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“ divert men's travails from action and business, and bringeth them “ to a love of leisure and privateness."* The error of the supposition that the love of excelling can influence philosophy, may be seen in the nature of the passion, in the opinions of eminent moralists, and in the actions of those illustrious men, who, without suffering worldly distinctions to have precedence in their thoughts, are content without them, or with them, when following in the train of their duty.

With respect to the nature of the passion, it is difficult to suppose that it can influence any mind, which lets its hopes and fears wander towards future and far distant events. “ If a man,” says Bacon, “meditate much upon the universal frame of nature, the earth with

men upon it, (the divineness of souls except,) will not seem much “ other than an ant-bill, where as some ants carry corn, and some carry their

young, and some go empty, and all to-and-fro a little heap of dust.”. So says Bishop Taylor. “ Whatsoever tempts the

pride and vanity of ambitious persons is not so big as the smallest “ star which we see scattered in disorder and unregarded upon the

pavement and floor of heaven. And if we would suppose the Pis“ mires had but our understanding, they also would have the me“thod of a man's greatness, and divide their little mole-hills into

provinces and exarchats: and if they also grew as vitious and as miserable, one of their princes would lead an army out, and kill his

neighbour ants, that he might reign over the next handful of a “ turf.”

The same lesson may be taught by a moment's self-reflection.

I shall entertain you,” Bishop Taylor, in the preface to his Holy Dying, says, “in a Charnel-house, and carry your mediation

a while into the chambers of death, where you shall find the rooms “ dressed up with melancholick arts, and fit to converse with your “most retired thoughts, which begin with a sigh, and proceed in

deep consideration, and end in a holy resolution. The sight that “ St. Augustin most noted in that house of sorrow was the body of “ Cæsar clothed with all the dishonours of corruption that you can

suppose in a six month's burial.”

“I have read of a fair young German gentleman, who living, often “refused to be pictured, but put off the importunity of his friends “ desire by giving way that after a few days burial, they might send a “ painter to his vault, and, if they saw cause for it, draw the image of his death unto the life. They did so, and found his face half “ eaten, and his midriff and back-hone full of serpents; and so he “ stands pictured amongst his armed Ancestours.".

With respect to the opinions and actions of eminent men, Bacon says, “ It is commonly found that men have views to fame and osten“ tation, sometimes in uttering, and sometimes in circulating the

knowledge they think they have acquired. But for our undertaking, we judge it of such a nature, that it were highly unworthy to

pollute it with any degree of ambition or affectation; as it is an “ unavoidable decree with us ever to retain our native candour and

simplicity, and not attempt a passage to truth under the conduct " of vanity; for, seeking real nature with all her fruits about her, we

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should think it a betraying of our trust to infect such a subject “ either with an ambitious, an ignorant, or any other faulty manner “ of treating it.”

* See page 14 of this work.

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So John Milton says.

I am not speaking to the mercenary crew of false pretenders to “ learning, but the free and ingenuous sort of such as evidently were “born to study, and love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any “ other end, but the service of God and of truth, and perhaps that

lasting fame and perpetuity of praise, which God and good men “ have consented shall be the reward of those whose published la“ bours advance the good of mankind.”

And Tucker, in his most valuable work on the Light of Nature pursued, in his chapter on vanity, says,

“ We find in fact that the best and greatest men, those who have “ done the most essential services to mankind, have been the most free from the impulses of vanity. Lycurgus and Solon, those two “excellent lawgivers, appear to have had none : Socrates, the prime

apostle of reason, Euclid and Hippocrates, had none: whereas Protagoras with his brother sophists, Diogenes, Epicurus, Lucre“tius, the Stoics who were the higots, and the latter Academies who

were the freethinkers of antiquity, were overrun with it. And among the moderns, Boyle, Newton, Locke, have made large improvements in the sciences without the aid of vanity; while some others I could name, having drawn in copiously of that intoxicating vapour, have laboured only to perplex and obscure them." Thomas Carlysle, in his Life of Schiller, just published, says,

“ The end of literature was not, in Schiller's judgment, to amuse “the idle, or to recreate the busy, by showy spectacles for the ima

gination, or quaint paradoxes and epigrammatic disquisitions for the understanding : least of all was it to gratify in any shape the selfishness of its professors, to minister to their malignity, their “ love of money, or even of fame. For persons who degrade it to “ such purposes, the deepest contempt of which his kindly nature could admit was at all times in store. Unhappy mortal!' says he

to the literary tradesman, the man who writes for gain, ' Unhappy “ mortal! that with science and art, the noblest of all instruments, “ effectest and attemptest nothing more, than the day drudge with “the meanest! That in the domain of perfect freedom bearest “ about in thee the spirit of a slave ! As Schiller viewed it, genuine “ literature includes the essence of philosophy, religion, art; what

ever speaks to the immortal part of man. The daughter, she is " likewise the nurse of all that is spiritual and exalted in our cha

racter. The boon she bestows is truth; truth not merely physical, political, economical, such as the sensual man in us is perpetually

demanding, ever ready to reward, and likely in general to find; but “ the truth of moral feeling, truth of taste, that inward truth in “its thousand modifications, which only the most etherial portion of

our nature can discern, but without which that portion of it lan

guishes and dies, and we are left divested of our birthright, thence“ forward of the earth earthy', machines for earning and enjoying,

no longer worthy to be called the Sons of Heaven. The treasures “ of literature are thus celestial, imperishable, beyond all price : with “her is the shrine of our best hopes, the palladium of pure manhood;

to be among the guardians and servants of this is the noblest func“tion that can be entrusted to a mortal. Genius, even in its faintest

scintillations, is the inspired gift of God;' a solemn mandate to

its owner to go forth and labour in his sphere, to keep alive the “sacred fire' among his brethren, which the heavy and polluted at

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« mosphere of this world is for ever threatening to extinguish. Woe “ to him if he neglect this mandate, if he hear not its small still “ voice! Woe to him if he turn this inspired gift into the servant of “his evil or ignoble passions; if he offer it on the altar of vanity, if “ he sell it for a piece of money!"

The most apparent extraordinary influence of ambition, which is but a form of the love of excelling, is in the conduct Lord Bacon in his political life, who appear to have been attracted by worldly distinction, although he well knew its emptiness, and well knew “how much it diverteth and interrupteth the prosecution and advance

ment of knowledge, like unto the golden ball thrown before Atalanta, which while she goeth aside and stoopeth to take up

the race is hindered.”:

That Bacon's real inclination was for contemplation, appears in the following letters: “To my Lord Treasurer Burghley, (A.D. 1991),

“My lord, with as much confidence as mine own honest and faithful “ devotion unto your service, and your honourable correspon“ dence unto me and my poor estate can breed in a man, do I “commend myself unto your Lordship. I wax now somewhat an

cient; one and thirty years is a great deal of sand in the hour-glass.

My health, I thank God, I find confirmed ; and I do not fear that “action shall impair it; because I account my ordinary course of "study and ineditation to be more painful than most parts of " action are.

I ever bear a mind, in some middle place that I “ could discharge, to serve her Majesty; not as a man born under

Sol, that loveth honour; nor under Jupiter, that loveth business, “ for the contemplative planet carrieth me away wholly: but as a

man born under an excellent Sovereign, that deserveth the dedi“cation of all mens abilities. Besides I do not find in myself so “ much self-love, but that the greater part of my thoughts are to de

serve well, if I were able of my friends, and namely of your Lordship; who being the Atlas of this commonwealth, the honour of my

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house, and the second founder of my poor estate, I am tied by all duties, both of a good patriot, and of an unworthy kinsman, and of an obliged servant, to employ whatsoever I am, to do you service. Again the meanness of my estate doth somewhainove me: for though I cannot accuse myself, that I am either prodigal or slothful, yet iny health is not to spend, nor my course to

get. Lastly, I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends as I “ have moderate civil ends : for I have taken all knowledge to be my

province; and if I could purge it of two sorts of rovers, whereof “ the one with frivolous disputations, confutations, and verbosities : “ the other with blind experiments and auricular traditions, and

impostures, hath committed so many spoils; I hope I should bring “ in industrious observations, grounded conclusions, and profitable “ inventions and discoveries; the best state of that province. This, “ whether it be curiosity, or vain-glory, or nature, or, if one take it “ favourably, philanthropia is so fixed in my mind, as it cannot be re“ moved. And I do easily see, that place of any reasonable counte

nance doth bring commandment of more wits than of a man's own ;

which is the thing I greatly affect. And for your Lordship, perhaps you shall not find more strength and less encounter in any other. And if your Lordship shall find now or at any time, that I do


See page 52 of this work.

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“ seek or affect any place, whereunto any that is nearer unto your Lord.

ship shall be concurrent, say then that I am a most dishonest man. And if your Lordship will not carry me on, I will not do as Anaxa

goras did, who reduced himself with contemplation unto voluntary

poverty: but this I will do, I will sell the inheritance that I have, “and purchase some lease of quick revenue, or some office of gain, “ that shall be executed by deputy, and so give over all care of ser“vice, and become some sorry, book-maker, or a true pioneer in that “mine of truth, which, he said, lay so deep. This which I have writ

unto your Lordship, is rather thoughts than words, being set down “ without all art, disguising, or reservation : wherein I have done “honour both to your Lordship's wisdom, in judging that that will “ be best believed of your Lordship which is truest; and to your

Lordship’s good nature, in retaining nothing from you. And

even so, I wish your Lordship all happines, and to myself means “ and occasion to be added to my faithful desire to do your service.- From my lodging at Gray's-Inn.

“ To the Lord Treasurer Burghley.-It may please your good Lordship, I am to give you huinble thanks for your favourable “ opinion, which, by Mr. Secretary's report I find you conceive of

me, for the obtaining of a good place, which some of my honour“.able friends have wished unto me nec opinanti. I will use no reason “ to persuade your Lordship’s mediation, but this, that your Lord

ship, and my other friends, shall in this beg my life of the Queen; “ for I see well the bar will be my bier, as I must and will use it, “ rather than my poor estate or repuation shall decay." “ To


Lord of Essex.-For as for appetite, the waters of “ Parnassus are not like the waters of the Spaw, that give a stomach; “ but rather they quench appetite and desires."

A Letter of recommendation of his service to the Earl of Northumberland, a few days before Queen Elizabeth's death.“ To be plain with your Lordship it is very true, and no winds

or noises of civil matters can blow this out of my head or heart, “ that your great capacity and love towards studies and contemp“ lations of a higher and worthier nature, than popular, a nature

rare in the world, and in a person of your Lordship’s quality al“most singular, it is to me a great and chief motive to draw my “ affection and admiration towards you."

• To Mr. Matthew.” — Written as it seems when he had made progress in the Novum Organum, probably about 1609. “I must confess my desire to be, that my writings should not court the

present time, or some few places, in such sort as might make them “ either less general to persons, or less permanent in future ages. “ As to the Instauration your so full approbation thereof I read with “ much comfort, by how much inore my heart is upon it; and by “ how much less I expected consent and concurrence in a matter so “ obscure. Of this I can assure you, that though many things of

great hope decay with youth, and multitude of civil businesses is “ wont to diminish the price, though not the delight of contemp“lations yet the proceeding in that work doth gain with me upon my

affection and desire, both by years and businesses. And therefore I hope, even by this, that it is well pleasing to God, from “ whom, and to whom, all good moves. To him I most heartily com66 mend you."

“ To Sir George Villiers, acknowledging the King's favour

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“Sir, I am more and more bound unto his Majesty, who, I think,

knowing me to have other ends than ambition, is contented to make me judge of mine own desires."

Such was Bacon's inclination : and if, instead of his needy circumstances, he had possessed the purse of a Prince, and the assist. ance of a people.* He

in the prime of early youth, Would have shunned the broad

way And laboured up the hill of heavenly truth. Upon the nature of ambition and great place it is scarcely possible to suppose that he could have entertained erroneous opinions. His sentiments are contained in his Essays on those subjects, and are incidentally mentioned in different parts of his works. He could not much respect a passion by which men, to use his own words, were“ Like a sealed dove, that mounts and mounts because he cannot see “ about him.” “ As if,he says, “man, made for the contemplation “ of heaven, and all noble objects, should doe nothing but kneel “ before a little idol, and make himselfe subject, though not of the mouth (as beasts are) yet of the eye, which was given him for

higher purposes." He must have contrasted the philosophic freedom of a studious life with the servile restraints of an ambitious life, who

says- “ Men in great place, are thrice servants : servants of the soveraigne or state; servants of fame ; and servants of businesse. So

as they have no freedome, neither in their persons ; nor in their " actions; nor in their times. It is a strange desire to seeke power " and to lose liberty; to seeke power over others, and to lose

power over a mans selfe.” He was not likely to form an erroneous estimate of different pleasures who knew that the great difference between men consisted in what they accepted and rejected. “ The logical part of men's minds,” he says, is often good, but “the matheniatical part nothing worth: that is, they can judge well " of the mode of attaining any end, but cannot estimate the “ value of the end itself.” (See page 62 at the end.) But, notwithstanding his love of contemplation and his knowledge that the splendid speculations of genius are rarely united with that promptness in action or consistence in general conduct which is nccessary for the immediate control of civil affairs, he was impelled by various causes to engage in active life. His necessities in youth : the importunities of his friends; the Queen encouraging him, " as her young Lord Keeper:" his sentiment that allomen should be active, that man's motto should not be abstine but sustine : that in this theatre of man's life, God and angels only should be lookers on:t his opinion that he was actuated by the only lawful end of aspiring“the power to do good,”; and the consciousness of his own supe

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* Such a collection of natural history,” says Bacon, “as we have measured out in our mind, and such as really ought to be procured, is a great and royal work, requiring the purse of a prince and the assistance of a people.”

+ See his beautiful illustration in page 224 of this work.

“ Power to doe good, is the true and lawful end of aspiring. For good thoughts (though God accept them) yet towards men, are little better than good dreams : except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power, and place as the vantage, and commanding ground. Merit, and good works, is the end of man's motion ; and conscience of the same, is the accomplishment of man's rest. For if a man be partaker of God's theatre ; he shall likewise be partaker of God's rest.


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