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But we do hate all impostures and lies: insomuch as we have severely forbidden it to all our fellows, under pain of ignominy and fines, that they do not ihow any natural work or thing, adorned or swelling; but only pure as it is, and without all affectation of strangeness.
"These are, my son, the riches of Solomon's House.
"For the several employments and offices of our fellows; we have twelve that sail into foreign countries, under the names of other nations, for our own we conceal, who bring us the books, and abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we call merchants of light.
"We have three that collect the experiments which are in all books. These we call depredators.
"We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts; and also of liberal sciences; and also of practices which are not brought into arts. These we call mystery-men.
"We have three that try new experiments, such as themselves think good. These we call pioneers or miners.
"We have three that draw the experiments of the former four into titles, and tables, to give the better light for the drawing of observations and axioms out of them. These we call compilers.
"We have three that bend themselves, looking into the experiments of their fellows, and cast about how to draw out of them things of use and practice for man's life and knowledge, as well for works, as for plain demonstration of causes, means of natural dirinations, and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and parts of bodies. These we call dowrymen or benefactors.
"Then after divers meetings and consults of our whole number, to consider of the former labours and collections, we have three that take care, out of them, to direct new experiments, of a higher light, more penetrating into nature than the former. These we call lamps.
"We have three others that do execute the experiments so directed, and report them. These we call inoculators.
"Lastly, we have three that raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms. These we call interpreters of nature.
"We have also, as you must think, novices and apprentices, that the succession of the former employed men do not fail: besides a great number of servants, and attendants, men and women. And this we do also: we have consultations, which of the inventions and experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which not: and take all an oath of secrecy, for the concealing of those which
we think fit to keep secret: though some of those we do reveal sometimes to the state, and some not.
"For our ordinances and rites: we have two very long and fair galleries: in one of these we place patterns and samples of all manner of the more rare and excellent inventions; in the other we place the statues of all principal inventors. There we have the statue of your Columbus, that discovered the West Indies: also the inventor of ships: your monk that was the inventor of ordnance, and of gunpowder: the inventor of music: the inventor of letters: the inventor of printing: the inventor of observations of astronomy: the inventor of works in metal: the inventor of glass: the inventor of silk of the worm: the inventor of wine: the inventor of corn and bread: the inventor of sugars: and all these by more certain tradition than you have. Then have we divers inventors of our own of excellent works; which since you have not seen, it were too long to make descriptions of them; and besides, in the right understanding of those descriptions, you might easily err. For upon every invention of value, we erect a statue to the inventor, and give him a liberal and honourable reward. These statues are, some of brass; some of marble and touchstone; some of cedar, and other special woods gilt and adomed; some of iron; some of silver; some of gold.
"We have certain hymns and services, which we say daily, of laud and thanks to God for his marvellous works: and forms of prayers, imploring his aid and blessing for the illumination of our labours; and the turning of them into good and holy uses.
"Lastly, we have circuits or visits of divers principal cities of the kingdom; where, as it cometh to pass, we do publish such new profitable inventions as we think good. And we do also declare natural divinations of diseases, plagues, swarms of hurtful creatures, scarcity, tempests, earthquakes, great inundations, comets, temperature of the year, and divers other things; and we give counsel thereupon what the people shall do for the prevention and remedy of them."
And when he had said this, he stood up; and I, as I had been taught, kneeled down; and he laid his right hand upon my head and said : " God bless thee, my son, and God bless this relation which I have made. I give thee leave to publish it for the good of other nations; for we here are in God's bosom, a land unknown." And so he left me; having assigned a value of about two thousand ducats, for a bounty to me and my fellows. For they give great largesses where they come upon all occasions.
[The rest was not perfected.]
IN PRAISE OF KNOWLEDGE.
Silence were the best celebration of that which I mean to commend; for who would not use silence, where silence is not made? and what crier can make silence in such a noise and tumult of vain and popular opinions? My praise shall be dedicated to the mind itself. The mind is the man, and the knowledge of the mind. A man is but what he knoweth. The mind itself is but an accident to knowledge; for knowledge is a double of that which is. The truth of being, and the truth of knowing, is all one. And the pleasures of the affections greater than the pleasures of the senses. And are not the pleasures of the intellect greater than the pleasures of the affections? Is it not a true and only natural pleasure, whereof there is no satiety? Is it not knowledge that doth alone clear the mind of all perturbations? How many things are there which we imagine not? How many things do we esteem and value otherwise than they are? This ill-proportioned estimation, these vain imaginations, these be the clouds of error that turn into the storms of perturbation. Is there any such happiness as for a man's mind to be raised above the confusion of things; where he may have the prospect of the order of nature, and the error of men? Is this but a vein only of delight, and not of discovery? of contentment, and not of benefit? Shall we not as well discern the riches of nature's warehouse, as the benefit of her shop? Is truth ever barren? Shall he not be able thereby to produce worthy effects, and to endow the life of man with infinite commodities? But shall I make this garland to be put upon a wrong head? Would any body believe me, if I should verify this, upon the knowledge that is now in use? Are we the richer by one poor invention, by reason of all the learning that hath been these many hundred years? The industry of artificers maketh some small improvement of things invented; and chance sometimes in experimenting maketh us to stumble upon somewhat which is new: but all the disputation of the learned never brought to light one effect of nature before unknown. When things are known and found out, then they can descant upon them, they can knit them into certain
causes, they can reduce them to their principles. If any instance of experience stand against them, they can range it in order by some distinctions. But all this is but a web of the wit, it can work nothing. I do not doubt but that common notions which we call reason, and the knitting of them together, which we call logic, are the art of reason and studies. But they rather cast obscurity, than gain light to the contemplation of nature. All the philosophy of nature which is now received, is either the philosophy of the Grecians, or that other of the alchemists. That of the Grecians hath the foundations in words, in ostentation, in confutation, in sects, in schools, in disputations. The Grecians were, as one of themselves saith, " you Grecians, ever children." They knew little antiquity; they knew, except fables, not much above five hundred years before themselves. They knew but a small portion of the world. That of the alchemists hath the foundation in imposture, in auricular traditions and obscurity. It was catching hold of religion, but the principle of it is, " Populus vult decipi." So that I know no great difference between these great philosophers, but that the one is a loud crying folly, and the other is a whispering folly. The one is gathered out of a few vulgar observations, and the other out of a few experiments of a furnace. The one never faileth to multiply words, and lhe other ever faileth to multiply gold. Who would not smile at Aristotle, when he admireth the eternity and invariaUeness of the heavens, as there were not the like in the bowels of the earth? Those be the confines and borders of these two kingdoms, where the continual alteration and incursion are. The superficies and upper parts of the earth are full of varieties. The superficies and lower parts of the heavens, which we call the middle region of the air, is full of variety. There is much spirit in the one part, that cannot be brought into mass. There is much massy body in the other place, that cannot be refined to spirit. The common air is as the waste ground between the borders. Who would not smile at the astronomers, I mean not these few carmen which drive the earth about, but the ancient astronomers, which feign the
moon to be the swiftest of the planets in motion, and the rest in order, the higher the slower; and so are compelled to imagine a double motion: whereas how evident is it, that that which they call a contrary motion, is but an abatement of motion. The fixed stars overgo Saturn, and so in them and the rest all is but one motion, and the nearer the earth the slower. A motion also whereof air and water do participate, though much interrupted. But why do I in a conference of pleasure enter into these p-eat matters, in sort that pretending to know much, I should forget what is seasonable? Pardon me, it was because all things may be endowed and adorned with speeches, but knowledge itself is more beautiful than any apparel of words that can be put upon it. And let not me seem arrogant without respect to these great reputed authors. Let me so give every man his due, as I give Time his due, which is to discover truth. Many of these men had great wits, far above mine own, and so are many in the universities of Europe at this day. But alas, they leam nothing there but to believe: first to believe that others know that which they know not; and after themselves know that which they know not. But indeed facility to believe, impatience to doubt,
temerity to answer, glory to know, doubt to contradict, end to gain, sloth to search, seeking things in words, resting in part of nature; these and the like, have been the things which have forbidden the happy match between the mind of man and the nature of things; and in place thereof have married it to vain notions and blind experiments: and what the posterity and issue of so honourable a match may be, it is not hard to consider. Printing, a gross invention; artillery, a thing that lay not far out of the way ; the needle, a thing partly known before: what a change have these three made in the wTorld in these times; the one in state of learning, the other in the state of war, the third in the state of treasure, commodities, and navigation! And those, I say, were but stumbled upon and lighted upon by chance. Therefore, no doubt, the sovereignty of man lieth hid in knowledge ; wherein many things are reserved, which kings with their treasure cannot buy, nor with their force command; their spials and intelligencers can give no news of them, their seamen and discoverers cannot sail where they grow: now we govern nature in opinions, but we are thrall unto her in necessity; but if we would be led by her in invention, we should command her in action.
THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE:
ANNOTATIONS OF HERMES STELLA.
A FEW FRAGMENTS OF THE FIRST BOOK
Of the limits and end of knowledge.
In the divine nature, both religion and philosophy hath acknowledged goodness in perfection, science or providence comprehending all things, and absolute sovereignty or kingdom. In aspiring to the throne of power, the angels transgressed and fell j in presuming to come within the oracle of knowledge, man transgressed and fell; but in pursuit towards the similitude of God's goodness or love, which is one thing, for love is nothing else but goodness put in motion or applied, neither man or spirit ever hath transgressed, or shall transgress.
The angel of light that was, when he presumed before his fall, said within himself, " I will ascend and be like unto the Highest;" not God, but the Highest. To be like to God in goodness, was no part of his emulation : knowledge, being in creation an angel of light, was not the want which did most solicit him; only because he was a minister he aimed at a supremacy; therefore his climbing or ascension was turned into a throwing down or precipitation.
Man on the other side, when he was tempted before he fell, had offered unto him this suggestion, "that he should be like unto God." But how ? not simply, but in this part, " knowing good and evil." For being in his creation invested with sovereignty of all inferior creatures, he was not needy of power or dominion. But again, being a spirit newly enclosed in a body of earth, he was fittest to be allured with appetite of light and liberty of knowledge. Therefore this approaching and intruding into God's secrets and mysteries, was rewarded with a farther removing and estranging from God's presence. But as to the goodness of God, there is no danger in contending or advancing towards a similitude thereof; as that which is open and propounded to our imitation. For that voice, whereof the heathen
and all other errors of religion have ever confessed that it sounds not like man, "Love your enemies; be you like unto your heavenly Father, that suffereth his rain to fall both upon the just and the unjust," doth well declare, that we can in that point commit no excess. So again we find it often repeated in the old law, "Be you holy as I am holy;" and what is holiness else but goodness, as we consider it separate, and guarded from all mixture, and all access of evil?
Wherefore seeing that knowledge is of the number of those things which are to be accepted of with caution and distinction; being now to open a fountain, such as it is not easy to discern where the issues and streams thereof will take and foil; I thought it good and necessary in the first place, to make a strong and sound head or bank to rule and guide the course of the waters; by setting down this position or firmament, namely, "That all knowledge is to be limited by religion, and to be referred to use and action."
For if any man shall think, by view and inquiry into these sensible and material things, to attain to any light for the revealing of the nature or will of God; he shall dangerously abuse himself. It is true, that the contemplation of the creatures of God hath for end, as to the natures of the creatures themselves, knowledge; but as to the nature of God, no knowledge, but wonder: which is nothing else but contemplation broken off, or losing itself. Nay farther, as it was aptly said by one of Plato's school, "The sense of man resembles the sun, which openeth and revealeth the terrestrial globe, but obscureth and concealeth the celestial;" so doth the sense discover natural things, but darken and shut up divine. And this appeareth sufficiently in that there is no proceeding in invention of knowledge, but bv similitude; and God is only self-like, having nothing in common with any creature, otherwise than as in shadow and trope. Therefore attend his will as himself openeth it, and give unto faith that which unto faith belongeth; for more worthy it is to believe, than to think or know, considering that in knowledge, as we now are capable of it, the mind suffereth from inferior natures; but in all belief it suffereth from a spirit, which it holdeth superior, and more authorized than itself.
To conclude; the prejudice hath been infinite, that both divine and human knowledge hath received by the intermingling and tempering the one with the other: as that which hath filled the one full of heresies, and the other full of speculative fictions and vanities.
But now there are again, which, in a contrary extremity to those which give to contemplation an over-large scope, do offer too great a restraint to natural and lawful knowledge; being unjustly jealous that every reach and depth of knowledge wherewith their conceits have not been acquainted, should be too high an elevation of man's wit, and a searching and ravelling too far into God's secrets; an opinion that ariseth either of envy, which is proud weakness, and to be censured and not confuted, or else of a deceitful simplicity. For if they mean that the ignorance of a second cause doth make men more devoutly to depend upon the providence of God, as supposing the effects to come immediately from his hand; I demand of them, as Job demanded of his friends, "Will you lie for God, as man will for man to gratify him?" But if any man, without any sinister humour, doth indeed make doubt that this digging farther and farther into the mine of natural knowledge, is a thing without example, and uncommended in the Scriptures, or fruitless; let him remember and be instructed: for behold it was not that pure light of natural knowledge, whereby man in paradise was able to give unto every living creature a name according to his propriety, which gave occasion to the fall: but it was an aspiring desire to attain to that part of moral knowledge, which defineth of good and evil, whereby to dispute God's commandments, and not to depend upon the revelation of his will, which was the original temptation. And the first holy records, which within those brief memorials of things which passed before the flood, entered few things as worthy to be registered, but wily lineages and propagations, yet nevertheless honour the remembrance of the inventor both of music and works in metal. Moses again, who was the reporter, is said to have been seen in all the Egyptian learning, which nation was early and leading in matter of knowledge. And Solomon the king, as out of a branch of his wisdom extraordinarily petitioned and granted from God, is said to have written a natural history of all that is green, from the cedar to the moss, which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb, and also of all •hat liveth and moveth. And if the book of Job be turned over, it will be found to have much aspersion of natural philosophy. Nay, the same Solomon the king afErmeth directly, that the glory of. God "is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out," as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out; for in naming the king he intendeth man, taking such a
condition of man as hath most excellency and greatest commandment of wits and means, alluding also to his own person, being truly one of those clearest burning lamps, whereof himself speaketh in another place, when he saith, "The spirit of man is as the lamp of God, wherewith he searcheth all inwardness;" which nature of the soul the same Solomon holding precious and inestimable, and therein conspiring with the affection of Socrates, who scorned the pretended learned men of his time for raising great benefit of their learning, whereas Anaxagoras contrariwise, and divers others, being born to ample patrimonies, decayed them in contemplation, delivereth it in precept yet remaining, "Buy the truth, and sell it not;" and so of wisdom and knowledge.
And lest any man should retain a scruple, as if this thirst of knowledge were rather a humour of the mind, than an emptiness or want in nature, and an instinct from God; the same author defineth of it fully, saying, "God hath made every thing in beauty according to season; also he hath set the world in man's heart, yet can he not find out the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end:" declaring not obscurely that God hath framed the mind of man as a glass, capable of the image of the universal world, joying to receive the signature thereof, as the eye is of light; yea, not only satisfied in beholding the variety of things, and vicissitude of times, but raised also to find out and discern those ordinances and decrees, which throughout all these changes are infallibly observed. And although the highest generality of motion, or summary law of nature, God should still reserve within his own curtain; yet many and noble are the inferior and secondary operations which arc within man's sounding. This is a thing which I cannot tell whether I may so plainly speak as truly conceive, that as all knowledge appeareth to be a plant of God's own planting, so it may seem the spreading and flourishing, or at least the bearing and fructifying of this plant, by a providence of God, nay not only by a general providence, but by a special prophecy, was appointed to this autumn of the world: for to my understanding, it is not violent to the letter, and safe now after the event, so to interpret that place in the prophecy of Daniel, where, speaking of the latter times, it is said, "Many shall pass to and fro, and science shall be increased;" as if the opening of the world by navigation and commerce, and the farther discovery of knowledge, should meet in one time or age.
But howsoever that be, there are besides the authorities of Scriptures before recited, two reasons of exceeding great weight and force, why religion should dearly protect all increase of natural knowledge: the one, because it leadeth to the greater exaltation of the glory of God; for as the Psalms and other scriptures do often invite us to consider, and to magnify the great and wonderful works of God; so if we should rest only in the contemplation of those shows which first offer themselves to our senses, we should do a like injury to the majesty of God, as if we should judge of the store of some excellent jeweller, by that only which is set out to the