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PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY
THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
FRANCIS BACON, first Baron Verulam and Viscount St. Albans, was born in 1561, the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later studied law at Gray's Inn. M.P. in 1584. Lord Chancellor, 1618. Charged with bribery and disabled from sitting in parliament in 1622. Died in 1626.
All rights reserved Made in Great Britain by
The Temple Press Letchworth for
J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
First published in this edition 1915
12 a K
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,