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“ vast contemplative ends, as I have moderate civil “ ends; for I have taken all knowledge to be my “province; and if I could purge it of two sorts “ of rovers, whereof the one with frivolous dispu“ tations, confutations, and verbosities; the other “ with blind experiments, and auricular traditions “ and impostures, hath committed so many spoils ; “ I hope I should bring in industrious observations, “ grounded conclusions, and profitable inventions “ and discoveries, the best state of that province. “ This, whether it be curiosity, or vain glory, or
nature, or (if one take it favourably) Philanthro
pia, is so fixed in my mind, as it cannot be re“ moved.”
After the lapse of twelve more years, the time arrived when a favourable opportunity presented itself to the mind of Lord Bacon for the publication of his Philosophy. A time, indeed, which always existed, but for the desire by which this great man seems to have been too much influenced to accelerate the advancement of knowledge, by reserving its communication to times and circumstances which he supposed favourable for its reception. “I do easily “ see,” he says, “ that place of
any reasonable “ countenance doth bring commandment of more 6 wits than a man's own, which is the thing I greatly « affect*.” And, in a letter to the king, respecting his Novum Organum, he says,
“ This work is but “a new body of clay, whereunto your majesty, by
* The same letter to Lord Burleigh.
your countenance and protection, may breathe life. “And to tell your majesty truly what I think, I ac
favour may be to this work as much as “ an hundred years' time, for I am persuaded the “ work will gain upon men's minds in ages,
gracing it may make it take hold more swiftly, “ which I would be very glad of, it being a work
meant, not for praise or glory, but for practice and “ the good of men*.”
Such were the doubtings and compliances and feverish hesitations by which this philosopher tam pered as a politician with his better nature; for, in his solitary and retired thoughts, he never doubted either the power of truth, or the impotence of these forced attempts to assist its progress.
« I " have," he says, in the true spirit of philosophy,
, "unassisted by any mortalt, steadfastly entered the
true path which was absolutely untrod before, and “ held out a light to posterity by a torch set up in “ the obscurity of philosophy
On the 23rd of July, 1603, the day previous to the coronation of King James, which lemnized on the 24th, Francis Bacon was knighted. In August, 1604, the king constituted him one of his counsel, learned in the law, with a fee of forty pounds a year, which is said to have been the first act of royal power of that nature; and on the same
* Letter to the king, 12th October, 1620. + See Novum Organum on the hope that knowledge will be progressive.
day his majesty granted him a pension of sixty pounds a-year, for special services received from his brother Anthony Bacon and himself: and, from this time, he was a special servant of the crown. In obedience to his favourite doctrine, “ That “ will indeed dignify and exalt knowledge, if con-.
templation and action may be more nearly and “ strongly conjoined and united together, than they “ have been: a conjunction like unto that of the “two highest planets, Saturn the planet of rest and “ contemplation, and Jupiter the planet of civil “ society and action,” he, in the year 1605, when he was 44 years of age, published his Advancement of Learning. It is entitled
TVVOO BOOKES OF
diuine and humane.
shop in Graies Inne Gate in Holborne. 1605.
“ HISTORY is NATVRALL, CIVILE, ECCLESIASTICALL & LITERARY, whereof the three first I " allow as extant, the fourth I note as deficient. For
“no man hath propounded to himselfe the generall “state of learning to bee described and represented “ from age to age, as many haue done the works “ of nature, & the State ciuile and Ecclesiastical; “ without which the History of the world seemeth to
me, to be as the Statua of Polyphemus with his
eye out, that part being wanting, which doth “ most shew the spirit, and life of the person.”
Of this work he sent a copy, with a letter, to the king; to the university of Cambridge; to Trinity college, Cambridge; to the university of Oxford; to Sir Thomas Bodley; to Lord Chancellor Egerton ; to the Earl of Salisbury; to the Lord Treasurer Buckhurst; and to Mr. Matthews. From these letters, which are all in existence*, the letter to the Lord Chancellor, as a favourable specimen, is annexed :
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR LORDSHIP, “ I humbly present your lordship with a Work, wherein, as you have much commandment over " the author; so your lordship hath great interest in “the argument: For to speak without flattery, “ few have like use of learning, or like judgment “ in learning, as I have observed in your lordship. “ And again, your lordship hath been a great planter “ of learning, not only in those places in the “ church, which have been in your own gift, but “ also in your commendatory vote, no man hath
more constantly held ; let it be given to the most
* See Shaw's edition of Philosophical Works of Bacon, page 477, and the different collections of Bacon's letters.
deserving, detur digniori ; And therefore, both “ your lordship is beholding to learning, and learn“ing beholding to you ; which maketh me presume “ with good assurance
your lordship will accept “ well of these my labours ; the rather because your “ lordship in private speech hath often begun to me “ in expressing your admiration of his majesty's
learning, to whom I have dedicated this work ; “and whose virtue and perfection in that kind did
chiefly move me to a work of this nature. And
so with signification of my most humble duty and “ affection to your lordship, I remain.”
Some short time after the publication of this work, probably about the year 1609, Sir Francis Bacon was desirous that the Advancement of Learning should be translated into Latin ; and, for this purpose, he applied to Dr. Playfer, the Mar
, garet professor of divinity in the university of Cambridge.*
* This appears by the following letter, without
MR. DR. PLAYFER, “ A great desire will take a small occasion to hope and put in trial that which is desired. It
pleased you a good while since, to express unto me “the good liking which you conceived of my book “ of the Advancement of Learning; and that more “ significantly, (as it seemed to me) than out of “ courtesie, or civil respect.
Myself, as I then “ took contentment in your approbation thereof; so