Let this, therefore, serve for answer to politiques, which in their humorous severity, or in their feigned gravity, have presumed to throw imputations upon learning; which redargution nevertheless (save that we know not whether our labours may extend to other ages) were not needful for the present, in regard of the love and reverence towards learning which the example and countenance of two so learned princes, Queen Elizabeth and your Majesty, being as Castor and Pollux, lucida sidera, stars of excellent light and most benign influence, hath wrought in all men of place and authority in our nation.

III. (1) Now therefore we come to that third sort of discredit or diminution of credit that groweth unto learning from learned men themselves, which commonly cleaveth fastest: it is either from their fortune, or from their manners, or from the nature of their studies. For the first, it is not in their power; and the second is accidental; the third only is proper to be handled: but because we are not in hand with true measure, but with popular estimation and conceit, it is not amiss to speak somewhat of the two former. The derogations therefore which grow to learning from the fortune or condition of learned men, are either in respect of scarcity of means, or in respect of privateness of life and meanness of employments.

(2) Concerning want, and that it is the case of learned men usually to begin with little, and not to grow rich so fast as other men, by reason they convert not their labours chiefly to lucre and increase, it were good to leave the commonplace in commendation of povery to some friar to handle, to whom much was attributed by Machiavel in this point when he said, "That the kingdom of the clergy had been long before at an end, if the reputation and reverence towards the poverty of friars had not borne out the scandal of the superfluities and excesses of bishops and prelates." So a man might say that the felicity and delicacy of princes and great persons had long since turned to rudeness and barbarism, if the poverty of learning had not kept up civility and honour of life; but without any such advantages, it is worthy the observation what a reverent and honoured thing poverty of fortune was for some ages in the Roman state, which nevertheless was a state without paradoxes. For we see what Titus Livius saith in his introduction: Caeterum aut me amor negotii suscepti fallit aut nulla unquam respublica nec major, nec sanctior, nec bonis exemplis ditior fuit; nec in quam tam sero avaritia luxuriaque immigraverint; nec ubi tantus ac tam diu paupertati ac parsimoniae honos fuerit. We see likewise, after that the state of Rome was not itself, but did degenerate, how that person that took upon him to be counsellor to Julius Caesar after his victory where to begin his restoration of the state, maketh it of all points the most summary to take away the estimation of wealth: Verum haec et omnia mala pariter cum honore pecuniae desinent; si neque magistratus, neque alia vulgo cupienda, venalia erunt. To conclude this point: as it was truly said that Paupertas est virtutis fortuna, though sometimes it come from vice, so it may be fitly said that, though some times it may proceed from misgovernment and accident. Surely Solomon hath pronounced it both in censure, Qui festinat ad divitias non erit insons; and in precept, "Buy the truth, and sell it not; and so of wisdom and knowledge;" judging that means were to be spent upon learning, and not learning to be applied to means. And as for the privateness or obscureness (as it may be in vulgar estimation accounted) of life of contemplative men, it is a theme so common to extol a private life, not taxed with sensuality and sloth, in comparison and to the disadvantage of a civil life, for safety, liberty, pleasure, and dignity, or at least freedom from indignity, as no man handleth it but handleth it well; such a consonancy it hath to men's conceits in the expressing, and to men's consents in the allowing. This only I will add, that learned men forgotten in states and not living in the eyes of men, are like the images of Cassius and Brutus in the funeral of Junia, of which, not being represented as many others were, Tacitus saith, Eo ipso praefulgebant quod non visebantur.

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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