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which commonly have a few pleasing with patience, terming them inventions receipts whereupon they are confident and against religion and the moral virtues; yet adventurous, but know neither the causes of on the other side, to recompense that, they diseases, nor the complexions of patients, are perfect in those same plain grounds of nor peril of accidents, nor the true method religion, justice, honor, and moral virtue, of cures: we see it is a like error to rely which if they be well and watchfully purupon advocates or lawyers, which are only sued, there will be seldom use of those men of practice and not grounded in their other, no more than of physic in a sound or books, who are many times easily surprised well dieted body. Neither can the expewhen matter falleth out besides their ex- rience of one man's life furnish examples perience, to the prejudice of the causes they and precedents for the events of one man's handle: so by like reason it cannot be but life: for, as it happeneth sometimes that a matter of doubtful consequence if states the grandchild, or other descendant, rebe managed by empiric Statesmen, not well sembleth the ancestors more than the son; so mingled with men grounded in learning. But many times occurrences of present times contrariwise, it is almost without instance may sort better with ancient examples than contradictory that ever any government was with those of the latter or immediate times; disastrous that was in the hands of learned and lastly, the wit of one man can no more governors. For howsoever it hath been countervail learning than one man's means ordinary with politic men to extenuate and can hold way with a common purse. disable learned men by the names of And as for those particular seducements, Pedantes; yet in the records of time it ap- or indispositions of the mind for policy and peareth, in many particulars, that the gov- government, which Learning is pretended to ernments of princes in minority (notwith- insinuate; if it be granted that any such standing the infinite disadvantage of that thing be, it must be remembered withal, that kind of state) have nevertheless excelled the Learning ministereth in every of them government of princes of mature age, even greater strength of medicine or remedy than for that reason which they seek to traduce, it offereth cause of indisposition or inwhich is, that by that occasion the state firmity. For if by a secret operation it hath been in the hands of Pedantes; for so make men perplexed and irresolute, on the was the state of Rome for the first five years, other side by plain precept it teacheth them which are so much magnified, during the when and upon what ground to resolve; yea, minority of Nero, in the hands of Seneca, a and how to carry things in suspense without Pedanti; so it was again, for ten years' prejudice, till they resolve; if it make men space or more, during the minority of positive and regular, it teacheth them what Gordianus the younger, with great applause things are in their nature demonstrative, and contentation in the hands of Misitheus, and what are conjectural, and as well a Pedanti: so was it before that, in the the use of distinctions and exceptions, as minority of Alexander Severus, in like hap- the latitude of principles and rules. If it piness, in hands not much unlike, by reason mislead by disproportion or dissimilitude of the rule of the women, who were aided of examples, it teacheth men the force of by the teachers and preceptors. Nay, let a circumstances, the errors of comparisons, man look into the government of the bishops and all the cautions of application; so that of Rome, as, by name, into the government in all these it doth rectify more effectually of Pius Quintus, and Sextus Quintus, in our than it can pervert. And these medicines times, who were both at their entrance es- it conveyeth into men's minds much more teemed but as pedantical friars, and he forcibly by the quickness and penetration shall find that such popes do greater things, of examples. For let a man look into the and proceed upon truer principles of estate, errors of Clement the seventh, so lively dethan those which have ascended to the scribed by Guicciardine, who served under papacy from an education and breeding in him, or into the errors of Cicero, painted affairs of estate and courts of princes; for out by his own pencil in his Epistles to although men bred in learning are perhaps Atticus, and he will fly apace from being to seek in points of convenience and ac- irresolute. Let him look into the errors of commodating for the present, which the Phocion, and he will beware how he be obItalians call Ragioni di stato, whereof the stinate or inflexible. Let him but read the same Pius Quintus could not hear spoken fable of Ixion, and it will hold him from being vaporous or imaginative. Let him defend the possession of the mind against look into the errors of Cato the second, idleness and pleasure, which otherwise at and he will never be one of the Antipodes, unawares may enter to the prejudice of to tread opposite to the present world. both.
And for the conceit that Learning should Again for that other conceit that Learndispose men to leisure and privateness, and ing should undermine the reverence of laws make men slothful; it were a strange thing and government, it is assuredly a mere deif that which accustometh the mind to a pravation and calumny, without all shadow perpetual motion and agitation should in- of truth. For to say that a blind custom duce slothfulness: whereas contrariwise it of obedience should be a surer obligation may be truly affirmed, that no kind of men than duty taught and understood, it is to love business for itself but those that are affirm, that a blind man may tread surer learned; for other persons love it for profit,
by a guide than a seeing man can by a as a hireling, that loves the work for the light. And it is without all controversy, wages; or for honor, as because it beareth that learning doth make the minds of men them up in the eyes of men, and refresheth gentle, generous, maniable, and pliant to their reputation, which otherwise would government; whereas ignorance makes them wear; or because it putteth them in mind churlish, th rt, and mutinous: and the of their fortune, and giveth them occasion evidence of time doth clear this assertion, to pleasure and displeasure; or because it considering that the most barbarous, rude, exerciseth some faculty wherein they take
and unlearned times have been most subject pride, and so entertaineth them in good
to tumults, seditions, and changes. ... humor and pleasing conceits towards them- It taketh away the wildness and barbarselves; or because it advanceth any other
ism and fierceness of men's minds. . . . It their ends. So that, as it is said of untrue
taketh away all levity, temerity, and insovalors, that some men's valors are in the lency, by copious suggestion of all doubts eyes of them that look on; so such men's
and difficulties, and acquainting the mind to industries are in the eyes of others, or at
balance reasons on both sides, and to turn least in regard of their own designments:
back the first offers and conceits of the only learned men love business as an action
mind, and to accept of nothing but examaccording to nature, as agreeable to health
ined and tried. It taketh away vain admiof mind as exercise is to health of body,
ration of anything, which is the root of all taking pleasure in the action itself, and not
weakness: for all things are admired either in the purchase: for that of all men they
because they are new, or because they are are the most indefatigable, if it be towards
great. For novelty, no man that wadeth in any business which can hold or detain their
learning or contemplation thoroughly, but mind.
will find that printed in his heart Nil novi And that Learning should take up too
super terram. Neither can any man marvel much time or leisure; I answer, the most
at the play of puppets, that goeth behind
the curtain, and adviseth well of the motion. active or busy man that hath been or can
And for magnitude, as Alexander the Great, be, hath, no question, many vacant times of
after that he was used to great armies, and leisure, while he expecteth the times and re
the great conquests of the spacious provturns of business (except he be either tedi
inces in Asia, when he received letters out ous and of no dispatch, or lightly and un
of Greece, of some fights and services there, worthily ambitious to meddle in things that
which were commonly for a passage or a may be better done by others): and then the
fort, or some walled town at the most, he question is but how these spaces and times said, It seemed to him that he was adverof leisure shall be filled and spent; whether
tised of the Battle of the Frogs and the in pleasures or in studies; as was well an- Mice, that the old tales went of. So cerswered by Demosthenes to his adversary tainly, if a man meditate much upon the Æschines, that was a man given to pleasure, universal frame of nature, the earth with and told him, That his orations did smell men upon it (the divineness of souls exof the lamp: Indeed (said Demosthenes) cept,) will not seem much other than an there is a great difference between the ant-hill, whereas some ants carry corn, and things that you and I do by lamp-light. So some carry their young, and some go empty, as no man need doubt that learning will ex- and all to-and-fro a little heap of dust. It pulse business, but rather it will keep and taketh away or mitigateth fear of death, or adverse fortune; which is one of the great- divine, and most immersed in the senses, est impediments of virtue, and imperfec- and denied generally the immortality of the tions of manners. For if a man's mind be soul, yet came to this point, that whatsoever deeply seasoned with the consideration of motions the spirit of man could act and perthe mortality and corruptible nature of form without the organs of the body, they things, he will easily concur with Epictetus, thought might remain after death, which who went fort one day and saw a woman were only those of the understanding, and weeping for her pitcher of earth that was not of the affection: so immortal and incorbroken; and went forth the next day and ruptible a thing did knowledge seem unto saw a woman weeping for her son that was them to be. But we, that know by divine dead, and thereupon said: Ileri vidi fra- revelation that not only the understanding gilem frangi, hodie vidi mortalem mori. but the affections purified, not only the spirit
Lastly, leaving the vulgar arguments, that but the body changed, shall be advanced to by learning man excelleth man in that immortality, do disclaim in these rudiments wherein man excelleth beasts; that by learn- of the senses. ing man ascendeth to the heavens and their motions, where in body he cannot come, and
2. Some Defects in Learning the like; let us conclude with the dignity Another error is an impatience of doubt and excellency of knowledge and learning and haste to assertion without due and main that whereunto man's nature doth most ture suspension of judgment. For the two aspire, which is, immortality or continu- ways of contemplation are not unlike the ance: for to this tendeth generation, and two ways of action commonly spoken of by raising of houses and families; to this tend the ancients; the one plain and smooth in buildings, foundations, and monuments; to the beginning, and in the end impassable; this tendeth the desire of memory, fame, and the other rough and troublesome in the encelebration, and in effect the strength of all trance, but after a while fair and even. So other human desires. We see then how far it is in contemplation; if a man will begin the monuments of wit and learning are more with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but durable than the monuments of power or of if he will be content to begin with doubts, the hands. For have not the verses of he shall end in certainties. Homer continued twenty-five hundred years,
Another error is in the manner of the or more, without the loss of a syllable or tradition and delivery of knowledge, which letter; during which time, infinite palaces, is for the most part magistral and peremptemples, castles, cities, have been decayed tory, and not ingenuous and faithful; in a and demolished? It is not possible to have sort as may be soonest believed, and not the true pictures or statues of Cyrus, Alex- easiliest examined. It is true, that in comander, Caesar; no, nor of the kings or great pendious treatises for practice that form personages of much later years; for the is not to be disallowed: but in the true hanoriginals cannot last, and the copies cannot dling of knowledge, men ought not to fall but leese of the life and truth. But the either on the one side into the vein of Velimages of men's wits and knowledges remain leius the Epicurean: Nil tam metuens, quam in books, exempted from the wrong of time, ne dubitare aliqua de re videretur; nor on and capable of perpetual renovation. Nei- the other side into Socrates his ironical ther are they fitly to be called images, be- doubting of all things; but to propound cause they generate still, and cast their seeds things sincerely with more or less asseverain the minds of others, provoking and caus- tion, as they stand in a man's own judgment ing infinite actions and opinions in succeed- proved more or less. ing ages: so that, if the invention of the Other errors there are in the scope that ship was thought so noble, which carrieth men propound to themselves, whereunto riches and commodities from place to place, they bend their endeavors; for whereas the and consociateth the most remote regions in more constant and devote kind of profesparticipation of their fruits, how much more sors of any science ought to propound to are letters to be magnified, which, as ships, themselves to make some additions to their pass through the vast seas of time, and science, they convert their labors to aspire make ages so distant to participate of the to certain second prizes: as to be a profound wisdom, illuminations, and inventions the interpreter or commenter, to be a sharp one of the other? Nay further, we see champion or defender, to be a methodical some of the philosophers which were least compounder or abridger; and so the patrimony of knowledge cometh to be sometimes vanity only, or as a bondwoman, to acquire improved, but seldom augmented.
and gain to her master's use; but as a But the greatest error of all the rest is spouse, for generation, fruit, and comthe mistaking or misplacing of the last or fort. farthest end of knowledge: for men have Amongst so many great foundations of entered into a desire of learning and knowl- colleges in Europe, I find it strange that edge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity they are all dedicated to professions, and and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to en- rone left free to arts and sciences at large. tertain their minds with variety and de- For if men judge that learning should be light; sometimes for ornament and reputa- referred to action, they judge well; but in tion; and sometimes to enable them to vic
this they fall into the error described in tory of wit and contradiction; and most the ancient fable, in which the other parts times for lucre and profession; and seldom of the body did suppose the stomach had sincerely to give a true account of their
been idle, because it neither performed the gift of reason, to the benefit and use of
office of motion, as the limbs do, nor of men: as if there were sought in knowledge
sense, as the head doth; but yet, notwitha couch whereupon to rest a searching and standing, it is the stomach that digesteth restless spirit; or a tarrasse, for a wander- and distributeth to all the rest : so if any ing and variable mind to walk up and down
man think philosophy and universality to with a fair prospect; or a tower of state,
be idle studies, he doth not consider that all for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a
professions are from thence served and supfort or commanding ground, for strife and contention; or a shop, for profit or sale;
plied. And this I take to be a great cause
that hath hindered the progression of learnand not a rich storehouse, for the glory of
ing, because these fundamental knowledges the Creator and the relief of man's estate.
have been studied but in passage. For if But this is that which will indeed dignify and exalt knowledge, if contemplation and
you will have a tree bear more fruit than
it hath used to do, it is not anything you action may be more nearly and straitly con
can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring joined and united together than they have
of the earth and putting new mould about been; a conjunction like unto that of the
the roots that must work it. Neither is it two highest planets, Saturn, the planet of
to be forgotten, that this dedicating of founrest and contemplation, and Jupiter, the
dations and dotations to professory learnplanet of civil society and action: howbeit,
ing hath not only had a malign aspect and I do not mean, when I speak of use and
influence upon the growth of sciences, but action, that end before-mentioned of the
hath also been prejudicial to states and applying of knowledge to lucre and profession; for I am not ignorant how much
governments. For hence it proceedeth that that diverteth and interrupteth the prose
princes find a solitude in regard of able
men to serve them in causes of state, becution and advancement of knowledge, like
cause there is no education collegiate which unto the golden ball thrown before Ata
is free; where such as were so disposed lanta, which while she goeth aside and
might give themselves to histories, modern stoopeth to take up, the race is hindered;
languages, books of policy and civil disDeclinat cursus, aurumque volubile course, and other the like enablements unto tollit.
service of estate. Neither is my meaning, as was spoken of Socrates, to call philosophy down from
3. Of the Architecture of Fortune heaven to converse upon the earth; that is to The opinion of Aristotle seemeth to me a leave natural philosophy aside, and to ap- negligent opinion, that of those things ply knowledge only to manners and policy. which consist by nature nothing can be But as both heaven and earth do conspire changed by custom; using for example, that and contribute to the use and benefit of if a stone be thrown ten thousand times up, man; so the end ought to be, from both it will not learn to ascend; and that by philosophies to separate and reject vain often seeing or hearing, we do not learn speculations, and whatsoever is empty and to see or hear the better. For though this void, and to preserve and augment what- principle be true in things wherein nature soever is solid and fruitful: that knowledge is peremptory (the reason whereof we canmay not be as a courtesan, for pleasure and not now stand to discuss), yet it is otherwise in things wherein nature admitteth a mind that seemeth yet more accurate and latitude. For he might see that a strait elaborate than the rest, and is built upon glove will come more easily on with use; this ground; that the minds of all men are and that a wand will by use bend other- at some times in a state more perfect, and wise than it grew; and that by use of the at other times in a state more depraved. voice we speak louder and stronger; and The purpose therefore of this practice is that by use of enduring heat or cold, we to fix and cherish the good hours of the endure it the better, and the like: which mind, and to obliterate and take forth the latter sort have a nearer resemblance unto evil. The fixing of the good hath been that subject of manners he handleth, than practiced by two means, vows or constant those instances which he allegeth. But al- resolutions, and observances or exercises; lowing his conclusion, that virtues and vices which are not to be regarded so much in consist in habit, he ought so much the more themselves, as because they keep the mind in to have taught the manner of superinducing continual obedience. The obliteration of the that habit: for there be many precepts of evil hath been practiced by two means, some the wise ordering the exercises of the mind, kind of redemption or expiation of that as there is of ordering the exercises of the which is past, and an inception or account body; whereof we will recite a few.
de novo, for the time to come. But this The first shall be, that we beware we take part seemeth sacred and religious, and not at the first either too high a strain, or justly; for all good moral philosophy, as too weak: for if too high, in a diffident was said, is but a handmaid to religion. nature you discourage, in a confident na- Wherefore we will conclude with that ture you breed an opinion of facility, and last point, which is of all other means the so a sloth; and in all natures you breed most compendious and summary, and again, farther expectation than can hold out, and the most noble and effectual to the reducing sq an insatisfaction in the end: if too weak of the mind unto virtue and good estate; on the other side, you may not look to per- which is the electing and propounding unto form and overcome any great task.
a man's self good and virtuous ends of his Another precept is, to practice all things life, such as may be in a reasonable sort chiefly at two several times, the one when within his compass to attain. For if these the mind is best disposed, the other when two things be supposed, that a man set it is worst disposed; that by the one you before him honest and good ends, and again, may gain a great step, by the other you may that he be resolute, constant, and true unto work out the knots and stonds of the mind, them; it will follow that he shall mould and make the middle times the more easy himself into all virtue at once. And this and pleasant.
indeed is like the work of nature; whereas Another precept is, that which Aristotle the other course is like the work of the mentioneth by the way, which is to bear hand. For as when a carver makes an ever towards the contrary extreme of that image, he shapes only that part whereupon whereunto we are by nature inclined; like he worketh, (as if he be upon the face, that unto the rowing against the stream, or mak- part which shall be the body is but a rude ing a wand straight by bending him con- stone still, till such time as he comes to it;) trary to his natural crookedness.
but, contrariwise, when nature makes a Another precept is, that the mind is flower or living creature, she formeth rudibrought to anything better, and with more ments of all the parts at one time: so in sweetness and happiness, if that where- obtaining virtue by habit, while a man unto you pretend be not first in the inten- practiceth temperance, he doth not profit tion, but tanquam aliud agendo, because of much to fortitude, nor the like: but when the natural hatred of the mind against ne- he dedicateth and applieth himself to good cessity and constraint. Many other axioms ends, look, what virtue soever the pursuit there are touching the managing of exercise and passage towards those ends doth comand custom; which being so conducted doth mend unto him, he is invested of a preceprove indeed another nature; but being gov- dent disposition to conform himself thereerned by chance doth commonly prove but unto. ... an ape of nature, and bringing forth that Wherein it may appear at the first a new which is lame and counterfeit. ...
and unwonted argument to teach men how But there is a kind of culture of the to raise and make their fortune; a doctrine