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low gratifications of sense in another respect : it elevates and refines our nature, while those hurt the health, debase the understanding, and corrupt the feelings; it teaches us to look upon all earthly objects as insignificant, and below our notice, except the pursuit of knowledge and the cultivation of virtue—that is to say, the strict performance of our duty in every relation of society; and it gives a dignity and importance to the enjoyment of life, which the frivolous and the grovelling cannot even comprehend.
Let us, then, conclude, that the Pleasures of Science go hand in hand with the solid benefits derived from it; that they tend, unlike other gratifications, not only to make our lives more agreeable, but better; and that a rational being is bound by every notive of interest and of duty, to direct his mind towards pursuits which are found to be the sure path of virtue as well as of happiness.
NOVUM ORGANON SCIENTIARUM,
NEW METHOD OF STUDYING THE SCIENCES.
THE FIRST OR INTRODUCTORY PART.
FROM THE BRITISH LIBRARY OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE.
HOMO, NATURÆ MINISTER ET INTERPRES, TANTUM FACIT ET INTELLIGIT QUANTUM
DE NATURÆ ORDINE RE VEL MENTE OBSERVAVERIT; NEC AMPLIUS SCIT, AUT POTEST........... Nov. Org.
LORD Bacon was the first who taught the proper method of studying the sciences; that is, he pointed out the way in which we should begin and carry on our pursuit of knowledge, in order to arrive at truth. He gave a set of rules by which mankind might deliver themselves from slavery to names, and from wandering among fanciful systems, and return once more, as little children, to the school of nature. The task he chose was far more useful to the world, and honorable to himself
, than that of being, like Plato or Aristotle, the author of a new sect: he undertook to expose the errors of those who had gone before him, and to show the best way of avoiding them for the future: he had the principal share in pulling down the old building of a false philosophy, and, with the skill of a superior architect, he laid the foundation and sketched the plan of another fabric ; and gave masterly directions to those who should come after him-how, upon the ruins of the first, the temple of science must be erected anew. As, in a great army, there are some whose office it is to construct bridges, to cut paths along mountains, and to remove various impediments, so Lord Bacon may be said to have cleared the way to knowledge; to have marked out the road to truth; and to have left future travellers little else to do, than follow his instructions: he was the miner and sapper of philosophy, the pioneer of nature; and he eminently promoted the dominion of man over the material world. He was the priest of nature's mysteries; and he taught men in what manner they might discover her profoundest secrets, and interpret those laws which nature has received from the great Author of all.
It is the object of this treatise to make our readers acquainted with Lord Bacon's philosophy, as it is contained in his great work, the Novum Organon ; in which we find the principles of that improved method of conducting the inquiries of science, which has now so long and so happily prevailed. To accomplish this design with the more effect, it will be desirable, first, to draw their attention, in a few words, to the state in which Bacon found the world, as to knowledge and science, at the time when he flourished. For, as the returning light appears more glorious after the sun has been eclipsed, -and the order and beauty of nature would look doubly striking to an eye that had seen thar chaos from which she first arose, when all was without form and void, , if we glance, but for a moment, at that darkness which so long overshadowed the human mind, and gave birth to so many phantoms and prodigies, under the name of science, this retrospect will serve to show more clearly the merits of a philosopher, who may be regarded as the morning star of that illustrious day which has since broken out upon mankind, and in the spirit of whose method, even the immortal Newton himself explored the heavens-by the aid of a sublime geometry, as with the rod of an enchanter, dashed in pieces all the cycles, epicycles, and crystal orbs of a visionary antiquity; and established the true Copernican doctrine of astronomy on the solid basis of a most rigid and infallible demonstration.
In several of the fine arts, in which chiefly the taste and imagination are concerned, such as poetry, rhetoric, statuary, and architecture, the ancients, according to general opinion, have equalled, if not surpassed, any of the moderns. Homer and Demosthenes continue, notwithstanding the flux of time, to retain their station as the masters of eloquence and song; and those exquisite statues, the Venus and the Apollo, still command our admiration, as perfect models of what is chaste, and severe, and beautiful, in the art of sculpture. The ancients nobly distinguished themselves, also, in those more rigorous exercises of the understanding which are demanded by pure mathematics ; in proof of which it is sufficient to quote the name of Euclid, and of Archimedes, whose discoveries in geometry and mixed science entitle him to be regarded as the Newton of all antiquity; but it was reserved for the moderns to invent a calculus-a new and more profound arithmetic, which was called for by a more exact acquaintance with nature herself, and was to be applied to that more improved state of natural science which is peculiar to later times: we allude to the doctrine of fluxions, or the differential method of Newton and Leibnitz, since cultivated, and applied to physical astronomy, with great success, by the French, and especially by LA Place. In most of those branches of knowledge, however, which rest on the basis of experiment and observation, the ancients almost entirely failed. The case is, that to form theories, or systems of science and philosophy, from a hasty view of facts and appearances, is an easy task, since this can be done without the labor of close and patient thinking; and if antiquity be, in truth, as Bacon himself represents it, but the childhood and youth of the world, it is nothing more than we might expect, that, at that period of its existence, imagination should prevail over reason; and that the calmer and more successful exercises of the latter should not unfold themselves till a maturer age.