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TRUTH, whether in or out of fashion, is the measure of knowledge, and the business of the understanding; whatever is besides that, however authorized by consent, or recommended by rarity, is nothing but ignorance, or something worse.
LOCKE. I PERSUADE myself that the life and faculties of man, at the best but short and limited, cannot be employed more rationally than in the search of knowledge, and especially of that sort which relates to our duty, and conduces to our happiness. In these inquiries therefore whenever I perceive any glimmering of truth before me, I readily pursue and endeavour to trace it to its source, without any reserve or caution of pushing the discovery too far, or opening too great a glare of it to the public. I look upon the discovery of anything which is true as a valuable acquisition to society ; which cannot possibly hurt or obstruct the good effect of any other truth whatsoever; for they all partake of one common essence, and necessarily coincide with one another, and like the drops of rain which fall separately into the river, mix themselves at once with the stream, and strengthen the general current.
MIDDLETON. Free Inquiry, Preface. In these two things—viz., an equal indifferency for all truth ; I mean the receiving it, in the love of it as truth, but not loving it for any other reason before we know it to be true; and in the examination of our principles, and not receiving any for such, nor building on them, until we are fully convinced, as rational creatures, of their solidity, truth, and certainty-consists that freedom of the understanding which is necessary to a rational creature, and without which it is not truly an understanding.
LOCKE. Conduct of the Understanding. LET not men, therefore, that would have a sight of truth in its full extent, be yet narrow or blind in their own prospect. Let not men think that there is no truth but in the sciences that they study, or the books that they read. To prejudge other men’s notions before we have looked into them, is not to show their darkness, but to put out our own eyes.
LOCKE. lbid. A MAN may be a heretic in the truth ;* and if he believe things
* So much as we ourselves consider and comprehend of truth and reason, so much we possess of real and true knowledge. The floating of other men's only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reasons, though because his belief be true; yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.
MILTON. LET her and Falsehood grapple. Who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter ? Her confuting is the best suppressing.
MILTON. To know by rote is no knowledge, it is only a retention of what is entrusted to the memory. That which a man truly knows may be disposed of without regard to the author or reference to the book from whence he had it.
Hudibras, Part III., Chap. 2.
“Do not mind what a pack of vulgar fellows say, who call everything by its right name,' was the ironical answer of Philip of Macedon to two citizens (who had betrayed to him their city) on their complaining that they were reproached by his soldiers for their perfidy.
Glendower. I CAN call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur. Why, so can I: or so can any man: But will they come when you do call for them ?.
Glend. Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command
Hots. And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
Henry IV., First Part, Act III.
opinions in our brains makes us not one jot the more knowing, though they happen to be true. What in them was science, is in us opiniatrety, whilst we give up our assent only to reverend names, and do not, as they did, employ our reason to understand those truths which gave them reputation.
LOCKE. On the Understanding, Book I., Chap. 4.
THERE is no learned man but will confess he hath much profited by reading controversies, his senses awakened, his judgment sharpened, and the truth which he holds more firmly established. If then it be profitable for him to read, why should it not at least be tolerable and free for his adversary to write ? In logic they teach, that contraries laid together more evidently appear: it follows then, that all controversy being permitted, falsehood would appear more false, and truth the more true, which must needs conduce much to the general confirmation of unimplicit truth.
MILTON. The people are ever apt to contemn truth upon account of the controversies raised about it, and to think those all in the wrong way who never meet.
In all mistakes the strict and regular
BUTLER. Misc. Thoughts.
Ibid. A FALSEHOOD once received from a famed writer becomes traditional to posterity.
A course, till tired before the dog she lay :
Past pow'r to kill, as she to get away.
With his lollid tongue he faintly licks his prey,
His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies;
DRYDEN, Annus Mirabilis.
But mighty bulwarks fence the plainer part,
So Art helps Nature, Nature strengthens Art.
Save that a wood stands six miles from the town,
FAIRFAX. Tasso, Book III.
Duncan. This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.
This guest of summer,
Macbeth, Act I.
Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury,
Henry IV., First Part, Act IV.
As one whose drought
Paradise Lost, Book I.
A DAY in April never came so sweet
Merchant of Venice.
HORROR in all his pomp was there,
DRYDEN. Ode to the Memory of Charles II.
SONG, Annie Laurie.
STUDIES and reading serve for delight, ornament,* and
* 'Tis of great importance to the honour of learning, that men of business should know erudition is not like a lark, which flies high, and delights in nothing but singing; but that 'tis rather like a hawk, which soars aloft indeed, but can stoop when she finds it convenient, and seize her prey.