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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ministered by them pronounced invalid. No less idem, i, r.
than six were expelled by others who usurped their
seat ; two were assassinated : and the infamous The-
odora, infamous even in that age, by her credit in
the holy city, obtained the triple crown for the most
avowed of her gallants, who assumed the name of
John the tenth. Another of the same name was John XL
called to govern the Christian world at the age of
twenty-one ; a bastard son of Pope Sergius who died
eighteen years before. If such were the men who
arrogated to themselves titles and attributes peculiar
to the Deity, can we wonder at the greatest enor-
mities among lay-men ? Their stupidity kept pace
with the dissolution of their manners, which was ex-
treme : they still preserved, for the very clergy we
have been speaking of, a reverence they no longer
had for their God. The most abandoned among
them, miscreants, familiar with crimes that humanity
startles at, would yet, at the hazard of their lives,
defend the immunities of a church, a consecrated
utensil, or a donation made to a convent. In such
times as those, it were in vain to look for useful
learning and philosophy. Not only the light of sci-
ence, but of reason, seems to have been well-nigh
extinguished.

It was not till late, after the sack of Constantinople An. 1473.
by the Turks, that the writings of Aristotle began to
be universally known and studied. They were then,
by certain fugitive Greeks, who had escaped the
fury of the Ottoman arms, brought away and dis-
persed through the Western parts of Europe. Some
particular treatises of his, it is true, had been long

♦• rehabilitate ad dignitates illius ordinis, etiam abbatialem, turon. 36, due. 9."
In the edition of Bois-le-duc, there is " Absolutio pro eo, qui interfecit patreni,
" inatrem, sororem, uxorem .... g. 5, vei 7." Vide Baylc, art. Banck.



Ixiv THE I.IFE OF THE

made public; but chiefly in translations from the
Arabic, clone by men who, far from rendering faith-
fully the author's sense, hardly understood his lan-
guage. These however gave birth to the scholastic
philosophy ; that motley offspring of error and inge-
nuity : and to speak freely, the features of both pa-
rents were all along equally blended in the com-
j)lexion of the daughter. To trace at length the rise,
progress, and variations of this philosophy, would be
an undertaking not only curious but instructive, as
it would unfold to us all the mazes in which the
force, the subtlety, the extravagance of human wit
can lose themselves : till not only profane learning
but divinity itself was at last, by the refined frenzy
of those who taught both, subtilized into mere notion
and air.

Their philosophy \vas neither that of Aristotle en-
tirely, nor altogether differing from his. Whatever
opinions the first founders of it had been able to
draw, from Boetius his Latin commentator, or from
the wretched translations above-mentioned, these
they methodized and illustrated, each according to
his several talent, and the genius of the age he lived
in. But this, instead of producing one regular and
consistent body of science, even from wrong prin-
ciples, ended in a monster, made up of parts every
where mishapen and dissimilar. Add to this, that
they left natural knowledge wholly uncultivated ; to
hunt after occult qualities, abstract notions, and
questions of impertinent curiosity, by which they ren-
dered the very logic their labours chiefly turned upon
intricate, useless, unintelligible.

Alstedius, in his chronology of the schoolmen, has
divided their history into three principal periods or

An. 1050. successions : the first beginning with Lanfranc, arch-
bishop of Canterbury, who flourished about the middle
of the eleventh century ; and ending with Albert the

An. 1320. Great two ages later : the second, that commences
from him, determining in l^urand ; as the third and

Poi^histor. last ended in Luther, at the reformation. IMorhoflP,

p.7.n,



Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 52)