Bacon eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 253 pages of information about Bacon.
an aspect as if he pitied men.”  But unless it is utilitarianism to be keenly alive to the needs and pains of life, and to be eager and busy to lighten and assuage them, Bacon’s philosophy was not utilitarian.  It may deserve many reproaches, but not this one.  Such a passage as the following—­in which are combined the highest motives and graces and passions of the soul, love of truth, humility of mind, purity of purpose, reverence for God, sympathy for man, compassion for the sorrows of the world and longing to heal them, depth of conviction and faith—­fairly represents the spirit which runs through his works.  After urging the mistaken use of imagination and authority in science, he goes on—­

“There is not and never will be an end or limit to this; one catches at one thing, another at another; each has his favourite fancy; pure and open light there is none; every one philosophises out of the cells of his own imagination, as out of Plato’s cave; the higher wits with more acuteness and felicity, the duller, less happily, but with equal pertinacity.  And now of late, by the regulation of some learned and (as things now are) excellent men (the former license having, I suppose, become wearisome), the sciences are confined to certain and prescribed authors, and thus restrained are imposed upon the old and instilled into the young; so that now (to use the sarcasm of Cicero concerning Caesar’s year) the constellation of Lyra rises by edict, and authority is taken for truth, not truth for authority.  Which kind of institution and discipline is excellent for present use, but precludes all prospect of improvement.  For we copy the sin of our first parents while we suffer for it.  They wished to be like God, but their posterity wish to be even greater.  For we create worlds, we direct and domineer over nature, we will have it that all things are as in our folly we think they should be, not as seems fittest to the Divine wisdom, or as they are found to be in fact; and I know not whether we more distort the facts of nature or of our own wits; but we clearly impress the stamp of our own image on the creatures and works of God, instead of carefully examining and recognising in them the stamp of the Creator himself.  Wherefore our dominion over creatures is a second time forfeited, not undeservedly; and whereas after the fall of man some power over the resistance of creatures was still left to him—­the power of subduing and managing them by true and solid arts—­yet this too through our insolence, and because we desire to be like God and to follow the dictates of our own reason, we in great part lose.  If, therefore, there be any humility towards the Creator, any reverence for or disposition to magnify His works, any charity for man and anxiety to relieve his sorrows and necessities, any love of truth in nature, any hatred of darkness, any desire for the purification of the understanding, we must entreat men again and again to discard,
Project Gutenberg
Bacon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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