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It is now time we should proceed to the Art itself of Interpreting Nature.
The discovery of the properties of creatures, and the imposition of names, was the occupation of Adam in Paradise; and to attain this, all the different creatures were brought before him.
“ It was not the pure knowledge of nature and universality, a knowledge, by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise, as they were brought before him, according unto their properties, which gave the occasion of the fall : but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God's commandments.
With the full consciousness of our infirmities, the Art of Invention endeavours by the same mode to discover the laws of nature; by an examination, not of any one isolated creature, but of all the different existences :
To accomplish this object, the Novum Organum suggests certain tables of invention for all subjects of inquiry, for the passions of anger, fear, modesty, and the like; for models of government and civil affairs ; and, for the mental actions of the memory, composition, division, judgement, &c., for heat, cold, light, vegetation, &c.
“ Natural and Experimental History," he says, “ is so copious and diffusive a thing, as to confound and distract the understanding, unless such history be digested and ranged in proper order : therefore Tables and subservient chains of Instances are to be formed and digested in such a manner, that the understanding may commodiously work upon them.”
The nature of these tables is shewn for the sake of illustration, merely by the instance of “ Heat.” Should, therefore, any modern chemist object to the experiments, we hope he will pardon us for reminding him of the lawyer, who refused to proceed in a work because it contained a bad will :-for the object of Bacon, in this place, is not Philosophy but Logic : it is not Invention, but to explain in what the art of Invention consists. For this purpose he thus admonishes his readers.
“Some, without doubt, upon reading our history and tables of invention, will meet with experiments not well verified, or even absolutely false; and may thence, perhaps, be apt to suspect, that our inventions are built upon doubtful principles, and erroneous foundations. But this is nothing: for such slips must necessarily happen in the beginning; however, if this objection be rightly weighed, what must be thought of the common natural history, which, in comparison of ours, is so negligent and remiss; or, what of the philosophy and sciences, built upon such quicksands ? if our history has its errors.”
Let no one, therefore, be concerned,
We will endeavor concisely to exhibit specimens of these different Tables, referring our readers, if we fail in a clear statement, to the work itself. There are five tables.
1. Affirmative Table.
5. Table of Results.
TABLE I. OR AFFIRMATIVE TABLE. A collection of all the known instances that agree in the same
nature. Thus, let the nature sought be
The Sun's direct Rays.
The Heavenly Bodies.
The use of this table is to shew the error of attempting to discover the nature of anything in the thing itself: of the magnet, for instance,without considering all attractive bodies : or canine madness, without considering all spasm and irregular action of the vital spirit.
Annexed to this table there are the following admonitions.
1. Let these instances be collected from subjects however dissimilar or sordid.
2. Be not deterred by the number of particulars.
3. Let the collection be made, with remembrance of our tendency to generalize, and, therefore, without any hasty indulgence of speculation.
4. The mind may accidentally form a correct conclusion from an inspection of this table, the probable correctness varying according to the ingenuity of the inspector.
TABLE II. OR Negative Table. A collection of all the known instances of similar bodies, which do
not agree in the same nature. ... Thus, let the nature sought be Heat.
The Sun's direct Rays.
The Moon's Rays.
This table, from the limited nature of our powers, is necessarily confined to similar natures : for, although to form an indisputable conclusion, every instance should be collected in which the sought nature is absent; yet such an attempt would be hopeless and endless.
God, the great giver and creator of forms, doubtless knows them, by immediate affirmation, at the first glance of the understanding: and so, perhaps, may angels and such sublime intelligences, but this far exceeds the human capacity, which can only proceed by negatives, and lastly, after a perfect exclusion, end in affirmatives.
“It was,” says the eloquent divine to whom we have already referred our readers, “ Adam's happiness, in the state of innocence, to have his faculties clear and unsullied. He came into the world a philosopher, which sufficiently appeared by his writing the nature of things upon their names : he could view essences in themselves, and read forms without the comment of their respective properties : he could see consequents yet dormant in their principles, and effects yet unborn and in the womb of their causes. Could any difficulty have been proposed, the resolution would have been as early as the proposal; it could not have had time to settle into doubt. Like a better Archimedes, the issue of all his enquiries was an evenna, an cúenxa, the offspring of his brain, without the sweat of his brow. I confess'tis difficult for us, who date our ignorance from our first being, and are still bred up with the same infirmities about us with which we were borne, to raise our thoughts and imagination to those intellectual perfections that attended our nature in the time of innocence, as it: is for a peasant, bred up in the obscurities of a cottage, to fancy in his mind the unseen splendours of a court. We may, however, collect the excellency of the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now, and guess at the stateliness of the building, by the magnificence of its ruins. And, certainly, that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable; he that is comely when old and decrepit, surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.”
The first use of this table is, as a correction of the affirmative table, to prevent hasty generalization. “ As if Samuel should have rested in those sons of Jesse which were brought before him in the house, and should not have sought David who was absent in the field.”—Thus, when it appears that the blood of terrestrial animals is hot, and the blood of fish cold, the hasty generalization, that the blood of animals is hot, is corrected.
Another use of this table is to discover the nature sought, by observing its qualities which are absent in the analogous nature, “ like the images of Cassius and Brutus, in the funeral of Junia : of which, not being represented as many others were,” Tacitus saith, “ Eo ipso præfulgebant, quod non visebantur.” Thus boiling water is hot : ice is cold : living bodies are hot; dead bodies are cold; but in boiling water and in living bodies there is motion of parts : in ice and dead bodies they are fixed.Does it not seem, therefore, that motion of parts is of the nature of heat?
TABLE III.-OF COMPARISONS. A table of comparisons of quantity, of the nature sought in the
same bodies and in different bodies.
Comparisons of Heat.
In different bodies.
In the same body.
There is no solid body naturally hot.
In animals. All bodies are, in different degrees, capable | Animal heat varies from minute perceptibiof heat.
lity to about the heat of the hottest day. There is no whole vegetable hot to the ex
It is always endurable. ternal touch.
It is increased by food, venery, exercise, Living Animals.
fever, &c. Flame.
In some fevers the heat is constant, in others Anvil struck by hammer.
intermittent, &c. The continuance of a body in heat. Heat varies in different parts of the same Boiling Water.
body. Boiling Lead.
Animals differ in heat, &c. Gas.
J. The lambent flame, related by historians Acids.
to have appeared on the heads of children, &c. &c.
gentiy playing about the hair. 2. The corruscations seen in a clear night
on a sweating horse. 3. Of the glow-worm. 4. Of the Ignis Fatuus. 5. Of spirits of wine. 6. Of vegetables, straw, dry leaves, &c. 7. Of boiling metals. 8. Of blast furnaces.
The first use of the table of comparisons is to shew the nature sought in its process from existence to non-existence. Thus, vegetables or common water do not exhibit heat to the touch, but masticated pepper or boiling water are hot Now the question is, what alteration has taken place in the water whilst it passes from cold to boiling; or in the pepper whilst masticating? Does any thing more take place than motion of the parts ?
The second use of the table of comparisons is of the same sort as the first, viz.--to shew the alteration in the nature sought when in existence, in its increase and in its decrease. Thus, flame is hotter than the human body: boiling water than warm. Is there any difference except in the motion of the parts?
TABLE IV.–TABLE OF EXCLUSIONS,
A table of such natures as do not always attend the sought nature, or which vary according to some inverse law of the sought nature ;—that is, in other words, a table of such natures as may be absent when the sought nature is present; or present when the sought nature is absent; or which increase as the sought nature decreases; or decrease as the sought nature increases. Thus,
Table of Exclusions in Heat.
Natures not always present with the sought Natures varying according to some inverse nature.
law of the sought nature.
Which may be absent which may be present which may increase as Which may decrease
when the sought na- when the sought na- the sought nature as the sought nature ture is present. ture is absent.
Quiescence of parts.
Light |Iron may be heated to
a greater heat than the flame of spirit
of wine. Quiescence of parts.
The use of this table is to sift nature by proper rejections and exclusions, to making a perfect resolution and separation, not by fire, but by the mind, which is, as it were, the divine fire; and, after the rejection and exclusion is duly made, to see the affirmative and true nature as the result of the operation, whilst the volatile opinions go off in fume; a thing never yet done, nor