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restore Navarre ; and King Francis the First of France, to command that justice should be done upon the murderers of the Protestants in Merindol and Cabrieres, which till then he neglected. It is therefore death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent, That they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant; makes them cry, complain, and repent; yea, even to hate their forepassed happiness. He takes account of the rich, and proves him a beggar ; a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing, but in the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it.
O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none have dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath fattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised : thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words,
Lastly, whereas this book, by the title it hath, calls itself, The First Part of the General History of the World, implying a second and third volume, which I also intended, and have hewn out: besides many other discouragements, persuading my silence; it hath pleased God to take that glorious Prince out of the world, to whom they were directed, whose unspeakable and never enough lamented loss hath taught me to say with Job, Versa est in luctum Cithara mea, di Organum meum in vocem flentium.
Born 1561_Died 1626.
OF THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.
There were under the law, excellent king, both daily sacrifices, and freewill offerings: the one proceeding upon ordinary observance, the other upon a devout cheerfulness : in like manner there belongeth to kings from their servants, both tribute of duty, and presents of affection. In the former of these, I hope I shall not live to be wanting, according to my most humble duty, and the good pleasure of your Majesty's employments : for the latter, I thought it more respective to make choice of some oblation, which might rather refer to the propriety and excellency of your individual person, than to the business of your crown and state.
Therefore I did conclude with myself, that I could not make unto your majesty a better oblation, than of some treatise tending to that end, whereof the sum will consist of these two parts ; the former, concerning the excellency of learning and knowledge, and the excellency of the merit and true glory in the augmentation and propagation thereof: the latter, what the particular acts and works are, which have been embraced and undertaken for the advancement of learning ; and again, what defects and undervalues I find in such particular acts: to the end, that though I cannot positively or affirmatively advise your majesty, or propound unto you framed particulars; yet I
may excite your princely cogitations to visit the excellent treasure of your own mind, and thence to extract particulars for this purpose, agreeable to your magnanimity and wisdom.
In the entrance to the former of these, to clear the way, and, as it were, to make silence, to have the true testimonies concerning the dignity of learning to be better heard, without the interruption of tacit objec
I think good to deliver it from 'the discredits and disgraces which it hath received, all from ignorance, but ignorance severally disguised ; appearing sometimes in the zeal and jealousy of divines, sometimes in the severity and arrogancy of politicians, and sometimes in the errors and imperfections of learned men themselves.
I hear the former sort say, that knowledge is of those things which are to be accepted of with great limitation and caution : that the aspiring to over-much knowledge, was the original temptation and sin, whereupon ensued the fall of man; that knowledge hath in it somewhat of the serpent, and therefore where it entereth into a man it makes him swell ; Scientia inflat: that Solomon gives a censure,
“ That there is no end of making books, and that much reading is weariness of the flesh;" and again in another place, “That in spacious knowledge there is much contristation, and that he that increaseth knowledge increaseth anxiety;" that St. Paul gives a caveat, “ That we be not spoiled through vain philosophy;" that experience demonstrates how learned men have been arch-heretics, how learned times have been inclined to atheism, and how the contemplation of second causes doth derogate from our dependence upon God, who is the first cause.
To discover then the ignorance and error of this opinion, and the misunderstanding in the grounds thereof, it may well appear these men do not observe or consider, that it was not the pure knowledge of nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in paradise, as they were brought before him, according unto their proprieties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God's commandments, which was the form of the temptation.
Neither is it any
quantity of knowledge, how great soever, that can make the mind of man to swell; for nothing can fill, much less extend the soul of man, but God, and the contemplation of God; and therefore Solomon, speaking of the two principal senses of inquisition, the eye and the ear, affirmeth that the eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing: and if there be no fulness, then is the continent greater than the content: so of knowledge itself, and the mind of man, whereto the senses are but reporters, he defineth likewise in these words, placed after that calendar or ephemerides, which he maketh of the diversities of times and seasons for all actions and purposes ; and concludeth thus : “God hath made all things beautiful, or decent, in the true return of their seasons: Also he hath placed the world in man's heart, yet cannot man find out the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end :” declaring, not obscurely, that God hath framed the mind of man as a mirror, or glass, capable of the image of the universal world, and joyful to receive the impression thereof, as the eye joyeth to receive light; and not only delighted in beholding the variety of things, and vicissitude of times, but raised also to find out and discern the ordinances and decrees, which throughout all those changes are infallibly observed. And although he doth insinuate, that the supreme or summary law of nature, which he calleth “ The work which God worketh from the beginning to the end,” is not possible to be found out by man; yet that doth not derogate from the capacity of the mind, but
may be referred to the impediments, as of shortness of life, ill conjunction of labours, ill tradition of knowledge over from hand to hand, and many other inconveniences, whereunto the condition of man is subject. For that nothing parcel of the world is denied to man's inquiry and invention, he doth in another place rule over when he saith, “The spirit of man is as the lamp of God, wherewith he searcheth the inwardness of all secrets.” If then such be the capacity and receipt of the mind of man, it is manifest, that there is no danger at all in the proportion or quantity of knowledge, how
large soever, lest it should make it swell or out-compass itself; no, but it is merely the quality of knowledge, which, be it in quantity more or less, if it be taken without the true corrective thereof, lath in it some nature of venom or malignity, and some effects of that venom, which is ventosity or swelling. This corrective spice, the mixture whereof maketh knowledge so sovereign, is charity, which the apostle immediately addeth to the former clause ; for so he saith, “Knowledge bloweth
up, but charity buildeth up;" not unlike unto that which he delivereth in another place: “If I spake," saith he, “with the tongues of men and angels, and had not charity, it were but as a tinkling cymbal ;” not but that it is an excellent thing to speak with the tongues of men and angels, but because, if it be severed from charity, and not referred to the good of men and mankind, it hath rather a sounding and unworthy glory, than a meriting and substantial virtue. And as for that censure of Solomon, concerning the excess of writing and reading books, and the anxiety of Spirit which redoundeth from knowledge; and that admonition of St. Paul, “That we be not seluced by vain philosophy;" let those places be rightly understood, and they do indeed excellently set forth the true bounds and limitations, whereby human knowledge is confined and circumscribed ; and yet without any
such contracting or coarctation, but that it may comprehend all the universal nature of things : for these limitations are three : the first, that we do not so place our felicity in knowledge, as to forget our mortality. The second, that we make application of our knowledge, to give ourselves
and contentment, and not distaste or repining. The third, that we do not presume by the contemplation of nature to attain to the mysteries of God. For as touching the first of these, Solomon doth excellently expound himself in another place of the same book, where he saith ; “I saw well that knowledge recedeth as far from ignorance, as light doth from darkness; and that the wise man's eyes keep watch in his head, whereas the fool roundeth about in darkness : but withal I learned, that the same mortality involveth