it was so, that the attempt of the one made him
fall upon the other. For he had need be well con-
ducted, that should design to make axioms converti-
ble ; if he make them not withal circular, and ?2on
promovent, or incurring into themselves : but yet the
intention was excellent.

The other considerations of method concerning pro-
positions, are chiefly touching the utmost propositions,
which limit the dimensions of sciences ; for every
knowledge may be fitly said, besides the profundity,
which is the truth and substance of it that makes it
solid, to have a longitude and a latitude, accounting
the latitude towards other sciences, and the longitude
towards action ; that is, from tlie greatest generality,
to the most particular preccj)t : The one giveth rule
how far one knowledge ouffht to intermeddle within
the province of another, which is the rule they call
xaOauTo : the other giveth rule, unto what degree of
particularity a knowledge should descend : which lat-
ter I find passed over in silence, being in my judgment
the more material : for certainly there must be some-
what left to practice ; but how much is worthy the

1. 2


inquiry. We see remote and superficial generalities
do but offer knowledge to scorn of practical men, and
are no more aiding to practice, than an Ortelius's uni-
versal map is to direct the way between London and
De pruduc- York. The better sort of rules have been not unfit-
tione axio- ly comparcd to glasses of steel unpolished ; where you
niatum. j^^y g^^ ^^le iuiagcs of thiugs, but first they must be
filed : so the rules will help, if they be laboured and
polished by practice. But how crystalline they may
be made at the first, and how far forth they may
be polished aforehand, is the question ; the inquiry
whereof seemeth to me deficient.

There hath been also laboured, and put in practice,
a method, which is not a lawful method, but a method
of imposture, which is, to deliver knowledges in such
manner as men may speedily come to make a show of
learning, who have it not ; such was the travel of Ray-
mundus Lullius in making that art, which bears his
name, not unlike to some books of typocosmy which
have been made since, being nothing but a mass of
words of all arts, to give men countenance, that those
which use the terms might be thought to understand
the art ; which collections are much like a fripper's
or broker's shop, that hath ends of every thing, but
nothing of worth.
.ys^' Now we descend to that part which concerneth the
illustration of tradition, comprehended in that science
which we call Rhetoric, or art of eloquence ; a science
excellent, ancTcxccTIciitry well laboured. For althougli
in true value it is inferior to wisdom, as it is said by
God to Moses, when he disabled himself for want of
this faculty, " Aaron shall be thy speaker, and thou
shalt be to him as God :" Yet with people it is the
more mighty : for so Solomon saith, " Sapiens corde
appellabitur prudens, sed dulcis eloquio majora repc-
riet;" signifying, that profoundness of wisdom will
help a man to a name or admiration, but that it is
eloquence that prevaileth in an active life ; and as to
the labouring of it, the emulation of Aristotle with the
rhetoricians of his time, and the experience of Cicero,
hath made them in their works of rhetorics exceed


tlicmsclvcs. Again, the excellency of examples of elo-
quence in the orations of Demosthenes and Cicero, ad-
ded to the perfection of the precepts of eloquence, hath
douhled the progression in this art : and therefore the
deficiencies wliich I shall note, will rather be in some
collections, which may as handmaids attend the art,
than in the rules or use of the art itself.

Notwithstanding, to stir the earth a little about the
roots of this science, as we have done of the rest ; the ^,
dutv^tTtu d office of r hfijoric 'i§_tQ apply reason to ima- ;
8'»iatioiiJ«l.tMiiet!t£X^ for we see •

reason is disturbed in the administratToiiT thereof by
three means ; by illaqueation or sophism, which per-
tains to logic ; by imagination or impression, which
pertains to rhetoric ; and by passion or affection, which
pertains to morality. And as in negotiation with
others, men are wrought by cunning, by importunity,
and by vchemency ; so in this negotiation within our-
selves, men are undermined by inconsequences, soli-
cited and importuned by impressions or observations,
and transported by passions. Neither is the nature
of man so unfortunately built, as that those powers
and arts should have force to disturb reason, and not
to establish and advance it; for the end of logic is to
teach a form of argument to secure reason, and not to
entrap it. Tiie end of morality, is to procure the af-
fections to obey reason, and not to invade it. The
end of rhetoric, is to fill the imagination to second
reason, and not to oppress it; for these abuses of arts
come in but ea: obliquo for caution.

And therefore it was great injustice in Plato, though
springing out of a just hatred of the rhetoricians of
his time, to esteem of rhetoric but as a voluptuary art,
resembling it to cookery, tliat did mar wholesome
meats, and help unwholesome by variety of sauces, to
the pleasure of the taste. For we see that speech is
much more conversant in adorning that which is good,
than in colouring that which is evil ; for there is no
man but speaketh more honestly than he can do or
think ; and it was excellently noted by Thucydides
in Cleon, that because he used to hold on the bad


side in causes of estate, therefore he was ever inveigh-
ing against eloquence and good speech, knowing that
no man can speak fair of coiu'ses sordid and base.
And therefore as Plato said elegantly, " That Virtue,
if she could be seen, would move great love and affec-
tion :" so seeing that she cannot be shewed to the sense
by corporal shape, the next degree is, to shew her to
the imagination in lively representation : for to shew
her to reason only in subtilty of argument, was a thing
ever derided in Chrysippus, and many of the Stoics,
who thought to thrust virtue upon men by sharp dis-
putations and conclusions, which have no sympathy
vnth the will of man.

Again, if the affections in themselves were pliant
and obedient to reason, it were true, there should be
no great use of persuasions and insinuations to the will,
more than of naked proposition and proofs : but in re-
gard of the continual mutinies and seditions of the

Video meliora, proboque ;
Deterioia sequor ;

,' Reason would become captive and servile, if eloquence
I of pcr&iia'sions did not practise 9,ndwili„Uie imagination
from the afFectJQJas part, . and. coJitrapt,, a_ confederacy
between the reason and imagination against the affec-
tions ; for the affections themselves carry ever an appe-
tite to good, as reason doth. The difference is, that
tlie"affection b'ehoTdetli merely the present, reason
beholdeth the future and sum of time. And there-
fore the present filling the imagination more, reason is
commonly vanquished; but after that force of eloquence
and persuasion hath made things future and remote
appear as present, then upon the revolt of the imagi-
nation reason prevaileth.

We conclude therefore, that rhetoric can be no
more charged with the colouring of the worst part,
tlian logic with sopliistry, or morality with vice. For we
know the doctrines of contraries are tlie same, though
the use be opposite. It appearcth also, that Iqgi^
differeth from rhetoric, not only as the fist from the
palm, the one close, the other at large ; but much


more in this, thatipgic huudlcth reason exact, and in
truth ; and rlictoric handlcth it as it is planted in
popular ()])iiii()ns and manners. And therefore Ari-
stotle doth wisely place rhetoric as between logic on
the one side, and moral or civil knowledge on the
other, as participating of both : for the proofs and de-
monstrations of logic are toward all men indifferent
and the same : but the proofs and persuasions of
rhetoric ought to differ according to the auditors :

Orpheus in sylvis, inter delphinas Arion.
Which application, in perfection of idea, ought to ex-
tend so far, that if a man should speak of the same thing
to several persons, he should speak to them all respec-
tively, and several ways : though this politic part of
eloquence in private speech, it is easy for the greatest
orators to want; whilst by the observing their wellgraced De pruden-
forms of speech, they lose the volubility of application : ",^2^^^""°'"*
and therefore it shall not be amiss to recommend this
to better inquiry, not being curious whether we place
it here, or in that part which concerneth policy.

Now therefore will I descend to the deficiences, Coioresboni
which, as I said, are but attendances : and first, I do not ^t maii.sun.

' ' -11 plicis et

find the wisdom and diligence of Aristotle well pursued, comparati.
who began to make a collection of the popular signs and
colours of good and evil, both simple and comparative,
wliich are as the sophisms of rhetoric, as I touched be-
fore. For example ;

Quod laudatur, bonum : quod vituperatur, malum.


Laudat venalcs qui vult extrudere merces.
Malum est, malum est, inqult emptor; sed cum recesse-
rit, tum gloriabitur.

The defects in the labour of Aristotle are three ;
one, that there be but a few of many ; another, that
their elenchus's are not annexed ; and the third, that
he conceived but a part of the use of them : for their
use is not only in probation, but much more in im-
pression. For many forms are equal in signification,
which are differing in impression ; as the difference is



great in the piercing of that which is sharp, and that
which is flat, thovigh the strength of the percussion be
the same : for there is no man but will be a little more
raised by hearing it said ; " Your enemies will be glad
of this ;"

Hoc Ithacus velit, et niagno mercentur Atridae ;

than by hearing it said only ; " This is evil for you."

Secondly, I do resume also that which I mentioned
before, touching provision or preparatory store, for the
furniture of speech and readiness of invention, which
appeareth to be of two sorts ; the one in resemblance
to a shop of pieces unmade up, the other to a shop of
things ready made up, both to be applied to that
which is frequent and most in request : the former of
these I will call autitheta, and the \vi\XeY formul(jB.
Aiititheia Antitheta are theses argued pro et contra, wherein
men may be more large and laborious ; but, in such as
are able to do it, to avoid prolixity of entry, I wish
the seeds of the several arguments to be cast up into
some brief and acute sentences, not to be cited, but
to be as scanes or bottoms of thread, to be un winded
at large when they come to be used ; supplying au-
thorities and examples by reference.


Non est interpretatio, sed divinatio, quae recedit a litera.
Cum receditur a Htera judex transit in legislatoreni.


Ex omnibus verbis est eliciendus sensus, qui interpretatur

FormulfE are but decent and apt passages or con-
veyances of speech, which may serve indifferently for
differing subjects ; as of preface, conclusion, digression,
transition, excusation, etc. For as in buildings there is
great pleasure and use in the well-casting of the stair-
cases, entries, doors, windows, and the like; so in speech,
the conveyances and passages arc of special ornament
and effect.



iSo may we redeem the faults passed, and prevent the

inconveniences future.

There remain two appendices touching the tradition
of knowledge, the one critical, the other pedantical ;
for all knowledge is either delivered by teachers, or
attained hy men's proj)er endeavours : and therefore
as the principal part of tradition of knowledge con-
cerncth chiefly writing of books, so the relative part
thereof concerncth reading of books : whereunto ap-
pertain incidently these considerations. The first is
concerning the true correction and edition of authors,
wherein nevertheless rash diligence hath done great
prejudice. For these critics have often presumed that
that which they understand not, is false set down.
As the priest, that where he found it wiitten of 8t. Paul,
" Demissus est per sportam," mended his book, and
made it " Demissus est per portam," because sporta was
an hard word, and out of his reading : and surely their
errors, though they be not so palpable and ridiculous,
yet are of the same kind. And therefore as it hath been
wisely noted, the most corrected copies are commonly
the least correct.

The second is concerning the exposition and expli-
cation of authors, which resteth in annotations and
commentaries, wherein it is over usual to blanch the
obscure places, and discourse upon the plain.

The third is concerning the times, which in many
cases give great light to true interpretations.

The fourth is concerning some brief censure and
judgment of the authors, that men thereby may make
some election unto themselves what books to read.

And the fifth is concerning the syntax and disposi-
tion of studies, that men may know in what order or
pursuit to read.

For pedantical knowledge, it containeth that dif-
ference of traVlition which is proper for youth, where-
unto appertain divers considerations of great fruit.

As first the timing and seasoning of knowledges ;

158 advanceme:nt of learning. [Book II.

as with what to initiate them, and froniwhat^^Jor a time,
to refrain them.

Secondly, the consideration where to begin with the
easiest, and so proceed to the more difficult, and in
what courses to press the more difficult, and then to
turn them to the more easy ; for it is one method to
practise swimming with bladders, and another to prac-
tise dancing with heavy shoes,

A third is the application of learning according un-
to the propriety of the wits ; for there is no defect in
the faculties intellectual but seemeth to have a proper
cure contained in some studies : as for example, if a
child be bird-witted, that is, hath not the fjiculty of
attention, the mathematics giveth a remedy thereunto,
for in them, if the wit be caught away but a moment,
one is new to begin : and as sciences have a propriety
towards faculties for cure and help, so faculties or powers
have a sympathy towards sciences for excellency or
speedy profiting ; and therefore it is an inquiry of great
wisdom what kinds of wits and natures are most pro-
per for what sciences.

Fourthly, the ordering of exercisesis mattej; Qflgreat
consequence to hurt or help : for, as is well observed
by Cicero, men in exercising their faculties, if they be
not well advised, do exercise their faults, and get ill
habits as well as good ; so there is a great judgment
to be had in the continuance and intermission of exer-
cises. It were too long to particularize a number of
other considerations of this nature; things but of mean
appearance, but of singular efficacy : for as the wrong-
ing or cherishing of seeds or young plants, is that that
is most important to their thriving ; and as it was
noted, that the first six kings, being in truth as tutors
of the state of Rome in the infancy thereof, was the
principal cause of the immense greatness of that state
which followed ; so the culture and manurance of minds
in youth hath such a forcible, though unseen, opera-
tion, as hardly any length of time or contention of la-
bour can countervail it afterwards. And it is not amiss
to observe also, how small and mean faculties gotten
by education, yet when they fall into great men or great


matters, do work great and important effects ; whereof
we see a notable example in Tacitns, of two stage play-
ers, Percenniiis and Vibnlenus, who by their faculty of
playing put the Pannonian armies into an extreme tu-
mult and combustion ; for therearisingamutinyamongst
them, upon the death of Augustus Caesar, Blsesus the
lieutenant had committed some of the mutineers, which
were suddenly rescued ; whereupon Vibulenus got to
be heard speak, which he did in this manner : " These
poor innocent wretches appointed to cruel death, you
have restored to behold the light : but who shall re-
store my brother to me, or life unto my brother, that
was sent hither in message from the legions of Ger-
many, to treat of the common cause ? And he hath
murdered him this last nigjit by some of his fencers
and ruffians, that he hath about him for his execution-
ers upon soldiers. Answer, Blaesus, what is done with
his body ? The mortalest enemies do not deny burial ;
when I have performed my last duties to the corpse
with kisses, with tears, command me to be slain besides
him, so that these my fellows, for our good meaning,
and our true hearts to the legions, may have leave
to bury us." With which speech he put the army
into an infinite fury and uproar ; whereas truth was
he had no brother, neither was there any such matter,
but he played it merely as if he had been upon the

But to return, we are now come to a period of ra-
tional knowledges, wherein if I have made the divi-
sions other than those that are received, yet would I
not be thought to disallow all those divisions which I
do not use ; for there is a double necessity imposed
upon me of altering the divisions. The one, because

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 52)