The Sylva Sylvarum (1627) is recognized as the first 'treatise on natural history'. Some regard it as the most-complete work, for its day.
But as early as 70AD, other works existed, such as Pliny's work on Natural History.
Why was the modern of F. Bacon such a landmark? Did he introduce some style of communicating that was wholly different?
An interpretation of the concrete wall at Smith’s Cove.
The episode begins at Smith’s Cove, where the crew examines the mysterious concrete wall discovered at the end of the previous episode. After some light excavation with his trowel, Laird Niven uncovers two rubbery pipes protruding from the wall’s base, indicating that the structure was made by 19 th or 20 th Century searchers.
That afternoon, the crew congregates in the War Room. After discussing the strange new discovery, Marty Lagina suggests that perhaps the concrete walls is much older than the rubber pipes, and that previous searchers drilled through the structure and inserted the pipes into it after discovering it. Talk then turns to the slipway, located next to the concrete wall. Gary Drayton expresses his belief that the slipway constitutes original work, and will help lead them to the original Money Pit.
An interpretation of the slipway at Smith’s Cove.
Later, Rick Lagina and Dave Blankenship pay a visit to the home of Dan Blankenship. There, they inform the elderly treasure hunter of the new discovery and ask him if he has any clue as to what it might be. Dan explains that the wall must have been constructed before 1950, as Robert Restall never built anything of the sort during his treasure hunt in the 1960s. He goes on to suggest that they have wood from the adjacent slipway carbon dated, as it is probable that whoever built the slipway either constructed or new about the concrete wall.
Next, the crew meets at the Money Pit, where Irving Equipment Ltd. is working H8. The contractors use the oscillator to lift the H8 caisson several feet before excavating the material that moved into the bottom with a hammergrab. The first hammergrab load, which comes from a depth of 168 feet, yields fragments of old wood, which Craig Tester suggests is part of the Chappell Vault.
After a cursory examination, the H8 spoils are laid on a wash table and manually inspected by Jack Begley and Charles Barkhouse. After finding several more slivers of wood, Jack Begley discovers a handful of what appear to be blackened parchment fragments. Later on, he discovers a delicate white scrap of material which resembles paper.
Later that day, Craig Tester and Jack Begley meet with Doug Crowell and Paul Troutman at the Oak Island Research Centre. There, they examine the new material discovered in the H8 spoils under a digital microscope. One of the black scraps appears to be leather. Another piece of material, supposed to be parchment, has markings in yellow and red paint or ink. Doug Crowell suggests that the colour might be from a stylized initial, or drop cap, of an illuminated manuscript. The crew members agree that they ought to have the coloured pigments or dyes analyzed by an expert.
Later, the Oak Island crew meets with Randall Sullivan at the Money Pit area. The Lagina brothers and Sullivan walk down to the War Room, where the writer presents the treasure hunters with the first copies of his new book The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt. Sullivan expresses his belief that his book is the “most authoritative and entertaining history of Oak Island”. He claims that his research led him to believe that the popular legend of the Money Pit’s discovery is accurate, and that he is partial towards the theory that Francis Bacon is the man behind the Oak Island mystery. He then sites a passage from Francis Bacon’s natural history book Sylva Sylvarum which instructs the reader to “dig a pit upon the Sea-Shore”, starting above the high water mark, to a point below sea level.
Some years ago, in the early 1990’s an eminent Librarian asked me “Do you wait until you have five bacon’s and then print a catalogue?” and I thought to my self… don’t you read the others?
But Really I knew there was something to it, so in response I did a short catalogue of Bacon’s!
Now as I’m writing my new series of catalogues Fascicule VII, I think should I include some Bacon? Naturally the answer is why wouldn’t I? Well, in fact I’ve don a lot of catalogues without Bacon titles in them, but in most of by General , Varia , New arrivals or Shelf lists there has always been a Bacon or two, and for good reason. More than any english write Francis Bacon’s works embody the spirit of Early modern England:
694G Bacon, Francis. 1561-1626
The essayes or counsels, ciuill and morall, of Francis Lo. Verulam, Viscount St. Alban
London:Printed by Iohn Hauiland, and are sold by R. Allot, 1629
Quarto,7 X 6 inches . This is the first edition containing “Of the colours of good and euill” has divisional title page register is continuous. Some copies may have been issued without this, but the present copy has it. A- 2V 2X (a) 2Y-3C . Bound in the original limp vellum,(lacking ties) recently recased and a little rumpled but a very large,clean and unsophisticated copy of an early quarto edition
“[Bacon’s] Essays, the fruits of his political and social observations, were first published in 1597, enlarged in 1612, and again in 1625. This 1629 edition contains all 58 essays.
“Of Bacon’s literary, as distinct from his philosophical and professional works, far the most popular and important are the Essays [they] are the most original of all Bacon’s works, those which, in detail, he seems to have thought out most completely for himself, apart from books and collections of commonplaces. This edition teems indeed with quotations and illustrations, but they are suggested by his own matter and do not suggest it. Though the Essays have the same title as the larger collection of Montaigne, the two works have little in common, except that rare power of exciting interest and the unmistakable mark of genius which is impressed on them both.” (DNB) His long attempt to reform the intellectual habits of the European mind began with the publication of The Advancement of Learning in 1605, which attacked the unprofitable scholasticism that inhibited the growth of knowledge and the mental prejudices that helped to keep men in ignorance. Above all he deplored the poor and confused state of knowledge about the operations of the natural world. Novum Organum, begun about 1608, published 1620, called for a systematic study of the natural world and of the causes of things, and proposed the inductive method as the most reliable instruments of enquiry. Bacon worked out the principles of the
experimental method in this book, and developed them in De Augmentis, 1623. Sylva Sylvarum, a proposal of 1,000 experiments to be undertaken, was published posthumously in 1627, together with New Atlantis, a Utopian fragment written about 1617 that urged the foundation of a college for scientific research. A short book that enjoyed much popularity in his lifetime was De Sapientia Veterum, 1609 (translated as The Wisdom of the Ancients, 1619), which tried to demonstrate that the myths of the Greeks were coded accounts of their knowledge of the physical world.” (Quoted from The Seventeenth Century, by Graham Perry, pages 264-265.)
STC 1149 Gibson 15 Pforzheimer 31.
179F Bacon, Francis. 1561-1626
The Two Bookes of Sr Francis Bacon, Of The Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Hvmane. To the King.
Oxford: Printed by I.L. Printer to the Vniversity, for Thomas Huggins, 1633 $1,750
Quarto, 6.75 x 4.8 inches. Third edition. A-Z4, Aa-Tt4.
This copy is bound in full nineteenth century sheep.
“Bacon […] set himself down to work on his philosophy, that scheme for men’s education which had been in his mind so long. Planning now in earnest and committing his plans to paper, Bacon called this first book the Advancement of Learning. […] Bacon wrote out a preliminary brief statement, […] ‘The Interpretation of Nature, or the Kingdom of Man.’ Nature, to Bacon, was man’s true kingdom, neglected for centuries by churchmen who looked for a kingdom in heaven, or by scholiasts who despised the world about them and the evidence of their senses. Yet in order to attain this new kingdom of nature, men must draw fresh maps of exploration. ‘Those who aspire not to guess and divine,’ wrote Bacon, ‘but to discover and to know … who propose to examine and dissect the nature of this very world itself, go to facts themselves for everything.’” (quoted from Francis Bacon The Temper of a Man, Catherine Drinker Bowen, page 105)
STC 1166, F, HN, HD, ILL, PML, +. Gibson 83
213F Bacon, Francis. 1561-1626
Of The Advancement And Proficience Of Learning or the Partitions Of Sciences ix Bookes Written in Latin by the Most Eminent Illustrious & Famous Lord Francis Bacon Baron of Verulam Vicont St Alban Counsilour of Estate and Lord Chancellor of England. Interpreted by Gilbert Wats.
Oxford: Printed by Leon: Lichfield, Printer to the University, for Rob: Young, & Ed: Forrest, 1640 [colophon dated 1640] $2,800
Small folio, 260 x 175 mm. First complete edition of this work in English. ¶4, ¶¶2, ¶¶¶1, A2, B-C4, aa-gg4, hh2, †4, ††2, †1, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Qqq4, Rrr2. complete.
“And even the title page [the engraved title page found in this copy], it now becomes clear, announces this figure, for the Pillars of Hercules there also represent the temple of the world through which the ship of apocalyptic exploration passes, just as one passes through the twin pillars before Solomon’s Temple. Thus when discussing the Great Instauration’s motto, plus ultra, and Daniel’s prophecy in The Advancement of Learning, Bacon says, ‘For it may be truly affirmed to the honor of these times, and in a virtuous emulation with antiquity, that this great building of the world had never through–lights made in it, till the age of us and our fathers.’ The engraver Thomas Cecill [who engraved the image for the 1620 edition. The engraver here is W. Marshall, after Cecill] saw this great building as Solomon’s Temple.” (quoted from Francis Bacon and Modernity, by Charles Whitney, page 33) An engraved portrait of Bacon is bound before the title. It is dated 1626. This copy has the usual minor rust, the paper is quite crisp and clean, with the original type impression still visible. This is a nice copy, of a very important book. The binding is full seventeenth century calf. With the initials F. L gold stamped around a gilt central ornament
“Partitiones Scientiarum, a survey of the sciences, either such as then existed or such as required to be constructed afresh—in fact, an
inventory of all the possessions of the human mind. The famous classification on which this survey proceeds is based upon an analysis of the faculties and objects of human knowledge. This division is represented by the De Augmentis Scientiarum [The Advancement of Learning].”
“Bacon’s grand motive in his attempt to found the sciences anew was the intense conviction that the knowledge man possessed was of little service to him. ‘The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works.’ Man’s sovereignty over nature, which is founded on knowledge alone, had been lost, and instead of the free relation between things and the human mind, there was nothing but vain notions and blind experiments. … Philosophy is not the science of things divine and human it is not the search after truth. ‘I find that even those that have sought knowledge for itself, and not for benefit or ostentation, or any practical enablement in the course of their life, have nevertheless propounded to themselves a wrong mark, namely, satisfaction (which men call Truth) and not operation.’ ‘Is there any such happiness as for a man’s mind to be raised above the confusion of things, where he may have the prospect of the order of nature and error of man? But is this a view of delight only and not of discovery? of contentment and not of benefit? Shall he not as well discern the riches of nature’s warehouse as the beauty of her shop? Is truth ever barren? Shall he not be able thereby to produce worthy effects, and to endow the life of man with infinite commodities?’ Philosophy is altogether practical it is of little matter to the fortunes of humanity what abstract notions one may entertain concerning the nature and the principles of things. This truth, however, has never yet been recognized it has not yet been seen that the true aim of all science is ‘to endow the condition and life of man with new powers or works,’ or ‘to extend more widely the limits of the power and greatness of man.’” (quoted from the Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition, vol. 3, page 145.)
464F Bacon, Francis. 1561-1626
Sylva Sylvarum, Or, A Naturall History, In Ten Centuries. Written by the Right Honorable Francis Lo. Verulam, Viscount of St. Alban. Published after the Authors Death, By William Rawley, Doctor in Divinitie, One of His Majesties Chaplaines. Hereunto is now added an Alphabeticall Table of the Principall Things contained in the Ten Centuries.
London: Printed by John Haviland for William Lee, and are to be Sold by Iohn Williams, 1635 $3,200
Folio, 7 x 10.4 in. Fourth edition. π2, A-Z6, Aa-Bb6, Cc4, a-g4 (g4 is blank). The engraved title page and portrait of Bacon dated to 1631 and 1631 respectively are both present in this volume. This copy is bound in its original full calf. Binding tight and firm. A good clean copy of an early edition.
“The new method [Bacon’s big plan, the Instauratio Magna] is valueless, because inapplicable, unless it be supplied with materials duly collected and presented—in fact, unless there be formed a competent natural history of the Phenomena Universi. A short introductory sketch of the requisites of such a natural history, which, according to Bacon, is essential, necessary, the basis totius negotii, is given in the tract Parasceve, appended to the Novum Organum. The principal works intended to form portions of the history, and either published by himself or left in manuscript, are historia Ventorum, Historia Vitae et Mortis, Historia Densi et Rari, and the extensive collection of facts and observations entitled Sylva Sylvarum […]
“Nature thus presented itself to Bacon’s mind as a huge congeries of phenomena, the manifestations of some simple and primitive qualities, which were hid from us by the complexity of the things themselves. The world was a vast labyrinth, amid the windings of which we require some clue or thread whereby we may track our way to knowledge and thence to power. This thread, the filum labyrinthi, is the new method of induction. But, as has been frequently pointed out, the new method could not be applied until facts had been observed and collected. This is an indispensable preliminary. ‘Man, the servant and interpreter of nature, can do and understand so much, and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.’ The proposition that our knowledge of nature necessarily begins with observation and experience, is common to Bacon and many contemporary reformers of science, but he laid peculiar stress upon it, and gave it a new meaning. What he really meant by observation was a competent natural history or collection of facts. ‘The firm foundation of a purer natural philosophy are laid in natural history.’ ‘First of all we must prepare a natural and experimental history, sufficient and good and this is the foundation of all.” (EB)
This book is ‘the foundation of all,’ consisting of all of Bacon’s empirical experiments along with his utopian fable, The New Atlantis. STC 1172 Gibson #174.
693G Bacon, Francis. 1561-1626
The History Of the Reigne of King HenryThe Seventh. Written by the Right Hon: Francis Lo: Verulam, Viscount S. Alban. Whereunto is now added a very vsefull and necessary Table.
London: Printed by I.H. and R.Y. and are to be sold by Philemon Stephens and Christopher Meredith, At the Signe of the Golden Lyon in Pauls-Church-yard, 1629. $1,100
Folio, 11 1/3 x 7 1/2 inches. Third edition. A reissue, with cancel title page, of the 1628 edition. [A2], B-Z4, Aa-Ll4, Kk5. The title page is printed inside a large and handsome woodcut border.
This copy does not have the portrait of Henry.
“Of the historical works, besides a few fragments of the projected history of Britain there remains the History of Henry VII, a valuable work, giving a clear and animated narrative of the reign, and characterizing Henry with great skill. The style is in harmony with the matter, vigorous and flowing, but naturally with less of the quaintness and richness suitable to more thoughtful and original writings.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition, entry on Bacon.) Bacon’s ‘Historie’, which may practically be regarded as the earliest of English historical monographs, was actually composed in 1621, probably after Bacon, on his release from the Tower, had returned to Gorhambury. […] It is, in the main, founded on Bernard André and Polydore Vergil, with Fabyan and the later chroniclers, and a few additions by Stow, and, more especially, by Speed, some of whose mistakes were copied by Bacon.
“Yet this Life was by no means a piece of mere compilation, either in design or execution. The conception of the character of Henry VII dates from an early period of Bacon’s career, as is proved by a fragment of a history of the Tudor reigns from Henry VIII to Elizabeth, discovered by Spedding which also seems to refute Mackintosh’s idea that the ‘Historie’ was written, not only (as, in a sense, it certainly was) to justify James I, but, also, to flatter him by representing Henry VII as a model king and the prototype of the reigning monarch. […] “The style of this work possesses a kind of charm absent from few of Bacon’s writings, which always have the fascination belonging to deep waters, and the concluding sentence of the work is exceedingly graceful. The author’s fondeness for Latin forms (“militar,” “indubiate,” and so forth is very obvious the Latin translation of his book seems to have been made either by himself or under his own eye.” (Cambridge History of English Literature. Vol. VII Ch. 9.)
The study of vegetables represents one of the main topics in Bacon’s Sylva sylvarum. Not only in quantitative terms, because plants occupy about a third of the entire book, but the centuries on plants are among the most structured, and this reveals Bacon’s particular interest for the topic. The key to understanding Bacon’s interest can be found in both his Sylva sylvarum and the Historia vitae et mortis, where Bacon explains how the results of studying certain processes in plants can be later transferred and applied to animals and humans. In the context of his discussion of nourishing foods and drinks, Bacon addresses the question of how nourishment gets assimilated in the body. One of the ways in which the process of assimilation is slowed down is when parts of a body can no longer draw in the nourishment rapidly and vigorously. This leads to decay. Paraphrasing Aristotle, Bacon explains why plants live longer than animals: because they continuously grow new leaves and branches. The new branches have more force to draw nourishment, which, in passing, also nourishes the older parts of the plant, prolonging their life. Bacon’s aim when discussing plants is to transfer his observations to the animal realm. But given that it is impossible for animals to grow anything analogous to new branches, they need to rely on a different method, namely the restoration of what is easily repaired and through this, the revitalization of what is not:
Transfer therefore this observation to the helping of nourishment in living creatures: the noblest and principal use whereof is, for the prolongation of life restoration of some degree of youth and inteneration of the parts for certain it is, that there are in living creatures parts that nourish and repair easily, and parts that nourish and repair hardly and you must refresh and renew those that are easy to nourish, that the other may be refreshed and (as it were) drink in nourishment in the passage. (The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. Spedding, Ellis, and Heath, II, p. 364. Hereafter SEH)
This kind of transfer of knowledge from one class of beings to another is very commonly found in Bacon’s natural historical work. For example, the Historia vitae et mortis starts by studying inanimate bodies and then transfers that knowledge to the human body (The Oxford Francis Bacon XII, p. 151. Hereafter OFB.). In the same way, processes such as growth and the aforementioned alimentation and assimilation are investigated in plants throughout Sylva and the Historia vitae et mortis with the aim of transferring them to animals, and most importantly to humans in order to cure diseases, preserve health, and prolong life. To give another example, concocted aliments lead, according to Bacon, to the preservation of health and the prolongation of life. Bacon’s argument in favor of this theory is a clear analogy between grafting, the process though which one plant nourishes on the already concocted sap of the other plant (and thus the graft does not spend time in processing the nourishment and only assimilates it), and nourishing on soups and broths, which can be immediately assimilated, because they are already cooked. 1 What is more important, a big part of the centuries on plants from Sylva studies the processes and substances which can produce this attraction of nourishment, and the process of grafting and assimilation, with experiments and recipes to be found also in the Historia vitae et mortis or with references to the recipes found in other parts in Sylva.
This possibility of transferring knowledge from one domain of investigation to another is a significant feature of Bacon’s natural philosophy and it characterizes his conception of natural magic, the superior operative science. Because it relies on the knowledge of nature based on matter theory (what Bacon calls “metaphysics,” the knowledge of forms), natural magic can modify objects through techniques that have not been discovered by investigating the objects themselves. This characteristic is grounded on Bacon’s presupposition that the basic appetites and motions of matter are identical for all composed bodies. 2
In compiling his experiments with plants for Sylva, Bacon borrowed heavily from Della Porta’s Magia naturalis and incorporated the latter’s experimental reports into his own system of investigating nature. The aim of this paper is to show how Bacon builds a science of natural magic on the borrowings from Della Porta, whose experiments remain, according to Bacon’s own definitions, at the level of mechanics, the inferior operative science by comparison with magic. I claim that unlike Della Porta, who was concerned with the transformation of individual plants and the production of “curiosities,” Bacon’s aim was the discovery of the secret processes of matter, with the final goal of using this information to prolong human life. 3 The way in which Bacon builds a science of magic using Della Porta’s reports can only be understood through a detailed analysis of his changes to the Italian’s experimental reports. The selection of instances, specific changes to borrowed case descriptions (generalizations, additions of causal explanations, and methodological criticism), and the rearrangement of the sections constitute arguments in favor of this thesis. In addition to this comparison, which reveals the characteristics of Bacon’s method of dealing with sources, this paper will also provide a number of instances of previously unidentified borrowings from the Magia naturalis.
Bacon’s relation with the tradition of Renaissance magic has been debated. Paolo Rossi considers that magic and alchemy had “little or no influence on Bacon” (Rossi 1987, p. 21) and that his science was a reaction to Renaissance magic (Rossi 1987, p. 11). This vision has been challenged by Sophie Weeks, who claimed that Bacon’s magic was not a reaction against, but rather a purification from impostures and fantasies (Weeks 2007, p. 22). Moreover, discussing Bacon’s science of magic, Weeks has also claimed that Sylva is an application of it, but without further developing the topic. Weeks’s arguments are based on the fact that Bacon himself presented Sylva as natural magic 4 and on the presence of processes such as “version,” “conversion,” “perfect concoction,” or “maturation” (Weeks 2007, p. 29 n70). Though I agree with her general claim that Sylva expounds Bacon’s science of magic, better arguments can be made in support of this claim, since the operations mentioned by Weeks can be performed also at the level of mechanics, and they do not represent the specificity of magic.
In what follows I will offer arguments that show why the experiments borrowed from the Magia naturalis exhibit the characteristics Bacon assigned to natural magic, while Della Porta’s remain at an inferior level. I will begin the second section by showing why the use of sources is so important in Bacon’s conception of building a natural history, and why Della Porta’s book on plants was the main source for Bacon’s own centuries on the same topic. In the third section I will give a full account of the changes to which Della Porta’s experiments were subjected. All these changes, such as generalizations of the subject matter, addition of causal explanations, methodological criticisms, the selection of experiments, reordering of the sections and of the experiments under different topics, lead to the conclusion that Della Porta and Bacon had different interests in experimenting with plants, and that Bacon used Della Porta’s book to advance the knowledge of nature. This aspect will be discussed at length in the last section of this paper, where I will introduce Bacon’s conceptions of matter theory, metaphysics and magic, and explain why these changes take the experiments with plants in Sylva, borrowed from the Magia naturalis, to the level of natural magic.
Francis Bacon: Essays and Major Works Summary
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. We are thankful for their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Written by Lasya Karthik, Bala Murugan, Claudia Santos, Nilanjana Roy
Many of Francis Bacon’s works were based on learning: the mind’s inherent faults hampering it, how we as people make mistakes in learning and effective ways of gathering knowledge. All his works were linked to the critique, advancement and betterment of knowledge and learning in some form or the other. This section will cover the major propositions found in Bacon’s works, namely the idols of the mind, the distempers of learning, classification of knowledge and Baconian induction.
Idols of the Mind
Bacon believed that by virtue of being human, the mind had some inherent faults, which must be corrected if we are to engage in any sort of true and meaningful learning. The word idol is used as derived from the classical Greek term “eidolon” which means phantom or image, just as Bacon believed that the idols of the mind would create false or phantom images of the world and of nature. There are four idols of the mind:
1. Idols of the tribe: The “tribe” referred to here is the tribe encompassing all of humanity. As human beings, we are born with innate faults in the mind. These innate faults are of the tribe, because they come to us at birth, and are common to all humans, not necessarily acquired through exposure to a given set of experiences. These idols include sensory defects, tendencies to make premature decisions, engage in wishful thinking and overthink phenomena, creating more complications and order than actually exists.
2. Idols of the Cave: This set of idols is not common to the “tribe” but rather specific to each individual and the “cave” they live in, which is their mind. Depending on each person’s unique experiences, relationships to the world and to others and their exposure to particular disciplines, they develop these idols resulting as a sum of their life’s experiences. These idols involve a tendency to view things with regard to the discipline we have been trained in, and use this narrow understanding of the world to reduce all phenomena down to their own perception. For example: a philosopher will see all of nature’s phenomena as questionable and will attempt to find purpose.
3. Idols of the Marketplace: The marketplace refers to the communications between men, or as Bacon put “association of men with each other.” The tools that contribute to the existence of these idols are words and language. We either assign abstract terms or give name to things that exist only in our minds. This leads to a faulty and vague understanding. Ironically, words were created so humans could express themselves, but this distemper prevents us from doing so.
4. Idols of the Theatre: This is again a set of idols, which are learnt by us through our respective culture, a practice acquired by humans through socialization and cultural exposure. It refers to the theatricality and sophistry in knowledge, but instead of being true knowledge, it is mere imitations. Therefore, the metaphor of theatre is introduced. Bacon accuses philosophers of engaging in this particular set of idols.
Distempers of Learning:
Bacon originally identified the three distempers of learning as “vanities.” The distempers are simply methods and forms of learning that Bacon believed were ineffective and led to no real advancement. There were three main distempers identified:
1. Fantastical learning (or vain imaginations): Fantastical learning is simply beliefs, ideas and arguments without strong basis in practical and scientific reality. Being a man with a strong belief in the scientific principles of observation and experimentation, Bacon did not believe in what he called “pseudo sciences.” This kind of learning may be found amongst magicians and astrologers in Bacon’s time and amongst religious leaders and fundamentalists today.
2. Contentious learning (or vain altercations): Contentious learning refers to excessive contestation amongst those deeply entrenched in a particular academic discipline, including arduous arguments about the most minute, inconsequential details, which ultimately lead to no fruitful gain. Bacon lashed out at classical philosophers such as Aristotle for engaging in such learning which ultimately benefits no one.
3. Delicate learning (or vain affectations): Bacon named this particular learning as “delicate” because in his opinion, it lacked true academic rigor. The rigor was missing because those engaging in this type of learning merely focused on form and not content, or “style over substance”. Such emphasis leads to beautifully worded prose, which lacks any kind of depth. No new discoveries or recoveries of knowledge are made, and therefore, such learning is delicate and not true and rigorous. Bacon believed that engaging in these three kinds of learning would lead to two main ill effects, namely “prodigal ingenuity” (waste of talent and mental resources) and “sterile results” (no fruitful outcome beneficial to the wider world).
Induction, as per its definition, is the inference of general from specific instances. Classically, philosophers had a method wherein they would jump to general conclusions after examining only a few specific instances, and then work backwards for a thorough verification processes. Taking an example of clothes. If we conclude that “all clothes bought from stores are clean and without holes” we are immediately skipping over the process of identifying each store, and concluding and confirming that clothes from Forever 21 and H&M and Primark are all clean and without holes. Instead, we just jump to the conclusion. If we set out to verify this fact, and we find one garment in a particular shop that is dirty and has a hole in it, our entire theory and research up to that point become nullified.
Bacon’s approach to induction was rather different. He believed in going from very specific to general, over a rigorous period of research to confirm a hypothesis. Instead of directly drawing a conclusion, a researcher following Bacon’s method would first visit all the shops available, survey the garments and ensure they are clean and without holes, and only then proceed to make a general conclusion like “all clothes bought from stores are clean and without holes.” Bacon’s approach, according to him, is foolproof. This is because it enables the researcher to build “a stable edifice of knowledge”. If one shirt at a particular store does not match the condition, then the survey work done before does not go to waste. Instead, the researcher merely concludes that only store X and Y sell clean and hole free clothing. Therefore, knowledge is stable.
However, there were criticisms to this method, with contemporary thinkers questioning just how much research is needed before making a general conclusion. Moreover, such an approach completely ignores the role of imagination and theorizing a hypothesis. Many great discoveries in history were made by those who imagined a particular idea and proceeded to test it, and not vice versa. Either way, Bacon provides a unique picture of rigorous academic research and induction.
Classification of Knowledge
Not only did Bacon have strong ideas about how knowledge should be collected, he also held strong ideas about how existing knowledge must be classified for optimum benefit to human learning. In his expanded version of the Advancement of Learning (De Dignitate), he proposed a threefold classification of knowledge: History, Poesy (poetry) and Philosophy. These three disciplines represent memory, imagination and reason respectively. He believed that these three disciplines would lead to true advancement, and that the importance of philosophy must be greatly elevated in order for academics to truly progress. As a scientific thinker, he denounced and greatly looked down upon the humanist subjects, namely literature and history. To him, history was a mere collection of facts and poesy was an expressive device it was philosophy that had to take center stage.
Bacon's essay "Of Studies" shows his abilities of persuasion. He creates a metaphor between literature and medicine, stating that as medicine can cure the problems of the body, literature can heal the defects of the mind. The essay has a clear structure, and it groups elements in groups of three. Indeed, Bacon exposes his opinion, but with structure and a formal philosophical language make it appear as the truth in order to convince the audience of what he is saying. Studying different genres helps to cure different defects of the mind.
However, Bacon did publish a great number of works that were not, at the surface level, of a philosophical nature. Some of his historical and biographical works include the History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh and a subsequent volume about Henry the Eighth. These were a product of Bacon’s prolonged involvement in British political life as a statesman. He also authored “A Natural History in Ten Centuries” or “Sylva Sylvarum”. This was a work divided into ten parts (each roughly designed to represent one century) and each part was divided into an impressive one hundred subparts. In this work, Bacon covered anything and everything that caught his attention, from bodily processes to geographical phenomena by chronicling experiments and observations as well as penning down his own personal thoughts on this varied range of subjects. His science fiction novel, “The New Atlantis” was published only after his death. It tells the story of a group of researchers in Salomon’s House (a research institution) who conduct experiments and attempt to gather knowledge.
These academic endeavors are seen to culminate in inventions which are both useful and practical for society, and will ultimately be shared with the world. While it is not a “literary work” in the truest sense of the term, it provides a valuable insight into Bacon’s vision for what true academia must aim to accomplish. Bacon did not end up publishing a “Magnum Opus” work, but his work Magna Instauratio or the Great Instauration was in progress, and parts of it were published after his death. He decided back in 1592 that he would devote himself to the field of learning, and restructuring and even “rehabilitating” it. The Magna Instauratio was visualized by Bacon to be an all-encompassing work, consisting of his views on learning to logic to science. Bacon’s wide body of work was created in an astonishingly short period of time, reflecting his genius. His contributions to learning and classification of knowledge, and his dedication to the same is highly commendable.
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An intellectual journey for the discovery of new worlds
Re-reading the New Atlantis, one aspect in particular caught my attention in the beginning of the story. I noticed that the sailors’ attitude is very similar to the one described by the Spanish conquistadores, as it appears, for instance, in Bernal Diaz del Castillo’s story of Conquering the Aztec Empire. In the case of the New Atlantis and the arrival of the Spanish sailors, the Bensalemites take up the role of the natives, with only one difference. While both the natives and the Bensalemites are offering gifts to the respective ‘visitors’, the natives’ gift to the Spaniards is gold, the Bensalemites’ gift is the method of science. Before describing Salomon’s House, the Father says: “I will give thee the greatest jewel I have. For I will impart unto thee, for the love of God and men, the relation of the true state of Salomon’s House.”
Upon noticing this parallel, a new reading of the text occurred to me. A reading according to which Bacon sees himself as the equivalent of Columbus in the field of science: while the conquistadores were returning from the Great Atlantis with material jewels, Bacon’s sailors were returning with a more precious one: the method.
What is so special about the Island of Bensalem? We don’t know much about it, in fact. Bacon describes three main episodes: the revelation, the Feast of the Family, and the description of the House of Salomon. The first can be seen as a necessity in Bacon’s time, given the power of the Church. The second is a puzzling ceremony celebrating fecundity, and the last is an inventory of the discoveries, richness, and the scientific offices. Scholars have engaged in long discussions, and showed that the Feast of the Family as well as Salomon’s House are reflections of Bacon’s method in general (Garber 2010), of the Instances from the Novum Organum or of some experiments from his natural histories (Colclough 2010). If this is so, then Salomon’s House instantiates Bacon’s laboratory, maybe the ideal one, since Bacon didn’t own mountains and caves, and all the metals and precious stones. However, it has also been suggested that some of the machines he describes were already existing at James I’s court (Colie 1955). Why do we have to travel to the New Atlantis then? My suggestion is that Bacon’s travel is an intellectual one: Bensalem is the place where his philosophical method is put into practice.
In several parts of his works, Bacon talks about the discovery of Americas as the emblem of leaving behind the world of the ancients with the aim of pursing knowledge. Philosophers should follow Columbus, Bacon says, who crossed the Pillars of Hercules and ventured into the great ocean, finding the lost island of Atlantis. In other words, they should leave behind the philosophy of the Scholastics and discover new things through a careful investigation of nature. Accordingly, the frontispiece of the Instauratio Magna, Bacon’s project for the reformation of knowledge, depicts ships crossing the Pillars of Hercules. The frontispiece of the edition including the New Atlantis depicts the Pillars again, but this time instead of the ocean and the ships, we see a globe on which it is written “Mundus intellectualis.” For this travel to the intellectual world we only need the right method.
The New Atlantis ends with the suggestion that the sailors should go back to their homeland and describe what they have seen and heard. Correspondingly, Bacon himself is the messenger of the new philosophy, in spite of the fear of not being believed. But then, of course, hundreds of years later one can claim that he will be believed by all those who founded societies and academies in the early modern period.
I would like to finish with one question: the text mentions thirteen other travellers who returned from Bensalem to Europe, but probably their stories were not believed. Following my interpretation, these would be Bacon’s predecessors, who had founded the right method, but no one believed them, and their philosophies did not have the desired consequences. Who are these thirteen? Let’s try to find out together.
Colclough, David. 2010. “‘The Materialls for the Building’: Reuniting Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum and New Atlantis” Intellectual History Review 20/12, pp. 181-200.
Colie, Rosalie, L. 1995. “Cornelis Drebbel and Salomon de Caus: Two Jacobean Models for Salomon’s House,” Huntington Library Quarterly 18/3, pp. 245-260.
Díaz del Castillo, Bernal. 1943. Historia verdadera de la conquista de Nueva España. Mexico City: Nuevo Mundo.
Garber, Dan. 2010. “Bacon, the New Atlantis, and the Uses of Utopia,” Studii de Stiinta si Cultura 23/4, pp. 37-45.
4. Experimental Series and Patterns of Inquisition in Sylva Sylvarum: An Example
In order to further inquire into the heuristic of Bacon’s natural historical recordings, it is worth having a look at a more particular example of experimental series. In this section I propose to investigate a particular experimental series recorded in the Sylva Sylvarum, under the name “Experiments in consort touching the version and transmutation of air into water.” The series consist of seven experiments, apparently very diverse. 8 The first is a transcription of a Plinian recipe for obtaining fresh water at sea from wool hung around the sides of the ship at night. The second also begins with “it is reported by the ancients” and transcribes a report of the “version of air into water” in sealed caves. 9 The third records instances of sympathy: fresh wool or cloves can “drink” water from a bowl even if they lie at a certain distance from the water. The fourth is an extension of the same inquiry, showing that sympathetic effects work even if the wool is placed on a closed wooden vessel (SEH vol. II, p. 373). The fifth and the sixth are clearly directions for further experimentation: they extend the discussion to other substances and phenomena, such as the “sweating” of stones and the swelling of wooden doors in cold weather etc. They contain theoretical distinctions and suggest causal explanations. The sixth experiment of the series contains a provisional general rule, i.e., that air always becomes “moist” and “thickened” against a hard body (SEH vol. II, p. 373). The last experiment of the series is also a “direction”: it suggests that one can extend a well-known recipe for turning water into ice (by adding niter or salt) into a recipe for turning air into water (SEH vol. II, p. 374).
The seven experiments have a similar structure: each begins with a report, continues with a test, and further develops the report either into an experiment properly speaking or into a direction for further experimenting. Here is how the first experiment goes:
It is reported by some of the ancients, that sailors have used, every night, to hang fleeces of wool on the sides of their ships, the wool towards the water and that they have crushed fresh water out of them in the morning, for their use.
And thus much we have tried, that a quantity of wool tied loose together, being let down into a deep well, and hanging in the middle, some three fathom from the water for a night in the winter time, increased in weight (as I now remember) to a fifth part.
A woollen fleece lying on the ground for a long while gains weight, which could not happen unless something pneumatic had condensed into something with weight. (OFB XIII, p. 141)
By hanging four ounces of wool to a rope which I let down into a well to a depth of 28 fathoms, yet which still failed by six fathoms to touch the water, I found that in the course of one night the weight of the wool increased to five ounces and one dram and that evident drops of water clung to the outside of the wool, so that one could as it were wash or moisten one’s hands. Now I tried this time and time again and, although the weight varied, it always increased mildly. (OFB XIII, p. 141)
There are other experiments in the series with a very similar structure and a similar abridged recording. For example, the second experiment begins with a report on air turning into water in sealed, cold caves. In order to test and study further this ancient report, Bacon proposes a “laboratory model” of the described situation. The instrument used is the same inflated bladder I have already discussed in the previous section. Suggestions are again formulated under the form of “directions:”
Try therefore a small bladder hung in snow, and the like in nitre, and the like in quicksilver and if you find the bladders fallen or shrunk, you may be sure the air is condensed by cold of these bodies as it would be in a cave under the earth. (SEH vol. II, p. 373)
In this way, each experiment in the series can function as a pattern of experimental research in a given experimental situation. And the way Bacon achieves this is by developing sub-series of “directions” and “advice” directing further research.
The question remaining is: what is the relation between the seven experiments of the initial series? In the next section I aim to show how they can be seen as being generated one from another, with the help of what Bacon calls the “modes” of literate experience.
1 It is worth noting, as others have, that Bacon did so not only in his writings, but that he spoke in favor of policies to encourage scientific-technological innovation while in Parliament and throughout his public life ( Farrington , Benjamin , Francis Bacon: Philosopher of Industrial Science [ New York : Schuman , 1949 ], 48 Google Scholar ). Jardine , Lisa and Stewart , Alan cite the same speech, but with a view to a separate point in Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon 1561–1628 ( New York : Hill and Wang , 1999 ), 256 –57Google Scholar . See also the general remarks of Rahe , Paul in Republics Ancient and Modern: New Modes and Orders in Early Modern Thought ( Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press , 1994 ), 116 Google Scholar .
2 Aristotle Politics 1267b23–1269a26 cf. 1330b31–1331a6. Consider also Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I-II q. 97 a. 2 and the discussion of Archimedes in Plutarch's “Life of Marcellus.” Of course, this is not to claim that the full transformative potential of the institutionalization of a technological science was known in advance. I am aware that there are some prominent and powerful arguments suggesting that modern technology has roots that precede Bacon, but I believe that on the matter of the political encouragement of technological innovation, pre-Baconian thought is virtually univocal. Be this as it may, reconsidering Bacon's arguments provides an occasion for reflection on the fundamental problem.
3 The clearest statement to this effect is found in his rendition and interpretation of the fable of Daedalus in De Sapientia Veterum. For a forceful statement of the importance of this writing and a helpful interpretation see Studer , Heidi , “ Francis Bacon on the Political Dangers of Scientific Progress ,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 31 , no. 2 ( 1998 ): 219 –34CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Consider also the essay “Of Innovations” and Novum Organum, I. 129.
4 Compare the essay “Of Honour and Reputation” and Nov. Org., I. 129. This tension is discussed further below.
5 Peltonen , Markku , “ Politics and Science: Francis Bacon and the True Greatness of States ,” The Historical Journal 35 , no. 2 ( 1992 ): 279 – 305 CrossRefGoogle Scholar “Bacon's Political Philosophy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, ed. Markku Peltonen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 283–310.
6 The Advancement of Learning, II. viii. 5. Citations to The Advancement are to book, chapter, and paragraph, following the W. A. Wright edition of 1869 (Oxford: Clarendon), and the Kitchin and Weinberger edition of 2001 (Philadelphia: Paul Dry).
7 While in most of Bacon's works there is no doubt but that he is the speaker, Bacon is also a great writer of prefaces and dedicatory epistles. In these he virtually always speaks of himself, and gives some indication, if only elliptically, of what the aim of the work in question is. Examples worth considering in this regard include the prefatory material to Instauratio magna, the epistle introducing The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh, that introducing An Advertisement Touching a Holy War, those introducing De Sapientia Veterum, and finally, those introducing the two books of The Advancement of Learning. For an indication that Bacon gives some thought both to the content and the addressee of these epistles, that which introduces The Essays should be consulted. Bacon's silence in New Atlantis thus stands out all the more. This cannot be explained simply by the posthumous publication of the work, for the evidence is clear that Bacon intended the work to appear as it does, and An Advertisement Touching a Holy War, also posthumous, is introduced by a substantial dedicatory epistle. The status of Rawley's note to the reader is discussed below.
8 “From a strictly literary viewpoint, New Atlantis resembles a narrated Platonic dialogue” ( Yaffe , Martin , Shylock and the Jewish Question [ Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press , 1997 ], 97 Google Scholar ). Compare, by way of contrast, More's role in Utopia. In his otherwise intelligent essay, David Spitz treats the narrator as Bacon (“Bacon's New Atlantis: A Reinterpretation,” Midwest Journal of Political Science 4, no. 1 : 52–61). Interpreters occasionally identify Bacon with the pity-faced Father of Salomon's House. Manuel , Frank and Manuel , Fritzie speak of the scientist as “Bacon's idealized self-image” ( Utopian Thought in the Western World [ Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 1979 ], 254 )Google Scholar .
9 Again, compare More's “authorship” of Utopia. If only in jest, More goes to much greater lengths than does Bacon in protesting the truth of what he reports. Perhaps this is some indication of a difference in the status that the description of Utopia has for More as compared to Bacon's relation to Bensalem.
10 This occurs in the course of the discussion of the Bensalemite institution of “Adam and Eve's pools,” which bears a certain similarity to an institution encountered by Hythloday in Utopia. As is typical, the Morean precedent is invoked only to be importantly modified.
11 See the Oxford English Dictionary entries for “utopia” and “utopian,” and the introduction to Manuel and Manuel's Utopian Thought. The question of when “utopia” becomes a genre is controversial. Diskin Clay and Andrea Purvis offer what is perhaps the standard view that More's Utopia was the origin of the genre (Four Island Utopias [Newburyport: Focus, 1999], 1). Paul Salzman suggests that New Atlantis plays a key role in originating the genre (“Narrative Contexts for Bacon's New Atlantis,” in Francis Bacon's “New Atlantis”: New Interdisciplinary Essays, ed. Bronwen Price [New York: Manchester University Press, 2002], 30). Machiavelli's reference to the “many” “imaginary commonwealths” suggests that something like a genre is well established before either of these works. See below.
12 Bacon, The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall, ed. Michael Kiernan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 126.
13 The Advancement of Learning, II. xxiii. 49. Of course, little light is not no light. Consider in this connection the methodological advice from The Advancement, II. xxiii. 44. Prior to the discovery of the compass, one navigated by the stars more about this below. Michèle Le Doeuff would have us notice how this remark is quietly altered in De Augmentis (VIII. 3), and suggests that this is an indication that Bacon's view on this matter of utopias underwent a change (“Introduction” to La Nouvelle Atlantide, trans. Michèle Le Doeuff and Margaret Llasera [Paris: Flammarion, 2000], 21). I am less impressed by the alteration than is Le Doeuff, though I am open to her suggestion that New Atlantis is on Bacon's mind while he is reworking The Advancement (according to Spedding, after 1620, and probably sometime in 1622: Spedding, Ellis, and Heath, The Works of Francis Bacon [Boston: Brown and Taggard, 1861], 1:415).
15 The Prince, trans. and ed. Harvey Mansfield (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), chap. 15.
16 Quoting Rawley's note to the reader. We discuss that note further below.
17 Farrington is famous for regarding Bacon's entire corpus as a “blueprint for a new world” (Francis Bacon, 76), though he doesn't mention the paradox in question. Works that do include it are White , Howard , Peace Among the Willows ( The Hague : Martinus Nijhoff , 1968 ), 133 –34CrossRefGoogle Scholar Kennington , Richard , “Bacon's Humanitarian Revision of Machiavelli,” in On Modern Origins: Essays in Early Modern Philosophy , ed. Kraus , Pamela and Hunt , Frank ( Lanham, MD : Lexington , 2004 ), 57 – 77 Google Scholar Faulkner , Robert , Francis Bacon and the Project of Progress ( Lanham, MD : Rowman and Littlefield , 1993 )Google Scholar , chap. 3 and 239ff. Timothy Paterson, “The Politics of Baconian Science” (PhD dissertation, Yale, 1982), 86–87. Relying on different passages, Marina Leslie calls attention to the same paradox (Renaissance Utopias and the Problem of History [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998], 81ff.).
18 Faulkner, Project of Progress, 238 Sessions , William , Francis Bacon Revisited ( New York : Twayne , 1996 ), 163 Google Scholar .
19 The edition including Sylva Sylvarum and New Atlantis was reprinted more often in the seventeenth century than any other edition of Bacon's works. Bronwen Price includes this observation as part of a very clear and sensible treatment of the influence of New Atlantis in her “Introduction” to New Interdisciplinary Essays (especially pages 14–19). Brian Vickers includes a succinct statement on the influence of New Atlantis in his collection of Bacon's , writings, Francis Bacon: A Critical Edition of the Major Works ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1996 ), 788 –89Google Scholar . Rose-Mary Sargent concludes her essay “Bacon as an Advocate for Cooperative Scientific Research,” in The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, ed. Peltonen, 146–171, with some remarks on the legacy of Salomon's House. The introduction to Lynch's , William Solomon's Child: Method in the Early Royal Society of London ( Stanford : Stanford University Press , 2001 )Google Scholar is helpful not only for its remarkable collection of secondary material but also on the general question of Bacon's influence. Sprat's , Thomas History of the Royal Society ( 1667 )Google Scholar , which includes Abraham Cowley's prefatory poem likening Bacon to Moses leading the way to the promised land, and which divides all philosophy into pre- and post-Baconian periods, is among the important primary sources for Bacon's influence on English science. While now frequently criticized, the classic work on Bacon's influence on the seventeenth century is Jones's , Richard Foster Ancients and Moderns: A Study of the Rise of the Scientific Movement in Seventeenth-century England ( Berkeley : University of California Press , 1965 )Google Scholar , which includes many references to New Atlantis in connection with the founding of the Royal Society. Antonio Pérez-Ramos's “Bacon's Legacy,” in The Cambridge Companion, 311–334, provides something of a glimpse of the ostensibly more nuanced current scholarly view. Lynch's , William T. recent “A Society of Baconians?: The Collective Development of Bacon's Method in the Royal Society of London,” in Francis Bacon and the Refiguring of Early Modern Thought , ed. Solomon , Julie Robin and Martin , Catherine Ginnelli ( Burlington : Ashgate , 2005 )Google Scholar , offers a reply. Caton's , Hiram The Politics of Progress: The Origins and Development of the Commercial Republic, 1600–1835 ( Gainesville, FL : University of Florida Press , 1988 )Google Scholar and Paul Rahe's Republics Ancient and Modern include sustained arguments for the historical significance of Bacon's writings both for modern science and modern politics.
20 White (Peace Among the Willows, 105) treats each of these features of Bensalem simply as a device to encourage its implementation, but to do so is to say that such details both matter and yet don't matter.
21 II. i. 1. The discussion of poesy is found at II. iv. 1–5. See also Faulkner, Project of Progress, 236–37.
22 Within quotations, all underlining will be mine, all italics Bacon's.
23 In De Augmentis (II.13), Bacon incorporates the general discussion of the uses of poetry sketched above into his account of narrative poetry.
24 “And even now, if someone wishes to pour new light about anything into the minds of humans, and not incommodiously or harshly, the same way must be insisted upon, and refuge must be taken in the help of likenesses” (De Sapientia Veterum, Preface). Cf. Nov. Org., I. 77.
Counsel and Statesman
Fortunately for Bacon, in 1581, he landed a job as a member for Cornwall in the House of Commons. Bacon was also able to return to Gray&aposs Inn and complete his education. By 1582, he was appointed the position of outer barrister. Bacon&aposs political career took a big leap forward in 1584 when he composed A Letter of Advice to Queen Elizabeth, his very first political memorandum.
Bacon held his place in Parliament for nearly four decades, from 1584 to 1617, during which time he was extremely active in politics, law and the royal court. In 1603, three years before he married heiress Alice Barnham, Bacon was knighted upon James I&aposs ascension to the British throne. He continued to work his way swiftly up the legal and political ranks, achieving solicitor general in 1607 and attorney general six years later. In 1616, his career peaked when he was invited to join the Privy Council. Just a year later, he reached the same position of his father, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1618, Bacon surpassed his father&aposs achievements when he was promoted to the lofty title of Lord Chancellor, one of the highest political offices in England. In 1621, Bacon became Viscount St. Albans.
In 1621, the same year that Bacon became Viscount St. Albans, he was accused of accepting bribes and impeached by Parliament for corruption. Some sources claim that Bacon was set up by his enemies in Parliament and the court faction, and was used as a scapegoat to protect the Duke of Buckingham from public hostility. Bacon was tried and found guilty after he confessed. He was fined a hefty 40,000 pounds and sentenced to the Tower of London, but, fortunately, his sentence was reduced and his fine was lifted. After four days of imprisonment, Bacon was released, at the cost of his reputation and his long- standing place in Parliament the scandal put a serious strain on 60-year-old Bacon&aposs health.
1 See G. Rees, “An Unpublished Manuscript by Francis Bacon: Sylva Sylvarum drafts and other working notes,” Annals of Science, 38 (1981), pp. 377-412 G. Rees, Introduction, in OFB, XII and XIII. D. Jalobeanu, “From natural history to early modern science: the case of Bacon’s Histories,” in Analele Universitatii Bucuresti, 60/2010, pp. 23-33 D. Jalobeanu, “The Philosophy of Francis Bacon’s Natural History: a Research Program,” Studii de ştiinţă şi cultură, 2010, pp. 18-37.
2 “For once a faithful and abundant history of nature and the arts has been collected and arranged, and once it has been unfolded and placed as it were before men’s eyes, there will be no mean hope that those great intellects of whom I have sppoken (such as flourished in the ancient philosophers, and are even now not unusual), who till now have built with such efficiency as far as the work goes certain philosophical skiffs of ingenious construction from a plank or shell (i.e. from slight and paltry experience) will, once the right timber and material have been obtained, raise much more solid constructions, and that too although they prefer to follow the old ways and not the way of my Organum (which seems to me to be either the only or the best way). And so it comes down to this, that my Organum even if it were finished, would not carry forward the Instauration of the Sciences much without Natural History, whereas Natural History without the Organum would advance it not a little,” OFB, XII, p. 13.
3 Parasceve, OFB, XI, p. 451. See also OFB, XII, pp. 13-15.
6 Examples can be found in Parasceve, in the preface to Historia naturalis et experimentalis (1622), but also in the Latin natural histories properly speaking. D. Jalobeanu, “The philosophy of Francis Bacon’s Natural History: A Research Progam” in Studii de stiinta si cultura, 4/2010, pp. 18-37
7 OFB, XII, p. 12 is referring to natural histories as the “timber and material” (Sylva et Materia). Rawley’s preface to Sylva Sylvarum refers to this and other natural histories as being ‘materials for the building.’ D. Jalobeanu, “Francis Bacon’s Natural History and the Senecan Natural Histories of Early Modern Europe,” in Early Science and Medicine, 1-2/2012, pp. 197-229.
8 Parasceve, appended at the end of NO, 1620, but also Norma Historiae praesentis published in the Historia naturalis et experimentalis, 1622.
9 D. Jalobeanu, “The fascination of Solomon’s House in seveteententh-century England,” in Vlad Alexandrescu, Branching-off. The Early Moderns in Quest for the Unity of Knowledge, Zeta Books, 2009, pp. 225-256.
10 M. Le Doeuff, “Bacon chez les grands au siècle de Louis XIII” in M. Fattori ed., Francis Bacon: terminologia et fortuna nell XVII secolo, Rome, Edizioni dell Atento, 1984, pp. 155-178.
11 Lettres de Peiresc aux frères Dupuy edited by P. Tamizey de Laroque, Paris, 1840, pp. 17, 31-32, 35, 142, 198, 231-232
12 28 December 1623, “le premier volume de l’Instauratio magna de Verulamius que nous attendrons en grande impatience” in Lettres de Peiresc aux frères Dupuy, op. cit., p. 17.
13 W. Boswell was the English ambassador in The Hague and a part of Bacon’s manuscripts went to Holland with him. Some of them eventually got in the hands of I. Gruter and were published in 1658.
14 For the complete story see P. Fortin de la Hoguette, Lettres au frères Dupuy et à leur entourage (1623-1662), edited by G. Feretti, Firenze, 1999. See also Lettres de Peiresc, I, p. 35.
15 16 May 1627, “Cet autre livre de pauvre Bacon de divers meslanges en anglois, seroit encores bon a recouvrer par cez libraries anglois, parce qu’il s’en peult tousjours faire traduire quelque piece,” 11 November 1627, “J’ai admire d’entendre que le chancellier d’Angleterre se soit amuse a faire des romans. Je crois que c’est l’air de ce pais la qui porte quasi generalement un chascun a la romanserie. Mais je verrois volontiers ceux la, ne doubtant pas que la gentilezze de cet esprit n’y paroisse. Il faudroit induire le traducteur de son Henri VII de traduire encore cela en françois…” , in Lettres de Peiresc aux frères Dupuy, op. cit., pp. 231-232.
16 See Lettres de Peiresc aux frères Dupuy, op. cit., pp. 319-320, p. 527.
17 Ibid., pp. 692-693: “J’ai decouvré par hazard d’un gentillhome qui venoit de Rome une petite piece du chancellier Bacon de son projet pour un ouvrage de Vita, ou il a encore quelque conception qui n’est pas a rejecter. Je vous envoye coppie et bien qu’incorrecte vous ne laisrez pas, je m’asseure, de la voir volontiers.”
18 G. Ferreti, Un ‘soldat philosophe:’ Philippe Fortin the la Hoguette (1585-1668?), EGIG, Genoa, 1988, P. Fortin de la Hoguette, Lettres au frères Dupuy et à leur entourage (1623-1662), op. cit. See also G. Rees, “La Hoguette’s Manuscripts,” in “Introduction: Contexts and Composition,” OFB, XIII.
19 “Si vous pouvez achever la traduction du Sylva Sylvarum a l’aide de votre anglais et la donner au public, je crois que vous feriez une chose fort agreable a beaucoup de monde. Pour moi, je vous dirai que je n’estime pas tant en Bacon la curiosité de ses experiences comme les consequences qu’il en tire, et la methode avec laquelle il s’en sert. C’est pourquoy (encore que ses observations soiend fort ordinaires) je pense que ce seroit une chose fort agreable a beaucoup de monde de cognoistre ses procedés,” CM, I, pp. 611-612. As Buccolini has shown, there is a lot of interesting background to this often quoted letter. Mersenne visits Rouen on May 1625 and enters the circle of savants centered around R. Cornier, seigneur de Sainte Helene a group of people interested in experimental philosophy. The subsequent Mersenne-Cornier correspondence mentions a numerous number of Baconian experiments performed at Rouen: concerning the nature and transmission of sounds and light, the relation between light and heat, experiments of gravity and others—partially taken from NO, later (in the second part of 1626) taken from Sylva. See C. Buccolini, “Mersenne traduttore di Bacon,” in M. Fattori, Linguagio e filosofia nel seicento europeu, L. Olschki, 2000.
20 C. Buccolini, “Mersenne traduttore di Bacon,” op. cit., p. 7 sq.
21 Mersenne to Sorbière, 1647, CM, XV, p. 468.
22 He seemed to be especially interested in the observations of parhelia made in Rome by the Jesuit Scheiner (see the letter from 3 May 1632, CM, II, p. 297, 10 May 1632, CM, II, p. 305). In the letter from 10 May 1632 he is asking about recent observations concerning comets.
24 “Illud insuper praecipimus, ut omnia in Naturalibus tam Corporibus quam Virtutibus (quantum fieri potest) numerate, appensa, dimensa, determinate proponantur. Opera enim mediatamur, non Speculationes. Physica autem & Mathematica bene commistae, generant Practicam. Quamobrem exactae Restitutiones & Distantiae Planetarum, in Historia Coelestium…,” OFB, XI, p. 464.
25 G. Rees has shown that they were present in the manuscript he discovered in British Library. See G. Rees, “An Unpublished Manuscript by Francis Bacon: Sylva Sylvarum Drafts and Other Working Notes,” in Annals of Science, 38, 1981, pp. 377-412.
26 P. Amboise, Histoire naturelle, “Privilege du Roy,” n.p.
27 M. Le Doeuff emphasized that the fact that one could not find out anything about P. Amboise does not necessarily mean he was in the mid-seventeenth century an unknown or a mysterious person. The book is, however, certainly mysterious, as I shall argue further. See M. Le Doeuff, “Bacon chez les grands au siècle de Louis XIII,” op. cit.
28 “… pour avoir trouve trop de confusion en disposition de matières, que semblent avoir este disposées en plusieurs endroits plustot par caprice que par raison. Outre qu’ayant este aide de la pluspart des manuscrits de l’Auteur, j’ay juge nécessaire d’y ajouter ou diminuer beaucoup de choses qui avoient este obmises ou augmentées par l’Aumosnier de Monsieur Bacon, qui apres la mort de son Maistre fit imprimer confusement tous les papiers qu’il trouva dans son cabinet.”
29 P. Amboise, Histoire naturelle, “Privilege du Roy,” op. cit., pp. 21-22.
30 “Monsieur Bacon estoit si amoureux des sciences naturelles, qu’il avoit envie de faire bastir pres de Londres un College destiné particulierement à cette sorte d’estude : mais prevoyant bien que cet ouvrage estant du nombre des grands desseins qui demeurent souvent dans le simple project, ne pouroit pas estre si tost achevé, il a voulu au moins nous en laisser le modele. Pour cet effect il s’est servy de la fiction d’un voyage en la terre Australe, où il depeint estre abordé dans une Isle parfaitement bien policee, dans laquelle (entre autres establissemens) il rencontra un College semblable à celuy qu’il avoit dessein de fonder. Je laisse au Lecteur son jugement libre sur cette piece, & me contenteray seulement de dire que cet ouvrage me semble estre à peu pres de mesme nature que la Republique de Platon, ou L’Utopie de Thomas More &semblables autres reglemens dont les hommes ne sont pas capables & qui ne se peuvent faire que sur du papier. Nous devons neantmoins regretter que ce soit une fable, & que non pas une verité car je doute point qu’on ne tirast une grande utilite d’un pareil establissment,” P. Amboise, Histoire naturelle, “Privilege du Roy,” op. cit., pp. 417-418.
31 See the letters of Gruter to Rawley—showing a plan to incorporate material from Amboise’s translation into the latin edition of Sylva Sylvarum. The translation is quoted by T.T in An account of all the Lord Bacon’s Works. In the context of introducing Sylva: “This Book was written by his Lordship in the English Tongue, and translated by an obscure interpreter into French, and out of that translation, into Latine, by James Gruter, in such an ill manner, that they darkened his Lordship sence, and debased his Expression. James Gruter was sensible of his miscarriage, being kindly advertised of it by dr. Rawley: And he left behind him divers amendments, published by his brother I. Gruter, in a second edition (Amstel, 1661). Yet still so many Errors have escaped, that the Work requireth a Third Hand” (Baconiana, or Certaine Genuine Remains of Sir Francis Bacon…, London, 1679).
32 Gruter’s letter, May, 1652: “The Design of him who translated into the French the Natural History of the Lord Bacon […] is briefly exhibited in my brother’s Preface […] That edition of my brother’s, of which you write, that you read it with a great deal of Pleasure, shall shortly be set forth with his Amendments, together with some additions of the like argument to be substituted in the place of New Atlantis, which shall be here omitted. These additions will be the same with those in the version of the forementioned Frenchman, put into Latine seeing we could not find the English Originals from which he translates them Unless you, when you see the book, shall condemn those additions as adulterate” (Baconiana, or Certaine Genuine Remains of Sir Francis Bacon, op. cit., p. 224-226).
33 As for example in chapter 4 book III: “Le quatrieme & le dernier moyen est l’Assimilation de l’aliment, dont je n’entretiendray point icy le Lecteur, ayant traitte cet matiere assez au long dans mon Histoire de la vie & de la mort” (Amboise, Histoire naturelle, “Privilege du Roy,” op. cit., p. 157).
34 P. Amboise, Histoire naturelle, “Privilege du Roy,” op. cit., p. 281-282.
35 Here is how the passages look comparatively: “The End of our Foundation is the knowledge of Causes and secret motions of things and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire to the effecting of all things possible.” “La fin & le but de notre institution est de travailler a la connoissance des causes & des secrets de la nature. Comme aussi d’essayer a enstendre la puissance de l’homme a toutes les choses dont elle est capable” (p. 540).
36 “Quant aux status & regles de nostre Societe, la premiere loy & la plus importante est celle qui commande de garder la silence & de ne reveler les secrets de la Compagnie,” p. 564.
37 It is worth noting that, in the translation, the recurrence of the words secret, secrecy or various references to the unveiling of the secrets of nature is more frequent than in the English version.
38 The source seems to be Aristotle De Mirab. 53 (but what the corresponding passage is saying is that the vessels and the bones were petrified, and there is no corresponding change mentioned as having happened to the water).
39 The axioms of maturation, in experiment 326 and subsequent experiments from Century IV.
40 The origin of the observation recorded by Bacon in experiment 387 is Aristotle, Prob. XII, 1 and 2. The paragraph runs like this: “Smells and other odours are sweeter in the air at some distance, than near the nose as hath been partly touched heretofore. The cause is double: first, the finer mixture or incorporation of the smell: for we see that in sounds likewise, they are sweetest when we cannot hear every part by itself. The other reason is, for that all sweet smells have joned with them some earthy or crude odours and at some distance the sweet, which is more spiritual, is perceived, and the earthy reacheth not so far.”
41 P. Amboise, Histoire naturelle, “Privilege du Roy,” op. cit., pp. 65-66.