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Made in Great Britain
The Temple Press Letchworth
J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
First published in this edition 1915
Y 67/8 m
BY G. W. KITCHIN, M.A.
LORD BACON has given us his own estimate of the value and position of the Advancement of Learning. This writing," says he, seemeth to me, si nunquam fallit imago, not much better than that noise or sound which musicians make while they are tuning their instruments; which is nothing pleasant to hear, but yet is a cause why the music is sweeter afterwards: so have I been content to tune the instruments of the Muses, that they may play that have better hands." Wherein he errs in two opposite ways: for, on the one side, the book is nobler than the senseless jargon to which he likens it; while, on the other, the musicians that have taken up the work have scarcely succeeded in playing harmoniously together. He seems not to be aware of the intrinsic worth of the thoughts expressed in every page, while he also seems to have imagined that a Millennium of Learning was about to begin, to which this book should be, as it were, the herald trumpet. Under so almost divine a sovereign as King James I. learning will surely be fostered and advanced. Controversies in religion, he thinks, are all but worn out (and this on the eve of the great Puritan struggles and successes !), and we shall have leisure to leave questions of faith for the discovery of the Laws of Nature. And yet, with all this, he does not discern the value of mathematics, that branch of learning which was then making great advance, and was destined to work wonders. He scarcely cared to have an opinion on the "Copernican Theory" of Astronomy. He never mentions his famous countryman Gilbert without a sneer, or at least a disparaging remark; though he was engaged on those discoveries in magnetism which have tended to enlarge in many ways the empire of man over Nature. He by no means emancipates himself thoroughly from the thraldom of the old scholastic systems. He regards Poetry as complete, requiring no farther development: and is not conscious that he is living with those who were above all others to be the pride of English Literature,
and who should labour in broad fields of Poetry, which had never yet been touched by mortal hand. In these and other subjects the book is defective enough; yet, remembering all things, we must marvel at the extraordinary breadth of knowledge and reading; the fertility of thought, and happiness of expression; the complete arrangement of subjects, and lucid order of the work, which show themselves throughout. Nor did Bacon himself fail to see the importance of his pioneer-book-otherwise he would not have expanded it so fully as he has done in the Latintranslating it into that tongue that it might the more readily gain access to all lands, and be read by the learned in every place; and carefully expunging all passages which might be distasteful abroad, lest the Roman Church should be offended with the accidents, and so neglect the essence of his writings.
The frontispiece of the original edition of the Novum Organum expresses his feeling respecting the Advancement. Between two pillars, the pillars of Hercules, the ship of learning sails forth upon a tossed sea, bound for lands as yet unvisited, to bring thence goodly store of new and precious merchandise. Behind her lie all those well-known shores of knowledge, of which the Advancement gives the map and chart. They were, if we may so speak, those Mediterranean lands which were the heart of the fourth or Roman Empire -trodden by every foot of learned men: familiar even to children in knowledge. But beyond the straits is the great outer sea, and continents as yet unknown, to be explored by painful daring, and destined to increase the wealth of the world in a million ways. The old empire should give place to the new: just as the Mediterranean ceased to be allimportant, when once the boldness of Bartholomew Diaz had shown an easier pathway to the wealth of India; and the inspired dreams of Columbus had been realised by the discovery of new continents across the main.
The Advancement of Learning was, therefore, the first work in Bacon's great series. That series he styled the "Instauratio Magna," and under the first head of “Partitiones Scientiarum " he placed this book. It was to be a chart of the lands already discovered and known; so as to direct the attention of the adventurer without loss of time or labour to those parts which had not yet been explored. Then came the Novum Organum; a "Method" or instru
ment by means of which men should arrive at these novelties -the ship, in fact, of his frontispiece, on board of which (to use his own motto),
Multi pertransibunt, et augebitur scientia.
After that, the "Instauratio was to be composed of successive works, ending with a Philosophia secunda," or complete system of knowledge. This, however, he felt must be left to posterity.
Whoever, therefore, desires to acquaint himself with Bacon's philosophical works must begin with the Advancement, referring to the De Augmentis Scientiarum from time to time. Then, having thus become familiar with the style of the great thinker, he will be able to go on to that noble work, the Novum Organum; wherein are contained the seeds of marvellous wisdom, of knowledge which has grown and flourished to this day; and has affected for ever the course and fortunes of learning.
In preparing this edition of the Advancement of Learning for the general reader, I have aimed at three things — a faithful text, full verification of quotations, and brevity and simplicity of notes.
As to the first of these matters, there was but little difficulty. The variations in the text are very few, and very unimportant. Wherever it was possible, I have followed the edition of 1605, leaving myself little scope for conjecture. As to the next point, I had the work already done for me, to a great extent, both in the edition of Mr. Markby, and in the De Augmentis of the great Ellis and Spedding edition. I have been able here and there to supply missing references, and have carefully verified those already found for me.
But with respect to notes, it is unnecessary that I say more than that their aim is to be as unobtrusive as possible, and that I hope they may be useful.
Lastly, I subjoin a brief analysis of the work.
BOOK I. (Preliminary.) Briefly removes the prejudices against Learning, with proofs, divine and human, of its dignity. (Corresponds with De Augmentis, Bk. 1.)
Book II. (On the main subject.) Commended to kings as nursing fathers. (De Augm. ii. præf.)
Learning is twofold-Divine and Human. Divine postponed. (De Augm. ii.)
HUMAN LEARNING is threefold-I. History (which answers to the