6. The works pertaining to the persons of learned men (besides the advancement and countenancing of them in general) are two--the reward and designation of readers in sciences already extant and invented; and the reward and designation of writers and inquirers concerning any parts of learning not sufficiently laboured and prosecuted.

7. These are summarily the works and acts wherein the merits of many excellent princes and other worthy personages, have been conversant. As for any particular commemorations, I call to mind what Cicero said when he gave general thanks, Difficile non aliquem, ingratum quenquam praeterire. Let us rather, according to the Scriptures, look unto that part of the race which is before us, than look back to that which is already attained.

8. First, therefore, amongst so many great foundations of colleges in Europe, I find strange that they are all dedicated to professions, and none left free to arts and sciences at large. For if men judge that learning should be referred to action, they judge well; but in this they fall into the error described in the ancient fable, in which the other parts of the body did suppose the stomach had been idle, because it neither performed the office of motion, as the limbs do, nor of sense, as the head doth; but yet notwithstanding it is the stomach that digesteth and distributeth to all the rest. So if any man think philosophy and universality to be idle studies, he doth not consider that all professions are from thence served and supplied. And this I take to be a great cause that hath hindered the progression of learning, because these fundamental knowledges have been studied but in passage. For if you will have a tree bear more fruit than it hath used to do, it is not anything you can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring of the earth and putting new mould about thee roots that must work it. Neither is it to be forgotten, that this dedicating of foundations and dotations to professory learning hath not only had a malign aspect and influence upon the growth of sciences, but hath also been prejudicial to states, and governments. For hence it proceedeth that princes find a solitude in regard of able men to serve them in causes of estate, because there is no education collegiate which is free, where such as were so disposed might give themselves in histories, modern languages, books of policy and civil discourse, and other the like enablements unto service of estate.

9. And because founders of colleges do plant, and founders of lectures do water, it followeth well in order to speak of the defect which is in public lectures; namely, in the smallness, and meanness of the salary or reward which in most places is assigned unto them, whether they be lectures of arts, or of professions. For it is necessary to the progression of sciences that readers be of the most able and sufficient men; as those which are ordained for generating and propagating of sciences, and not for transitory use. This cannot be, except their condition and endowment be such as may content the ablest man to appropriate his whole labour and continue his whole age in that function and attendance; and therefore must have a proportion answerable to that mediocrity or competency of advancement, which may be expected from a profession or the practice of a profession. So as, if you will have sciences flourish, you must observe David's military law, which was, "That those which stayed with the carriage should have equal part with those which were in the action;" else will the carriages be ill attended. So readers in sciences are indeed the guardians of the stores and provisions of sciences, whence men in active courses are furnished, and therefore ought to have equal entertainment with them; otherwise if the fathers in sciences be of the weakest sort or be ill maintained,

"Et patrum invalidi referent jejunia nati."

10. Another defect I note, wherein I shall need some alchemist to help me, who call upon men to sell their books, and to build furnaces; quitting and forsaking Minerva and the Muses as barren virgins, and relying upon Vulcan.

The Advancement of Learning Page 35

Francis Bacon

16th Century Literature

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book