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DEDICATIONS OF BOOKS.—Neither is the moral [customary] dedications of books and writings, as to patrons, to be commended : for that books (such as are worthy the name of books) ought to have no patrons but truth and reason; and the ancient custom was to dedicate them only to private and equal friends, or to intitle the books with their names; or, if to Kings and great persons, it was to some such as the argument of the book was fit and proper for.
But these and the like courses may deserve rather reprehension than defence
(The Advancement of Learning, Spedding and Ellis's Edition, iii. 281.)
THE IMMORTALITY OF BOOKS.-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 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 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 decayed and demolished ? It is not possible to have the true pictures or 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 the life and truth. But the images of men's wits and knowledge 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 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 the
most remote regions in participation of their fruits, how much more are letters to be magnified, 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 further, we see some of the philosophers which were least divine and most immersed in the 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 affection; 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.
(Ibid, iii., 318—19).
MANY Books.—For the opinion of plenty is amongst the causes of want, and the great quantity of books maketh a shew rather of superfluity than lack; which surcharge nevertheless is not to be remedied by making no more books, but by making more good books, which as the serpent of Moses (Aaron], might devour the serpents of the enchanters.
(Ibid, iii., 327–8).
BOOKS AND EXPERIENCE.-If books were written about small matters, there would be scarce any use of experience.
(De Augmentis, iv., 483).
READING AND ACTION.—In reading a man converses with the wise, in action generally with fools.
How BOOKS ARE TO BE USED.—Some bookes are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. That is, some bookes are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some bookes also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the lesse important arguments and the meaner sort of bookes: else distilled bookes are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh
a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. And, therefore, if a man write little he had need have a great memory; if he conferre little he had need have a present wit; and if he reade little he had need have much cunning, to seeme to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise, poets witty, the mathematicks subtill, natural philosophy deep, Moral grave, logick and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores.
Nay, there is no stand or impediment in the wit but may be wrought out by fit studies, like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises.
(Essays : “ Of Studies.”)
Published Delia ; contayning certayne Sonnets, with the Complaint of Rosamond, 1592; the First Fowre Books of the Civille Warres betweene the Two Houses of Lancaster and Yorke, 1595 ;
the Tragedy of Philotas, 1597, and Musophilus; containing a General Defence of Learning, 1599. Died 1619.]