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Of the impediments which have been in the nature of society and the policies of state. That there is no composition of estate or society, nor order or quality of persons, which have not some point of contrariety towards true knowledge. That monarchies incline wits to profit and pleasure, and commonwealths to glory and vanity. That universities incline wits to sophistry and affectation, cloisters to fables and unprofitable subtilty, study at large to variety; and that it is hard to say, whether mixture of contemplations with an active life, or retiring wholly to contemplations, do disable and hinder the mind more.
THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING. .
I have now
The first edition of the Advancement of Learning is dated 1605. In what month it appeared is doubtful; but from certain allusions in a letter sent by Bacon to Tobie Matthew with a presentation copy, I gather (for the letter bears no date) that it was not out before the latter end of October.
Tobie Matthew, eldest son of the Bishop of Durham, was then about 27 years old, and had been intimate with Bacon, certainly for the last three years, and probably for more. Bacon had a high opinion of his abilities and seems to have consulted him about his works. “I have now at last (he says in this letter) taught that child to go, at the swaddling whereof you were. My work touching the Proficiency and Advancement of Learning I have put into two books, whereof the former, which you saw, I account but as a Page to the latter. published them both, whereof I thought it a small adventure to send you a copy, who have more right to it than any man, except Bishop Andrews, who was my Inquisitor.”
Now Matthew had been abroad since April, 1605; and as he had seen the first book only, it is probable that the second was not then written; a circumstance which may be very naturally accounted for, if I am right in supposing that the Advancement of Learning was begun immediately after the accession of James I. From the death of Elizabeth, 24th March, 1602-3, to the meeting of James's first Parliament, 19th March, 1603-4, Bacon had very little to do. He held indeed the same place among the Learned Counsel which he had held under Elizabeth, but his services were little if at all used. On the 3d of July, 1603, we find him writing to Lord Cecil:-“For my
'Sir Tobie Matthew's collection of English letters, p. xi. Andrews was made a Bishop on the 3d of November, 1605.
purpose or course, I desire to meddle as little as I can in the King's causes, his Majesty now abounding in counsel. . . . My ambition now I shall only put upon my pen, whereby I shall be able to maintain memory and merit of the times succeeding.” And in the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh at Winchester in the following November (though it was a complicated case involving many persons and requiring a great number of examinations) he does not appear to have been employed at all. But from the meeting of Parliament in March till the end of 1604 he was incessantly employed ; first during the session (which lasted till the 7th of July) in the business of the House of Commons; then during the vacation, in preparation for the Commission of the Union which was to meet in October; and from that time to the beginning of December in the business of the Commission itself; — all matters of extreme urgency and importance, and the “ labour whereof, for men of his profession, rested most upon his hand.”
"2 On the 4th of December the Commissioners signed their report; and on the 24th the next meeting of Parliament, which had been fixed for February, was postponed till October. This prorogation secured Bacon another interval of leisure; an interval longer perhaps, considering the nature of the public services which had now fallen upon him, than he was likely soon again to enjoy; and which it was the more important therefore to use in finishing the great literary work which he had begun. The same consideration
have determined him to be content with a less perfect treatment of the subject than he had originally designed; for certainly the second book, though so much the more important of the two, is in point of execution much less careful and elaborate than the first, and bears many marks of hasty composition. The presumption that an interval occurred between the writing of the two is further confirmed by the fact that they were not printed at the same time. The first ends with a half-sheet, and the second begins upon a fresh one with a new signature; whence I suppose we may infer that the first had been printed off before the second was ready for the press.
Of the motives which induced Bacon to undertake and
i See “ Certain Articles or Considerations touching the union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland ; collected and dispersed for llis Majesty's better service."
? Letter to the King, toucbing the Solicitor's place.