Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ability; for delight in privacy and retirement; for ornament in discourse; and for ability in the judgment and direction of business. Expert men can execute, and, perhaps, judge of particulars singly; but general councils, schemes, and the marshalling of affairs, come best from the learned.

To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; and to judge wholly by their rules is pedantic and unprosperous. Letters perfect nature, and are perfected by experience; for natural abilities, like plants, require pruning by study; and studies themselves give direction too much at large, unless bounded by experience. Crafty men condemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them : for letters do not sufficiently teach their own use; but there is a wisdom beyond, and above them, gained by observation. . Read not to contradict and confute; * nor to believe, and take upon trust; nor to find matter of discourse; but to learn, consider, and use a free judgment. Some books should be tasted ; others swallowed; and some few should be chewed and digested. . . .

Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. Therefore he who writes little has need of a good memory; he who confers little, has need of a present wit; and he who reads little, has need of much cunning, that he may seem to know what he does not.

BACON. Essay on Studies. We advise all mankind to think of the true end of knowledge ; and that they endeavour not after it for curiosity, contention, or the sake of despising others; nor yet for profit, reputation, power, or any such inferior consideration ; but solely for the occasions and uses of life; all along conducting and perfecting it in the spirit of benevolence.

BACON.

VALUE OF LEARNING. IT were tedious to enumerate the particular remedies which learning affords for all the diseases of the mind. ...

To sum up all, it disposes the mind not to fix or settle in defects, but to remain ever susceptible of improvement and

* Man has a natural desire to know,
But th' one half is for interest, th' other show.

BUTLER. Upon the Abuse of Human Learning.

reformation. For the illiterate man knows not what it is to descend into himself, or call himself to an account, nor the agreeableness of that life which is daily sensible of its own improvement. He may, perhaps, learn to shew and employ his natural talents, but not increase them; he will learn to hide and colour his faults, but not to amend them : like an unskilful mower, who continues to mow on without whetting his scythe. The man of learning, on the contrary, always joins the correction and improvement of his mind, with the use and employment thereof. To conclude, truth and goodness differ but as the seal and the impression : for truth imprints goodness, * whilst the storms of vice and perturbation break from the clouds of error and falsehood.

BACON, SOLID Learning prevents all levity, temerity, and insolence, by suggesting doubts and difficulties, and inuring the mind to balance the reason on both sides, and reject the first offers of things, or to accept of nothing but what is first examined and tried. It prevents vain admiration, † which is the root of all

* 'Tis the property of all true knowledge, especially spiritual, to enlarge the soul by filling it; to enlarge it without swelling it; to make it more capable, and more earnest to know, the more it knows.

SPRAT. + It is knowledge that destroys enthusiasm and dispels all those prejudices of admiration which people simpler minds with so many idols of enchantment. Philosophy, which has led to the exact investigation of causes, has robbed the world of much of its sublimity, and by preventing us from believing much, and from wondering at anything, has taken away half our enthusiasm, and more than half our admiration.

JEFFREY. Edinburgh Review, Nov. 1832. All wonder (says Dr. Johnson) is the effect of novelty upon ignorance.

Or, satirically,

Doubtless the pleasure is as great
Of being cheated as to cheat;
As lookers-on feel most delight,
That least perceive a juggler's slight;
And still the less they understand,
The more th' admire his slight of hand.

Hudibras, Part II., Chap. 3.
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture: she is given

weakness, things being admired either because they are new or because they are great.

BACON.

ITS POWER OVER MEN'S MINDS. FROM moral virtue we proceed to examine whether any power be equal to that afforded by knowledge.* Dignity of command is always proportioned to the dignity of the commanded. To have command over brutes as a herdsman is a mean thing; to have command over children as a schoolmaster is matter of small honour; and to have command over slaves is rather a

In the dull estimate of common things.
Philosophy will clip an angel's wings.

KEATS. Lamia.
Triumphal arch, that fill'st the sky

When storms prepare to part,
I ask not proud Philosophy

To teach me what thou art-
Still seem as to my childhood's sight,

A midway station given
For happy spirits to alight

Betwixt the earth and heaven.
Can all that optics teach, unfold

Thy form to please me so,
As when I dreamt of gems and gold

Hid in thy radiant bow?
When Science from Creation's face

Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place

To cold material laws !
*

*
As fresh in yon horizon dark,

As young thy beauties seem,
As when the eagle from the ark

First sported in thy beam:
For, faithful to its sacred page,

Heaven still rebuilds thy span,
Nor lets the type grow pale with age
That first spoke peace to man.

T. CAMPBELL. * Those twin intentions, human knowledge and human power, are really coincident, and the greatest hindrance to works is the ignorance of causes.

BACON.

disgrace than an honour. Nor is the command of a tyrant much better over a servile and degenerate people ; whence honours in free monarchies and republics have ever been more esteemed than in tyrannical governments; because to rule a willing people is more honourable than to compel. But the command of knowledge is higher than the command over a free people; as being a command over the reason, opinion, and understanding of men, which are the noblest faculties of the mind, that govern the will itself, for there is no power on earth that sets up a throne in the spirits of men but knowledge and learning. Whence the detestable and extreme pleasure wherewith arch-heretics, false prophets, and impostors, are transported upon finding they have a dominion in the faith and conscience of men, a pleasure so great, that if once tasted, scarce any torture or persecution can make them forego it. But as this is what the Apocalypse calls the depths of Satan, so the just and lawful rule over men's understanding by the evidence of truth and gentle persuasion, is what approaches nearest to divine sovereignty.*

BACON.

KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY TO ALL. How men, whose plentiful fortunes allow them leisure to improve their understandings, can satisfy themselves with a lazy ignorance, I cannot tell. But methinks they have a low opinion of their souls who lay out all their incomes in provision for their body, and employ none of it to procure the means and helps of knowledge; who take great care to appear always in a neat and splendid outside, and would think themselves miserable in coarse clothes or a patched coat, and yet contentedly suffer their minds to appear abroad in a piebald livery of coarse patches and borrowed shreds, such as it has pleased chance or their county tailor (I mean the common opinion of those they have conversed with) to clothe them in. I will not here mention how unreasonable this is for men that ever think of a future state, and their concernments in it, which no rational man can avoid to do sometimes, nor shall I take notice what a shame and confusion it is for the greatest contemners of knowledge to be found igno

* He that knoweth not what he ought to know, is a brute among men. He that knoweth no more than he hath need of, is a man among brute beasts. He that knoweth all that may be known, is a god among men.

D. S. ROBSON.

rant in things they are concerned to know. * But this at least is worth the consideration of those that call themselves gentlemen, that however they may think credit, respect, and power and authority, the concomitants of their birth and fortune, they will find all these still carried away from them by men of lower condition who surpass them in knowledge. They who are blind will always be led by those who see, or else fall into the ditch ; and he is certainly the most subjected, and the most enslaved, who is so in his understanding.

LOCKE. On the Understanding, Book IV., Chap. 20.

VALUE OF GÉNERAL KNOWLEDGE. OBTAIN (said Ford) some general principles of every science. He who can talk only on one subject, or act only in one department, is seldom wanted, and perhaps never wished for; while the man of general knowledge can often benefit, and always please.

Piozzi. Anecdotes.

ABUSE OF KNOWLEDGE. If they think an inquiry into Nature anywhere forbid them by Religion.-It was not that pure and unspotted natural knowledge, whereby Adam gave names to things agreeable to their natures, which caused his fall. 'Tis an ambitious and authoritative desire of moral knowledge, to judge of good and evil, that makes men revolt from God, and obey no laws but those of their own will.

BACON.

MAINTS
ABUSE OF TALENTS.

BUT surely, for his manners,
I judge him a profane and dissolute wretch.
Worse by possession of such great good gifts,
Being the master of so loose a spirit.

Ben JONSON. Every Man In His Humour, Act I. It is a mighty shame and dishonour to employ excellent faculties and abundance of wit, to humour and to please men in

* All men, without exception, have something to learn ; whatever may be the distinguished rank which they hold in society, they can never be truly great but by their personal merit.

ZIMMERMAN. On Solitude.

« AnteriorContinuar »