« PreviousContinue »
RICHARD THE SECOND,
Third Book of the Cwi Wars.
GILES FLETCHER. 1588—1623 Tuis truly pleasing Christian poet, the brother of Phineas Fletcher, who, in the words of old Antony Wood, “ was equally beloved of the Muses and Graces," was born 1588. But very little is known of his life. He has, hoy. ever, immortalized his name by that beautiful poem entitled, “Christ's Victory and Triumph in Heaven and Earth orer and after Death :” a poem which displays great sweetness, united to harmony of numbers. Headley styles it “ rich and picturesque," and Campbell' says, that " inferior as he is to Spenser and Milton, he might be figured, in his happiest moments, as a link of connection in our poetry between those congenial spirits, for he reminds us of both, and evidently gave hints to the latter, in a poem on the same subject with Paradise Regained."
When I remember Christ our burden bears,
I look for glory, but find misery;
I look that we should live, and find Him die;
I look for angels' songs, and hear Him cry:
Suffers for us and our joy springs in this;
Suffers to rise—and here his Godhead is;
For man, that could not by himself have ris',
Where Eve to sin her soul did prostitute;
Though ill that trunk and this fair body suit;
Ah! cursed tree, and yet O blessed fruit!
Yet in his honey-flowers our poison blew;
Where Christ a health of poison for us drew,
Yet all our honey in that poison grew:
A Man is now the author of our rise;
1 Specimens, vol. il. p. 806.
A garden was the place we perish'd all,
A garden is the place He pays our price:
And the old serpent, with a new device,
Immantled all the world, and the stiff ground
All for Himself, Himself dissolved found,
Sweat without heat, and bled without a wound;
FRANCIS BACON. 1561-1626.
Him for the studious shade
Francis Bacon, Viscount of St. Albans,' and lord high chancellor of Eng land, was born in London, January 22, 1561. He was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper of the great seal. He entered Cambridge at the early age of thirteen, and after spending four years there, where he was distinguished for his zealous application to study, and for the extraordinary maturity of his understanding, he went abroad and travelled in France. But his father dying suddenly in 1579, and leaving but very little property, he hastily returned to England, and prosecuted the study of the law. He did not, however, neglect philosophy, for not far from this period he planned his great work, “ The Instauration of the Sciences.” In 1590 he obtained the post of counsel extraordinary to the queen, and three years after he had a seat in parliament from Middlesex. On the accession of James I. new honors awaited him. He was knighted in 1603. In 1607 he married Alice, daughter of Benedict Barnhom, Esq., alderman of London, by whom he had a considerable fortune, but no children. In subsequent years he obtained successively the offices of king's counsel, solicitor general, and attorney general. In 1617 the king presented the great seal to him; in 1618 he obtained the title of lord high chancellor of England, and about six months after the title of Baron of Verulam, which title gave place in the following year to that of Viscount of St. Albans. But a " killing frost" was soon to nip these buis of honor: his fall and disgrace were at hand. In 1621 a parliamentary inquiry was instituted into his conduct as judge, which ended in his condemnation and disgrace, for having received numerous presents or bribes from parties whose cases were brought before him for decision. He fully confessed to the twenty-three articles of fraud, deceit, mal-practice, and corruption which were laid to his charge; and when waited on by a committee of the House of Lords, appointed to inquire whether the confession was subscribed by himself, he answered, " It is my hand, my act, my heart: I beseech your lordships to be niereilul to a broken reed." He was fined £40,000; sent prisoner to the Tower; and declared incapable of any oflice or employment in the state. After a short confinement he was releaseil, and in 1025 obtained a full pardon. He died on the 9th of April, 1626.
1 This is a town in Hertfordshire, famous for the two battles fought in 1455 and 1486. between the two rival houses of York and Lancaster. It was anciently called Verulam, whence Bacon's sabsen quent title of honor, Baron Verulam.
The following are the most important works of this wonderful man: 1. His « Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral.” They were published in 1996, so that Shakspeare, who lived twenty years after, and during which time wrote his best plays, had the benefit of their perusal: and what delight and what profit must such a genius as his have derived from them; for no book contains a greater fund of useful knowledge, or displays a more intimate acquaintance with human life and manners. “It may be read,” says the great Scotch philosopher, Dugald Stewart, “ from beginning to end in a few hours, and yet, after the twentieth perusal, one seldom fails to remark in it something overlooked before."
2. “The Proficience and Advancement of Learning.” This forms the first part of his great work afterwards published under the title of Instauratio Scientiarum, « The Reform in the Study of the Sciences." It is divided into two books: the first chiefly considers the objections to learning, and points out the many impediments to its progress: the second, the distribution of knowledge, which he divides into three parts. « The parts of human learning," says he, “have reference to the three parts of man's understanding, which is the seat of learning: History to his Memory, Poesy to his Imagination, and Philosophy to his Reason." He gives also a full genealogical table of knowledge, agreeably to this distribution. This is a work of vast learning.
3. His celebrated treatise of the Wisdom and Learning of the Ancients." The object of this is to show that all the allegories and tables of antiquity have some concealed meaning, which had never been sufficiently explained. In the interpretation of these ancient mysteries, he has displayed his remarkable sagacity and penetration, besides interspersing throughout various important observations on collateral suljects.
4. The Novum Organum, or “ New Instrument,” or “Method of Studying the Sciences.” This is the great work which has immortalized his name, and placed him at the head of the philosophic world. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle called his philosophical work the “Organum." The " Method” which he adopted in scientific inquiries was rather to frame systems and lay down principles, and then to seek or make things conform thereto. But Lord Bacon, in his “ New Method," insists upon the duty of carefully ascertaining facts in the first place, and then reasoning upon them towards conclusions. “Man,” he says, “who is the servant and interpreter of nature, can act and understand no further than he lias, either in operation or in contemplation, observed of the method and order of nature." And again, “ Men have sought to make a world from their own conceptions, and to draw from their own minds all the materials which they employed: but if, instead of doing so, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have had facts
and not opinions to reason about, and might ultimately have arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world.” Thus Bacon established the method of Induction as the only true key to the temple of knowledge, and has therefore been called the Father of the Inductive Phi. losophy. - The power and compass,” says Professor Playfair, “of a mind which could form such a plan beforehand, and trace not merely the outline, but many of the most minute ramifications of sciences which did not yet exist, must be an object of admiration to all succeeding ages." 2
Such is a brief and meagre view of the wonderful intellectual labors of this extraordinary man. He was not insensible of their value, for his last will contains this remarkable passage: “ My name and memory I leave to foreign nations and to my own country after some time is passed over.'' 3
DIVERSE OBJECTS OF MEN TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE. Men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction ; and most times for lucre and profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason to the benefit and use of man. As if there were sought in knowledge a couch whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground for strife and contention; or a shop for profit or sale ; and not a rich store-house for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of man's estate.
PRESERVATION OF KNOWLEDGE.
As water, whether it be the dew of heaven or the springs of the earth, doth scatter and lose itself in the ground, except it be collected into some receptacle, where it may, by union, comfort and sustain itself; and, for that cause, the industry of man hath framed and made spring-heads, conduits, cisterns, and pools ; which men have accustomed likewise to beautify and adorn with accomplishments of magnificence and state, as well as of use and
1 This is called the Inductive system, from the Latin inductio, "a leading up," from particular facta to general conclusions.
The best edition of Bacon is that by Basil Montagn, 17 vols. 8vo, London. It has been reprinted here in three volumes. Read, particularly, a very able article in the “Edinburgh Review," hy Mataulay, July, 1837. Read, also, two in the "Retrospective," 181. 141, and iv. 280; also, an article in the third vol. of D’Israeli's " Amenities of Literature;" another, in Hazlitt's " Age of Elizabeth ;" and the work recently published in Dublin, entitled "Sclections from Bacon," by Thos. W. Monett.
3 “Who is there, that, upon hearing the name of Lord Bacon, does not instantly recognise every thing of genius the most profound, every thing of literature the most extensive, every thing of dis. covery the most penetrating, every thing of observation on human life the inost distinguishing and refined."-Burke.