« AnteriorContinuar »
(fancies) towards themselves; or oecause it advanceth any other sof] their ends. So that, as it is said of untrue valours (weak courage), that some men's valours are (courage is) in the eyes of them that look on; so such men's industries' are in the eyes of others, or at least in regard of their own designments (they have for their object either the applause of others, or some inward gratification of their owna); only learned men love business as an action according to nature, as agreeable to health of mind, as exercise is to health of body, taking pleasure in the action itself, and not in the purchase3 (booty, or reward of it); so that of all men they are the most indefatigable, if it be towards any business which can hold engage) or detain their mind.
4. THE DURABILITY OF LEARNING.
(FROM THE SAME WORK.) LASTLY, leaving the vulgar arguments, that by learning 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 [considering] the dignity and excellency of knowledge and learning, in that whereunto man's nature doth most aspire ; which is immortality; or continuance; for to this tendeth generation, and raising of houses and families; to this buildings, foundations, and monuments; to this tendeth the desire of memory, fame, and celebration; and in effect, the strength of image, to conceive, imagine. The conceit is the result of this mental process, the idea or image, impregnated and vitalised by the mind's action. So a conceited man is a man full of such images and fancies; once used in a laudatory sense, now signifying one who is full of the transcendent idea of himself. The word was also applied to things. Drayton speaks of “conceited masques;" and Holland of Cicero's saying something “most pleasantly and conceitedly” (i.e. wittily).
(1) Industries. It will be observed, that Bacon uses the plural of abstract nouns in a manner and degree that are now obsolete. He speaks of knowledges, valours, industries, &c.
(2) The above explanation is Spedding's. See his edition of Bacon's works, 1858.
(3) Purchase, fr. Fr. pourchasser, to desire eagerly, hunt down, procure, buy. Lord Berners (" Froissart”) speaks of one who purchased (desired) greatly that another should have his daughter in marriage. The noun purchase formerly meant both the pursuit and the booty or plunder, especially the latter. So Shak. spere (" Henry V.') has, “ They will steal anything, and call it purchase."
(4) Knowledge, learning See note 2, p. 69.
(5) Immortality. “ To be allied unto wisdom is immorta.ity." -(Wisdom of Solomon, viii. 17.)
all other human desires. . We see then how far the monuments of wit (mind) 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 (numberless) palaces, temples, castles, cities, have been decayed and demolished! It is not possible to have the true pictures or statuaes (statues) of Cyrus, Alexander, Cæsar, no, nor of the kings, or great personages of much later years; for the originals cannot last, and the copies cannot but“ leese” of (lose something of) the life and truth. But the images of men's 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 minds of others, provoking and causing infinite (numberless) actions and opinions in succeeding ages. So that, if the invention of the ship was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and commodities from place to place, and consociateth (links together) the most remote regions in participation of their fruits, how much more are letters (is learning) to be magnified, which, as ships, pass through the vast seas of time, and make ages so distant, to participate of the wisdom, illuminations (enlightenment), and inventions, the one of the other ! Nay, further, we see some of the philosophers which were least divine, and most immersed in the senses, and [who] 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 (could be) only those of the understanding, and not of the affection (emotions), so immortal and incorruptible a thing did knowledge seem unto them to be.
(1) Statuaes, i.e. statua-es, where the English plural termination is attached to the not yet naturalised Latin word, statua. The word was also employed by Shakspere (“ Julius Cæsar')
“Even at the base of Pompey's statua.” Like effigies, pyramis, idioma, and many others, statua retained awhile its foreign garb, while waiting as a candidate for admission into the English language. The plural form above is a sort of polite compromise. Statue was sometimes used for picture. Stow, referring to Queen Elizabeth's funeral, speaks of “her statue or picture lying upon the coffin.”
(2) Milton says something like this (“ Areopagitica”), “ For books are no absolutely dead things, but do contain a pote of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are.”
5. THE PRAISE OF POESY.'
(FROM THE SAME WORK.) Pozsy is a part of learning in measure of words for the most part restrained (i.e. limited by metre or measure), but in all other points extremely licensed (unfettered and free), and doth truly refer to (is especially connected with) the Imagination ; which, being not tied to the laws of matter, may at pleasure join that which nature hath severed, and sever that which nature hath joined, and so make unlawful matches and divorces of things. It is taken in two senses, in respect of words or matter. In the first sense it is but a character of style, and belongeth to arts of speech ; in the latter, it is one of the principal portions of learning, and is nothing else but “fained” (feigned) History, which may be styled as well in prose as in verse.
The use of this “fained ” History hath been to give some shadow of satisfaction to the mind of man in those points wherein the nature of things doth deny it; the world being in proportion inferior to the soul; by reason whereof there is (i.e. in poetry), agreeable to (in order to satisfy) the spirit of man, a more ample greatness, a more exact goodness, and a more absolute variety, than can be found in the nature of things. Therefore, because the acts or events of true history have not that magnitude which satisfieth the mind of man, poesy feigneth acts and events greater and more heroical; because true history propoundeth the successes and issues of actions not so agreeable to (consistently with) the merits of virtue and vice, therefore poesy feigns them more just in retribution and more according to revealed providence; because true history representeth actions and events more ordinary and less interchanged, therefore poesy endueth them with more rareness and more unex
(1) Bacon's argument is, that poetry transcends history, by representing the ideal instead of the real; inasmuch as the imagination conceives of something grander and nobler, less tainted with imperfection, than the events which history records, and accomplishes its object by subordinating the shows, the material aspect of things treated of by history, to the craving of the mind after absolute perfection. In this way it tends to elevate the mental and moral character, and refine and purify the taste; and, being thus in harmony with man's nature, and ministered to by the aid of musical verse, it has been held in esteem even by barbarous and uncivilised nations. All these notions are, in fact, contained in Sidney's “Defence of Poesy" (see p. 88), but are not so grandly developed there as in the above passage.
pected and alternative variations. So as (that) it appeareth that poesy serveth and conferreth to magnanimity, morality, and to delectation. And therefore it was ever thought to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise and erect the mind, by submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bow the mind unto the nature of things. And we see that, by these insinuations and congruities with man's nature and pleasure, joined also with the agreement and “consort” (connection) it hath with music, it hath had access and estimation in rude times and barbarous regions, where other learning stood excluded.
6. THE STUDENT'S PRAYER. To God the Father, God the Word, God the Spirit, we pour forth most humble and hearty supplications; that He remembering the calamities of mankind, and the pilgrimage of this our life, in which we wear out days few and evil, would please to open to us new refreshments out of the fountains of his goodness, for the alleviating of our miseries. This also we humbly and earnestly beg, that human things may not prejudice2 such as are divine; neither that from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater natural light, anything of incredulity or intellectual night may arise in our minds towards the divine mysteries ;3 but rather that by our mind “throughly” cleansed and purged from fancy and vanities, and yet subject and perfectly given up to the divine oracles, there may be given unto Faith the things that are Faith's. Amen.
(1) Consort, fr. Lat. consors, “having the same lot, sharing with in commoni, agreeing together." This word had, in connection with music, exactly the same sense as the modern word concert, which has displaced it, and which is fr. Fr. concerter, " to strive together, to aim at the same object." Milton has “ With such consort as they keep” (“Il Penseroso"), and “Till God, ere long, to his celestial consort us unite" (" At a solemn music"
(2) Prejudice, fr. Lat. præjudicare, to judge beforehand; and hence, “ that human things,” &c., means, that human things may not lead our minds into misconceptions with regard to such as are divine.
(3) I.e. grant that the light of earth may not tend to eclipse or shut off from us the light of heaven.
(4) Given unto Faith, &c. An exquisite adaptation of our Lord's words, “ Render unto God the things that are God's.”
7. A “PRAYER OR PSALM.” 1 (WBITTEN AFTER HE HAD CEASED TO BE LORD CHANCELLOR, ABOUT 1623.) Most gracious Lord God, my merciful Father, from my youth up, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comforter. Thou, O Lord, soundest and searchest the depths and secrets of all hearts : thou acknowledgest the upright of heart: thou judgest the hypocrite: thou ponderest (weighest) men's thoughts and doings as in a balance: thou measurest their intentions as with a line: vanity and crooked ways cannot be hid from thee.
Remember, O Lord, how thy servant hath walked before thee: remember what I have first sought, and what hath been principal in my intentions. I have loved thy assemblies : I have mourned for the divisions of thy Church: I have delighted in the brightness of thy Sanctuary. This vine (the Church of England), which thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee, that it might have the first and the latter rain; and that it might stretch hera (its) branches to the seas and to the floods. The state and bread (provision of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes: I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart: I have, though in a despised weed? (dress, condition), procured (cared for) the good of all men. If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them; neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure ;4 but I have been as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness.
(1) “It is a composition of eminent beauty, combining elevation with pathos, perhaps in as high a degree as anything that was ever written” (Craik, “Bacon and his Writings"). (2) Her = its. See note 1, p. 87. So Milton,
“His (Satan's) form had not yet lost
All her (its) original brightness.” (3) Weed, fr. A.S. wæd, garment, clothing, dress. This word was once in common use. Robert of Gloucester speaks of “ povere monne wede"-i.e. poor men's clothing; and Chaucer, “Er (ere, before) we awake wrap us under thy wede ;” and Milton (in “L'Allegro"),
“Where throngs of knights and barons bold
In weeds of peace (in splendid dresses) high triumphs hold.” This usage survives amongst us in a single instance. We talk of “widow's weeds." The use of the word above is obscure, and probably means conditionin allusion to Bacon's now degraded position in the world.
(4) Neither hath the sun almost, 8c.-i.e. I have not delayed forgiveness as long as possible. I have not allowed the sun almost to “go down upon my wrath.” I have been prompt in forgiving.