Page images
PDF
EPUB

arrangement, and supplying the omitted portions.

Such of Shaw's notes as were deemed of value have been retained, and others added where the text seemed to require illustration. Due care also has been taken to point out the sources whence Bacon drew his extraordinary stores of learning, by furnishing authorities for the quotations and allusions in the text, so that the reader may view at a glance the principal authors whom Bacon loved to consult, and whose agency

contributed to the formation of his colosta) powers.

The version of the Novum Organum contained in this volume is that by Wood, which is the best extant. The present edition of this immortal work has been enriched with an ample commentary, in which the remarks of the two Playfairs, Sir John Herschel, and the German and French editors, have been diligently consulted, that nothing may be wanting to render it as perfect as possible.

J. D.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

FRANCIS OF VERULAM'S

GREAT INSTAURATION.

Announcement of the Author.

FRANCIS OF VERULAM THOUGHT THUS, AND SUCH IS THE METHOD

WHICH HE DETERMINED WITHIN HIMSELF, AND WHICH HE THOUGHT IT CONCERNED THE LIVING AND POSTERITY TO KNOW.

BEING convinced, by a careful observation, that the human understanding perplexes itself, or makes not a sober and advantageous use of the real helps within its reach, whence manifold ignorance and inconveniences arise, he was determined to employ his utmost endeavours towards restoring or cultivating a just and legitimate familiarity betwixt the mind and things.

But as the mind, hastily and without choice, imbibes and treasures up the first notices of things, from whence all the rest proceed, errors must for ever prevail, and remain uncorrected, either by the natural powers of the understanding or the assistance of logic; for the original notions being vitiated, confused, and inconsiderately taken from things, and the secondary ones formed no less rashly, human knowledge itself, the thing employed in all our researches, is not well put together nor justly formed, but resembles a magnificent structure that has no foundation.

And whilst men agree to admire and magnify the false powers of the mind, and neglect or destroy those that might be rendered true, there is no other course left but with better assistance to begin the work anew, and raise or rebuild the sciences, arts, and all human knowledge from a firm and solid basis.

This may at first seem an infinite scheme, unequal to human abilities, yet it will be found more sound and judi.

[ocr errors]

cious than the course hitherto pursued, as tending to son issue; whereas all hitherto done with regard to the scienc is vertiginous, or in the way of perpetual rotation.

Nor is he ignorant that he stands alone in an experime: almost too bold and astonishing to obtain credit, yet ] thought it not right to desert either the cause or himse but to boldly enter on the way and explore the only pat which is pervious to the human mind. For it is wiser : engage in an undertaking that admits of some terminatio than to involve oneself in perpetual exertion and anxiet about what is interminable. The ways of contemplatio indeed, nearly correspond to two roads in nature, one which, steep and rugged at the commencement, terminati in a plain ; the other, at first view smooth and easy, lear only to huge rocks and precipices. Uncertain, howeve whether these reflections would occur to another, and ol serving that he had never met any person disposed to app] his mind to similar thoughts, he determined to publish wha soever he found time to perfect. Nor is this the haste Ambition, but anxiety, that if he should die there migł remain behind him some outline and determination of th matter his mind had embraced, as well as some mark of h sincere and earnest affection to promote the happiness mankind.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE.

Of the state of learning—That it is neither prosperous nor great!

advanced, and that a way must be opened to the human understand ing entirely distinct from that known to our predecessors, an different aids procured, that the mind may exercise her power ove the nature of things.

It appears to me that men know neither their acquire ments nor their powers, but fancy their possessions greate and their faculties less than they are; whence, either valuin the received arts above measure, they look out no farther or else despising themselves too much, they exercise thei talents upon lighter matters, without attempting the capita

« PreviousContinue »