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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 statuaes 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 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 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!
4. INSTAURATIO MAGNA. THE END IN VIEW. (From Novum Organum, Book I, Aph. 129.)
It remains for me to say a few words touching the excellency of the end in view. Had they been uttered earlier, they might have seemed like idle wishes; but now that hopes have been raised and unfair prejudices removed, they may perhaps have greater weight. Also if I had finished all myself, and had no occasion to call in others to help and take part in the work, I should even now have abstained from such language, lest it might be taken as a proclamation of my own deserts. But since I want to quicken the industry and rouse and kindle the zeal of others, it is fitting that I put men in mind of some things.
In the first place then, the introduction of famous dis
coveries appears to hold by far the first place among human actions; and this was the judgment of the former ages. For to the authors of inventions they awarded divine honours; while to those who did good service in the state (such as founders of cities and empires, legislators, saviours of their country from long endured evils, quellers of tyrannies, and the like), they decreed no higher honours than heroic. And certainly if a man rightly compare the two, he will find that this judgment of antiquity was just. For the benefits of dis coveries may extend to the whole race of man, civil benefits only to particular places; the latter last not beyond a few ages, the former through all time. Moreover, the reformation of a state in civil matters is seldom brought in without violence and confusion; but discoveries carry blessings with them, and confer benefits without causing harm or sorrow to any. Again, discoveries are, as it were, new creations, and imitations of God's works; as well sang the poet:
To man's frail race great Athens long ago
First gave the seed whence waving harvests grow,
And it appears worthy of remark in Solomon, that though mighty in empire and in gol; in the magnificence of his works, his court, his household, and his fleet; in the lustre of his name and the worship of mankind; yet he took none of these to glory in, but pronounced that >>The glory of God is to conceal a thing; the glory of the king to search it out<<.
Again, let a man only consider what a difference there is between the life of men in the most civilised province of Europe, and in the wildest and most barbarous districts of New India; he will feel it be great enough to justify the saying that >>man is a god to man«, not only in regard of aid and benefit, but also by a comparison of condition. And this difference comes not from soil, not from climate, not from race, but from the arts.
Again, it is well to observe the force and virtue and consequences of discoveries; and these are to be seen nowhere more conspicuously than in those three which were unknown to the ancients, and of which the origin, though recent, is obscure and inglorious; namely, printing, gunpowder, and the magnet. For these three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world; the first in literature, the second in warfare, the third in navigation; whence have followed innumerable changes; insomuch that no empire, no
sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries.
Further, it will not be amiss to distinguish the three kinds and, as it were, grades of ambition in mankind. The first is of those who desire to extend their own power in their native country; which kind is vulgar and degenerate. The second is of those who labour to extend the power of their country and its dominion among men. This certainly has more dignity, though not less covetousness. But if a man endeavour to establish and extend the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe, his ambition (if ambition it can be called), is without doubt both a more wholesome thing and a more noble than the other two. Now the empire of man over things depends wholly on the arts and sciences. For we cannot command nature except by obeying her.
Again, if men have thought so much of some one particular discovery as to regard him as more than man who has been able by some benefit to make the whole human race his debtor, how much higher a thing to discover that by means of which all things else shall be discovered with ease! And yet (to speak the whole truth), as the uses of light are infinite, in enabling us to walk, to ply our arts, to read, to recognise one another; and nevertheless the very beholding of the light is itself a more excellent and a fairer thing than all the uses of it; so assuredly the very contemplation of things, as they are, without superstition or imposture, error or confusion, is in itself more worthy than all the fruit of inventions.
5. SENTENCES AND APOPHTHEGMS.
As water, whether it be the dew of heaven or the springs of the earth, doth scatter and lose itself in the ground, except it be collected into some receptacle, where it may by union comfort and sustain itself; and, for that cause, the industry of man hath devised aqueducts, cisterns, and pools; and likewise beautified them with various ornaments of magnificence and state, as well as for use and necessity; so knowledge, whether it descend from divine inspiration or spring from human sense, would soon perish and vanish into oblivion, if it were not preserved in books, traditions, conferences, and especially in places appointed for such matters as universities, colleges, and schools, where it may have both a fixed habitation, and means and opportunity of increasing and collecting itself.
In Orpheus's theatre, all beasts and birds assembled; and, forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening unto the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge: which, as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion.
It were good that men, in their innovations, would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived.
A certain book had much incensed queen Elizabeth. And she asked Mr. Bacon, being then of her learned counsel; Whether there were no treason contained in it? Mr. Bacon intending to take off the Queen's bitterness with a jest, answered; No, madam, for treason I cannot. deliver opinion that there is any, but very much felony. The Queen, apprehending it gladly, asked; How, and wherein? Mr. Bacon answered; Because he had stolen many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus.
Pope Xystus the fifth, who was a poor man's son, and his father's house ill thatched, so that the sun came in in many places, would sport with his ignobility, and say; He was nato di casa illustre: son of an illustrious house.
Plato entertained some of his friends at a dinner, and had in the chamber a bed or couch, neatly and costly furnished. Diogenes came in, and got upon the bed, and trampled upon it, and said: I trample upon the pride of Plato. Plato mildly answered; But with greater pride.
Themistocles, when an ambassador from a mean state did speak great matters, said to him, Friend, your words would require a city.
Solon compared the people unto the sea, and orators to the winds: For that the sea would be calm and quiet, if the winds did not trouble it.
John Milton, det Tabte Paradises Sanger, blev født i London den 9 de December 1608. Faderen tilhørte en katholsk Familie i Oxfordshire, men havde selv antaget den reformerede Lære og var gaaet til London, hvor han som Notar erhvervede sig en betydelig Formue. Sønnen fik en omhyggelig Opdragelse, først i St. Pauls Skolen i London og siden i Cambridge. I 1632 forlod han Universitetet og tilbragte de følgende fem Aar i Hjemmet paa sin Faders Eiendom Horton i Buckinghamshire, delt mellem Studierne og Poesien; fra denne Tid ere de fleste af hans mindre Digte. I 1638 tiltraadte han en Reise til Fastlandet og besøgte Frankrig, Schweiz og Italien. Netop som han fra Neapel vilde sætte over til Sicilien og derfra til Grækenland, bestemte Efterretninger, han modtog om den stedse voxende Spænding i England, ham til at forandre sin Reiseplan; han ansaa det, sagde han, for uværdigt at reise i Udlandet for sin Fornøielse, medens hans Landsmænd kjæmpede for Friheden i Hjemmet. I 1639 kom han tilbage til England efter femten Maaneders Fravær. Han bosatte sig i London og aabnede der en Skole, hvori han underviste sine Søstersønner og Sønner af andre nære Bekjendte. Ved Siden af denne Virksomhed deltog han med stor Iver i Tidens politiske og religiøse Bevægelse. Han tog afgjort Parlamentets Parti og fulgte med til den yderste Grænse, først med Presbyterianerne, og dernæst, da disse bleve overbudte af Independenterne, de sidste. Umiddelbart efter Kongens Henrettelse udkom hans Skrift On the Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (om Kongers og Øvrigheders Afsættelighed), hvori han forsvarede den blodige Gjerning. Skriftet kom den republikanske Regjering saa beleiligt, at det kaldte Milton til udenlandsk eller latinsk Statssekretær *). I denne Post, som han indehavde baade under Cromwell og
*) Den diplomatiske Korrespondance førtes dengang paa Latin, og Milton var sit Lands og en af sin Tids første Latinister; blandt hans literære Efterladenskaber er ogsaa en Samling latinske Digte og Breve.