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" that God punished men for wishing to be wiser ? Barrow. Very excellent. I wish, before he cast for wishing to follow him and to learn his plea- his invectives against Raleigh, he had reflected sure ? for wishing that acquisition by which more on a doctrine in the next page. “Those beneficence and charity may be the most lumi- that have joined with their honour great travels, nously and extensively displayed ? No, Newton, cares, or perils, are less subject to envy: for men no. The Jews, who invented this story, were think that they earn their honours hardly, and envious of the scientific, for they were ignorant of pity them sometimes: and pity ever healeth envy." the sciences. Astronomy, among the rest, was I am afraid it will be found on examination, that odious to them: and hence the fables stuck Bacon in his morality was too like Seneca ; not against the Tower of Babel, the observatory of a indeed wallowing in wealth and vice and crying better and a wiser people, their enemy, their con- out against them, but hard-hearted and hypoqueror. Take care, or you may be hanged for critical; and I know not with what countenance shooting at the stars. If these fictions are believed he could have said, “ By indignities men come to and acted on, you must conceal your telescope and dignities.” burn your observations."
Newton. I have remarked with most satisfacOn my representing to him the effects of tion those sentences in which he appears to have Divine Justice, in casting down to earth the forgotten both the age and station wherein be monument of human pride, he said, “ The Obser- lived, and to have equally overlooked the base vatory of Babylon was constructed of unbaked and summit of our ruder institutions. “Power bricks, and upon an alluvial soil. Look at the to do good,” says he, as Euripides or Phocion Tower of Pisa : look at every tower and steeple might have said, and Pericles might have acted in that city: you will find that they all lean, and on it, “is the true and lawful end of aspiring; all in one direction, that is, toward the river. for good thoughts (though God accept them) yet Some have fallen; many will fall. God would towards men are little better than good dreams, not have been so angry with the Tower of Babel, except they be put in act; and that can not be if it had been built of Portland stone a few weeks' without power and place, as the vantage and journey to the westward, and you had been as commanding ground.” importunate as the Babylonians were, in their And again, “ Reduce things to the first instiattempts at paying him a visit.”
tution, and observe wherein and how they have He expressed his wonder that Bacon, in the degenerated ! But yet ask counsel of both times; reign of James, should have written, “A king is of the ancienter time what is best, and of the latter the servant of his people, or else he were without time what is fittest." a calling." In other words, whenever he ceases Barrow. He spoke unadvisedly : for, true us to be the servant of the people, he forfeits his these sentences are, they would lead toward re right to the throne.
publicanism, if men minded them. Of this hor. Barrow. Truth sometimes comes unaware upon ever there is as little danger as that the ser Caution, and sometimes speaks in public as vants of kings should follow the advice he gives unconsciously as in a dream.
afterward. Newton. Sir, although you desired me rather “Embrace and invite helps and advices, touchto investigate and note the imperfections of my ing the execution of thy place; and do not drive author, than what is excellent in him, as you away such as bring thee information, as meddlers, would rather the opaquer parts of the sun, than but accept of them in good part." what is manifest of his glory to the lowest and Newton. On Seditions, he says the matter is of most insensible, yet, from the study of your writ-“ two kinds; much poverty and much disconings, and from the traces of your hand in others, tentment.” It appears to me that here is only one I am sometimes led to notice the beauties of his kind : for much discontentment may spring, and I style. It requires the greatest strength to support usually does, from much poverty. such a weight of richness as we sometimes find in Barrow. Certainly. He should not have placed him. The florid grows vapid where the room is cause and effect as two causes. You must hownot capacious, and where perpetual freshness of ever have remarked his wonderful sagacity in this thought does not animate and sustain it. Un brief essay, which I hesitate not to declare the happily, it seems to have been taken up mostly finest piece of workmanship that ever was comby such writers as have least invention. posed on any part of government. Take Aris.
Barrow. Read to me the sentence or the para- toteles and Machiavelli, and compare the best graph that pleases you.
sections of their works to this, and then you will Newton. "Tis On Enry.
be able, in some degree, to calculate the superiority "Lastly, near kinsfolks and fellows in office, of genius in Bacon. and those that have been bred together, are more Newton. I have not analysed the political apt to envy their equals when they are raised; for works of Aristoteles ; but I find in Machiavelli it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and many common thoughts, among many ingenious, pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their many just, many questionable, and many false remembrance, and incurreth likewise more into ones. the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from Barrou. What are you turning over? Do not speech and fame."
| let me lose anything you have remarked.
Neuton. “Money,” says my lord, “is like muck; return of liberty, at another to sit in the portico not good except it he spread.” I am afraid this of the palace, and trim the new livery of nascent truth would subvert, in the mind of a reflecting princes. If we consider him as a writer, he was man, all that has been urged by the learned author the acutest that had appeared since the revival of on the advantages of nobility, and even of royalty: letters. None had reasoned so profoundly on the for which reason I dare not examine it: only let political interests of society, or had written so me, sir, doubt before you, whether “this is to be clearly or so boldly. done by suppressing, or at the least keeping a Barrow. Nevertheless, the paper of a boy's strait hand upon, the devouring trades of usury, cracker, when he has let it off, would be ill-used by engrossing, great pasturages, and the like.” writing such stuff upon it as that which you have
Barrow. I wish he never had used, which he been reading. The great merit of Machiavelli, in often does, those silly words, and the like. style, is the avoiding of superlatives. We can with
Newton. Great pasturages are not trades ; and difficulty find an Italian prose-writer who is not they must operate in a way directly opposite to weak and inflated by the continual use of them, to the one designated.
give him pomp and energy, as he imagines. Barrow. I know not whether a manifest fault Newton. Davila too is an exception. in reasoning be not sometimes more acceptable Barrow. The little elegance there is among the than stale and worm-eaten and weightless truths. Italians, is in their historians and poets : the Heaps of these are to be found in almost every preachers, the theologians, the ethic writers, the modern writer: Bacon has fewer of them than any. critics, are contemptible in the last degree. Well;
Nicholas Machiavelli is usually mentioned as we will now leave the Issimi nation, and turn the deepest and acutest of the Italians : a people homeward. whose grave manner often makes one imagine You will find that Bacon, like all men conscious there is more to be found in them than they pos- of their strength, never strains or oversteps. sess. Take down that volume: read the examples While the Italians are the same in the church I have transcribed at the end.
and in the market-place, while the preacher “The loss of every devotion and every religion and policinello are speaking in the same key and draws after it infinite inconveniences and infinite employing almost the same language, while a disorders."
man's God and his rotten tooth are treated in the Inconveniences and disorders would follow, sure same manner, we find at home convenience and enough: the losses, being negatives, draw nothing. proportion. Yet the French have taken more
“In a well-constituted government, war, peace, pains than we have done to give their language and amity, should be deliberated on, not for the an edge and polish ; and, although we have minds gratification of a few, but for the common good. in England more massy and more elevated than “That war is just which is necessary.
theirs, they may claim a nearer affinity to the “It is a cruel, inhuman, and impious thing, greater of the ancients. even in war, stuprare le donne, viziare le ver. I have been the less unwilling to make this gini, &c.
digression, as we are now come nigh the place “Fraud is detestable in everything."
where we must be slow and circumspect. The These most obvious truths come forward as if subject awes and confounds me. Human reason he had now discovered them for the first time. is a frail guide in our disquisitions on royalty, He tells us also that “A prince ought to take which requires in us some virtue like unto faith. care that the people are not without food.” He We can not see into it clearly with the eyes of the says with equal gravity that “ Fraud is detestable flesh or of philosophy, but must humble and in everything:” and that “ A minister ought to be abase ourselves to be worthy of feeling what it is. averse from public rapine, and should augment For want whereof, many high and proud spirits the public weal.”
have been turned aside from it, by the right hand It would be an easy matter to fill many pages of God, who would not lead them into its lights with flat and unprofitable sentences. I had only and enjoyments, because they came as questioners this blank one for it; and there are many yet, the not as seekers, would have walked when they places of which are marked, with only the first should have stood, and would have stood when words. Do not lose your time in looking for they should have knelt. them : we must not judge of him from these Newton. Sir, I do not know whether you will defects.
condescend to listen with patience to the thoughts Newton. Whenever I have heard him praised, it excited in me by Bacon's observations on the was for vigour of thought.
character of a king. Barrow. He is strongest where he is most per- Barrow. He shocked me by what he said before verse. There are men who never show their on the fragility of his title: God forbid that muscles but when they have the cramp.
common men should talk like the Lord High Newton. Consistency and firmness are not the Chancellor ! characteristics of the Florentines, nor ever were. Newton. I was shocked in a contrary direction, Machiavelli wished at one time to satisfy the man and, as it were, by a repercussion, at hearing him of probity, at another to conciliate the rogue and call a king a mortal God on earth: and I do not robber; at one time to stand on the alert for the find anywhere in the Scriptures, that “the living God told him he should die, like a man, lest | he presents ? Nothing can be more pedantic than he should be proud, and flatter himself that God the whole of the sixteenth section.” had, with his name, imparted unto him his nature Barrow. But there are sound truths in it, and also."
advice too good to be taken every day. Surely, sir, God would repent as heartily of Newton. On Nobility. having made a king, as we know he repented of “A great and potent nobility ... putteth life having made a man, if it were possible his king and spirit into the people, but presstth their should have turned out so silly and irrational a fortune." creature. However vain and foolish, he must find “The man must have turned fool," said my about him, every day, such natural wants and friend,“ to write thus. Are life and spirit put desires as could not appertain to a God. I made into people by the same means as their fortune is the same remark to my visitor, who said calmly, depressed ?” “ Bacon in the next sentence hath a saving grace; On Atheism. and speaketh as wisely and pointedly as ever he « « The fool hath said in his heart there is no did. He says, 'Of all kind of men, God is the God.' It is not said, 'the fool hath thought in his least beholden to them ; for he doth most for heart.'” them, and they do ordinarily least for him.' A No, nor is it necessary; for, to say in his sentence not very favourable to their admission heart, is to think within himself, to be intimately as pastors of the people, and somewhat strong convinced. against them as visible heads of the Church. " It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is But, Mr. Newton, you will detect at once a defi- rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than ciency of logic in the words, “That king that by this, that atheists will ever be talking of that holds not religion the best reason of state, is void their opinion, as if they fainted in it within themof all piety and justice, the supporters of a selves, and would be glad to be strengthened by king. Supposing a king soundly minded and well the consent of others : nay more, you shall have educated . . a broad supposition, and not easily atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with entering our preliminaries . . may not he be just, other sects.” be pious, be religious, without holding his religion So great is my horror at atheists, that I would as the best reason of state, or the best guide in neither reason with them nor about them; but it? Must he be void of all piety, and all justice, surely they are as liable to conceit and vanity as who sometimes thinks other reasons of state more other men are, and as proud of leading us captive applicable to his purposes than religion ? Psalms to their opinions. I could wish the noble author and sack-cloth are admirable things ; but these, had abstained from quoting Saint Bernard, to the last expedients of the most contrite religion, prove the priesthood to have been, even in those will not always keep an enemy from burning your days, more immoral than the laity; and I am towns and violating your women, when a few shocked at hearing that “ learned times,” espe pieces of cannon, and loftiness of spirit instead cially with peace and prosperity, tend toward of humiliation, will do it.”
atheism. Better blind ignorance, better war and He went on, and asserted that the king is not pestilence and famine . the sole fountain of honour, as he is called in the Barrow. Gently, gently! God may forgive his Essay, and cannot be more fairly entitled so, than creature for not knowing him when he meets him; the doctors in Convocation. He remarked that but less easily for fighting against him, after talkthe king had not made him master of arts; which ing to him and supping with him ; less easily for dignity, he said, requires more merit than the breaking his image, set up by him at every door peerage ; whereupon he named several in that ... and such is man ; less easily for a series of order, of whose learning or virtues I never heard fratricides . . and such is war. mention, and even of whose titles I thought I Newton. I am wrong : and here again let never had, until he assured me I must, and ex- me repeat the strange paradox of my visitor, pressed his wonder that I had forgotten them. rather than hazard another fault. In the words When he came to the eighth section, he is the about Superstition he agreed that Bacon spoke life of the law,' “the law leads a notoriously bad wisely : life,” said he, "and therefore I would exempt his “It were better to have no opinion of God Majesty from the imputation : and indeed if he at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy animateth the dead letter, making it active toward of him ; for the one is unbelief, the other is conall his subjects,' the parliament and other magis- tumely." tratures are useless. In the ninth paragraph he “And here,” remarked my visitor, “it is immakes some accurate observations, but ends possible not to look back with wonder on the weakly. 'He that changeth the fundamental laws errors of some among the wisest men, following of a kingdom, thinketh there is no good title to the drift of a distorted education, or resting on a crown but by conquest. What! if he changes the suggestions of a splenetic disposition. I am them from the despotic to the liberal ? if, know- no poet, and therefore am ill qualified to judge ing the first possession to have been obtained by the merits of the late Mr. Milton in that caps conquest, he convokes the different orders of his city; yet, being of a serious and somewhat of a people, and requests their assent to the statutes religious turn, I was shocked greatly more at his
deity than at his devil. I know not what interest | many stronger arguments in support of Bacon :
wisest and most powerful (as they call the present Barrow. Did he cry so ? then I doubt what one) of the Most Christian kings. For, if the ever he said ; for those are precisely the words observation and the fact be true, and if it also be that all your sanctified rogues begin their lies true that the most rational aim of man is happiwith. Well, let us hear however what he asserted. ness, then must it follow that his most rational
Newton. “Far be it from me, Mr. Newton, to wish, and, being his most rational, therefore his
Barrow. We will go forward to the Essay On
Newton. I do not think the writer is correct in Barrow. Ha! I thought so. I doubt your saying that “ kings want matter of desire.” friend's sincerity.
Wherever there is vacuity of mind, there must Newton. He is a very sincere man.
either be flaccidity or craving; and this vacuity Barrow. So much the worse.
must necessarily be found in the greater part of Newton. How?
princes, from the defects of their education, from Barrow. We will discourse another time upon the fear of offending them in its progress by inthis. I meant only.. what we may easily elucidate terrogations and admonitions, from the habit of when we meet again. At present we have three- rendering all things valueless by the facility with fourths of the volume to get through.
which they are obtained, and transitory by the Neuton. “ Atheism leaves a man to sense, to negligence with which they are received and philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation: holden. all which may be guides to an outward moral vir- “Princes many times make themselves desires, tue, though religion were not : but superstition and set their hearts upon toys; sometimes upon a dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute building; sometimes upon erecting of an order; monarchy in the minds of men : therefore atheism sometimes upon obtaining excellency in some art did never perturb states.”
or feat of the hand." Again, “ We see the times inclined to atheism On which my visitor said, “ The latter desire is · as the times of Augustus Cæsar . were civil the least common among them. Whenever it times : but superstition hath been the confusion does occur, it arises from idleness, and from the of many states.”
habitude of doing what they ought not. For, I wish the noble author had kept to himself commendable as such exercises are, in those who the preference he gives atheism over superstition: have no better and higher to employ their time for, if it be just, as it seems to be, it follows that in, they are unbecoming and injurious in kings; we should be more courteous and kind toward all whose hours, after needful recreation and the an atheist, than toward a loose catholic or rigid pleasures which all men share alike, should be sectary.
occupied in taking heed that those under them Barrow. I see no reason why we should not be perform their duties.” courteous and kind toward men of all persuasions, Barrow. Bacon lived in an age when the wisest provided we are certain that, neither by their own men were chosen, from every rank and condition, inclination nor by the instigation of another, they for the administration of affairs. Wonderful is it, would burn us alive to save our souls, or invade that one mind on this subject should have perour conscience for the pleasure of carrying it with vaded all the princes in Europe, not excepting the them at their girdles.
Turk, and that we can not point out a prime miAtheism would make men have too little to do nister of any nation, at that period, deficient in with others: superstition makes them wish to sagacity or energy.* Yet that even the greatest, so have too much. Atheism would make some fools : superstition makes many madmen. Atheism
* There is a remark in a preceding Essay which could
not be noticed in the text. would oftener be in good humour than supersti
“ As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel, tion is out of bad. I could bring many more and that which is most of all profitable, is acquaintance with
much greater than any we have had since among with some of those persons who constitute such us, did not come up to the standard he had fixed, councils, you would think the word cabinet quite is evident enough.
as applicable to them, as to cards or counters, or "The wisdom,” says he,“ of all these latter times miniature pictures, or essences, or pots of poin princes' affairs, is rather fine deliveries, and matum. shifting of dangers and mischiefs when they are Newton. How then, the name of wonder, are near, than solid and grounded courses to keep the great matters of government carried on? them aloof : but this is but to try masteries with Barrow. Great dinners are put upon the table, fortune. And let men beware how they neglect not by the entertainer but by the waiters. There and suffer matter of trouble to be prepared; for are usually some dextrous hands accustomed to no man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it the business. The same weights are moved by may come.”
the same ropes and pulleys. There is no vast Newton. Sir, it was on this passage that my address required in hooking them, and no mighty friend exclaimed, “The true philosopher is the strength in the hawling. only true prophet. From the death of this, the Newton. I have taken but few notes of some brightest in both capacities, a few years opened admirable things in my way to the Essay On the entire scroll of his awful predictions. Yet age Cunning. after age will the same truths be disregarded, Barrow. I may remind you hereafter of some even though men of a voice as deep, and a heart omissions in other places. less hollow, should repeat them. Base men Newton. I find Bacon no despiser of books in 1 must raise new families, though the venerable men of business, as people mostly are. edifice of our constitution be taken down for Barrow. Because they know little of them, and
1 the abutments; and broken fortunes must be fancy they could manage the whole world by their soldered in the flames of war blown up for the genius. This is the commonest of delusions in occasion.”
the shallows of society. Well doth Bacon say, On this subject he himself is too lax and easy. “ There be that can pack the cards and yet can Among the reasons for legitimate war, he reckons not play well; so there are some that are good the embracing of trade. He seems unwilling to in canvasses and factions that are otherwise weak speak plainly, yet he means to signify that we men.” may declare war against a nation for her prospe- Fortunate the country that is not the dupe of rity: a prosperity raised by her industry, by the these intruders and bustlers, who often rise to the 1 honesty of her dealings, and by excelling us in highest posts by their readiness to lend an arm the quality of her commodity, in the exactness of at every stepping-stone in the dirt, and are found workmanship, in punctuality, and in credit. as convenient in their way as the candle-snuffers
Barrow. Hell itself, with all its jealousy and in gaming-houses, who have usually their rouleau malignity and falsehood, could not utter å sen- at the service of the half-ruined. tence more pernicious to the interests and im- Newton. I am sorry to find my Lord High
1 provement of mankind. It is the duty of every Chancellor wearing as little the face of an honest ! state, to provide and watch that not only no other man as doth one of these. in its vicinity, but that no other with which it Barrow. How so? has dealings, immediate or remoter, do lose an Newton. He says, “If a man would cross s inch of territory or a farthing of wealth by aggres- business, that he doubts some other would handsion. Princes fear at their next door rather the somely and effectually move, let him pretend to example of good than of bad. Correct your own wish it well, and move it himself in such sort as ill habits, and you need not dread your rival's. may foil it." Let him have them, and wear them every day, if What must I think of such counsel ? indeed a christian may propose it, and they will Barrow. Bacon, as I observed before, often unfit him for competition with you.
forgets his character. Sometimes he speaks the Newton. I now come to the words, On Counsel. language of truth and honesty, with more freedom “The doctrine of Italy, and practice of France, in than a better man could do safely : again, be some kings' times, hath introduced cabinet coun- teaches a lesson of baseness and roguery to the cils ; a remedy worse than the disease.”
public, such as he could intend only for the priCabinet . . council! It does indeed seem a vate ear of some young statesman, before his strange apposition. One would sooner have ex- rehearsal on the stage of politics. The words pected cabinet cards and counters, cabinet minia- from the prompter's book have crept into the text, ture pictures .. or what not !
and injure the piece. Bacon might not have Barrow. Isaac ! if you had conversed, as I have, liked to cancel the directions he had given so
much to his mind : instead of which, he draws the secretaries and employed men of embassadors ; for so, himself up and cries austerely, “But these small in travelling in one country, he shall suck the experience wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, of many." This, whatever it may appear to us, was not ludicrous for nothing doth more hurt in a state than that
and it were a good deed to make a list of them : nor sarcastic when Bacon wrote it, but might be applied as well to the embassadors and secretaries of England as cunning men pass for wise.".
Newton. He has other things about wisdom in
of other states.