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systems recorded in the books; he fixed the metes and bounds of inquiry; he swayed a scepter over the entire invisible world, into which man might be disposed to push his investigations. More than all, this philosophy had incorporated itself with all the religious dogmas of Europe, and was imposed on the belief of men with all the sanctions of the most terrific and iron-featured superstition that has ever extended a scepter of night over the world. During centuries of darkness this system had been compacted, and with infinite toil of profound metaphysicians had received its shape,
“ If shape it might be called, that shape had none
It is cominon now, to speak of the system with contempt. We despise it because it has passed out of view, and we deem it not worih inquiry. We look on it as we do on desert sands which we are not bound to traverse; and on dark and pestilential and frightful abodes, which we are afraid to enter. But they who have looked at the system are the last 10 hold it in contempt as an effort of profound and subtle argumentation; and the last to wonder that it exerted such an amazing influence on mankind. We have only to remember that it required the best part of a man's life to become acquainted with the dialectics of Aristotle and his commentators; that it was deemed indispensable to education to be master of the pbilosophy of the schools; that it was linked by a thousand ties to the reigning superstition ; that the colossal power of the Roman see, was sustained chiefly by the prevalence of this philosophy; and that to doubt the dogmes of that superstition, and of course the philosophy of Aristotle, subjected a man to
the horrors of the inquisition,-and we shall cease to wonder that it ... so long swayed its scepter over mankind.
The reformation bad made an incipient aggression on the authority of the Stagyrite, at the same tine that the reformers bad defied the thunders of the Vatican. But no mighty genius had vet arisen who was competent to strike an effectual blow at its colossal power. It was reserved for Bacon to put an end forever to tbe system, and to introduce a method of inquiry, which was to annihilate the dominion of Aristotle. At the early age of sixteen, as we have seen, be called in question the correctness of this mode of investigation; and bis philosophical life was litle more than an effort to rescue the world from the protracted tyranny, and to lay the foundations of a pobler method of inquiry.
Glosses, paraphenses, summaries, arguments, and dissertations on his works, were composed without end, as if to make darkness visible. Many of the inhabitants of the West learned Arabic, in order to read a translation of ihem into that language. Men were every where tauglit to believe in matter, form, and privation, as the origin of all things; that the heavens were self-existent, incorrupuble, and unchangeable; and that all the stars were whirled around the earth
in solid orbs. Aristotle's works were the great text book of knowledge, and his - !ogic was the only weapon of truth. Christians, Jews, and Mahometans, united
in professing assent to the great law-giver of human opinions; not Europe alone, but also Africa and Asia, acknowledged his dominion; and while his Greek originals were studied at Paris, translations were read in Persia and Samarcand."— Brougham's account of Bacon's Novum Organum.
It will be recollected, that the difference between Aristotle and Bacon, related to the proper mode of investigating truth. The philosophy of the schools dealt in abstractions. It did not look at facts, but at theories; not at visible and tangible realities. but at fancied essences; not at the world as it is, but at an ideal world; not at things which God had formed, but at the creations of a subtle and refined philosophy, which age after age had labored to reduce to consistency and to form. The designs and labors of the schoolmen, we cannot better present than in the words of Bacon.
Surely like as many substances in nature which are solid, and do putrify and corrupt worms; so it is the property of good and sound knowledge to putrity. and dissolve into a number of subile, uow bolesome, and (as I may term them vermiculate questions which indeed have a kind of quickness, and life of spirit, but no soundness of matter, or goodness of quality. This kind of dogmatic learniog did chiefly reign among the school-men, who having sharp and strong wit, and abundance of leisure, and little variety of reading, but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors, (cbiefly Aristotle their dictator) as their persons were shut up in the cells of monasteries and colleges, and knowing little history either of nature or time, did out of no great quantity of matter and infinite agitation of wit, spin out into those laborious webs of learning wbicb are extant in their books. For the wit and mind of man, if it work npon matter, which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and brings forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the thread and work, but of no substance and profit."'-Adrancement of Learning, vol. i. p. 428.
Yet in regard to their talent Bacon renders them the following just acknowledgment.
Notwithstanding, certain it is, that if the school-men, to their great thirst of truth and unwearied travel of wit, had joined variety and universality of reading and contemplation, they had proved excellent lights, to the great advancement of all learning and knowledge ; but as they are, they are great undertakers indeed, and fierce with dark seeking. But as in the inquiry of the divine truth, their pride inclined them to leave the oracle of God's word, and to varnish in the misture of their own inventions; so in the inquisition of nature, they ever left the oracle of God's works, and adored the deceiving and deformed images, which the unequal mirror of their own minds, or a few received authors or principles did represent unto them. Vol. ii. p. 429.
One can scarcely' help reflecting here, what an amazing advance the unwearied toils of the schoolmea might have made, had their
efforts been directed by some such work as the Novum Organum. Had the profound talent of Duns Scotus been employed on the works of nature, or in investigating the properties of mind in any useful way, it is possible that we might never have heard the names of Bacon, Locke, or Newton, or have heard of them only as carrying the discoveries of science far into the regions that are now untrodden by living men, and clothed to human view in the shades of profound and “ever during darkness.”
We do not deem it necessary to dwell on the state of science in Europe when Bacon lived. We have not room to do it. Those who wish for detail on this subject-perhaps the most interesting that the history of mind and opinions furnishes—will find it in the works which have, in modern times, attempted to establish just views of mental and moral science. Reid and Stewart have presented this in ample detail.
The grand achievement of Bacon was to break the power of this despotism over the mind. To this work no small part of his active life was devoted. In the midst of the toils of office and of law, while seeking for preferment at the feet of his sovereign, (for this was the grand foible of this illustrious man,) and while discharging the duties of a profession which at all times has been deemed enough to occupy the time and energies of the profoundest and most active minds, did this distinguished lawyer lay the foundation of that system on wbich now rests his fame. He then conceived and digested the plan of his great work on the Advancement of Learning; and he had so looked over the field of human science, so estimated its defects and its wants; and so contemplated the objects at which science should aim, that nothing was needed but a few years of leisure, to establish principles which should ultimately change the entire aspect of human science and opinions.
It is to one of those strange and mysterious events, which we are perpetually called upon to deplore in the history of man, that we owe the accomplishment of this great design. While making these preparations, Bacon was in the enjoyment of offices and preferments that would have satisfied any man of moderate ambition. But he sought a seat near the ear of majesty, and aspired to the highest offices to which a British subject can be elevated. He obtained his wishes; James advanced him to the dignity of lord chancellor, and conferred on him the keeping of the great seal of England. Had his life been spent in the duties of that high office, it is probable that his name would have been known to us, if at all, only in British heraldry, or in the books and records of jurisprudence. But this illustrious man, to use an expression applied by the profligate Horace Walpole to every man, " had his price;" and in two years the chancellor of Great Britain was degraded
from his office ; fined to the amount of fifty thousand pounds; sentenced to be imprisoned at the king's pleasure; and forever excluded from holding any office under the British government. Of the justice of this sentence, which, so far as the fine and imprisonment were concerned, was soon remitted—no one ever entertained a doubt. Of the nature of the offense, and the influence which it should have in forming an estimate of his character, we shall have occasion to speak in the course of this article.
After a fall like this, most men would have abandoned every effort; and sunk in hopeless despondency, would have blushed to give publicity to their names even by the most splendid discoveries of science. Alier such a full most of the ancients would have put a period to their lives. Cato fell by his own hand, unaccused of the crime that dishonors the name of Bacon; and Cassius sought his own death amid misfortunes that to a sensitive mind would have been less overwhelming, than was this degradation to the chancellor of England. But it was here, that the nobleness, and we hope the religion also, of this illustrious man, triumphed. He gave himself not up to despondency. He laid aside ihe insignia of office, and sought honors beyond what the courts or cabinets of kings could ever bestow.
After his deposition from office, Bacon lived about five years. The closing years of his life he gave entirely to the pursuits of philosophy, and the perfecting and completing of his great works on science. During this period it does not appear that he ever sighed for the honors which he had once so ardently sought, or that he ever wept over the favors of royalty which he had so ignominiously lost. His great mind souglit employment in contemplating the advances which science might make, and in Jaying the foundation for those astonishing improvements which science in all its departments has since made.
The principles of the inductive philosophy, which Bacon reduced to a system, if he did not originate, are easily told and easily understood. To us therefore at the present day, it is not very easy to understand why the establishment of such a systein should have given to him a celebrity which surpasses all that had before been regarded as great among men. To understand it, it would be necessary to go back to the early periods of science, to watch its slow advances, to look at the mistakes which have been made in all the eras of philosophy. At every step, we should pause and wonder, that the obvious principles of the inductive method should not sooner have presented themselves to men. At almost every step we should see philosophy approaching the very principles of the Novum Organum; we should see men hall disposed to leave the trammels of theories, and to go forth in the manliness of just phi
losophic inquiry to look at nature as she is; and at every step we should be amazed that men drew back from these obvious paths of inquiry, and retreated into the dark shades and bewildering paths of abstract speculation. This tendency of the human mind to frame theories, rather than to look at facts, to forsake the obvious and plain paths of inquiry for vain and delusive vagaries, we regard both in the scientific, and theological world, as one of the most remarkable and melancholy perversities of the human intellect, any where presented in the history of the race.
There are but two ways of attempting to understand the works of nature, or of ascertaining the relations and properties of things. One is for the philosopher to sit down in his grove or closet, and attempt to frame in his own mind what nature ought to be; the other to become the interpreter of nature, and to tell the world what she is. The one attenipts, on the basis of a few facts imperfectly ascertained, isolated in their character, and little understood in their connections, to frame a theory that shall account for all the facts in the world, and to construct a bed of Procrustes to reduce all the theories and facts to the same dimensions; the other approaches the works of creation as the Son of God directed his disciples to come to him, with the spirit of little children, and humbly to sit down at his feet. The former course was the most difficult, the least obvious, and was capable of being made to amaze and consound the intellects of men. It would give the longest and most profound employment to the intellect; would most effectually separate philosophers from other men, and introduce what men of philosopbic temperament have commonly sought -the honors of caste;—an elevation above the millions of humbler morials beneath their feet. This strange obliquity of the human mind we are compelled to trace, country after country, and age after age, in the history of science. It constituted alike the teaching of Aristotle, of Pythagoras, of Plato. The only man in antiquity who seems in any measure to have been free from it, was Socrates; and even his instructions referred almost solely to morals. We are often led to wonder at the little advances which science made in antiquity. We go to Egypt the parent of civilization, of learning, and even of art. What has ever been found there, in relation to the sciences, that would entitle her to the very lowest place now in our schools? When we admire the monuments of her power; when we look upon her pyramids, or enter them ; or when we wander among the broken columns of Thebes, and are impressed with the proofs of her vast physical power, we are instinctively prompted to pause and ask, where are the monuments of her science? What advances did she ever make in the knowledge of that which could ultimately contribute to the spread