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NOTE I.-Text 54.
PLEASURES OF THE UNDERSTANDING.
See text, page 153, 154, and 216-17-18-19-20. Mr. Bentham's Work upon the Principles of Morals and Legislation, chap. v. contains a catalogue of the different pleasures which we are capable of enjoying, and the different pains to which we are exposed. Of all pleasures none are more exquisite, none so permanent as the pleasures of the understanding, See Bacon's observations in note, ante 153.
How charming is divine philosophy!
Where no crude surfeit reigns. Hume, in his Life, says, My family, however, was not rich, and being myself a younger brother, my patrimony, according to the mode of my country, was of course very slender ; my father, who passed for a man of parts, died when I was an infant, leaving me with an elder brother and a sister, under the care of our mother, a woman of singular merit, who, though young and handsome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her children. I passed through the ordinary course of education with success, and was seized very early with a passion for literature, which has been the ruling passion of my life, and the great source of my enjoyments. My studious disposition, my sobriety, and my industry, gave my family a notion that the law was a proper profession for me ; but I found an insurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning, and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was secretly devouring." Ascham, speaking of Lady Jane Grey, says,
" Before I
went into Germany I came to Broadgate, in Leicestershire, to take my leave of the noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholding. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber reading Phædon Platonis in Greek, and this with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccaccio. After salutation and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her' why she would lose such pastime in the park ? smiling she answered me, I wisse all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.' • And how came you, Madam,' quoth I, ' to this deep knowledge of pleasure ? and what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men have attained thereunto ?' • I will tell you,' quoth she, ‘ and tell you a truth,'” &c.
(See Sir T. Brown's observations, ante 276, “ The Student.”)
Against the inconveniences and vexations of long life may be set the pleasures of discovering truth, one of the greatest pleasures that age affords.—DR. JOHNSON.
Middleton beautifully says, “ I persuade myself that the life and faculties of man, at the best but short and limited, cannot be employed more rationally or laudably than in the search of knowledge: and especially of that sort which relates to our duty, and conduces to our happiness. In these enquiries, therefore, wherever I perceive any glimmering of truth before me, I readily pursue and endeavour to trace it to its source, without any reserve or caution of pushing the discovery too far, or opening too great a glare of it to the public. I look upon the discovery of any thing which is true as a valuable acquisition of society, which cannot possibly hurt or obstruct the good effect of any other truth whatsoever: for they all partake of one common essence, and necessarily coincide with each other; and like the drops of rain which fall separately into the river, mix themselves at once with the stream, and strengthen the general current.”
La lecture est la nourriture de l'esprit: c'est par elle que nous connoissons notre Créateur, ses ouvrages, et surtout, nous mêmes et nos semblables. So Boyle says,
“ The things for which I hold life valuable are the satisfaction that accrues from the improvement of knowledge and the exercise of piety.
(See page 204, “ On the Pleasures of Study and Contemplation,” by Bishop Hall.)
The following are observations by Lord Bacon : “ As the
eye rejoices to receive the light, the ear to hear sweet music ; so the mind, which is the man, rejoices to discover the secret works, the varieties and beauties of nature. The inquiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing it; the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it; and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying it, is the sovereign good of our nature. The unlearned man knows not what it is to descend into himself or to call himself to account, or the pleasure of that “suavissima vita indies sentire se fieri meliorem.” The mind of man doth wonderfully endeavour and extremely covet that it may not be pensile ; but that it may. light upon something fixed and immoveable, on which, as on a firmament, it may support itself in its swift motions and disquisitions. Aristotle endeavours to prove that in all motions of bodies there is some point quiescent; and very elegantly expounds the fable of Atlas, who stood fixed and bore up the heavens from falling, to be meant of the poles of the world whereupon the conversion is accomplished. In like manner, men do earnestly seek to have some Atlas or axis of their cogitations within themselves, which may, in some measure, moderate the fluctuations and wheelings of the understanding, fearing it may be the falling of their heaven.
The discovery of the different properties of creatures, and the imposition of names was the occupation of Adam in Paradise.
Knowledge is “ pabulum animi," says Bacon; and the nature of man's appetites is as the Israelites in the desert, who were weary of manna, and would fain have turned " ad ollas carnium."
See from the two following anecdotes the difference between the statesman who is so unwise as to neglect intellectual improvement and the philosopher. The biographer of Sir Robert Walpole tells us that “ though he had not forgotten his classical attainments, he had little taste for literary occupation.” Sir Robert once expressed his regret on this subject to Mr. Fox in his library at Houghton, “ I wish,” he said, “ I took as much delight in reading as you do, it would be the means of alleviating many tedious hours in my present retirement; but to my misfortune, I derive no pleasure from such pursuits.”
One day, Lord Bacon was dictating to Dr. Rawley some of the experiments in his Sylva. The same day, he had sent a friend to court, to receive for him a final answer touching the effect of a grant which had been made him by King James. He had hitherto only hope of it, and hope deferred; and he was desirous to know the event of the matter,
and to be freed, one way or other, from the suspense of his thoughts. His friend returning, told him plainly, that he must thenceforth despair of that grant, how much soever his fortunes needed it. Be it so,' said his Lordship; and then he dismissed his friend very cheerfully, with thankful acknowledgments of his service. His friend being gone, he came straightway to Dr. Rawley, and said thus to him,
Well, sir, yon business won't go on, let us go on with this, for this is in our power.' And then he dictated to him afresh, for some hours, without the least hesitansie of speech, or discernible interruption of thought.
NOTE II.-Text 133.
Tous note contains a few observations upon
1. Useful Knowledge.
The utility of two species of knowledge is indisputable.
First—The knowledge by each member of Society, of that subject or science by which he is to gain his subsistence,as by a lawyer, of law, or by a physician, of medicine-and
Secondly—The knowledge of ourselves. In the importance of knowledge of man, all authors, ancient and modern, concur. Among the precepts or aphorisms admitted by ge. neral consent, and inculcated by frequent repetition, there is none more famous, among the masters of ancient wisdom, than that compendious lesson,“ Be acquainted with thyself:” -ascribed by some to an oracle, and by others to Chilo of Lacedemon. Lord Bacon, in his entrance upon human philosophy, says:-“ Now let us come to that knowledge whereunto the ancient oracle directeth us, which is the know. ledge of ourselves; which deserves the more accurate handling by how much it toucheth us more nearly. This knowledge is to man the end and term of knowledge ; but of nature herself, a portion only.”
CONNECTION BETWEEN ERROR AND TRUTH.
This is noticed by many philosophers and divines, by whom we are admonished, that Truth and Error, Good and Ill, are constantly intermingled and confounded.
See ante 295.
“ Good and evil,” says Bishop Taylor, “in the field of this world grow up together, almost inseparably, and the knowlelge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche, as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed.”
The connection between truth and error, or rather how error leads to truth, may be seen in tracing the progress of any invention, as the steam-engine; or of any science; of astronomy for instance, of which there is, to any person desirous of seeing how light arises out of darkness, a very interesting delineation in the posthumous works of Adam Smith.
CONNECTION BETWEEN DIFFERENT SORTS OF KNOWLEDGE.
Upon this subject the works of Bacon abound with observations. “ The partition of science is not,
“ like several lines that meet in one angle ; but rather like branches of trees that meet in one stem, which stem for some dimension and space is entire and continued before it break, and part itself into arms and boughs.”
In shewing this connection in another part of the work, he says, “ The quavering upon a stop in music, gives the same delight to the ear, that the playing of light upon the water, or the sparkling of a diamond, gives to the eye.'
“ Splendet tremulo sub lumine Pontus." So the Persian magic, so much celebrated, consists chiefly in this : to observe the respondency and the architectures, and fabrics of things natural, and of things civil. Neither are all these whereof we have spoken, and others of like nature, mere similitudes only, as men of narrow observation may perchance conceive, but one and the very same footsteps, and seals nature printed upon several subjects or matters.
Acting upon this opinion, Bacon predicts that the mode discovering the law of the celestial bodies, will, from the uniformity of all the laws of nature, be by observing the laws of bodies terrestrial. His words are:
“Whoever shall reject the feigned divorces of superlunary and sublunary bodies, and shall intentively observe the appe