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kind of baseness, as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns, children, women, old folks, sick folks. Only men must beware that they carry their anger rather with scorn than with fear; so that they may seem rather to be above the injury than below it; which is a thing easily done, if a man will give law to himself in it. For the second point, the causes and motives of anger are chiefly three : first, to be too sensible of hurt; for no man is angry that feels not himself hurt; and therefore tender and delicate persons must needs be oft angry, they have so many things to trouble them, which more robust natures have little sense of: the next is, the apprehension and construction of the injury offered, to be, in the circumstances thereof, full of contempt; for contempt is that which putteth an edge upon anger, as much or more than the hurt itself; and therefore, when men are ingenious in picking out circumstances of contempt, they do kindle their anger much : lastly, opinion of the touch9 of a man’s reputation doth multiply and sharpen anger; wherein the remedy is, that a man should have, as Gonsalvo was wont to say, telam honoris crassiorim.” But, in all refrainings of anger, it is the best remedy to win time, and to make a man's self believe that the opportunity of his revenge is not yet come ; but that he foresees a time for it, and so to still himself in the mean time, and reserve it. To contain” anger from mischief, though it take hold of a man, there be two things whereof you must have special caution : the one, of extreme bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate and proper; * for communia maledicta + are nothing so much: and, again, that in anger a man reveal no secrets ; for that makes him not fit for society : the other, that you do not peremptorily break off in any business in a fit of anger; but, howsoever you show bitterness, do not act any thing that is not revocable. For raising or appeasing anger in another, it is done chiefly by choosing of times, when men are frowardest and worst disposed, to incense them; again, by gathering (as was touched before) all
9 A peculiar use of touch, but meaning, apparently, about the same as stain or stigma: “the notion that one's reputation is touched.” So in the often-quoted but misunderstood passage in Troilus and Cressida, iii., 3: “One touch of mature makes the whole world kin”; where the context shows that “one touch of nature” is equivalent to one natural blemish, weakness, or folly. 1 “A thicker covering of honour.” 2 Contain, refrain, and restrain are often used indiscriminately by old writers. So in Troilus and Cressida, v., 2: “O, contain yourself; your passion draws ears hither.” 3 That is, pointed, or stinging, and personal. 4 “General reproaches.” .
that you can find out to aggravate the contempt : and the two remedies are by the contraries; the former to take good times, when first to relate to a man an angry business, for the first impression is much ; and the other is, to sever, as much as may be, the construction of the injury from the point of contempt; imputing it to misunderstanding, fear, passion, or what you will.
I)ISCREDITS OF LEARNING.
HERE is the first distemper of learning, when men study words and not matter. And how is it possible but this should have an operation to discredit learning, even with vulgar capacities, when they see learned men's works like the first letter of a patent, or limned book; which though it hath large flourishes, yet it is but a letter? It seems to me that Pygmalion's frenzy" is a good emblem or portraiture of this vanity: for words are but the images of matter; and except they have life of reason and invention, to fall in love with them is all one as to fall in love with a picture.
But yet notwithstanding it is a thing not hastily to be com. demned, to clothe and adorn the obscurity even of philosophy itself with sensible and plausible elocution. For hereof we have great examples in Xenophon, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, and of Plato also in some degree ; and hereof likewise there is great use: for, surely, to the severe inquisition of truth and the deep progress into philosophy, it is some hindrance, because it is too early satisfactory to the mind of man, and quencheth the desire of further search, before we come to a just period; but then, if a man be to have any use of such knowledge in civil occasions of conference, counsel, persuasion, discourse, or the like, then shall he find it prepared to his hands in those authors which write in that manner. But the excess of this is so justly contemptible, that as IIercules, when he saw the image of Adonis, Venus' minion, in a temple, said in disdain, Nil sacri es; so there is none of IIercules' followers in learning, that is, the more severe and laborious sort of inquirers into truth, but will despise those delicacies and affectations, as indeed capable of no divineness. And thus much of the first disease or distemper of learning. e
The second which followeth is in nature worse than the for
5 Pygmalion is said to have made an image of a maiden so beautiful, that he went mad with love for it, and prayed Aphrodite to breathe life into it. The prayer being granted, he then married the maiden.
mer: for, as substance of matter is better than beauty of words, so, contrariwise, vain matter is worse than vain words: wherein it seemeth the reprehension of St. Paul was not only proper for those times, but prophetical for the times following ; and not only respective to divinity, but extensive" to all knowledge: Devita profanas vocum movitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientioc." For he assigneth two marks and badges of suspected and falsified science: the one, the novelty and strangeness of terms; the other, the strictness of positions, which of necessity doth induce oppositions, and so questions and altercations. Surely, like as many substances in Nature which are solid do putrefy and corrupt into worms; so it is the property of good and sound knowledge to putrefy and dissolve into a number of subtile, idle, unwholesome, and (as I may term them) vermiculate questions, which have indeed a kind of quickness and life of spirit, but no soundness of matter or goodness of quality. This kind of degenerate learning did chiefly reign amongst the schoolmen; who — having sharp and strong wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety of reading, but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors, (chiefly 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 unto us those laborious webs of learning which are extant in their books. For the wit and mind of man, if it work upon 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 worketin his web, then it is endless, and brings forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit. This same unprofitable subtilty or curiosity is of two sorts; either in the subject itself that they handle, when it is a fruitless speculation or controversy, (whereof there are no small number both in divinity and philosophy,) or in the manner or method of handling of a knowledge, which amongst them was this : Upon every particular position or assertion to frame objections, and to those objections, solutions; which solutions were for the most part not confutations, but distinctions: whereas indeed the strength of all sciences is, as the strength of the old man's faggot, in the bond. For the harmony of a science, supporting each part the other, is and ought to be the true and brief confu
6 Eartensive for extensible; the active form with the passive sense. This indiscriminato use of active and passive forms was very common.
7 “Shum slippant novelties of speech, and oppositions of science falsely so callcd.”
tation and suppression of all the smaller sort of objections. But, on the other side, if you take out every axiom, as the sticks of the faggot, one by one, you may quarrel with them, and bend them and break them at your pleasure : so that as was said of Seneca, Verborum minutiis rerum frangit pondera,” so a man may truly say of the schoolmen, Quaestionum minutiis scientiarum Jrangunt soliditatem.” For were it not better for a man in a fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small watch-candle into every corner? And such is their method, that rests not so much upon evidence of truth proved by arguments, authorities, similitudes, examples, as upon particular confutations and solutions of every. scruple, cavillation, and objection; breeding, for the most part, one question as fast as it solveth another: even as in the former resemblance, when you carry the light into one corner, you darken the rest. So that the fable and fiction of Scylla seemeth to be a lively image of this kind of philosophy or knowledge; which was transformed into a comely virgin for the upper parts; but then Candida succinctam latrantibus inguina monstris : * so. the generalities of the schoolmen are for a while good and proportionable ; but then, when you descend into their distinctions and decisions, instead of a fruitful womb for the use and benefit of man's life, they end in monstrous altercations and barking. questions. So as it is not possible but this quality of knowledge must fall under popular contempt, the people being apt to contemn truth upon occasion of controversies and altercations, and to think they are all out of their way which never meet ; and when they see such digladiation about subtilties, and matters of no use or moment, they easily fall upon that judgment of Dionysius of Syracusa, Verba ista sunt senum otiosorum.” Notwithstanding, certain it is that if those schoolmen to their great thirst of truth and unwearied travail 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 keeping.” But as, in the inquiry of the Divine truth, their pride inclined to leave the oracle of God's word, and to vanish in the mixture of their own inventions; so, in the inquisition of Nature, they ever left the oracle of God's
“He breaks down the strength of things with nice verbal distinctions.” “They fritter away the solid mass of the sciences with minute questions.” “Having her fair loins girded about with barking monsters.” “Those are the Words of idle old men.” That is, as certain animals are made fierce by being kept in the dark. Bacon seems to mean that the minds of the schoolmen grew rabid from being imprisoned in one idea, or in a narrow cell of thought.
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. And thus much for the second disease of learning. For the third vice or disease of learning, which concerneth deceit or untruth, it is of all the rest the foulest ; as that which doth destroy the essential form of knowledge, which is nothing but a representation of truth : for the truth of being and the truth of knowing are one, differing no more than the direct beam and the beam reflected. This vice therefore brancheth itself into two sorts ; delight in deceiving and aptness to be deceived ; imposture and credulity; which although they appear to be of a diverse nature, the one seeming to proceed of cunning and the other of simplicity, yet certainly they do for the most part concur: for, as the verse noteth, Percontatorem fugito, nam garrulus idem est,” an inquisitive man is a prattler; so upon the like reason a credulous man is a deceiver: as we see it in fame, that he that will easily believe rumours will as easily augment rumours, and add somewhat to them of his own; which Tacitus wisely noteth, when he saith, Fingunt simul creduntgwe : * so great an affinity hath fiction and belief. As for the overmuch credit that hath been given unto authors in sciences, in making them dictators, that their words should stand, and not consuls to give advice; the damage is infinite that sciences have received thereby, as the principal cause that hath kept them low at a stay without growth or advancement. For hence it hath come, that in arts mechanical the first deviser comes shortest, and time addeth and perfecteth ; but in Sciences the first author goeth farthest, and time loseth and corrupteth. So, we see, artillery, sailing, printing, and the like, were grossly managed at the first, and by time accommodated and refined; but, contrariwise, the philosophies and sciences of Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, Hippocrates, Euclides, Archimedes, of most vigour at the first and by time degenerate and imbased ; whereof the reason is no other, but that in the former many wits and industries have contributed in one ; and in the latter many wits and industries have been spent about the wit of some one, whom many times they have rather depraved than illustrated. For, as water will not ascend higher than the level of the first springhead from whence it descendeth, so knowledge derived from Aristotle, and exempted from liberty of examination, will not rise again higher than the knowledge of Aristotle. And therefore, although the position be good, Oportet discentem credere, yet
4 “Shun the prying questioner, for he is also talkative.”