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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 63

Art. VII.—The Philosophy of Roger Bacon

Art. VII.—The Philosophy of Roger Bacon.

1.Fratis Rogeri Bacon, Opus Majus, à Samuele Jebb. [unclear: Londini] editum. 1738.
2.Fratis Rogeri Bacon: Opus Tertium, Opus Minus, Compendium Philosophise. Edited by J. S. Brewer. London 1859.
3.Roger Bacon: sa Vie, ses Ouvrages, ses Doctrines. Par Emile Charles. Paris. 1861.
4.Histoire des Sciences Naturelles au Moyen Age. Par F, A Pouchet. Paris. 1853.

Educated people are for the most part agreed that social and political revolutions are caused by changes in the state of opinion. Any rational account of events thus becomes an account of the ideas which have governed those events, and the philosophy of history and the history of philosophy are in effect resolved into one. But the substitution of one belief for another is rarely direct and immediate. In individuals generally and page 513 always in societies, there is a transition period, more or less marked both in duration and intensity, of doubt, hesitation, and questioning. It was thus that, in the history of science, the negative method of Zeno divided the abstract physical theories of the Ionic school from the more precise views which Aristotle [unclear: tained] on the nature of the material world; it was thus that, in the history of morals, a complete body of Ethics was disengaged, by the questioning of Socrates, from the confusion of physical and metaphysical ideas which had previously obscured it; and in a later age, in obedience to the same law, Theology itself entered upon its most dogmatic phase under the hand of Aquinas, after [unclear: Ablard] had shown the difficulties which beset any systematic statement of religious doctrine.

The negative method, as such, has therefore a definite place in the order of speculation, and plays a part, and by no means an unimportant one, in those successive changes of belief from which great events arise. But the degree of its influence and the permanence of its effects vary with the source from which it springs. The suspense produced by a conflict of opinion with opinion in what is called metaphysical science, ends either in a mere balance of judgment, or else refers the inquirer back by some different road to his original point of departure. In either case it is equally and wholly negative. The suspense produced by the conflict of phenomena with opinion in physical science produces, first, distrust, then inquiry, and leads, finally, to proof. It is, then negative in its inception and positive in its result.

The history of the natural sciences becomes therefore a very important consideration for whoever desires to trace the course of European civilization: for there is no pursuit which so directly [unclear: ds] to keep alive the habit of watchful inquiry as the study of Nature,—none in which it is more necessary that men should be hard of belief and suspicious of any evidence short of the best,—none in which credulity is so immediately punished by error,—none through whose whole course from its simplest to its most complex form, an open and a balanced intellect is more constantly necessary. This habit of mind is the result of the physical method, and is perfectly independent of the positive value of the acquisitions of the particular sciences to which that method is applied. It may be found, and is found, in times when, owing to the absence of some necessary condition, the course of discovery has seemed to be arrested or diverted info a barren channel. But, whenever found, it has not failed to react upon social life by preparing the way for those changes of opinion upon which the structure of society ultimately rests.

It is chiefly from this point of view that the philosophical system of Roger Bacon deserves to he considered at this day. page 514 No additions to our positive knowledge are to be looked for from the labours even of the wisest of the schoolmen. But the class of thinkers of whom Bacon has come down to us as the representative in the thirteenth century, exercised an influence on mediæval history which it is worth while to attempt to understand. In the midst of an almost universal slavery, they kept alive the traditions of liberty; they vindicated the right of free inquiry even in matters in which it is unimportant whether they were right or wrong,—in the barren fields of metaphysics, and in the investigation of mysteries which they could not hope to understand;—and they did this in the face of persecution, in spite of Popes and Bishops and General Ccouncils of the Church. Such men were Roscellinus, Abélard, and Roger Bacon.

The thirteenth century was a period of reconstruction and change throughout the whole of western Europe. It witnessed in France the substitution of an absolute monarchy for a [unclear: feudel] league; in Germany, the establishment of the territorial sovereignty of the princes; in Spain, the emancipation of the people from the dominion of the Moors; and in England, the fusion of the Norman and Anglo-Saxon races into one organic whole. During its course there was seen, both in France, in Germany, and in England, the creation of a national language and the dawn of a national literature. It was then that, by obtaining municipal privileges, the towns first became of account in European States; it was then that the people took rank with the nobles and the king as an acknowledged part of the nation.

These constitutional changes all point to some antecedent change in the state of thought and opinion; and contemporary history makes it clear that, from one cause or another, the Intellectual world had been deeply stirred. The revolt of the albigensian churches, the rise of the Mendicant Orders, the rapid extension of universities throughout the Continent, are only some of the forms in which this movement was manifested. Its main cause we believe to have been the sudden impulse given to speculation by the introduction of the Arabian texts into the studies of western Europe. Nor will this cause seem inadequate to the effect, when it is remembered that it was through the writings of Averroes alone that the schoolmen became first acquainted [unclear: wa] the physical works of Aristotle. Under the influence of those writings, of the questions to which they gave rise, and off the methods which they suggested, there grew up a degree of scepticism which had not been seen before, and which the material in the hands of even the boldest thinkers of preceding ages were not fitted to develope. It is true that those eminent men had made the most of the problems before them. Out of the doubt of Porphyry regarding the nature of genus and species—a question, page 515 as M. Cousin well observes,* scarcely worthy to occupy the dreams of philosophers, rose the theory of Nominalism. In Roscellinus culminated the scepticism of that first period. When it had been established that universal terms did not exist at all, that they were mere words, and when the principle of Nominalism had been applied to almost the only Christian doctrine to which it is directly applicable,—the dogma of the Trinity—speculative criticism reached the limit at which, having regard to the materials before it, it was obliged to pause. With a somewhat wider range of subject, by playing the theory of Nominalism against the theory of Realism; by constructing a method of logical criticism, and using that method in theology; above all, by the fruitful idea of balancing the evidence for and against a given proposition, Abélard, the pupil of Roscellinus, carried still further the freedom of opinion, and struck the first blow at authority. Ben we remember what Abélard did, we should not forget with Hat instruments he did it.

The "Timæus" in the version of Chalcidius, the two introductory treatises of the "Organon" in the translation of Boethius, four logical commentaries by Boethius himself, and the introduction of Porphyry, form the sum of the external aids to speculation in the twelfth century. But in the early part of the thirteenth century a large addition was made to the materials of thought: many original works of Averroes were translated for the first time, and several treatises on natural science, chiefly in the departments of medicine, mathematics, and astronomy—the work of Siding Arabic doctors—became known. The "Logics" of Aristotle were completed in a Latin version from the same source; and to them was added the more suggestive parts of the Peripatetic philosophy, especially the Physics, the Metaphysics, and the Nicomachean Ethics. At Toledo, and at the Court of the Hohenstaufen, a regular staff of translators was constantly engaged, of whom Herman of Germany and William of Flanders are the best known, and also, if we may trust Bacon, among the worst.

* Abélard, p. 240.

"Tempore Michaelis Scoti, qui annis 1230 transacts apparuit deferens librorum Aristotelis partes aliquas de naturalibus et mathematicis, cum expositoribus sapientibus magnificata est Aristotelis philosophia apud Latinos."—Baon, Opus Majus, c. 36. It is probable that, as M. Renan points out, this date indicates the time at which Roger Bacon first became acquainted with the translations of Michael Scot. One of these bears the date 1217, and we Know that they were all done about the same time at Toledo.

Herman, like Michael Scot, was in the service of the Hohenstaufen. "Hermannus Alemannus, et translator Manfredi, nuper à D. rege Carolo devicti," says Bacon, Opus Tertium, c. 25. He translated the glosses of Alfarabius on Rhetoric as equivalent to that work, and the abridgment of the Poetics, by Averroes, as equivalent to the Poetics. Aristotle's latter treatise was not known in the Middle Ages, except by this translation of Averroes' [unclear: abridguess] "Male translatus est," says Bacon of it, "nec potest sciri, nec adhuc in usu [unclear: vuest] quia nuper venit ad Latinos, et cum defectu translationis, et cum squalore." —Opus Majus, c. 36. "Hermannus quidem Allemannus—de libris [unclear: logicæ] busdam quos habuit transferendos in Arabico, dixit ore rotundo quod [unclear: negseive] logicam. Nec Arabicum verum scivit, ut confessus est, sed Sarracenos [unclear: ten] in Hispania qui fuerunt in suis translationibus principales. Et sic de [unclear: Michaele] certum est. quod Andreas quidam Judæus plus laboravit in his operibus [unclear: quam] jpse."—"Omnes autem alii ignoraverunt linguas et scientias et maxime like Willelmus Flamingus."—Compend. Studii, c. 10.

page 516

It was to be expected that the introduction of so much new matter would give a fresh impulse to the progress of free thought. Given the "Physics" of Aristotle with which to work, the question could scarcely remain where it had been placed by Abélard, on the basis of his Logics. Natural science being the subject of all others in which our knowledge first assumes a positive form, it is there that we may hope to find the most strongly-marked indications of that questioning habit of mind which is equally the condition and the result of progress in positive philosophy. With these motives and advantages, what did the thirteenth century add to the conception handed down to it by the twelfth century? How far does the doctrine of Bacon supplement and extend that of Abélard? To give an effective reply to these questions, we should understand clearly to what point critical inquiry had been carried before his time. It had not gone further than to weight negative instances against positive assertions. Abélard had simply followed the advice given to the youthful Socrates; he had considered not only what was, but what was not. He formed tables of antitheta, something like those in the Sixth Book of the "De Augmentis," and he placed on each side quotations from the Fathers, from the Bible, and from Greek and Roman writers for and against the several propositions. But he expressly refrained from drawing a conclusion, or from pronouncing any opinion on the value of authority as such. Bacon's first efforts were directed to a solution of the problem left thus incomplete. The question he put to himself was this—Within what limits, and within any limits to what extent, are we to be bound by the dicta of past and present ages? Is the statement of Aristotle conclusive on a question of science? Is the teaching of the Church conclusive on a doctrine of religion? If so, may we safely rely on the authority of a commentator as expressing the mind of Aristotle, or on a dictum of a Father as expounding the opinion of the Church? On this latter point he gives a decided reply. His advice is in all cases—refer to the original writings to endeavour to ascertain the facts with which you propose to deal. Aristotle, in the shape in which he is presented, is utterly untrustworthy.

"I am sure," cries Bacon, "that it would have been better for the page 517 Latins had the Aristotelian philosophy never been translated, than done so obscurely and perversely, as is proved by those who spend twenty or thirty years upon it, and the harder they work the less they Know and as I have myself proved in the case of all who have closely followed the books of Aristotle."*

In theology no less than in philosophy bad translations prevail; the text of the Vulgate is for the most part horribly corrupt—"Textus est pro majori parte corruptas horribiliter," as he idiomatically puts it;—even the saints blundered in their translations, and if so, adds Bacon, much more those who cared little or nothing about sanctity. St. Jerome is the only writer who can be relied on, but as he stood alone and in opposition to the ancient habit of the church, he was sometimes afraid to give the proper rendering. And when he did he incurred no little odium as a tamperer with the letter of Scripture. In vain he pointed out the errors of the Septuagint; every one stood up for the translation of the Seventy as if their life had depended on it—"Omnes stabant maxime pro translation LXX. sicut pro vita."§ Jerome, therefore, lest he should frighten his contemporaries with too much novelty, admits that he allowed many passages to stand which he knew to be wrong.

It is this rooted conviction of the utter worthlessness of all the translations of his day, which makes Bacon placo grammar on the threshold of his philosophy. "There are five things," says he, "without which neither Divine nor human subjects can he known; of which the first is grammar;" he then observes on the differences of idiom and the impossibility of preserving the spirit of the original in a translation, and concludes that unless the sciences are read in the language in which they are written, they had better not be read at all. It is, of course, unnecessary to say that Bacon did not confine the term grammar to the restricted meaning it usually bears; he meant by it the general Knowledge of a language, as well as of its structure. Nor did he pause here. He seems to have had an idea of comparative grammar and of the existence of some laws regulating the forms of universal speech. "Substantially, grammar is the same in all

* "Certus igitur sum quod melius esset latinis quod sapientia [unclear: Aristotelis] translata esset, quam tali obscuritate et perversitate tradita, sicut eis qui [unclear: nunt] ibi triginta vel viginti annos, et quanto plus laboraverunt, tanto minus [unclear: unt] probatur, et sicut ego probavi in omnibus qui libris Aristotelis [unclear: adhæse-] —Compend. Studii., c. x.

"it si sancti erraverunt in suis translationibus multo magis alii qui [unclear: parum] nihil de sanctitate curarent."—Compend. Studii, c. x.

"Sed quia solus fuit et contrarius antiquæ consuctudini ecclesiæ non [unclear: ausus] transferre omniuo ut oportuit."—Opus Majus, p. 34. See Opus Tertium, p. 92.

§ Opus Majus, Pars Tertia, c. i.

Ibid., ad init.

page 518 languages, although it has accidental variations."* The Schoolmen would have avoided many blunders into which they have fallen had this hint been acted on.

Philological criticism, however, carried to its utmost point only enables us to be sure that we understand the meaning of the writer before us. Having ascertained his opinion, how far are we bound by it? The general practice of scholasticism was decisive on the point. Whatever had been handed down from antiquity was admitted without inquiry as authoritative; whatever a father of the Church or a writer of reputation chose to say on any subject whatever was final; whatever was believed by a man's superiors, he himself was bound to believe. You might quote a poet on a matter of philosophy, you might quote a divine on a matter of taste—it mattered not; if they were old and if they were respectable, their opinion was equally binding. In science as in religion, in what cases soever any one of these three sanctions—the sanction of time, of name, or of position—could be invoked, the jurisdiction of independent judgment was in effect ousted.

Bacon's criticism on this standard of belief is substantially as follows:—As to the sanction of age, he observes, sensibly enough, that the ancients as such are no wiser than the moderns; on the contrary, somewhat less so, since later generations inherit the labours of their predecessors, and have always made additions and corrections to what they received. And therefore, while antiquity is to be respected, it is not necessarily to be followed; the presumption is against an opinion which is merely old: the past is liable to the errors of the present, and is without several of those aids which the present enjoys.

As to the respect due to individual men, this was a matter of some delicacy, on which his position as the correspondent of the Pope led to considerable reserve. But he ventures to say that Aristotle was ignorant on several subjects: he did very well for his time—secundum possibilitatem sui temporis—but was by no means infallible. Avicenna is sometimes grossly wrong; even [unclear: Averr]

* "Grammatica una et eadem est secundum substantiam in omnibus [unclear: lic] accidentaliter varietur."—Gram. Græc. Ms. c. i., quoted by M. [unclear: Ch] p. 263.

"Matris exempla sequiturfilia, patris filius, domini servus, prælati [unclear: sub] magistri discipulus. Nec discernimus a juventute an exempla [unclear: seniorum] imitanda vel non; sed passim omnia recipimus tanquam salutifera cum [unclear: tas] ut in pluribus et frequentius sint pestiferæ: tam in studio quam in vita."—Compen. Studii, c. iii. p. 415. (Ed. Brew.)

"Posteriores successione temporum ingrediuntur labores [unclear: priorum]-semper posteriores addiderunt ad opera priorum et multa correxerunt et [unclear: pla] mutaverunt, sicut maxime per Aristotelem patet qui omnes sententias pracedentium discussit."—Opus Majus, c. vi.

page 519 is open to criticism. These, however, are all scientific writers: with regard to the saints and fathers his opinion seems to have varied. In the "Opus Majus"* he expressly excludes them from his strictures on authority. "I by no means intend that solid and true authority which is either granted to the Church by the will of God, or which is naturally engendered in the sacred philosophers and prophets through their merit and dignity." But in a later work, the "Compendium of Theology," written after his imprisonment, he allows that the saints are not infallible—that they have often blundered, and advanced much which is open to doubt. In reality, we suspect Bacon felt that there was very little difference between Aristotle and St. Augustin.

As to the claims of living men, of whatever place or condition, to lead opinion, that was a presumption not to be endured. Against those who pretended thus to control thought he pours out, in the most unmeasured language, accusations of vanity and of ignorance. His criticism of the principle of authority cannot be better summed up than in the following remarkable passage: "Authority is worth nothing unless a reason for it be given; it makes us believe, but does not make us understand; we yield to authority, but we are not convinced by it."

On a careful review of all that Bacon has said on this subject, and making the necessary allowances for the indecisive manner in which he occasionally speaks, his criticism of the grounds of belief is seen to mark a clear advance on that of any former mediæval thinker. He first pointed out the difference between the assent which proceeds from not thinking of a thing, from custom, from hero worship, and that which is grounded on a conscious act of the intelligence; he first protested against being obliged to receive a statement as true because some one else held it to be so: to the assertion that learned men are to be believed, he first added the limitation, "in the matters in which they are learned;" and he put the doctrine of the wisdom of the ancients on the footing on which it has ever since remained.

Next to the irrational following of authority, the great defect of the mediæval philosophy was the extreme prominence it gave to the deductive method. That method, as Lord Bacon observes, is no match for the subtilty of nature; it therefore forces our assent, but has no power over the fact. The weakness here pointed out was as keenly apprehended by Roger Bacon as by the author of the "Novum Organon." Says the former: "There are two modes by which we know, namely, argument and experiment.

* "Opus Majus," c. i.

"Auctoritas non sapit nisi detur ejus ratio nec dat intellectum sed [unclear: credutatem], credimus enim auctoritati, sed non propter eam intelligimus."—[unclear: Com] Studii p. 397. (Ed. Brew.)

page 520 Argument shuts up the question, and makes us shut it up too; but it gives no proof of it, nor does it remove doubt, and cause the mind to rest in the conscious possession of truth, unless the truth is discovered by the way of experience;" and then he illustrates by examples what he means: "If a man who had never seen fire were to prove, by satisfactory argument, that fire burns, the hearer's mind would not rest contented with this, nor would he avoid the fire, until, by putting his hand or some combustible substance into it, he had proved, by his own experience, the fact which he had been taught by reasoning. And this holds even in mathematics, where demonstration is most powerful; for let any one have the clearest proof about an equilateral triangle, yet, without experience of it, his mind will never hold to the question, nor will he care for the proof until experience has been given him, but then the man accepts the conclusion in all quietness."*

Argument, then, according to Roger Bacon, merely terminates the discussion, but does not prove the fact—"Concludit quæstionem sed non certificat;" according to Lord Bacon, it binds our assent, but does not coerce things—"Assensum itaque astringit non res." To this faulty instrument of investigation Bacon opposes experience. He does not confine himself to vague praises of the advantages of the experimental method, but lays down a scientific doctrine on the subject, and distinguishes with perfect correctness direct and indirect experience,—experiment and observation.

"There are," he remarks, "two kinds of experience, of which we one acts through the external senses, and is that by which, aided with instruments, we have our knowledge of the heavenly bodies. This experience does not satisfy us, inasmuch as it does not give accurate information about bodies, owing to the extreme difficulty of applying it. The other kind is the one which alone can give us a complete experience of what nature and art can do, and in such a manner that all error is eliminated and truth only remains. This science has three great prerogatives in respect of the other sciences. One is, that is

* "Duo sunt modi cognoscendi scilicet per argumentum et experimentum Argumentum concludit et facit nos concludere quæstionera sed non [unclear: certi] neque removet dubitationem, ut quiescat animus in intuitu veritatis [unclear: nisi] inveniat via experientiæ. Si enim aliquis homo qui nunquam vidit [unclear: ig] probavit per argumenta sufficientia quod ignis comburit—nunquam [unclear: propter] quiesceret animus audientis nec ignem vitaret antequam poneret [unclear: manum] rem combustibilem ad ignem ut per experientiam probaret quod argumentnum edocebat.—Et hoc habet in mathematicis ubi est potissima [unclear: demonstratio] vero habet demonstrationem potissimam de triangulo æquilatero sine experientia nunquam adhærebit animus quæstioni nec curabit sed negliget [unclear: usquequ] detur ei experientia,—sed tunc recipit homo conclusionem cum omni quiete."—Opus Majus, p. 336. (Venice Ed.)

"Nov. Org.," Aph. 13.

"De Scientia Experimentali," c. 1.

page 521 investigates their conclusions by experience: for the other sciences derive their principles from experience, but draw their conclusions by argument from the principles so established; but if they wish for a particular and complete verification of their conclusions, they must have recourse to the science of experiment."*
Elsewhere the same idea is expressed in somewhat different language—

"There are three ways by which we can arrive at truth: authority, which only produces assent, and which requires to be justified by reason; argument, whose most certain conclusions are wanting unless they are verified; and experience, which is of itself sufficient."

While reading these passages, we seem to be already breathing the air of the sixteenth century. In the works of no other writer up to that time do we find the procedure of science described with equal force and conviction; nor has even Lord Bacon related with more precision the conditions and the effects of the process on which the foundations of experimental inquiry are laid.

In contrasting the system above described with the speculations of the most advanced thinkers of the twelfth century, one can scarcely avoid the inference that its great scientific superiority is due to the new direction which had been given to study since their time. A scepticism produced by metaphysics alone might possibly have led to an equally trenchant criticism of the claims of authority to command assent; but it certainly would not have led to any limitation of syllogistic reasoning, nor could it have supplied a motive for appealing to experience to verify the conclusions which that reasoning supplies. No one whose attention had not been early called to the observation of natural phenomena would have entertained the notion of testing results as well as ascertaining principles. But such a man would soon be convinced that even the apparently strictest inference may be eluded by what Lord Bacon calls the subtilty of nature: he would learn in his practice the necessity of measuring each step by the standard of fact. And among those Franciscans who were constantly engaged in the treatment of disease, some doubts of the value of the syllogistic process, some reliance on observation and experience, would surely spring up. But so far as we know, it was only in the mind of Roger Bacon that these doubts crystallized into a system, and that the interpretation of nature is consciously preferred to the anticipation of it.

* "Opus Majus," p. 338.

Ibid., ad fin.

"Rationem humanam qua utimur ad naturam, anticipations Naturæ (quia res temeraria est et præmatura), at illam rationem quæ debitis modis elicitur a rebus, Interpretationem Naturæ docendi gratia vocare consuevimus."—Nov. Org. 26.

page 522

It would be unfair not to own that Bacon's practice was frequently behind his theory. Notwithstanding his forcible language about the prerogatives of experimental science and his bitter invectives against frail and unworthy authority, we find him occasionally resting on authority with childlike faith, and treating his favourite science as if its only prerogative was to provoke a smile. The most striking and valuable part of the "Opus Majus" is the treatise with which it concludes, "On Experimental Science. In this treatise Bacon points out several vulgar errors which have crept in owing to the willingness of the world to accept facts on mere report: he instances the belief that adamant can only be split by goat's blood, that hot water freezes sooner than cold, and many other like cases. Presently he enters upon the consideration of how health may be preserved and old age retarded, and this leads to some examples of the wonderful power of certain herbs and unguents. They are, in truth, sufficiently remarkable. We pass over the man mentioned by Pliny, who put a great deal of oil inside and outside his body, by means of which he was enabled to preserve the vigour of manhood to his hundredth year.* Our attention is first arrested by a story told of an old woman in the diocese of Norwich, in Bacon's own time. She had eaten nothing, he assures us, for twenty years: "And yet she was fat and in good condition, as the Bishop proved by a careful examination of her." "Nor," he adds, "was this a miracle, but a work of nature." More notable still is the account of an experiment instituted by a certain philosopher at Paris. This sage observing the longevity of the serpent tribe in general, determined to find out their secret. To this end he caught a snake, and with a most praiseworthy devotion to the method of direct experiment, proceeded to cut it up into small pieces, taking care, however, to leave the skin of the belly entire. What was thus left of the snake crawled as well as it could to a certain herb, on touching which it was immediately made whole. "The experimenter then joyfully gathered the leaves of the plant, which were of an admirable greenness." The greenness which is most to be admired is not that of the plant.

Hitherto Bacon's teaching has been viewed from its purely logical side. We find him laying down the canons of belief, and distinguishing the functions of the ratiocinative and inductive processes. What were the subjects to which the weapons thus prepared were to be applied? What was his theory of science

* "Opus Majus," p. 355.

"Et fuit pinguis et in bono statu, nullam superfluitatem emittens de corpore sicut probavit episcopus per fidelem examinationem."—Opus Minus, p. 373. (Ed. Brew.)

"Opus Majus," p. 534.

page 523 as a whole, and in what order or relation did he conceive its parts? In the "Compendium Studii" he addressed himself particularly to this question.

"In everything which we wish to learn we should employ the best possible method, . . . and this method consists in studying those subjects which precede in the order of science, before those which follow in that order; and in learning what is easy before what is difficult, the general before the particular, the less before the greater. We should also choose the most select and useful studies, because life is short."*

These words tempt one to inquire whether Bacon had any idea of arranging the sciences in an order corresponding to the order of their study; whether, in short, he had conceived a classification proceeding from simple to complex, from general to particular. There are passages which might almost lead us to suppose that he did; indeed, the order in which the divisions of philosophy are placed in the "Opus Majus" itself—commencing with mathematics, proceeding to optics, and ending with physiology—favours such a view. But an attentive examination of his writings must satisfy the reader that this arrangement is only accidental, or rather that it was prompted by what Bacon considered to be the practical wants of his time, and not by any theory of the relation of the sciences between themselves. His classification, however, whatever might have been its motive, shows a marked improvement on that which commonly prevailed. It was at all events original, and not inaccurate. The ordinary classification, when it was anything more than a repetition of the order of the [unclear: vium] and quadrivium, was a mere copy of the accidental manner in which Aristotle's works followed one another.

We have already observed on the leading place which grammar holds in Roger Bacon's system. It is the "prima porta sapientiæ," the door through which all must pass before they can hope to reach the shrine. It is therefore more strictly an antecedent condition of science in general, than the first of the special sciences. This place belongs to mathematics, and the study of them is insisted upon with all the more earnestness because, notwithstanding their importance, they have been almost wholly neglected.

"Very few are found acquainted with mathematics: it is the devil

* Sed ad omnia scienda modus optimus requiritur. . . . .Modus enim est [unclear: at] priora in ordine doctrinæ sciantur ante posteriora, et faciliora ante [unclear: diffici], et communia ante propria, et minora ante majora, ut manifestum est; et [unclear: at] electis et utilibus fiat occupatio studentium, quia vita brevis est"—Compend. Studii, p. 379. (Ed. Brew.)

"Opus Tertium," c. 28, p. 102. (Ed. Brew.)

page 524 who has managed this, in order that the roots of human wisdom may not be known. For this science is the alphabet of philosophy, and never can a man learn anything worth knowing unless he is acquainted with its powers."*

The neglect into which this pursuit has fallen during the last thirty or forty years has destroyed the whole course of study it Europe. Bacon then traces the outline of the mathematical sciences to the number of eight. Four are speculative—namely geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music, each having its corresponding art or practical division.

It would be a long and not a very profitable task to follow Bacon through the various applications of mathematics set out in the Fourth Part of the "Opus Majus." It is the place which he assigns it in his scheme, and his view of its method and uses which chiefly arrest our attention. Abandoning any vague and poetic speculations on the properties of numbers and harmony he concentrates his attention on the qualities of the science as an instrument of proof; and thence proceeds to enlarge on its value in the various operations of life. He finds that under both heads mathematics deserves to be called the key of the science. In every other subject there is room for doubt: in physics nothing is necessarily true: morals have no principles peculiar to themselves: demonstration is found in this science alone. Even logic, the so-called mistress of proof, borrows from mathematics ever conclusive power it possesses: its principle is the theory of the categories, and quantity governs all the other predicaments its mean is the theory of demonstration, and the only perfect demonstration is in mathematics; its end is persuasion,§ and rhetoric and poetry are dependent on the laws of harmony—that is to say, on a special department of mathematical science. Turning from the speculative to the practical side, he considers the science of number and quantity in reference to the well-being of man and to the industrial arts generally. Under this had Bacon describes at length the operations to which the relation of quantity may be usefully applied; such are the construction of houses and towns—of canals, aqueducts, and ships—[unclear: of] chines for flying and propelling vessels without oars. Given the reins to his imagination, he enumerates various instrument for raising without difficulty the heaviest weights and [unclear: dragga] anything along the surface of the ground at pleasure. In this

* "Opus Tertium," c. 20, p. 66.

"Opus Majus," Pars Quarta, ad init.

"Harum scientiarum porta et clavis est mathematics."—Opus [unclear: Ma] p. 43. (Venice Edit.)

§ By logic Bacon means syllogistic logic, of which be had a very [unclear: low]. He did not recognise proof as belonging specially to it.

page 525 manner, he assures his readers, a single man can pull a thousand others after him.

To produce such effects, Bacon justly thought that several improvements on the instruments in use would be needed. These improvements fall within the range of practical geometry, which is accordingly divided into seven sections, corresponding to as many sciences. The first division embraces the aids and appliances requisite for astronomy and astrology; the second, musical instruments; the third, optical instruments, such as plane, spherical, and concave mirrors; the fourth, the instruments of what is specially called experimental science; the two remaining divisions deal with the instruments of medicine, surgery, and alchemy.

Bacon had a very definite idea of the means by which he proposed to regenerate the arts of life. In the first place, skilled mathematicians would be required. Unfortunately, in his time, [unclear: here] were only four: Peter of Maricourt, John of London, Campana of Navarre, and Master Nicolas. Accordingly, he "notes this part as deficient." Then an almanac and astronomical tables are wanted. He proposes to educate ten or twelve boys, and keep them at work in registering the places of the planets from hour to hour. When this is done, we shall be able to read each day what passes in the heavens, as we read in the calendar the feasts of the saints. Clement's assistance is urgently entreated to aid this part of the work.

The reform of the Calendar, as is well known, was a favourite subject with Bacon. He calls the attention of the Pope to the [unclear: rrors] which have grown up from the lack of precision in calculating the length of the year. Its real length, he points out, [unclear: is] by 1/130 part of a day than the period actually assigned. Hence, in every one hundred and thirty years a clay too much is added. The result is that the feasts of the Church are held on the wrong days: Easter is celebrated out of its time, and the faithful eat meat when they should be fasting. "Horrible and vile errors spring from this neglect; the devil himself has devised this evil against the Church, taking advantage of its ignorance and carelessness."

It is mite clear that Bacon understood the principle on which the Calendar ought to have been corrected, and that he was very near the truth in the actual calculations which he furnished to the Pope. Had they been acted upon, Clement IV. might have robbed his successor of the praise of having carried out the reform which has ever since been associated with the name of Gregory XIII. By what means he calculated so approximately the period of the vernal equinox, which he takes as a point of departure, it is not easy to say. Cuvier thinks that he must have page 526 used the telescope; but, as we shall hereafter show, it is improbable that he was acquainted with the instrument. He may have borrowed his views from an Arabian source.

The mechanism of the heavens engaged Bacon's particular attention, not less from the influence which he conceived the stars to exert on terrestrial phenomena than from the confusion he observed in the attempts to explain their motions. He describes and examines the hypothesis of Ptolemy, as well as the explanations of several Arabian astronomers. That which most struck him in the Ptolemaic system was the complication of excentrics and epicycles, against which he protests, adopting in preference the theory of a single movement advanced by Alpetragius. He does not arrive thus far without some hesitation, and it seems a serious matter to oppose an authority so eminent as Ptolemy; but after all, "it is better to preserve the order of nature and to contradict sense, which is often at fault, especially in very distant objects.*" He by no means shared the opinion of Plato, that there was anything special in the circumstances of heavenly bodies unfitting them to be a subject of human science. But the real facts were to be obtained rather by the aid of abstract reasoning than by reliance on such imperfect means of observation as could be supplied. It was in mathematics alone that he laid the foundations of his astronomy, and this constitutes at once the strength and the weakness of his method. His reasons, to tell the truth, are on these subjects very inferior to his conclusions. For example, he maintains, in opposition to Aristotle, that the fixed stars do not shine with a reflected light; but then he asserts that the moon does not do so either. The passage offers a fair example of his way of reasoning on these subjects. "The whole crowd of students suppose that the light which comes to us from the moon and stars is the sun's light reflected from their surfaces; but this is impossible because of the equality of the angles of incidence and reflection. For, as has been shown, if this were so, the angle of incidence and the angle of reflection would necessarily be equal. Therefore, any given ray would only strike a determinate part of the earth's surface, and would not only everywhere, and so of the whole light which comes from [unclear: the] to the surface of the moon. For it may be all treated as one falling on the moon at unequal angles, and being reflected in a

* "Melius est salvare ordinem naturæ et contradicere sensui, qui [unclear: multo] deficit et præipue in magna distantia."

"His principiis et hujusmodi datis per vias geometriæ potest homo [unclear: vericare] omnem actionem naturæ, quia omnis Veritas circa operationem agentis is medium, vel in materiam generabilem, vel in cœlestia, sumit ortum mediate vel immediate ex jam dictis et quibusdam aliis."—Opus Majus, p. 57. ([unclear: Velence] edit.)

page 527 ascertained direction. Light so coming to the earth could only illuminate a particular part of the horizon. We see, however, that it illumines our whole hemisphere as the sun does. Therefore the light proceeding from the moon and stars is not reflected."* The phenomenon of scintillation excited his keenest curiosity. There is nothing which we see so often, whose reason we less understand: it is "a philosophical difficulty. Nor is his manner of dealing with it unphilosophical. He begins by Mating the facts. The planets are not observed to twinkle; the fixed stars, on the contrary, do. Is this owing merely to their distance? Bacon concludes that other conditions are requisite; for same of the smallest and most distant stars show no signs of scintillation. Various hypotheses are then examined at length: at last, by a rejection of instances not unworthy to be called Baconian, the conclusion is arrived at, that three causes contribute to produce the phenomenon: the effort which the eye makes to observe a very distant object; a sufficient brightness in the body looked at; and a trembling of the medium.

Bacon was acquainted with the phenomenon of refraction, and with the fact of the deviation of light passing through the atmosphere: he correctly explains why the sun, moon, and stars, appear larger when near the horizon; and what he says about falling stars is not far from the truth—that they are small bodies, which in their course through the air seem luminous, owing to the rapidity with which they move.§

Bacon's "Physics" are in conception and treatment very inferior to his works on what may be called applied mathematics. They are not easy to understand, and we think ill repay the labour of attempting to understand them. Far more of mere metaphysical speculation enters into them than is found in any of his other treatises; and as readers at this day are naturally impatient of discussions on essence, substance, nature, power, and the like, we must confine ourselves to mentioning some of the more valuable theories and facts which are contained in this part of his works. Although the treatise "On the Multiplication of Species," which forms the fifth part of the "Opus Majus," is perhaps more open to the charge of being entangled with what Bacon elsewhere calls "divisions according to Porphyry," than any other portion of his writings it almost redeems this defect by the soundness of some

* "Opus Majus," p. 58.

"Nihil tam totiens videmus cujus causam minus sciamus."—Opus Majus, p. 249.

Ibid. p. 252.

§ Ibid. p. 321.

We have made use of M. Charles's excellently-written chapter (pp. 277-295) in describing this part of Bacon's system.

"Divisiones Porphyrianæ."

page 528 of its general maxims. There we find an emphatic protest against looking for the cause of a phenomenon in its form: the true way to judge of it is, says the author, by observing the effect, action being the end of every operative force;* there, too, we find frequent mentions of "rules" and "laws," to the ascertainment of which Bacon attaches a high value. This positive habit of mind perpetually exhibits itself even where it would least be expected. The philosophy of Roger Bacon seems always to be tending in the direction of art: on whatever kind of abstract speculation he is engaged, if he sees the slightest opening for doing anything, or still more for making anything, he comes down at once from the clouds, and immediately sets to work. Even some of his chapters in the "Multiplication of Species" are relieved by this happy propensity. There is one which begins in a somewhat formidable manner: "The consideration of the action of natural powers is of the highest importance." Very soon, however, we find ourselves reading the description of a speculum which had been made by an unnamed workman, known to Bacon, for the express purpose of showing some of his experiments. Twelve such glasses, Bacon assures the Pope, would enable the Crusaders, without bloodshed, to defeat the Saracens; "nor would it be in the least necessary for the King of France to go abroad with his army; but if he should go, and be so lucky as to get the workman in question to go with him, he might dispense with the greater part of his army, not to say the whole." We believe Bacon himself to have been the maker of the speculum which he mentions; and if so, the way in which he refers to the matter is not without art. For he goes on to say that the artificer was mulct in one hundred Parisian pounds by his labour, besides having to lay aside his studies and other necessary operations: yet so disinterested is he that one thousand marks he would not have neglected the work, both for the love of science and because his experience will enable him to make better and cheaper glasses in future. "For he is very wise, and nothing is difficult to him, if only he had money."

For the thirteenth century, this is not a bad example of the [unclear: puff] indirect.

The explanation given of the tides deserves notice as an [unclear: examre] of what can be effected in spite of wrong principles. The phenomenon is said to be caused by the lunar rays which fall sometimes obliquely, and at other times perpendicularly: when in the former direction, they have but little influence on the water; but as the moon gets higher in the heavens, and her light shines more

* "Nam finis et utilitas completa virtutum agentium est actio."—Opus Tedium, c. xxxvi. p. 115. (Edit. Brew)

"Nam sapientissimus est, et nihil ei difficile est, nisi propter [unclear: defectu] expensarum."—Opus Tertium, c. xxxvi.

page 529 directly, the action of the rays increases, and draws up the water towards the moon. The rise of the tide can be predicted and measured.

It may be expected that a writer who mixes up metaphysics with physics would not be much more scientific when he comes to the more complicated questions of vegetable and animal physiology. It appears, nevertheless, that Bacon had just views of the sexes of plants—that he believed them to possess sensibility, to a certain limited extent; that he thought them capable of alternations of sleep and wakefulness; that he knew the part played by the sap, and by some of the liquids they secrete; that he distinguished the characteristic parts, such as the bark and roots—attempted to determine the part played by the leaf, flower, and fruit, in the economy of vegetable life, and examined whether they have not some essential organ, which is the seat of their life, and answers the purpose of a heart.*

A great part of the knowledge, such as it was, which Bacon possessed of botany, he had in common with his time. Albert of Cologne is the author of a treatise on the same subject, which is neither better nor worse than that of Bacon, although M. Pouchet will have it that the Dominican was the first to place botany on a true foundation. But M. Pouchet's views of the basis on which the sciences rest are so strange, that it is doubtful how much this praise is worth. We will allow our readers to judge for themselves:—

"La plus belle gloire d'Albert le Grand est, sans contredit, d'avoir complété et terminé le cercle des connaissances humaines, en [unclear: comblant] hiatus par le démonstration scientifique des rapports de l'homme [unclear: et] Dieu!

"Ce grand principe une fois posé, cette vaste intelligence s'est en [unclear: que] sorte concentree sur le terre. Pour la première fois, les corps naturels reçoivent une description précise; et pour la première fois aussi ils se trouvent rangés d'après leurs analogies, et d'eprès leur degré d' organisation.

"Posées cette manière, les sciences naturelles apparaissent avec leur caractère fondamental—l'utilité physique et l'utilité théologique!"

The real truth of the matter being this—that neither Bacon nor Albert knew anything at first hand about botany. In those days it was the fashion to write encyclopædic works. Therefore Albert, who was a great logician and Aristotelian scholar, but who was assuredly no botanist, notwithstanding the basis of fundamental utility on which he placed the sciences,—borrows as

* Charles p. 284.

Pouchet, "Histoire des Sciences Naturelles au Moyen Age," p. 308.

Pouchet, 319, 320.

page 530 much as he conveniently can from Aristotle and Pliny, and makes up his De Vegetabilibus et Plantis in so many pages folio. In like manner Bacon, who did happen to be a man of science, but whose science did not take the direction of vegetable physiology, equally thought it necessary to complete the circle of human knowledge by a treatise on a subject which had been treated by Aristotle. Had he omitted to do so, it would have been tantamount to a confession that he knew nothing about it* Writers on alchemy have not omitted to inscribe the name of Roger Bacon in the list of the professors of the occult science. If his works on Hermetics, or in particular the tract entitled "The Mirror of Alchemy," justify them in claiming him as a disciple, he was, at any rate, a cautious and rational one. The "Speculum Alchemiæ contains a definition of the science in which no modern chemist would see anything to complain of—it is merely this: How to compose a preparation which will purify metals. The possibility of purification arises, so says the author, from the fact that Nature constantly tends to produce the most perfect metal, and is only prevented from doing so by accidental causes which disturb her operations. To extract the foreign elements with which the inferior metals are charged is the business of the practical alchemist. When this is clone and Nature is left to her unimpeded operations, we shall have gold. The search after the philosopher's stone is a simple operation of metallurgy, in which heat and other purely physical agencies play the chief part. In the experiments of the laboratory, and in the processes which take place in the depths of the earth, there are the same kind of effects produced by the same kind of causes. Bacon observes incidentally on the constancy of temperature which prevails in mines. If this is alchemy, it is alchemy robbed of its most objectionable features. Bacon fell into many errors, and his belief in the philosopher's stone is not the least of them; but even there the scientific [unclear: biss] of his mind is felt: there is no recourse to supernatural agents—all is to be done by the imitation by man, on a small scale, of what is done by Nature in a wider field. The power of Bacon's scientific imagination is nowhere more visible than in his definition of alchemy, and in his enumeration of the subjects falling within its scope—it becomes in his hands a true chemistry. We have said that he did not doubt the possibility of transmuting the

* "Ille qui fecit se auctorem, de quo superius dixi, nihil novit de [unclear: hu] scientiæ: (perspectiva) potestate, sicut apparet in libris suis quia nec [unclear: fe] librum de hac scientia, et fecisset si scivisset."—Opus Tertium, c. 11. "Leges multiplicationis nondum sunt alibi traditæ adhuc ut apparet in libris [unclear: ist] [i.e., Albertus Magnus], qui nec fecit libros de hac scientia, nec aliquid de [unclear: p] losophia potest sciri sine hac."—Opus Tertium. c. 12.

"In mineralium vero locis invenitur caliditas semper constans." speculum Alchemæ, c. 5.

page 531 inferior metals to gold—a belief which was also shared by Francis Bacon. He treats this, however, as a mere experiment, and says that it falls within the province of practical alchemy, an art which teaches men to make metals, colours, and many other things better and in a greater quantity than Nature can do. But, he proceeds, there is another science relating to the elementary composition of things, which, being unknown to the mass of students, they cannot but be ignorant of the natural phenomena which depend upon it. Animal and vegetable bodies are made up of elements and humours, and their composition resembles that of inanimate bodies. Hence, and through the ignorance of the many of this department of science, neither natural philosophy nor medicine, speculative or practical, are known. It seems, then, that Roger Bacon believed that by taking advantage of certain laws of composition—leges, canones, as he elsewhere calls them,*—men could so far aid the nisus of Nature as to make gold at will—just as Francis Bacon did not doubt that the qualities of weight, pliability, and the rest which distinguish gold, could be induced on a given body by any one who knew the causes of those qualities—but he does not forget to remind us that the process by which this is effected has its analogies in the phenomena of the vegetable and animal kingdoms; the changes which lead to the formation of inorganic bodies are a part of, or to use Bacon's own words, "communicate with" the changes on which animal life depends;—both sets of phenomena fall within the same great science—alchemy, without an acquaintance with which the philosophy of nature cannot be thoroughly understood—"propter [unclear: igantiam] istius scientiæ non potest sciri naturalis philosophia." If these views are original, we may almost agree with Bacon when he says that his ideas on the principles and applications of chemistry are worth more than the so-called knowledge of all other physicists.
On its highest side, the science of the composition of bodies is thus seen to touch physiology and medicine; hence, our author is led to treat of the requirements of health, and of the means by which old age is to be averted. This was a favourite subject of Bacon's, and he reverts to it again and again. Men die much sooner than they need. Even Aristotle did not live as long as he might have done; but instances of extraordinary vitality are not wanting; as, for example, Astephius, who survived his thousandth year. In the remedies which are proposed, we see evidence of

* "Opus Tertimn," p. 37.

"Generatio enim hominum et brutorum et vegetabilum est ex elementis et humoribus et communicat cum generation rerum inanimatanum."—Opus Tertium, c. 12.

page 532 the superstition which then, and for some centuries afterwards, encumbered physiology; but notwithstanding his elixirs, his sperma ceti, and his miraculous ointments, Bacon had some glimpses of a more rational method of treatment. He recommends particular attention to dietetics, and complains that from the want of it children inherit a bad constitution from their parents.

Such, in brief, is the substance of Roger Bacon's philosophy in the imperfect form in which it has reached us. Regarding it in relation to his age and opportunities, we cannot help seeing in it the marks of a most powerful, original, and prescient mind. The shape in which the "Opus Majus" is cast, although sufficiently repulsive to a modern reader, is not the least of its merits. All the other great writers of that age were either paraphrasts or commentators. Adhering strictly to the subjects and the order prescribed for them by the authority whom they undertook to illustrate, they presented their readers, sometimes with a text enclosed in a vast margin of commentary, and sometimes with an exposition, in which the text and the gloss were indistinguished and indistinguishable. In either case they were bound by the arrangement of their author, and virtually prevented from treating at length any subject on which he had not written. It is for this reason that the titles of Aristotle so long furnished the divisions of physical and mental science. Bacon was the first to break the fetters of this custom: to adopt his own order; to introduce his own subjects; to do away with the never-ending chapters, texts, and paragraphs that perplex and weary the reader, and to produce something distantly approaching what is now meant by a book.

This peculiarity in the form of his writings proceeded chiefly, if not entirely, from the equally original manner in which he regarded science. "All branches of knowledge," he says, more than once, "hold together, and each influences the other—[unclear: to] learn any, we must first learn that which naturally precedes it."*

Nor does he leave us ignorant of the order to be adopted this hierarchy of the sciences. "Let the philosophers of the world know that they will never effect anything in natural science—in rebus naturalibus—unless they are acquainted with the power of mathematics." Elsewhere, he calls mathematics the alphabet of philosophy. While we give him credit for the sagacity which led him to perceive the real place of this science in the scheme of education, and to fix on its qualities of certainty and simplicity as the reason for so placing it, we should not forget to add that he was seriously deceived in the estimate he formed of its use and applications. Because all phenomena may be considered

* "Opus Tertium," p. 37.

page 533 in the relations of number and quantity, he concluded that all formed the legitimate subject of mathematical analysis.

He even carried this principle a step further, so "as to make the theory of numbers indirectly, as well as directly, useful. Perspective, or, as we should now call it, optics, was, in Bacon's view, a sub-section of mathematics, drawing its whole value from them. Therefore, said he, wherever optics comes in—in other words, on whatever subjects we rely on observation, the method of mathematical analysis may be applied. It is easy to detect in this principle the influence of the logic of the schools. We thus see in what sense Bacon speaks of the sciences being connected. It is not only that they have, as between themselves, certain relations of affinity and interdependence, but that they are bound together by the universal application of the same processes.

M. Pouchet gives to Albert of Cologne great credit for his investigation into the causes of things; a fertile method, in his pinion, and whose value the learned Dominican was the first to joint out to future generations (p. 201). Roger Bacon was nearer the truth when he said, "we must not examine the causes of things;"* and in this he carries away the palm not only from the Bishop of Ratisbon, but from a more illustrious rival. Francis Bacon's definition of science is, the knowledge of the; cause on which the qualities of bodies depend: in the view of Roger Bacon it is, rather the knowledge of the relation between abstract qualities and their effects. We do not pretend that sufficient prominence is given to this maxim to vindicate for it a place among the truths foreseen by its author, but it is to be found in his works. And, in the treatise in which it occurs, mention is made of certain "laws" or "canons" governing the relations in question. It would be hazardous to infer that Bacon distinctly understood the nature of the relation expressed by the word "law," or that he looked on the acquaintance with a series of such relations as the final end of science; we believe that he meant both more and less than this; but that he meant something resembling the modern view may be safely conceded.

It has been Bacon's misfortune not only to have been forgotten, but to have been misunderstood. His scientific reputation has been placed on a wrong basis. So far as he is remembered at all, it is as a discoverer. The judgment of learned writers like Dumas, Jourdain, and Cuvier, has united with popular tradition in this belief. In chemistry, he is said to have been the first who was acquainted with the properties of phosphorus, bismuth,

* "Non oportet causas investigare."

Francis Bacon alludes to him as one of those who, "not caring so much about theory, seek to extend invention by a kind of mechanical subtilty."

page 534 and manganese: he is said to have found out the composition of gunpowder; not only, we are told, did he anticipate the use of steam as a motive power, but he invented diving-bells, suspension bridges, spectacles, the camera obscura, the magic lantern, the the telescope, and the mariner's compass. This is an example of the random way in which statements are repeated without any attend to verify them. If any one of the distinguished men who have helped to father on Bacon this wonderful list of inventions, had referred to his works, they would have easily have satisfied themselves that the credit they have given him is about the last sort of credit to which he is really entitled. He was not a discoverer but a reformer of scientific method—a discoverer of the means by which discoveries are made. To borrow a favourite simile of Lord Macaulay's, which is equally applicable to both the Bacons, he was the Moses, and not the Joshua, of philosophy; he pointed; out the promised land, but he never entered into it. It can easily be shown that of the things which Bacon is asserted to have invented, several were perfectly well known before his time, and the rest are nowhere described in his works.
First of all, as to the discovery of gunpowder. This is the passage usually relied on to support his claim:—

"We have a proof of the noise and flash which may be made experimentally in the child's game, common in some parts of the world, in which by an instrument not larger than a man's thumb, owing to the violence of the salt called saltpetre, such a terrible noise is made by the bursting of so slight a substance as a piece of parchment, that it exceeds the sound of thunder,* and has a brilliancy greater than lightning."

Elsewhere is found a cabalistic recipe, by transposing the letters of which the words sulphur, saltpetre, and powdered carbon are said to be obtained. It may, or may not be, that Bacon was acquainted with the art of making gunpowder, but it is pretty certain that this substance had been long known in the East, and that it was introduced into the West by the Arabians in the twelfth century. India is the country to which we should naturally look as its birthplace. It may be observed, too, that Bacon's allusion to the explosive powder which he describes, [unclear: does] imply either that he claimed to have discovered it, or that it was a novelty: on the contrary, it was so well known, that children were in the habit of playing with it.

The alleged invention of spectacles rests on no better grounds. All that appears is, that he was acquainted with common optical experiment of placing a portion of a glass sphere

* "Opus Majus."

"Sed tamen salispetree lu, rac, vo, po, vir, can, utri et sulphoris et sic facies tonitrum et corruscationem, si scias artificium."

page 535 on letters or other objects, and so causing them to appear larger. This property of lenses was known centuries before, and it has very little to do with the invention of spectacles.

The nearest approach to a description of the magic lantern is found in a passage of the treatise "De Admirabili Potestate Artis et Naturæ," in which the author says that such a form can be given to a transparent medium, that any one entering a room would see gold, silver, and precious stones, and that all would disappear when he advances nearer. It is difficult to say what Bacon meant by this, but it is not difficult to be very sure that he could not possibly have meant to describe a magic lantern.

There are no passages in Bacon's printed works which can be stretched into a description of the diving-bell, the camera obscura, for the mariner's compass; although the principle of the diving-bell is explained in Aristotle's problems, and the compass was known in Italy in the thirteenth century.

Scarcely more satisfactory is the evidence on which the invention of the telescope has been ascribed to him. He certainly makes remarks which show that he was acquainted with optics he says, for example, that the largest objects may be made to appear very small, and conversely, small objects made to appear large; distant things near, and near things distant: "we may so dispose," he adds, "transparent media in relation to our sight and the object, that the rays may be reflected in any direction we please." But when he comes to describe the results of this arrangement, it is evident that he is not speaking from any experimental knowledge of the matter. He tells us that "an infant will large appear a giant; a man a mountain; a small army will seem a large one; although far off it may be made to seem close at hand; we can make the sun, moon, and stars appear to descend on the heads of our enemies." This is not the language of a man who has has ever looked through a telescope; still less is it the language of a man who has invented one.

Bacon mentions in another place the possibility of constructing instruments which will impel vessels without the aid of oars, and with a single man to guide them, faster than if they were full of rowers; carriages to roll along with inconceivable rapidity, without anything to draw them; an instrument only a few inches broad and of equal height, which will lift and lower the greatest weights; contrivances for swimming and remaining under water; bridges without buttresses, and other mechanical appliances equally extraordinary.

To infer from such language as this, as has been inferred, that Bacon foresaw the time of railways, suspension bridges, hydraulic machines, and steamboats, is to tax one's credulity rather too far. The fact is this: he had a very strong belief in what he called page 536 the powers of Nature, and he rightly thought that there was scarcely any limit to the effects which a combination of art and nature is capable of producing. Given this idea—by no means a commonplace one for the thirteenth century—and a slight exercise of imagination is sufficient for the kind of prediction which is found in the passages above quoted. We have only to think of a number of things very difficult or improbable, and then say that the time will come when they will all come about. Many more pretentious prophecies have been constructed on simple plan.

The obvious similarity between the reform projected by Roger Bacon, and that carried out by Francis Bacon, has given rise to the inquiry whether the author of the "Novum Organon" has not borrowed some of his philosophical views from his predecessor. Mr. Foster expresses himself very decidedly upon this point: "Friar Bacon was the undoubted though renowned original, whence his great namesake drew the materials of his famous experimental system. In the 'Opus Majus,' and in the 'Novum Organon,' we find again and again the fundamental laws of this system announced; uniformly the same in substance—often in the same words."* Mr. Hallam just hints a doubt on the subject; but the question has been reopened by the recent editors of Francis Bacon's works. Mr. Ellis, speaking of the four kinds of idols, says,—
"It has been supposed that this classification is borrowed from Roger Bacon, who in the beginning of the "Opus Majus" speaks of four hindrances whereby men are kept back from the attainment true knowledge. But this supposition is for several reasons improbable. The "Opus Majus" was not printed until the eighteenth century, and it is unlikely that Francis Bacon would have taken the trouble of reading it, or any part of it, in manuscript. In the first place, there is no evidence, in any part of his works, of this kind of research; and in the second, he had no high opinion of his namesake, of whom he has spoken with far less respect than he deserves. The only work of Roger Bacon's which there is any good reason for believing that he was acquainted with, is a tract on the art of prolonging life, which was published at Paris in 1542, and of which an English [unclear: translation] peared in 1617. The general resemblance between the spirit in which the two Bacons speak of science and its improvement is, notwithstanding what has sometimes been said, but slight. Both, no doubt complain that sufficient attention has not been paid to observation and experiment, but that is all; and these complaints may be found in this writings of many other men, especially in the time of Francis Bacon. Nothing is more clear than that the essential doctrines of his philosophy—among which that of idols is to be reckoned—are, so far as he was

* "Mahometanism Unveiled," ii. 312, 313.

"Mid. Ages." iii. 539.

"Francis Bacon's Works," i. 89, 90.

page 537 aware altogether his own. There is, moreover, but little analogy between his idols and his namesakes' hindrances to knowledge. The principle of classification is altogether different, and the notion of a real connexion between the two was probably suggested simply by there being the same number of idols as of hindrances."

There are three points raised in this passage:—1. Is the principle of classification on which the offendicula of the elder Bacon, and the idola of the Chancellor, are founded, the same? 2. Had Francis Bacon ever read a description of the offendicula described in the "Opus Majus"? 3. Is there any such general resemblance between the spirit in which the two Bacons speak of science, as to lead to the presumption that the one was acquainted with the works of the other? Notwithstanding the high authority of Mr. Ellis, we think that on two, at least, of these points, there is still considerable room for doubt. It may be admitted at once that the principle of classification of the hindrances to knowledge mentioned by each of the two writers, so far as those of Roger Bacon are founded an any principle at all, is entirely different. No reader could arrive at one by the help of the other. Thus far we can quite go with Mr. Ellis. This, however, is a matter of very secondary importance. The real question is, whether Francis Bacon was acquainted with the works of his fellow-labourer: because if he was, it is not easy to resist the inference that he borrowed something from them, and the cursory and slighting way in which he alludes to "the monk in his cell," would induce us to believe that he desired to conceal his acknowledgments.*

It is first of all necessary to ascertain whether there is sufficient resemblance between the philosophies of the two writers to [unclear: ise] a fair presumption of plagiarism. If, as Lord Bacon's editor says, the spirit in which science and its improvement is spoken of by the author of the "Advancement of Learning," bears only a slight resemblance to Roger Bacon's views on the same subject, a few similarities of thought, of language, or of apparent classification, may be safely disregarded. If, on the contrary, there is a general identity of purpose and of procedure, such points are entitled to weight as corroborative evidence.

Lord Bacon's system, in its outline at least, may be readily described. He conceived that men were busying themselves with wrong subjects—with the logic of the schools, with metaphysics, with Aristotle, with anything but that which alone was really use-

* "Accedit et illud, quod Naturalis Philosophia, in iis ipsis viris qui ei [unclear: inbuerint], vacantem et integrum hominem vix nacta sit; nisi forte quis monachi alicujus in cellula exemplum adduxerit."—Nov. Org. Aph. 80. See also, "Temporis partus Masculus."

page 538 ful,—the philosophy of Nature. Then he considers the causes which have led to this condition of things, and he finds them, partly in the frame and constitution of the human mind, and partly in the reverence for antiquity, in the following of authority, and in the disposition to be bound by accepted modes of theorizing. No improvement of these methods would, he was of opinion, be of any avail—"serum plane rebus perditis hoc adhibetur remedium"—his only hope lay in reconstructing the whole method of science in putting the mind in harness, and in establishing a true induction.

Roger Bacon takes, in like manner, a general survey of the studies which engaged his cotemporaries. He finds that they are altogether vanity. The sciences which alone are of any value, mathematics, perspective, and the "mistress art"—experiment—are neglected by the Latins. And no wonder that they are neglected. For in everything which is said or done, authority custom, and the practice of the many, are uniformly appealed to. These are the "pestilent causes" winch hold back real knowledge and cause wrong subjects to be pursued on wrong methods. So long as utility is disregarded and facts are drawn from books instead of from observation and experiment, philosophy, and with it religion and manners, will inevitably decline.

Both the Bacons have thus the same views as to what constitutes real knowledge; both place it in the study of phenomena; but in the words of the one it is "the science of Experiment;" in the language of the other it is "Natural Philosophy." Both in like manner conceive that its improvement is to be effected by substantially the same process, only this process is resolved by Roger Bacon into obtaining facts by observation and experiment instead of culling them from books; in the hands of Francis Bacon it becomes the rejection of syllogism and the substitution of a true and considered for a false and hasty induction. Thus amount of agreement is quite sufficient to set us upon the inquiry in what respect their language and general opinions coincide.

The following table of comparison will enable the [unclear: reader] judge for himself:*
Points of Agreement between Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon. 1.—In their Opinion of Antiquity.
Roger Bacon. Francis Bacon.
"Ad auctorum dicta verorum potest convenienter addi et corrigi in quampluribus. Et hoc egregie docet Seneca in libro quæstionum natura-[unclear: ;] quoniam dicit [unclear: opiniones] parum exactas esse.—Et [unclear: ideo] in prologo majoris [unclear: voluminis] nihil est perfeetum in humanis inventionibus, et infert quanto [unclear: juniores] perspicaciores quia juniores [unclear: posteres] successione temporum [unclear: ingrejtur] labores priorum."—Opus Majus c. 6. "De antiquitate [unclear: autem] quam homines de ipsa [unclear: fovent] gens omnino est, et vix [unclear: verbo] congrua. Mundi enim [unclear: senium]

* It has been thought better to retain the original language of the authors in this table.

page 539 grandævitas pro antiquitate vere habenda sunt; quæ; temporibus nostris tribui debent non juniori astati mundi, qualis apud antiquos fuit."—Nov. Org. aph. 84.
"Antiquitas sæculi Juventus mundi."—De Aug. 138.
2.—In their Opinion of Authority, Custom, and Popular Opinion.
"Semper utimur tribus argumentis pessimis pro omnibus quæ facimus et m[unclear: us;] scilicet hoc exemplificatum est, hoc consuetum est, hoc vulgatum est,—ergo faciendum est. Sed oppositum conclusionis sequitur ex [unclear: præssis], ut in pluribus, et optime [unclear: statcam] eis."—Opus Tertium, c. 22.
"Et ideo hic accidunt hæc tria [unclear: mala;] scilicet, auctoritas fragilis, et sensus vulgi, et consuetudo."—Ibid.
"Rursus vero homines a progressu in scientiis detinuit et fere incantavit reverentia antiquitatis et virorum qui in philosophia magni habiti sunt, auctoritas atque deinde consensus."—Nov. Org., aph. 84.
"Auctoritas non sapit nisi detur quis ratio, nec dat intellectum sed [unclear: credtatem;] credimus enim auctoritati [unclear: d] non propter earn intelligimus."—Compend. Studii, c. 1. "Illud enim de consensu fallit homines, si acutius rem introspiciant. Verus enim consensus is est, qui ex libertate judicii (re prius explorata) in idem conveniente consistit."—Ibid.
"Quod pluribus, hoc est vulgo, [unclear: videtur] oportet quod sit falsum."—De mirabili potestate. "Pessimum enim omnium est augurium quod ex consensu capitur in rebus intellectualibus; exceptis divinis et politicis in quibus suffragiorum jus est."—Nov. Org., aph. 78.
"Et exemplorum multitudinem [unclear: denemus], et consuetudinem semper [unclear: beamus] suspectam, et simus ex paucis et de numero sapientum quantum possumus, et sensum [unclear: multitdnis] evitemus. Nam semper a principio mundi sapientes omnes, at sancti et veri philosophi, separaverunt se a sensu vulgi, tam in scientia quam in vita: quia ille at in pluribus est erroneus, et nunquam est perfectus."—Opus Tertium, c.32 "Optime traducitur illud Phocionis a moribus ad intellectualia; ut statim se examinare debeant homines, quid erraverint aut peccaverint, si multitudo consentiat aut complaudat."—Ibid.
3.—In their Opinion of the Value of Experience.
"Sine experientia nihil sufficienter aciri potest:—Opus Majus, p. 336. "Logica qua; in usu est ad errores stabiliendos et figendos valet, potius quam ad inquisitionem veritatis; itaque spes est una in inductione vera."—Nov. Org., aph. 12, 14.
"Duo enim sunt modi cognoscendi, seilicet per argumentum et experimentum. Argumentum concludit et facit nos concludere quæstionem, sed non certificat neque removet dubitationem, ut quiescat animus in intuitu veritatis, nisi cam inveniat via experiential"—Ibid.
"Et hæc scientia (experimentalis) habet tres magnas prærogativas respectu aliarum scientiarum. Una est quod omnium illarum conclusiones nobiles investigat per experientiam. Scientia: enim aliæ: sciunt sua principia invenire per experimenta, sea conclusiones per argumenta facta ex principiis inventis."—Opus Majus, p. 338.
"Si attendamus ad experientias particulares et completas et omnino in propria disciplina certificatas, necessarium est ire per considerations scientiæ experimentalis."—Opus Majus, p. 448.
"Duæ viæ sunt, atque esse possunt, ad inquirendam et inveniendam veritatem. Altera a sensu et particulari page 540 bus advolat ad axiomata maxi [unclear: generalia], atque ex iis principlis eorumque immota ventate judicat et invenit axiomata media; altera a [unclear: sea] et particularibus excitat axiomata [unclear: as] cendendo continenter et gradatim, [unclear: ut] ultimo loco perveniatur ad [unclear: maxi] generalia; quæ via vera est sed intentata."—Nov. Org., apk. 19.
4.—In their Opinion of the Untrustworthiness of the Human Mind.
"Cogitavi vero quod intellectus humanus habet magnam debilitatem ad se; nam ea quæ sunt maximæ cogitationis secundum se sunt minimæ cogitationis quoad nos, et e converso." —Opus Tertium, c. 22. "Intellectus humanus laminis [unclear: siccinon] est; sed recipit infusionem a voluntate et affectibus."—Nov Org, aph. 49.
"Manifestum est quod mens humana non sufficit dare quod necessarium est in omnibus, nec potest in singulis vitare falsum nec malum."—Opus Majus, p. 341. "Sensus enim per se res infirma est et aberrans; neque organa ad amplificandos sensus aut acuendos multum valent; sed omnis verior interpretatio naturaæ conficitur per instantias, et experimenta idonea; ubi sensus experimento tantum, experimentum de re ipsa judicat."—Nov. Org aph 50.

Each writer attached an extreme and even an exaggerated importance to the value of his method. Roger Bacon frequently maintains that by his own plan the labour of learning would be indefinitely diminished. He promises to teach Greek and Hebrew in three days; geometry in less than a week, and to communicate the result of his forty years' labour in science in three or six months by the aid of a compendium. "Had we competent teachers, I do not doubt that we should learn more within a year than by our present method in twenty years."*

Francis Bacon appears to have thought that the facts on which his philosophy was to be based might by proper means be registered in a few years; the space of a generation, if not of a single

* "Opus Tertium," p. 65.

page 541 [unclear: in] his opinion suffice. "My principle of discovery," he observes, "is one which does not leave much to acuteness or strength of intellect; on the contrary, it tends to bring all minds to the same level."*

A mechanical method of procedure, simple, rapid, and easily learned, is of the essence of the discovery which the two Bacons professed to have made.

Mr. Hallam has already pointed out that the quaint word "prerogative," of which Francis Bacon was so fond, is used in the "Opus Majus." We may add that the notion of the other sciences being the handmaidens of natural philosophy is also found in that work. Further, although the four obstacles to learning, respectively mentioned in the "Novum Organon" and the "Opus Majus" are divided on a different plan, yet they occupy a similar position in each system, and the idea of them is very much the same. To Mr. Ellis's remark, that nothing turns on there being the same number of idols as of hindrances, for that in the earlier form of the doctrine of idols there were only three,—it may be replied that in the later works of Roger Bacon the hindrances are three likewise. Nor is it of any great importance whether Francis Bacon ever saw the "Opus Majus" or not. The "Opus Minus," the "Opus Tertium," or the "Compendium Studii" would equally well have presented the outlines of his predecessor's doctrine. In Cambridge, in Bacon's time, there must have been several manuscripts of some or all of these works, On the whole, we are of opinion that there is sufficient evidence to render it probable that Francis Bacon was acquainted with the scheme of Roger Bacon's doctrine.

In saying this we imply no detraction from the merit or the originality of the great man who first systematized the inductive method. The question is one of literary curiosity alone. There is not much weight in the often-repeated charge of borrowing leas. Unless a man is capable of thinking for himself, imported thoughts will do him no good. Had Francis Bacon been unable to evolve his system from his own resources, he might have read the "Opus Majus," as hundreds of men read it before him, to little purpose. That he gathered from that work, as we think it probable that he did, here a valuable maxim and there a happy expression, proves only the ripeness of his judgment in matters intellectual; and when all is said, enough remains incontestably his own to justify the admiration in which his name has been so long held.

* * "Distributio Operis."

"Mathematica et logica quaæ ancillarum loco erga physicam se gerere debent" (Bacon's Works, vii. 204.) "Scientia experimental imperat aliis scientiis sicut ancillis suis."—Opus Majus, p. 476. (Edit. Jebb.)

page 542

Nor will any one acquainted with the systems of the men deny that, even in the points in which they coincide, the merit of superior treatment is with the more modem writer. Roger Bacon, by the necessities of his age and circumstances, had a less precise view of the bearings of the change he advocates than his successor. He was sometimes frightened at his own boldness—he often hesitates; not infrequently he weakens the effect of his theory by the indecision of his practice. There are, we hold, two kinds of reformers: the reformer negative and the reformer positive. The first so far rises above the level of commonplace acquiescence as to see that current theories do not account for facts; that current beliefs rest on an insufficient basis. He therefore sets to work to destroy; he pulls down the buildings in which he dwells, but he has nothing to raise in its stead. The latter proceeds on a different method. He has a definite plan, and his work consists in removing the structure of opinion, not by taking it to pieces, but by building up a better, which must necessarily displace it. Such was the reform of Copernicus, who destroyed the cycles and epicycles of Ptolemy by an explanation the phenomena more simple and sufficient than his; such was the reform of Francis Bacon, who substituted formal canons of scientific proof for the defective inductions of the schoolmen: such was not the reform of the elder Bacon with regard to the science of his day. He saw clearly enough that things were on a wrong footing; he also pointed out what was wanting to them right: but when he comes to act, he sometimes hesitates and looks back. His criticism leaves nothing to be desired; the constructive side of his system is by far the weakest part in it. He protests strongly and always against the error of assuming a thing to be true because the authority of a respectable name can be cited in its favour; yet he advocates the study of language for the purpose of enabling men to see what higher authoring have pronounced on the matter. He discredits Peter of Spain and Alexander Hales; but there are cases in which he would to be bound by the opinion of Aristotle or of Averroes. He does not question Cicero's maxim, that a law of nature may be established by a given quantity of affirmative evidence,—he only [unclear: takes] that the induction shall include certain well-known instances Hence the practical effect of his protest against [unclear: authority] comes to no more than this—that authorities should be selected not that selected authorities should be laid aside; he merely transfers his allegiance to a worthier object. And so, while one hand he is destroying an idol of brass, he seems to be setting up with the other, as the object of our intellectual worship image of gold.

Bacon's leading idea was undoubtedly a reform of the phi- page 543 [unclear: phical] systems of the day, to be effected by a recourse to Nature and an observation of her processes. It is no [unclear: less] that he considered this as ancillary only to the removal off abuses in the Church and in the State. Abeunt studio, [unclear: in]. False modes of education, vicious systems of [unclear: theorizing], gender, he thought, depravity of manners and laxity of discipline. He frequently contrasts the life and example of Aristotle, Seneca, Socrates, Cicero,—of the facts of whose lives be probably knew little—with the depravity of the men he saw around him; and that he traced that depravity to ignorance there can be no doubt. Hence, on principle, he was constrained to hold his cotemporaries in slight estimation. This feeling is shared by all reformers in a greater or less degree. Dissatisfaction with the existing structure is naturally a motive with those modify or reconstruct. But in the highest class of minds it will be found, we suspect, to take the form of a protest against systems rather than of an attack on men; and it is seldom that a thinker of Bacon's stamp arrests himself, as he does, in the course of his argument, in the very flow and current of his thought, to hold up to ridicule a false quantity, an absurd derivation, or mistranslation.*

There are some men at the mere thought of whom he lashes himself into a kind of fury: they are the "conservative divines;" "the boyleaders of the two student-orders, as Albert and Thomas, and others;" "the heads of the crowd." These diabolical men, says Bacon, are not ashamed to condemn all learning which they themselves have not got, before prelates, princes, and people. "Hi igitur"—his anger must be left to express itself—"errore et [unclear: morantiæ] tenebris velut quodam carcere deterrimo damnati, [unclear: non] de jure unde damnent sapientiæ lucem, respectu cujus [unclear: sunt] cæcæ et vespertiliones lippæ et immundi sues cœno turbido [unclear: orantiæ] obducti."§ This is pretty well for a divine and a philosopher.

What passed for divinity, and more especially the sermons of the Dominicans, excited in him, not anger, but a gentle feeling of contempt.

"It is very easy for the members of this Order to talk to people

* His style of criticism is not without a certain vigour. He says of the works of Albert:—"Hæc scripta habent peccata quatuor. Unum est [unclear: vanitas] infinita; secundum est falsitas ineffabilis; tertium est [unclear: superfluitas] eo quod tota potestas illarum scientiarum posset coarctari [unclear: utili] et veraci in vicesima parte illorum voluminum; quartum est quod partes philosophiæ magnifies utilitatis—auctor istorum operum omisit. Et ideo [unclear: nulla] utilitas in scriptis illis sed maximum sapientiæ detrimentum."—Opus [unclear: Ter]-. c. 9.

"Theologi stationarii."

"Compend. Studii," c. v. p. 426.

§ Ibid., c. iii. p. 417.

page 544 about virtue and vice, heaven and hell, particularly as there are plenty of passages in the sacred texts from which any stupid may quote; but of this I am very certain, that there is a simple brother who never heart a hundred lectures on theology, and who would not have attended to them if he had, who preaches beyond comparison better greatest masters of theology."*

Thus with the honesty and convictions, Bacon had some of the vulgar faults of a reformer. He was impetuous, intolerant, and frequently unjust. The way in which he praises his own performance cannot but detract from the credit of it. In the opening of one of his works he excuses his delay by saying that neither Albert nor Master William of Shyrwode—a sage, in his opinion, superior to Albert—could have composed in ten years what he had effected, under many disadvantages, in one "Certainly," he adds, "you will find a hundred passages to which these persons with their present knowledge would never to their dying day."

This language and temper every one must regret. It shows that personal feeling came in aid of genuine belief, to give force to the stroke with which Bacon laid about him. Nor [unclear: can] wonder that this should be so. During a great part of his literary life he was smarting under a sense that he had been cruelly and unjustly dealt with. He saw that the age was out of joint, and he also saw, or thought he saw, the remedy. He had that consciousness of power which irresistibly impels men to be up and doing. In an evil hour he joined a society, by whose rules, and still more by whose rulers, he was fettered and at every turn. He was interdicted from books; he was prohibited from writing; when detected in his favourite pursuits, he was put on bread and water. This was enough to irritate a more temperate man than Brother Roger; and the matter was not mended by the fact that those who so severely repressed learning were not themselves remarkable for possessing it. Bacon, with a vast fund of knowledge of which he was anxious to make the best use, may very well be excused in harbouring bitter feelings against men who sent him from his laboratory to a cloister, who diverted him from the study of Aristotle to the "Book of Sentences," and withal who could scarcely read their decently.

Notwithstanding his frequent attacks on the clergy, orthodoxy in essential points cannot be impeached. It would be quite incorrect to represent him as a freethinker of the school of

* "Compend. Studii," c. v. p. 427, 428.

"Opus Tertium." c. ii.

"Clerici et sacerdotes rurales recitant officium divinum de quo parum and nihil intelligunt sicut bruta."—Compend. Studii, p. 413.

page 545 Averroes. He never attacks the central positions of the Christian belief, violently as he criticizes some of the institutions of the Church herself. So with regard to philosophy. Bold as he was, and with an almost reckless audacity in speculation, there were subjects on which he did not venture to lay his hand. For example, he never entertained the notion—which, is in truth, one of the latest products of modern thought—of the absolute inutility of metaphysics. He would supplement the logic and metaphysic of the schools by sciences of which the schools did not dream, and he would amend the manner in which the sciences in vogue were to be studied.

These defects—and there are many such in Bacon's writings—should not blind us to the essential merits of his system and the value of the double object which he held constantly in view. This double object—the investigation of nature as a distinct pursuit, and the foundation of natural studies on observation and experiment—constitutes the real aim of his teaching. That a schoolman of the thirteenth century should have seriously set to work to carry out such an idea is not a little remarkable. For it must always be borne in mind that in that age, and indeed, for some century and a quarter afterwards, no science wholly independent of theology was held to exist. The clergy being the sole depositories of learning had subordinated all knowledge to their own special pursuits: they thought that language should be studied, not as a means of informing the mind and refining the taste, but to enable them to read the divines and fathers, and to settle disputed points in the construction of the sacred texts. Astronomy was a means by which they might calculate the times at which the feasts of the Church should he observed: they read the masterpieces of Greek thought—so far as they read them—with the sole object of harmonizing them with Christian theology, and of putting into their own armoury the weapons forged by Aristotle for the use of general science. That a philosophy of nature existed as an object of independent pursuit was not dreamed of; that there were any other means of arriving at any scientific truth than by comparing what had already been said by the ancients, and grinding their statements down in a logical mill, was an idea which would have been laughed at by an ordinarily educated man then, and which was not generally accepted till some three centuries later.

When Roger Bacon was laid in his grave, the real philosophy was buried with him. The fate of that philosophy is a lasting example of the wisdom of the remark, that Truth is the daughter of Time. Putting circumstances aside, and looking only to the men and to the doctrine, there is no reason why the thirteenth century should not have anticipated the literary and scientific page 546 revival of the sixteenth. Grostête was probably as great a scholar as Ascham; Roger Bacon is scarcely inferior to Francis Bacon as a reformer of scientific method. Time, however and opportunity were on the side of the one and against the other. The seed which Roger Bacon had sowed with so lavish a hand fell on ground as yet unprepared to receive it A long and dreary winter of scholasticism lay between the promise of the thirteenth century and fulfilment of the Renaissance. For more than two hundred years the most powerful minds of Europe were doomed to contend in vain with the insoluble problem of absolute existence and the chimera of absolute knowledge. At last the change took place. Then it was seen that the truth which had been so long forgotten was not dead but sleeping. It awakened into life at the touch of another Bacon, with the publication of the [unclear: "Nov] Organon."

It has been our fortune to realize all, and more than all, the wild dreams pictured by the heated imagination of the Franciscan;—the "instruments which will enable men to navigate without the aid of oars;" the "machines by which we can remain underwater;" the "rivers crossed by bridges without supports."! The man who, six hundred years ago, pointed out the possibility of these results being attained, and who first entered on the course of philosophical speculation by which they have been realized, has some claims on the consideration of the nineteenth century. In saying this, we mean only that he should not be entirely forgotten. To expect any other memorial of him than an occasional place in the thoughts of educated people would be absurd: for he was only the most original thinker which England produced up to the time of Francis Bacon, and, in the deliberate judgement of Humboldt, the profoundest of the schoolmen. He merely anticipated by three centuries one of the most important revolutions which Europe has yet seen, and that to which our present material prosperity is directly due. It would be against all precedent if such a man were to receive those public honours which are reserved for kings, for princes, or for successful generals. But would it be too much to ask that, in the magnificent building which Oxford has lately raised for the cultivation of the sciences, the founder of the experimental method should place? "Magni animi fuit rerum latebras primitus [unclear: dimo] et plurimum ad inveniendum contulit qui speravit posse [unclear: repe] et quamvis propter humanam fragilitatem in multis defecit [unclear: ta] excusandus est."

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