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contain more vigorous or expressive condensations of thought, more resembling inspiration, and in Bacon they are to be found everywhere. In short, his process is that of the creators; it is intuition, not reasoning. When he has laid up his store of facts, the greatest possible, on some vast subject, on some entire province of the mind, on the whole anterior philosophy, on the general condition of the sciences, on the power and limits of human reason, he casts over all this a comprehensive view, as it were a great net, brings up a universal idea, condenses his idea into a maxim, and bands it to us with the words, Verify and profit by it.'
There is nothing more hazardous, more like fantasy, than this mode of thought, when it is not checked by natural and strong good sense. This common sense, which is a kind of natural divination, the stable equilibrium of an intellect always gravitating to the true, like the needle to the north pole, Bacon possesses in the highest degree. He has a pre-eminently practical, even an utilitarian mind, such as we meet with later in Bentham, and such as their business habits were to impress more and more upon the English. At the age of sixteen, while at the university, he was dissatisfied with Aristotle's philosophy,' not that he thought meanly of the author, whom, on the contrary, he
utility, 'incapable of producing works which might promote the wellbeing of men.' We see that from the outset he struck upon his dominant idea: all else comes to him from this ; a contempt for antecedent philosophy, the conception of a different system, the entire reformation of the sciences by the indication of a new goal, the definition of a distinct method, the opening up of unsuspected anticipations. It is never speculation which he relishes, but the practical application of it. His eyes are turned not to heaven, but to earth, not to things • abstract and vain,' but to things palpable and solid, not to curious but to profitable truths. He seeks to better the condition of men, to labour for the welfare of mankind, to enrich human life with new discoveries and new resources, to equip mankind with new powers and new instruments of action. His philosophy itself is but an instrument, organum, a sort of machine or lever constructed to enable the intellect to raise a weight, to break through obstacles, to open up vistas, to accomplish tasks which had hitherto surpassed its power. In his eyes, every special science, like science in general, should be an implement. He invites mathematicians to quit their pure geometry, to study numbers only with a view to their physical application, to seek formulas only to calculate real quantities and natural motions.
1 The Works of Francis Bacon, London 1824, vol. vii. p. 2. Latin Biography by Rawley.
? This point is brought out by the review of Lord Macaulay. Critical and He recommends moralists to study the mind, the passions, habits, endeavours, not merely in a speculative way, but with a view to the cure or diminution of vice, and assigns to the science of morals as its end the amelioration of morals. For him, the object of science is always the establishment of an art, that is, the production of something of practical utility ; when he wished to describe the efficacious nature of his philosophy apparent by a tale, he delineated in the New Atlantis, with a poet's boldness and the precision of a seer, with almost literal exactness, modern applications, and the present organisation of the sciences, academies, observatories, air-balloons, submarine vessels, the improvement of land, the transmutation of species, regenerations, the discovery of remedies, the preservation of food. "The end of our foundation,' says his principal personage, is the knowledge of causes and secret motions of things, and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible.' And this possible' is infinite.
How did this grand and just conception originate ? Doubtless common sense and genius too were necessary to its production ; but neither common sense nor genius was lacking to men: there had been more than one who, remarking, like Bacon, the progress of particular industries, could, like him, have conceived of universal industry, and from certain limited ameliorations have advanced to unlimited amelioration. Here we see the power of combined efforts; men think they do everything by their individual thought, and they can do nothing without the assistance of the thoughts of their neighbours; they fancy that they are following the small voice within them, but they only hear it because it is swelled by the thousand buzzing and imperious voices, which, issuing from all surrounding things, far and near, are confounded with it in an harmonious vibration. Generally they hear it, as Bacon did, from the first moment of reflection; but it had become inaudible among the opposing sounds from without. Could this confidence in the infinite enlargement of human power, this glorious idea of the universal conquest of nature, this firm hope in the continual increase of well-being and happiness, have germinated, grown, occupied an intelligence entirely, and thence have struck its roots, been propagated and spread over neighbouring intelligences, in a time of discouragement and decay, when men believed the end of the world at hand, when things were falling into ruin about them, when Christian mysticism, as in the first centuries, ecclesiastical tyranny, as in the fourteenth century, were convincing them of their impotence, by perverting their intellectual efforts and curtailing their liberty ? More than that: such hopes must then have seemed to be outbursts of pride, or suggestions of the flesh. They did seem so; and the last representatives of ancient science, and the first of the new, were exiled or imprisoned, assassinated or burned. In order to be developed, an idea must be in harmony with surrounding civilisation; before man can expect to attain the dominion over nature, or attempts
industries have increased, knowledge have been accumulated, the arts expanded, a hundred thousand irrefutable witnesses must have come to give proof of his power and assurance of his progress. The 'masculine birth of the time' (temporis partus masculus) is the title which Bacon applies to his work, and it is a true one. In fact, the whole age co-operated in it; by this creation it was finished. The consciousness of human power and prosperity furnished to the Renaissance its first energy, its ideal, its poetic materials, its distinguishing features; and now it furnished it with its final expression, its scientific doctrine, and its ultimate object.
We may add also, its method. For, the end of a journey once fixed, the route is laid down, since the end always determines the route; when the point of arrival is changed, the path of approach is changed, and science, varying its object, varies also its method. So long as it limited its effort to the satisfying an idle curiosity, opening out speculative vistas, establishing a sort of opera in speculative minds, it could launch out any moment into metaphysical abstractions and distinctions: it was enough for it to skim over experience; it soon quitted it, and came all at once upon great words, quiddities, the principle of individuation, final causes. Half proofs sufficed science; at bottom it did not care to establish a truth, but to get an opinion ; and its instrument, the syllogism, was serviceable only for refutations, not for discoveries : it took general laws for a starting-point instead of a point of arrival ; instead of going to find them, it fancied them found. The syllogism was good in the schools, not in nature; it made disputants, not discoverers. From the moment that science had art for an end, and men studied in order to act, all was transformed; for we cannot act without certain and precise knowledge. Forces, before they can be employed, must be measured and verified ; before we can build a house, we must know exactly the resistance of the beams, or the house will collapse; before we can cure a sick man, we must know with certainty the effect of a remedy, or the patient will die. Practice makes certainty and exactitude a necessity to science, because practice is impossible when it has nothing to lean upon but guesses and approximations. How can we eliminate guesses and approximations? We must imitate the cases in which science, issuing in practice, is shown to be precise and certain, and these cases are the industries. We must, as in the industries, observe, essay, attempt, verify, keep our mind fixed on sensible and particular things,' advance to general rules only step by step ; 'not anticipate' experience, but follow it; not imagine nature, but “interpret it.' For every general effect, such as heat, whiteness, hardness, liquidity, we must seek a general condition, so that in producing the condition we may produce the effect. And for this it is necessary, 'by fit rejections and exclusions,' to extract the condition sought from the heap of facts in which it lies buried, construct the table of cases from which the effect is absent, the table where it is present, the table where the effect is shown in various degrees, so as to isolate and bring to light the condition which produced it. Then we shall have, not useless universal axioms, but efficacious mediate axioms,'true laws from which we can derive works, and which are the sources of power in the same degree as the sources of light. Bacon described and predicted in this modern science and industry, their correspondence, method, resources, principle; and after more than two centuries, it is still to him that we go to discover the theory of what we are attempting and doing.
Beyond this great view, he has discovered nothing. Cowley, one of his admirers, justly said that, like Moses on Mount Pisgah, he was the first to announce the promised land ; but he might have added quite as justly, that, like Moses, he did not enter there. He pointed out the route, but did not travel it; he taught men how to discover natural laws, but discovered none. His definition of heat is extremely imperfect. His Natural History is full of chimerical explanations.: Like the poets, he peoples nature with instincts and desires; attributes to bodies an actual voracity, to the atmosphere a thirst for the light, sounds, odours, vapours, which it drinks in ; to metals a sort of haste to be incorporated with acids. He explains the duration of the bubbles of air which float on the surface of liquids, by supposing that air has a very small or no attraction to high latitudes. He sees in every quality, weight, ductility, hardness, a distinct essence which has its special cause; so that when one knows the cause of every quality of gold, one will be able to put all these causes together, and make gold. In brief, with the alchemists, Paracelsus and Gilbert, Kepler himself, with all the men of his time, men of imagination, nourished on Aristotle, he represents nature as a compound of secret and lively energies, inexplicable and primordial forces, distinct and indecomposable essences, adapted each by the will of the Creator to produce a distinct effect. He almost saw souls endowed with dull repugnances and occult inclinations, which aspire to or resist certain directions, certain mixtures, and certain localities. On this account also he confounds everything in his researches in an undistinguishable mass, vegetative and medicinal properties, physical and moral, without considering the most complex as depending on the simplest, but each on the contrary in itself, and taken apart, as an irreducible and independent existence. Obstinate in this error, the thinkers of the age mark time without advancing. They see clearly with Bacon the wide field of discovery, but they cannot advance into it. They want an idea, and for want of this idea they do not advance. The disposition of mind which but now was a lever, is become
1 Novum Organum, ii. 15 and 16. 2 Novum Organum, i. i. 3. 8 Natural History, 800, 24, etc. De Augmentis, iii. i.
an obstacle: it must be changed, that the obstacle may be got rid of. For ideas, I mean great and efficacious ones, do not come at will nor by chance, by the effort of an individual, or by a happy accident. Like literatures and religions, methods and philosophies arise from the spirit of the age; and this spirit of the age makes them potent or powerless. One state of public intelligence excludes a certain kind of literature; another, a certain scientific conception. When it happens thus, writers and thinkers labour in vain, the literature is abortive, the conception does not make its appearance. In vain they turn one way and another, trying to remove the weight which hinders them; something stronger than themselves paralyses their hands and frustrates their endeavours. The central pivot of the vast wheel on which human affairs move must be displaced one notch, that all may move with its motion. At this moment the pivot was moved, and thus a revolution of the great wheel begins, bringing round a new conception of nature, and in consequence that part of the method which was lacking. To the diviners, the creators, the comprehensive and impassioned minds who seized objects in a lump and in masses, succeeded the discursive thinkers, the systematic thinkers, the graduated and clear logicians, who, disposing ideas in continuous series, led the hearer insensibly from the simple to the most complex by easy and unbroken paths. Descartes superseded Bacon; the classical age obliterated the Renaissance; poetry and lofty imagination gave way before rhetoric, eloquence, and analysis. In this transformation of mind, ideas were transformed. Everything was sobered down and simplified. The universe, like all else, was reduced to two or three notions; and the conception of nature, which was poetical, became mechanical. Instead of souls, living forces, repugnances, and attractions, we have pulleys, levers, impelling forces. The world, which seemed a mass of instinctive powers, is now like a mere machinery of serrated wheels. Beneath this adventurous supposition lies a large and certain truth: that there is, namely, a scale of facts, some at the summit very complex, others at the base very simple; those above having their origin in those below, so that the lower ones explain the higher; and that we must seek the primary laws of things in the laws of motion. The search was made, and Galileo found them. Thenceforth the work of the Renaissance, passing the extreme point to which Bacon had pushed it, and at which he had left it, was able to proceed onward by itself, and did so proceed, without limito