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and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.' This must be understood, from the title and whole strain of the essay, to be addressed to students to the comparatively few, a large portion of whose time is occupied with books. If the illustrious author had been treating of the subject of reading in general, with the 'great faculty,' as he has himself called it, which he possessed in so eminent a degree, of contracting his view as well as of dilating and dispersing it, of making his mental eye a microscope to discern the parts of whatever he investigated as well as a telescope to take in the whole, he would not have omitted to remark also, that the same book is often to be read in one way by one man and in another way by another. We cannot have a better example than his own writings. In their entire form they fill many volumes; they have been collected in three or four large folios, in five quartos, in a dozen or more octavos. Let the student of literature or philosophy, we say again, by all means read and inwardly digest every page of them; but it would be the height of pedantry to recommend that anything like that should be done by all readers. Even if the entire body of Bacon's works could be produced at so small a cost as to be within the reach of all readers, the time to peruse them would be wanting. Nor, even if such of them as are not in English were to be all translated (which they have not yet been), would they be found to be all, or nearly all, of universal interest. Another remark that Bacon himself would not have failed to make if he had been examining the question of reading books in its whole extent, and on all sides, is, that, with few exceptions, all books lose something of their first importance, at least for the world at large, with the lapse of time. Works of science, or positive knowledge, especially, are always to some extent superseded, at least for their main or primary purpose, by the growth or extension of that very branch of knowledge which they may have been the first to set before the eyes of men, as the torch may be dimmed and made useless by the greater light it has itself served to kindle. Much of what Bacon has left us is interesting now only as having either been or seemed to be of importance at the time when it was first published; that is to say, only as an evidence of the state of knowledge in those days. Much is the same thing that we have elsewhere in another form, or is the rudimentary conception of what is more fully brought out elsewhere. To the student of the history of science, or of the progress of thought and discovery in the mind of Bacon, all these indications are curious and precious; he will scrutinize them all anxiously, and will even wish that they were more numerous. But it is the results of such scrutiny. principally that the ordinary reader wants; at most a few specimens of the repetitions and variations and exploded errors will be enough for him. Is nobody to be thought entitled to know anything about Bacon and his philosophy-about which everybody. has heard so much—who cannot or will not make himself master of every line that Bacon has written? Here, as in all other cases, there is one kind of knowledge. which the professed student of the particular subject in question requires, and quite another kind which suffices for the general reader-who may be considered as a mere looker-on at the operation which the other is carrying on. It is right that such an observer should have understanding enough of the matter to comprehend what he sees done; it is not at all necessary that he should be able to do it. Even if the highest education were to be universally diffused, still some must have their attention more especially directed to one department of knowledge, some to another; and therefore in every department there must still be the few thoroughly instructed, and the many to whom the subject is known only in its outlines and general principles.
"Such a knowledge of what is called the Baconian philosophy we hope to present our readers with the materials for acquiring in these volumes. Our plan, of producing for the most part Bacon's own words, will have at least the advantage of trustworthiness and safety. Our duty will be to confine ourselves principally to exposition, and to deal but little either in controversy or in criticism. The only respect, therefore, in which we shall have to draw upon the confidence of the reader will be that we exhibit all the evidence which is material upon any disputed point.
"But what is understood by the Baconian philosophy is only one of the things to which the extant writings of Bacon relate. About half of the entire body of them, even if we exclude his Letters, has nothing to do with his system or method of philosophy. If we confine ourselves to his English writings, the portion of them that relates to his method of philosophy will be found to be less than a third of the whole. The other two-thirds are occupied with matters Moral, Theological, Historical, Political, and Legal.
"Bacon is a great name both in the history of philosophy and in our English literature. At the same time, with the exception of his Essays, what he has written is very little known to the general reader. He stands, therefore, exactly in the position which seems to make it expedient that an account of his works should be given, and so much of them as can be made generally interesting produced for popular perusal, in such a form as the present. It is the object of the series of analytical accounts of great writers, to which the present volumes belong, to introduce the most numerous class of readers to an actual acquaintance with those chief works, in our own literature and in that of other countries, with the names at least of the authors of which everybody is familiar. And this we believe to be likely to prove by far the most effectual way of promoting the more general study of the works in their origi nal and complete form.",
We subjoin a passage which is sufficient evidence that the higher order of criticism may be properly associated with such an attempt as this to popularize a Great Writer:
"Jonson has said of Bacon's speaking, that his hearers could not cough or look aside from him without loss; neither can his readers remit their attention for a sentence, or for a clause of a sentence, without missing a portion of the thought. We do not speak merely of the vividness and pregnancy of the expression; that is another thing. What we mean is, that the flow of the reasoning or reflection never pauses, never diminishes. True or false, one new thought, one new view succeeds another as fast as it is possible to exhibit them. Nor is this true only of the Essays, where the style is more formally aphoristic and economical. His other writings are less pointed and epigrammatic; but the packing of the thoughts is nearly as close everywhere. Every word indicates a working, teeming mind. Much of what is said, indeed, may be merely ingenious; some portion of the abundance may be even incumbering, and would, we may think, be better away; but there, at any rate, it is, never-failing and seemingly inexhaustible, at the least the richest intermixture of wisdom, fancy, and ingenuity in succession, often a combination and interfusion of all the three.
"Then there is the uncommonness and characteristic air of nearly all the thoughts. It might be supposed that after any true thing has once been said, and generally felt and accepted, it would pass into common property, and cease to be recognisable as the thought of an individual. But it does not so happen. An original thought never loses its stamp of originality. If it has been struck out in an illiterate and unrecord
ing age, it spreads indeed everywhere among the people, but it retains its distinctive shape of a peculiar utterance, a proverb, and, after having been repeated for a thousand years, it shows like a flash of fire among other words every time it is used. It is the same with an original thought in a book. It always remains new, fresh, and striking. A mere scientific truth may become a commonplace; it is something entirely separate from the mind of the discoverer; but a happily expressed thought is a fragment of the mind which first gave it such expression, and will always continue to be something unlike what any other mind would have produced. Take any discovery in astronomy: we could not say from anything that is known of the minds of Copernicus, or Galileo, or Tycho Brahe, or Kepler, from which of them it proceeded, nor does the mention of it in ordinary circumstances recal its author; no part of its importance, no part of its beauty or its life lies in its connection with him: it has no flavour or character of any kind which it has taken from him, or which makes any likeness between him and it. He has thrown it forth as the tissue is thrown forth by the loom; a moral saying is more like the grape, that is ever racy of the soil where it grew. Thus, a characteristic thought of Bacon's cannot be taken possession of by any one else and made his. own; in the change of the Baconian form or expression, the thought itself would be changed; it must therefore always retain that peculiarity of aspect which marks it as his, and which will keep it for ever as distinguishable and as striking as it was at first. A discovery made by Kepler might easily, if we were to judge only by the intellectual characters of the two, be attributed to Copernicus; but a verse of Homer's or a sentence of Bacon's will usually, like a picture by Raphael, attest their own paternity.
"Bacon's manner of writing has been described by his chaplain and first biographer in the following terms: In the composing of his books, he did rather drive at a masculine and clear expression than at any fineness or affectation of phrases, and would often ask if the meaning were expressed plainly enough; as being one that accounted words to be but subservient or ministerial to matter, and not the principal. And, if his style were polite, it was because he could do no otherwise. Neither was he given to any light conceits, or descanting upon words, but did ever purposely and industriously avoid them; for he held such things to be but digressions or diversions from the scope intended, and to derogate from the weight and dignity of the style.' What is here said of his avoidance of all mere verbal conceits is true, and the fact merits especial attention as notably discriminating the wit of Bacon from that of every other English writer eminent for that quality in his age. Probably nothing resembling a pun, or any quibble of that class, is to be found in all that he has written. Nor does he torture thoughts more than words; having once given the thought full and fitting expression, he lets it alone, and passes on to the next. Yet the characteristic of his writing is pre-eminently wit, understood in the largest and highest sense, as the perception and exhibition of things in their less obvious relations. Upon no topic is he ever trite, or a repeater of what has been said by others; he cannot quote a verse of Scripture without giving it an interpretation of his own. And yet the peculiar view that he takes of everything, never, or very rarely, appears forced or unnatural; be the last that would occur to an ordinary thinker, it looks as if it were the first that had occurred to him.
"Much of this comes of the real originality of Bacon's manner of thinking; but the effect is also in part owing to his great oratorical skill or art of expression. The manner of his writing is as striking and uncommon as the matter. Or rather, we should say, the arraying and apparelling of his thoughts is as brilliant as the thoughts
themselves. He has no passion; but no man had ever more of the mere ingenuity and fancy that belong to eloquence. His style is all over colour and imagery; so much so, indeed, that this sort of enrichment may be said frequently to enter into its substance, and to constitute his thoughts rather than to clothe and decorate them. Metaphors, similitudes, and analogies make up a great part of his reasoning,-are constantly brought in for proof and argument as well as for illustration. Not that this forms any objection to the force or soundness of the reasoning. In moral exposition, which is totally different in its nature from mathematical demonstration-as different as a piece of music is from the multiplication table-what is at all times principally wanted, almost the one thing needful, is the spirit and pulse of life; if that be present in sufficient strength, the manner in which it shows itself, or the source whence it is obtained, is of little consequence. Consider what all such exposition is. It rarely or never takes the form of pure syllogism or absolutely necessary deduction; its nature does not admit of its doing so; it never can, except perhaps for a step or two now and then by a process of forcing or torture, be reduced to that form. What is called moral reasoning consists, in addition to the historical statement of the necessary facts, mainly of such excitement addressed to the reader or hearer as enables and impels him to supply everything else for himself—to see the subject in the same light in which the writer or speaker sees it, and to come to the same conclusions. There are various ways, we repeat, of producing this effect, according to the circumstances of the case. Almost the only position that can be universally affirmed is, that the thing cannot be done in the manner of a mathematical demonstration; in moral questions that mode of reasoning is at once powerless and, for any continued effort, impossible. It may be accomplished by mere artifice of narration; by the clear exhibition of the subject in the proper points of view; by passionate declamation; by invective; by ridicule; by epigrams and witticisms; and often, as effectually as in any other way, or more so than in any other, by ingenious analogies and similitudes and other fanciful illustrations. None of these modes of exposition, it is true, are in a strict sense logically conclusive; but any one is nearly as much so as any other; and at any rate no methods more purely logical are possible. An extended concatenation of perfect syllogisms upon any moral subject would be a mere string of truisms and inanities.
"We do not admit, therefore, that there is anything false or hollow in Bacon's manner of reasoning, because he deals largely in figurative illustrations. When in the above essay he represents truth as a kind of daylight, and falsehood or fiction as a candlelight, we contend that he expounds an idea and impresses a conviction as distinctly and completely as could have been done by the soberest and most colourless statement. Nay, much more distinctly and effectually; for there is a life and power in the figure that the plain statement would not have had, awakening a corresponding life and power of conception in the mind of the reader. Nor is an imaginative manner of thinking, or a figurative style, inconsistent with soundness of judgment or correctness of exposition. The highest of all truths have been expounded poetically. Many of the highest truths cannot be conceived at all except imaginatively. A mind of imaginative capacity is in the region of thought and reasoning to a mind without imagination what in the world of sense the man who sees is to him who is blind. The latter may have a tolerably correct notion of anything he can touch and handle; but the former alone can embrace the grand panorama of nature."