Author: Sandys, John Edwin, Sir, 1844-1922
Title: Roger Bacon / by John Edwin Sandys.
Publisher: London : Published for the British Academy by H. Milford, Oxford University Press, .
Tag(s): bacon, roger, 1214?-1294; opus; opus tertium; bacon; roger bacon; tertium; opus mains; aristotle; opus maius; roger; british academy; treatise; academy; latin; philosophy; greek; paris; science; sciences
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable; PDF
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 7,802 words (really short) Grade range: 9-13 (high school) Readability score: 52 (average)
Tweet Bookmark this on Delicious
Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.
Sandys Roger Bacon THE BRITISH ACADEMY By Sir John Edwin Sandys Fellow of the Academy [From the Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. Published for the British Academy By Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press Amen Corner, E.C. Price One Shilling net PRINTED IN ENtVANi. EOGER BACON BY SIR JOHN EDWIN SANDYS FELLOW OF THE ACADEMY Read May 27, 1914. ON the 10th of June it is proposed to celebrate at Oxford the Seventh Centenary of the birth of Roger Bacon. In view of this coming event, I shall attempt, in the present paper, to give a brief outline of his life, with some notice of his principal works, and to trace his relations to Latin and Greek literature, and to the several sciences. The date of Roger Bacon's birth is not precisely known. Since he states, in 1267, that he had then spent forty years in the study of sciences and languages, 1 he must have begun that study in 1227, and, supposing he was then thirteen years of age, he may have been born in 1214. This is the date assumed by the proposal to celebrate his Seventh Centenary in the present year. The place of his birth was probably Ilchester. in Somerset. He appears to have belonged to a wealthy family, which, subsequently, in the struggle between Henry III and the Barons (1258-1265), sacrificed their fortunes in the cause of the King. The studies begun by Roger Bacon at home were continued at the University of Oxford. He there attended the lectures of Edmund Rich, the future archbishop of Canterbury (1234-1240), the first scholar in Western Europe to lecture on the book of Aristotle's Organon, known as the ' Sophistical Refutations \ 2 Roger Bacon also came under the influence of one of the most prominent pupils of Edmund Rich, namely Robert Grossetete, who had been appointed lecturer to the Franciscans shortly after their establishment at Oxford in 1224. Grossetete was especially interested in the study of the Greek language, a study in which he had been aided by a Greek monk of St. Albans. It was doubtless at the prompting of Grossetete that Roger Bacon learnt Greek, and it was probably under his influence that Bacon entered the Franciscan Order. Following the example of Grossetete and other English scholars, 1 Opus Tertium, c. 20, p. 65 in Opera Inedita, ed. Brewer, 1859. 2 Compendium Studii Theologiae, p. 34, ed. Rashdall, 1911. VI. B 2 Z PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY he completed his studies at the University of Paris. It was in Paris that he resided during three separate periods of his life the first visit, which was voluntary, extending from about 1234 to 1250 ; the second, which was compulsory, from 1257 to 1267 ; and the third, which was no less compulsory, from 1278 to 1292. During his first visit he attained a high reputation as a student and as a teacher. As a student, he was not attracted by the teaching of his fellow-countryman from Gloucestershire, Alexander of Hales, who had joined the Franciscan Order, and became famous as the compiler of a ponderous Summa Theologiae ; nor by that of the dis- tinguished Dominican, Albertus Magnus, who, in 1245, brought from Cologne to Paris his famous pupil, Thomas Aquinas. In preference to these he chose as his master one of the most modest and most learned men of the time, one who had devoted himself to the study of chemistry and mathematics and astronomy, and, above all, to those practical applications of experimental science which prompted his enthusiastic pupil to call him the Master of Experiments V Bacon gives his master the name of Magister Petrus de Maharniscuria, adding that he was a native of Picardy. It may be fairly assumed that he derived his name from the village of Meharicourt, near the ancient abbey of Corbie, and that he is identical with Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt, the author of a treatise on the Magnet, one of the manu- scripts of which is dated 1269. In Paris Roger Bacon obtained the degree of Doctor of Theology, and it was there that he won renown, among his contemporaries as the * Admirable Doctor'. From Paris he returned to Oxford about 1250. His influential friend, Grossetete, who had become bishop of Lincoln in 1235, died in 1253. Four years later Roger Bacon fell under the suspicions of / the authorities of the Franciscan Order, and, by command of its General, afterwards known as the * seraphic ' Bonaventura, he was sent to Paris, there to be kept under strict surveillance at the Fran- ciscan house near the Porte Saint-Michel, for the ten years from 1257 to 1267. Fortunately, his fame had already reached the ears of the papal legate in England, Guy de Foulques, who had been sent from Rome on a message of peace, and who, like the family of Roger Bacon, sided with Henry III in his conflict with the Barons. In 1265, to the joy of the persecuted votary of science, this papal legate was raised to the papal throne under the name of Clement IV. In the next year the Pope wrote from his summer residence at Viterbo to his * beloved son, Friar Roger named Bacon, of the Order of the Friars Minor 1 , urging 1 Opus Tertium, p. 46 f. } Brewer. ROGER BACON 3 him to send him, with all speed, the works of which he had already heard. 1 Nothing daunted by the lack of scientific instruments or of skilful copyists, or of the means for obtaining them, Bacon completed, in the short space of eighteen months, his three large treatises, the Opus Mains, the Opus Minus, and the Opus Tertium. We do not know whether any of these works, which were successively sent to the Pope, ever actually reached him. However, it was possibly owing to papal influence that, in 1268, Roger Bacon was permitted to return to * Oxford, and it was there that he produced, in 1271, the first part of , an encyclopaedic work entitled the Compendium Studii Philosophiae. His writings were once more condemned by the new General of the Franciscans, Jerome of Ascoli, who, in 1278, caused him to be confined in the Parisian house of the Franciscans for no less than fourteen years. He was once more at liberty in 1292, when he wrote at Oxford his latest work, the Compendium Studii Theologiae. He probably died in 1294, in the eightieth year of his age. The date is said to have been St. Barnabas's day, the llth of June, and it is on June 10, the eve of the day of his death, that it is proposed to celebrate the Seventh Centenary of his birth. He was buried in the Church of the Franciscans, which has long ' since vanished, so that of this son of Oxford, who with his 'almost prophetic gleams of the future course of science ' 2 had only a Pisgah sight of the promised land of long-deferred discovery, we may say that ' no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day '. A tower, traditionally known as 'Friar Bacon's Study', stood until 1779 on the old Grand Pont, or * Folly Bridge ', on the south side of Oxford. By the end of the sixteenth century only three of his minor works had been printed, and one of them, the treatise ' on the marvellous power of art and nature ', first printed in Paris in 1542, appeared at Oxford in 1594, and was translated into English in 1597. Roger Bacon's early reputation for his magical powers and his mechanical inventions partly arose out of a passage in that treatise, which reappeared in the following form in a popular work of the sixteenth century, entitled ' The famous historic of Fryer Bacon ' : First, by the figurations of art, there may be made instruments of navigation without men to rowe in them, as great ships to brooke the sea, only with one man to steere them, and they shall sayle far more swiftly than if they were full of men : also chariots that shall move with an unspeakable force, without any 1 Letter printed on p. 1 of Brewer's ed. of Fr. Eogeri Bacon Opera Inedita. 2 Hallam, Lit. of Europe, i. 114, ed. 1854. vi. B 2 2 Z 4 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY living creature to stirre them. Likewise, an instrument may be made to fly with- all, if one sit in the midst of the instrument, and doe turne an engine, by which the wings, being artificially composed, may beat the ayre after the manner of a flying bird. . . . But physicall figurations are farre more strange : for by that may be framed perspects and looking-glasses, that one thing shall appeare to be many, as one man shall appeare to be a whole army, and one sunne or moone shall seem divers. Also perspects may be so framed, that things farre off shall seem most nigh unto us. 1 Hence, in Robert Greene's Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, a play performed in February 1592, we hear much of Friar Bacon's * glass prospective ', and also of his ' brazen head \ This head was doubtless suggested by the legendary belief, recorded in the Image du Monde, written about 1250 and published in English by Caxton in 1480, that Virgil constructed a talking head, which, from time to time, he consulted on the events of the future 2 ; and also by similar legends told of Gerbert of Aurillac, Albertus Magnus, and Robert Grossetete. 3 Several years after the invention of the telescope, two portions of Roger Bacon's Opus Maius, those on Mathematics and on Optics, including his forecast of the telescope, 4 were printed at Frankfort in 1614 by the Marburg professor, Combach, and thus became known to Newton, who died in 1727. It was not until six years after the death of Newton that the true grounds on which Roger Bacon deserves to be remembered by posterity were more clearly realized by the publication of the greater part of the Opus Mains by Dr. Samuel Jebb in 1733. In the form in which it was then published it consisted of six parts : the first on the four causes of human ignorance authority, custom, popular opinion, and the pride of supposed knowledge ; the second, on the sources of perfect wisdom in the Sacred Scriptures ; the third and fourth, on the usefulness of Grammar and Mathematics ; the fifth on Perspective (that is, Optics) ; and the sixth on Experi- mental Science. The seventh part, on Moral Philosophy, appeared in print for the first time in the edition published by Dr. Bridges in 1897. 1 W. J. Thorns, Early English Prose Romances, ed. 2, 1858, i. 212 f. 2 ' Si fist une teste parlant qui li responnoit de quanque il li demandoit/ p. 185, ed. O. H. Prior, Lausanne, 1913 ; cp. Caxton's Mirrour of the World, p. 169, ed. O. H. Prior, London, 1913, ' Yet made he an heed to speke, which answerd of alle that whiche he was demanded of.' 3 Comparetti, Virgilio nel media evo, ed. 1872, vol. i, pp. 74, 80. 4 Opus Mains, ii. 165, c. 3, ' possunt (specula) propinquius et remotius situari, ut videremus rem quantum a longe vellemus ' ; c. 4, ' longe distantia videbuntur propinquissime et e converse,' &c. After a long interval the Opus Mahis of 1733 was succeeded in 1859 by the second and third of the greater works, published by Brewer in the * Rolls Series ', namely, the Opus Minus, written partly to elucidate the previous work and to discuss various errors standing in the way of study ; and the Opus Tertium, which begins with an account of the author's personal history, and dwells on the impedi- ments thrown in his way by the ignorance, prejudice, and indifference of his contemporaries. A further portion of this work, dealing in a summary way with mathematics and optics and experimental science and alchemy, was published by Mr. A. G. Little in 1912. Of Bacon's later work, the Compendium Studii Philosophiae, an imperfectly preserved portion was published in Brewer's volume in 1859, which was soon followed by the admirable monograph of M. Emile Charles, of Bordeaux, including a few pages of his Compendium Theologiae. About forty-five pages of the latter were published by Dr. Rashdall in 1911, pages proving, in the editor's opinion, that ' the Franciscan house at Oxford was the original home of all that was most important in the later mediaeval Scholasticism ', and that * much of the tradition that was there handed down no doubt started with Bacon '. Any survey of the subjects traversed in Roger Bacon's extant works falls naturally under two heads, the first being Literature and Lan- guage, and the second, Science in the widest sense of the term, including Theology, Philosophy, Mathematics, Geography, Astronomy, Optics, Chemistry, and Experimental Science, and finally Moral Philosophy. Under the head of Language we note that, in the Opus Maius *, he sets forth the Hebrew Alphabet, with a transliteration and transla- tion of one or two Hebrew verses. 2 He also shows that the text of the Bible had become exceedingly corrupt, and that, even when the text was correct, it had often been wrongly interpreted. 3 He further draws attention to the errors of the Vulgate 4 , giving an account of the various versions of the Scriptures 6 , and pointing out that errors in the literal interpretation lead to errors in the spiritual interpreta- tion. Finally, he dwells on the prevailing ignorance of Hebrew. 6 There are not five men, he declares, in Latin Christendom, who are acquainted with the Grammar of Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic. There are many among the Latins who can speak Greek, Arabic, and 1 i. 74, Bridges. * Frontispiece to vol. iii (1900), ed. Bridges. M. 77, 81. * JL 330ff. ChP- YW*v 8 4 334-8. 6 v 350. B3 6 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY Hebrew ; very few who understand the grammar of those languages, or know how to teach them. 1 Some elementary rules of Hebrew Grammar in the Cambridge Library are regarded by their editor, Dr. Hirsch, as one of several drafts of the grammatical observations finally embodied in the third part of the Opus Mains. 2 It is difficult to say how far Bacon was acquainted with Arabic ; he admits that he did not write in Arabic as he did in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin 3 ; and some of the Arabic authorities, which he used, were accessible to him in Latin translations. The great Latin grammarian, Priscian, who lived at the close of the classical age, is respectfully quoted in the Opus Maius* but we are warned, in the Opus Tertium, 5 that his authority is not to be implicitly followed. In the Compendium of Philosophy Bacon dwells on the errors of the mediaeval grammarians, Papias and Hugutio, and their critic, Brito. Hugutio and Brito errant horribiliterf and all three of them are mendacious. 7 It is mainly on points of prosody that Bacon quotes the Latin poets, from whom he also borrows some of their familiar sayings, such as Virgil's labor improbus 8 and Horace's omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit ut'ile dulci. 9 He rightly holds that children should not be taught the mythological follies of Ovid and other Latin poets, 10 but he wrongly ascribes to Ovid the Carmen de Vetula, 11 forged in the Roman poet's name by Richard de Fournival, Chancellor of Amiens, about 1246. Among writers of Latin prose, while he frequently quotes the elder Pliny for his facts, his favourite authorities on matters of opinion are Cicero and Seneca. In the case of Cicero, he quotes most frequently from the Tusculan Disputations and the De Natura Deorum, which he generally calls the De Natura Divina. In that of Seneca, he transcribes many passages from the moral treatises, giving two reasons for the large number of his long extracts from them : (1) their superiority to the teaching of Christian writers in certain branches of Moral Philosophy, especially on the control of anger, and (2) the fact that little in general was known of these writings, which Bacon had discovered after protracted search, possibly with the aid of 1 Opus Tertium, p. 33 f. * MS. Ff. 6, 13, printed at end of Roger Bacon's Greek Grammar (Cambridge University Press), 1902. * Opus Tertium, c. 25, p. 88. 4 i. 89 f. B p. 245. p. 460. 7 p. 447. 8 Opus Mains, ii. 261. Ibid., i. 72. 10 Opus Tertium, p. 55, Brewer. u Opus Mains, ii. 256, 264, 267. ROGER BACON 7 Campano of Novara. 1 When he looks forward to an age of wider knowledge, he borrows the language of his favourite moralist : ' veniet tempus quo ista quae nunc latent, in lucem dies extrahat et longioris aevi diligentia.' 2 Seneca's pointed and epigrammatic style lends itself readily to quotation, and Bacon even compiled for the Pope an antho- logy of sentences selected from Seneca. 3 His Greek Grammar, which was long preserved in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was finally published in 1902 by the University Press at Cambridge. It includes a short summary of Accidence and ends with the complete paradigm of TVTTTO>. Bacon here follows the Byzantine tradition. He may have had some direct knowledge of the fourth-century grammarian, Theodosius of Alex- andria, who sets forth all the imaginary aorists and futures of that verb, regardless of ancient usage, but it seems more probable that he made use of some modern Greek catechism. His knowledge of the language was mainly derived from the Greeks of his own day, and it is their pronunciation that he invariably adopts. Thus his name for the second letter of the alphabet is not beta, but vita (pronounced veeta) ; and, in transliterating the Nicene Creed, he represents irotrjrTjv by piitin, while he follows the Greek Church in omitting the words describing the Holy Ghost as proceeding ' from the Son '. In this treatise he holds that ' in all languages the Grammar is substantially the same, although it accidentally varies ' (p. 27). Elsewhere, he says, notitia linguarum est prima porta sapientiae.* Of the three degrees of knowledge of a language, the lowest, or the capacity for reading the words and .knowing the accidence, might, he maintains, be acquired by three days 1 close application under a competent teacher, and with the aid of a good manual. 5 Turning to the Greek authors, we find him saying of the inferiority of translations to originals, ' If any one supposes that grace of lan- guage is not altered by translation, let him express Homer word by word in Latin \ 6 He refers to Plato's Phaedo, firstly, for its witness to immortality, and, secondly, for its commendation of detachment from temporal cares. 7 In the case of the Phaedo, he may easily have used the current Latin translation. A vague reference to Plato, as having said that 1 Opus Mains, ii. 365 n. 2 Nat. Quaest., vii. 25, 4 (Opus Maius, i. 13 ; and Metaphysica, quoted by Charles, p. 393). 3 Opus Tertium, c. 15, p. 56. 4 Opus Tertium, p. 102. * Ibid., p. 65. 6 Opus Maius, i. 67, Bridges. 7 Ibid., ii. 239, 274. 8 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY that State is best ordered in which every one is in the dark about his own kindred, 1 may possibly be regarded as a reminiscence of the passage in the fifth book of the Republic, where we find that 'the highest perfection of the State is due to the community of wives and children '. 2 But it seems far less probable that Bacon had a first-hand knowledge of the Republic than that he found this saying in Avicenna, whom he quotes immediately before, and immediately after, this passage. Plato was better known (says Bacon) to the Fathers than Aristotle, because Plato had been translated into Latin. 3 Bacon states that St. Augustine and others follow Plato in holding that heaven is of a fiery substance, 4 and he proves from a chronological statement in St. Augustine that it was erroneous to suppose that Plato had had the advantage of conversing with the prophet Jeremiah in Egypt. 5 He observes, with satisfaction, that Aristotle discusses all the opinions of his predecessors. 6 In Bacon's age Aristotle is called par excellence * the philosopher ' ; 7 we are told that he is great, but he is not perfect. 8 Bacon cites all the treatises which make up the Organon. The ' Sophistical Refutations ' were first expounded in his own time by Edmund Rich, 9 who in 1234 ceased to lecture at Oxford on becoming archbishop of Canterbury, and Bacon himself quotes the closing words of this treatise. 10 The ' Posterior Analytics ' were first expounded by Hugo, and Bacon had seen him and his book. He has several quotations from this work of Aristotle. 11 He also refers to it in general terms when he is pointing out an inconsistency of prac- tice with principle. 12 From the Topica he quotes the contrast between the opinions of the wise and the opinions of the many ; 13 he also notices that, in this treatise, Aristotle does not always express his own opinions. 1 * Bacon frequently refers to Aristotle's Physics : for example, on vacuum (i. 145), on the influence of the sun on generation (i. 380), on the action of natural forces on sense (ii. 418), on action propor- tional to quantity of force (ii. 443 f.), on the heaven as a physical agent (ii. 449), on the infinite divisibility of matter (ii. 441), and on the propagation of light through space (ii. 691, 457). I Opus Mains, ii. 251, ' in qua quisque proprios uescit (v. I. noscit) affectus ' (=.in late Latin, ' consanguineos', as suggested by Dr. Jackson). 2 p. 464 B. 3 Opus Maius, i. 26, and 63 ult. * Ibid., i. 18. 6 Ibid., i. 54. 6 Ibid., i. 14. 7 Ibid., i. 65. 8 Ibid., i. 8. 9 Comp. Stud. TheoL, p. 34, ed. Rashdall. 10 Opus Maius, i. 12. II Opus Maius, i. 168 (Post. Anal. i. 2, 1), and i. 107 (ibid., i. 18). 19 Ibid., ii. 259. 13 Ibid., i. 10 (Top. i. 2, 7). " Ibid., ii. 606. ROGER BACON 9 From the De Caelo he quotes the passage on the small extent of sea between Spain and India, 1 and this portion of the Opus Mains, annexed without acknowledgement in the Imago Mundi of Pierre d'Ailly, attracted the attention of Christopher Columbus, who mentions it in 1498, in the letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, among the authorities which had prompted him to venture on the great voyage for the discovery of the New World. Bacon also quotes from the De Caelo the passage to the effect that the Southern Pole is really above the Northern, 2 and the passage opposing the plurality of worlds. 3 Some of the other passages refer to the weight of the atmosphere (i. 132), the spherical form of the world (i. 153), the illusion caused by rapid rotation (ii. 119), the trinity of nature (ii. 197), and the incorruptibility of the heavens (ii. 447); others to Aristotle's inadequate account of lunar phases (ii. 109), and of the phenomenon of scintillation (ii. 120). To the treatise De Generations et Corruptione he refers in connexion with the effects of celestial forces on terrestrial things (i. 379), also on moisture and dryness (ii. 6), on variety in the eyes of animals (ii. 84), on assimilation of patient to agent (ii. 441), and on propagation of force through space (ii. 456). To the Meteorologica he appeals on the subject of the lunar rainbow (i. 40), the source of stellar light (i. 127), the occultation of stars (ibid.), the formation of clouds (i. 230), and the origin of the Nile (i. 323). The sun illuminates all the stars (ii. 446 f.), and the heaven is insusceptible of alien influences (ii. 449). He mentions (ii. 100) Aristotle's explana- tion of the Milky Way, 4 as though it agreed with his own, whereas Aristotle ascribes it to the motion of many large stars, while Bacon correctly regards it as consisting of ' many minute stars ', which give the eye an impression of a continuous tract of light. From the De Anima he shows that * the principle which stirs our intellectual powers is without us, not within ' (i. 38 f.). He also quotes Aristotle's remarks on Sensus communis (ii. 4 f.), on passivity of sensation (ii. 51), on taste and touch (ii. 55), and on the effect of vacuum on vision (ii. 67). Substance is here regarded by Aristotle as a compound of matter and force (ii. 423), and light is not an emana- tion from the body (ii. 506), &c., &c. On the instantaneous transit of light Bacon (ii. 68) dissents from the conclusion of Aristotle, 5 which had (he observes) been adopted by Alkindi (the ninth-century philosopher of Bagdad), and had been opposed by Alhazen (the 1 Opus Mains, i. 290 (De Caelo, ii. 14, 15). 2 i. 307 (ii. 25, 8). 3 i. 164 (i. 9). 4 Meteor., i. c. 8. * De Anima, ii. 7, 3. 10 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY eleventh-century philosopher of Cairo), on grounds that were insuffi- cient. Bacon gives adequate reasons for holding that the propagation of light is not instantaneous, thus anticipating the discovery made by Ole Roemer in Paris in 1676. Under the title of * the second book De Somno et Vigilia ' we find references to the De Insomniis for * shifting impressions of colour ' (ii. 103), and for the ' propagation offeree through space 1 (ii. 457). All the works ' On Animals ', namely, the nine books of the His- toria, the four de partibus, the one de incessu, and the five de genera- tione, are regarded by Bacon as a single work consisting of nineteen books (ii. 49, 84). In the last of these books Aristotle speaks of vision being caused either by radiation from the eye or to the eye, without deciding which is the correct view ; * it is in the treatise De Sensu et Sensato that Aristotle decides in favour of radiation to the eye, 2 an opinion which Bacon wrongly attributes to the previous passage (ii. 49). He quotes the treatise De Sensu et Sensato on the 'seven colours ' (ii. 197), and on the nature of colour (ii. 416). There are a few unimportant references to the Problems (ii. 56, 71), and many important references to the Metaphysics. In the recently edited 'Compendium of Theology' Bacon enumerates the contentsof the ten books then known to him. 3 Elsewhere he notices that, in the first book of the Metaphysics, Aristotle expresses his gratitude to his pre- decessors (i. 12) ; also that, in that work, Aristotle declares that the chief causes of human error are custom and popular opinion (i. 4). He further quotes the Metaphysics for the connexion between music and dancing (i. 238), for a comparison between private and public good (ii. 254), and for the several opinipns, that force is not generated without matter (ii. 424), that community of matter is implied in community of genus (ii. 446), that ' corruptible ' and ' incorruptible ' are generically different (ii. 448), and that a composite whole is some- thing more than the parts of which it is composed (ii. 420). Of the Ethics, the first, second, fourth, and sixth books are quoted in the Opus Mains of 1267, mainly in the part on Moral Philosophy. Writing afterwards in 1292, Bacon describes the Ethics as having been received and read in Europe later than the logical treatises. 4 Probably Bacon's knowledge of the Politics was limited to the fact that, as stated at the close of the Ethics, it forms the sequel to that treatise. In 1267 he refers to the place where Aristotle ' makes his transition to the book of the laws '. 5 At the same date, after quoting 1 De Generations Animalium, v. 1. a c. 2. 3 p. 36 f., Kaslidall. 4 Comp. Stud. TheoL, p. 34, ed. Rashdall. 5 Opus Alaius, i. 29. ROGER BACON II Averroes for the statement, ascribed by him to ' the law of Aristotle ', that there were three sacrifices and three prayers, he adds that this is * manifest by the Politic of Aristotle, which is the book of the laws ' (ii. 231). He also states that Aristotle, in his Politics, proposes to consider the laws of four or five simple constitutions, and the causes by which those constitutions are corrupted, each constitution varying according to the end in view, as is explained by Alfarabi in his work ' On Sciences ' (ii. 367). It seems probable, therefore, that it was from Alfarabi that Bacon derived part of his knowledge of the purport of the Politics. In 1271 he advises jurists to read the ' laws of Plato and Aristotle ', adding that Aristotle ' in the book of the laws ' begins to analyse the main ends of laws and of sects, or varieties of constitu- tion, and shows that there cannot be more than six varieties, because there are six aims in view, namely, future happiness, or temporal good, that is, either pleasure or wealth or mastery or power or fame. On the next page he adds that Aristotle shows how different laws come into being, and which are bad, and how they ought not to be passed, or, if passed, should be repealed, so that, at last, one perfect law may be established and kept unimpaired. Subsequently, he says that Aristotle in the ten books of the Ethics shows that men should live in all virtue, and then adds to these the * books of the Politic ', in which he first institutes divine worship, declaring that he adores the triune God, and tracing a certain Trinity in all things created, which Trinity is first found in the Creator. Hence in all things he has appointed a beginning, a middle, and an end, &C. 1 This last description has no correspondence with Aristotle's Politics in the form familiar to ourselves. Part of it, however, resembles the opening page of the De Caelo. It may, however, be simply a quota- tion from Averroes or Alfarabi. In the first part of the Opus Mains, Bacon says that the modern doctors neglect the * two better books on logic ', one of which is trans- lated with the commentary of Alfarabi, while Averroes' exposition of the other has been translated without the text of Aristotle. 2 By the former of these two * books on logic ' is meant the Rhetoric, ex- pounded in Arabic by Alfarabi, who was born in A.D. 870, studied in Bagdad, and died in Damascus in 950. By the latter is meant the treatise on Poetry. In the third part of the Opus Mains, Bacon regrets the absence of the two best books on practical logic, one of which, the best of all (meaning the treatise on Poetry), is missing, while the other (the Rhetoric) has been badly translated. 3 The culprit was Hermann the German, who translated it from the Arabic with 1 Comp. Stud. Philos., pp. 421-3. 2 i. 31. * i. 71. 12 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY certain commentaries of Alfarabi. In the fourth part, after quoting Alfarabi on poetry, to the effect that the language of poetry should be elevated and decorous, and also adorned with prosaic, metrical, and rhythmical adornment, appropriate to place and time and persons and subject, he adds that Aristotle taught this in his work on Poetry, which Hermann did not dare to translate into Latin because of the difficulty of the metres (meaning probably the poetical quotations). 1 The absence of a knowledge of these 'logical' works in the Latin world is again regretted in the Of us Tertium, z for in these works we are told how language may be made sublime, both in sound and in sense, by means of the ornaments of language, whether in metre and rhythm, or in prose, so that the mind may unawares be carried away in the direction desired by the persuasive orator, and may suddenly fall into the love of good and the hatred of evil, as is taught by Alfarabi in his book on the Sciences. Taking all these references to the Rhetoric and Poetic into consideration, it is fairly clear that Bacon owed his knowledge of Aristotle's treatise on Poetry, and probably that of the Rhetoric, mainly, if not solely, to Alfarabi, who expressly includes ' rhetoric and poetic ' as parts of * Logic \ 3 The pseudo- Aristotelian treatise De Plantis (i. 6) is quoted for the saying that * the sun is the father of plants, and the moon their mother \ 4 Another spurious work here quoted is the Liber de Causis, 5 really compiled by David the Jew from the works of Aristotle, Avi- cenna, and Algazel. Another of the spurious works is variously called the Liber de regimine principum (or regnorum 6 or vitae 7 ), or the Liber secretorum 8 or the Secreta secretorum? addressed by Aristotle to Alexander the Great. These last titles may have been suggested by the Rhetorica ad Alexandrian, where Aristotle is asked by Alexander to observe the strictest secrecy with regard to that work, while Aristotle on his part lays a corresponding duty of secrecy on Alex- ander. Bacon's commentary on the ' secretum secretorum ' is preserved in a Bodleian MS. belonging to the close of the century in which Bacon lived. 10 Of the current Latin translations of Aristotle Bacon declares that 'so great is their perversity and difficulty that no one is able to understand them '. On animal intelligence the text of the translation 1 i. 101. 2 p. 304 f. 3 Cousin, Fragmens de Philosophic du moyen age, p. 71, convinced Charles (p. 315) that Bacon knew both treatises. 4 Opus Mains, i. 380. 6 Ibid., ii. 43. 6 ii. 235. 7 ii. 204, 271. 8 i. 10, ii. 261. 9 ii. 273. 10 A. G. Little, in Appendix to Comp, Stud. Thcol. (1911), 73 ; Opus Maius, i. 68. ROGER BACON 13 is unintelligible. 1 The De Animalibus and the Rhetoric have been badly translated. 2 In a passage of the Problems, either the translation is wrong or the text is corrupt. 3 In the account of the lunar rainbow in the Meteorologies the translation is at fault. 4 On * species ' and ' accidents ' the text of the Metaphysics has been perversely rendered. 5 Similarly, in the Opus Tertium (p. 24), we are told that the best works in philosophy are only known to the Latins through imperfect translations; and, again, in the Compendium Studii Philosophise (p. 471), ' though we have numerous translations of all the sciences by Gerard of Cremona, Michael Scot, Alfred the Englishman, Her- mann the German, and William the Fleming, there is such a falsity in their works that none can sufficiently wonder at it. ... Not one of these translators had any true knowledge of the languages or of the sciences. . . . All of them were alive in my time. Hermann the German is still alive, and a bishop. Hermann was unacquainted with Logic, nor did he understand Arabic, for he was rather an assistant in the translations than the real translator. He kept Saracens about him in Spain, who had a principal hand in the translations. Similarly, Michael the Scot claimed the merit of many translations, but it is clear that Andrew the Jew laboured at them more than he did ; and even Michael did not understand either the sciences or the languages. And so of the rest, especially the notorious William the Fleming, who is now in such reputation, whereas it is known to all the men of letters in Paris that he is ignorant of the original Greek text, to which he makes such pretensions ; and this is the reason why he translates falsely, and corrupts the philosophy of the Latins.' 6 * If I had all the books of Aristotle in my power, I should cause every one of them to be burnt, because studying them is only a loss of time, and a cause of error, and a multiplication of ignorance, beyond what can be explained ' (ibid., p. 469). Aristotle, it will be remembered, had long been studied in Syria and Arabia, and the knowledge of his writings, which had passed from Constantinople to Syria, in the more distant East, had subse- quently followed the course of Arab conquest along the Northern coast of Africa, until it reached the West in Spain, and thence found its way into France. The Arabic translations had been executed at Bagdad in the first half of the ninth century ; it was in the middle of the twelfth century that they were translated into Latin at Toledo, 1 Opus Maim, ii. 10. 2 Ibid., ii. 511 ; i. 71. 8 Ibid., ii. 56. 4 Ibid., i. 40, 212 f. ; ii. 193. 5 Ibid., ii. 420. For other mistranslations cp. Opus Tertium, p. 77. 6 Brewer's Preface, p. lix f. 14 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY and it was not until after that time that the translations reached Paris in the form of a Latin rendering of an Arabic version of a Syriac translation of a Greek original 1 a rendering removed by as many as three degrees from the Greek text of Aristotle. The varying fortunes of the study of Aristotle in Paris are recounted by Roger Bacon in his latest work, written in 1292. * It was late before any part of the philosophy of Aristotle came into use among the Latins, because his natural philosophy and his Metaphysics, with the commentaries of Averroes and others, were translated in our own times, and were interdicted in Paris before the year 1237, because of the eternity of the world and of time, and because of the book on Divination by Dreams, which is the third book De Somno et Vigilia, and because of much else that was erroneously translated.' 2 Elsewhere, Bacon tells us that Aristotle had been attacked for a passage on the ' eternity of the world ' at the end of the treatise De Generatione et Corruptione? As the treatise was on a physical subject, this may have led to the condemnation of the Physics in general. From other sources we learn that the date of the first interdict on the study of Aristotle in Paris was 1210, when 'the books of Aristotle on Natural Philosophy and his Commentaries' were for- bidden to be read in Paris publicly or privately for the space of three years. 4 It is not known whether the work aimed at was the actual Physics of Aristotle, or one of the Arabic adaptations or commentaries, such as those of Avicenna or Averroes, or some pseudo- Aristotelian work. In any case, as pointed out by Renan, the condemnation fell not on the Greek text of Aristotle (for that was at present unknown to the West), but on Aristotle as translated by the Arabs, and as expounded by the Arabs. 5 In 1215 the reading of the Physics and Metaphysics was again forbidden, and again in 1231, but with the reservation * until they shall have been examined and purged of all heresy'. William of Auvergne, who flourished in 1228-48, makes free use of all the suspected books, and in 1254 nearly the whole range of the Aristo- telian writings is prescribed among the text-books of the University. 6 Let us now turn from Literature to Science. In the second part 1 History of Classical Scholarship, i. 562 f . 8 Comp. Stud. TheoL, p. 33, ed. Rashdall. 8 Bibl. Paris. 7440 ap. Charles, p. 315, n. 1. 4 Rashdall's Universities, i. 356 f. 6 Renan, Averroes, p. 221, ed. 1882. G Rashdall, i. 357 f. ROGER BACON 15 of the Opns Maius Roger Bacon has to define his attitude toward the great scholastic study of Theology. He calls Theology the queen of sciences, *una scientia dominatrix aliarum'. 1 He holds that all knowledge is revealed in the Scriptures, but is there only implicitly ; 2 thus theology finds its exponent in philosophy. * The end of all true philosophy is to arrive at a knowledge of the Creator through knowledge of the created world 1 . 3 Theology, further, has need of philosophy to prove its principles. 4 In the great controversy between realism and nominalism, Roger Bacon is a nominalist. ' One individual ', he says, * is of more account than all the universals in the world ; for a universal is only a simi- larity of several individuals. . . . God has not created this world for the sake of the universal man, but for the sake of individual persons.' 5 The universal ante rent he entirely rejected : * individuum est prius secundum naturam'. 6 On the question whether things were indi- vidualized by form or by matter, he maintains that the question is meaningless and foolish. 7 Under the head of Mathematics, ( the gate and the key ' of all the other sciences, 8 we find Roger Bacon often referring to Euclid, whose Elements had been translated into Latin early in the twelfth century by Adelard of Bath, and expounded in the thirteenth by Campano of Novara. He seldom mentions Archimedes and Apollonius of Perga ; but, in his Optics, he shows his acquaintance with the pro- perties of parabolic concave mirrors, being in this respect in advance of Euclid, Ptolemy, and Alhazen. In a fragment of his Scriptum Principale, he speaks of Arithmetic and Algebra, and, among branches of practical Arithmetic, he includes mensuration, the construction of astronomical tables, alloys, and coinage, and various commercial operations. He makes little display of mathematical knowledge, but he has much to say on mathematical method. He had made himself familiar with the highest mathematics of his time, but he does not appear to have contributed to the advance of the science. His interest lay less in abstract than in applied Mathematics. Thus, he was keenly interested in the reform of the Calendar. 9 Under the heading of Geography, he considers the different ways in which different parts of the earth's surface are affected by the 1 Opus Mains, i. 33. J Ibid. 3 i. 42, c. 7. 4 R. Adamson, Roger Bacon: the Philosophy of Science in the Middle Ages (1876), p. 24. 5 Charles, 383 ; Bridges, Introd. , pp. xli-xliii. 6 Bridges, i. 42 n. 7 Commun. Natur., II. ii. 9 (Bridges, p. xliii). 8 Opus Mains, i. 97. 9 Bridges, Introd., pp. Iv-lix. 16 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY sun and the heavens, also the seven climata or zones of Ptolemy, followed by a descriptive survey of the known world, with the exception of Western Europe, which needs no detailed description. 1 Astrology is, with Bacon, a speculative science, 'dealing with planetary motions, with the figure of the earth and of its various regions'. Astronomy is a practical science, having to do with the construction of tables and with the forecast of future events. 2 On the subject of Astrology, he shares the belief almost universally held by all instructed men from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. He is profoundly convinced of the influence of the stars on the life of man, but this conviction is, in his case, perfectly consistent with the freedom of the will. 3 He even held, with Albumazar, that the origins of all religions and of their several sects depended upon the conjunctions of the planets ; and it has been surmised 4 that this was one of the * novelties ' of opinion for which he was condemned by the authorities of the Franciscan Order. As to the propagation of force, he holds that radiant force proceeds independently of man's power of perceiving it. * No substance is so dense as altogether to prevent rays from passing. . . . Rays of heat and sound penetrate through the midst of vessels of gold or brass. . . . There are many dense bodies which altogether interfere with the visual and other senses of man, so that rays cannot pass with such energy as to produce an effect on human sense, and yet, nevertheless, rays do really pass, without our being aware of it.' 5 This remarkable passage derives a new interest from modern scientific discoveries, for the writer's reasoning points to the ' correlation of radiant forces \ 6 The study of Optics engaged his attention for ten years of his life. 7 The subject fills the fifth part of the Opus Mains. The optical works of Euclid, Theon, and Ptolemy had been translated into Arabic, and had been studied by Alhazen, whose own work, written perhaps in the eleventh century, was translated into Latin in the twelfth, and is here abridged by Bacon. As distinguished from his Arabian precursor, he gives proof of a steady purpose of turning the discovery of the laws of reflection and refraction to practical use. He has a clear conception of the simple microscope. He also plays with the possibility of bringing distant objects near, but this is no proof that he ever combined lenses to make a telescope. He surpassed Alhazen in his knowledge of the structure of the eye. To Bacon the radiation 1 Opus Mains, i. 286-376. 2 Bridges, i, p. Iviii. 8 Ibid., pp. lix-lxvand i. 269 n. * Charles, p. 47. 8 Multiplicatio Specierum, p. 478, cp. Opus Mains, ii. 478. 6 Bridges, pp. Ixv-lxix. 7 Opus Tertium, p. 38. ROGER BACON 17 of light through space is a type of other radiant activities, such as those of colour, heat, sound, and odour. 1 Alchemy, which may be regarded as the prescientific form of Chemistry, is treated in the extant portion of the Opus Minus. It falls into two great divisions, speculative and operative. Operative alchemy includes the metallurgy of the gold-seekers, and generally all the processes pursued with a view to the transmutation of metals, the discovery of the philosopher's egg, and the elixir of life. Specu- lative alchemy is practically identical with the science now called Chemistry. It treats (he says in the Opus Tertium 2 ) ' of the genera- tion of things from their elements, and of all inanimate things as of the elements, and liquids simple and compound ; common stones, gems, and marbles ; gold and other metals ; sulphur, salts, pigments, lapis lazuli, minium, and other colours; oils, bitumen, and very many other things of which we find nothing in the books of Aristotle '. It is in his minor treatise * on the marvellous power of art and nature' that he refers to an explosive mixture * producing a noise like thunder and flashes like lightning ', 3 and adds, that * from saltpetre and other ingredients we are able to make a fire that shall burn at any distance we please '. 4 It has been held that this shows that he ' was in possession of an explosive which was a considerable advance on mere incendiary compositions ', though he does not appear to have been aware of the projecting power of gunpowder. 5 Experimental Science is represented by Bacon, in the sixth part of the Opus Maius, as a general method for the purpose of checking the results reached by mathematical processes, and also of prompting further researches in fresh fields of inquiry. He saw its bearing and its importance as a universal method of research. He was profoundly penetrated by the mathematical spirit and by the experimental method, whereas Francis Bacon, with all his approval of experimental science, failed to appreciate the importance of mathematical method. 6 It has been well said that * Roger Bacon has come very near, nearer certainly than any preceding and than any succeeding writer, until quite recent times, to a satisfactory theory of scientific method'. 7 In his Moral Philosophy, which fills the seventh part of the Opm Maius, we find a very summary treatment of the laws of civil and 1 Bridges, pp. Ixix-lxxiv. 2 c. 12, p. 39, Brewer ; cp. Bridges, i, pp. Ixxiv-lxxviii. 8 c. vi. 4 c. xi. 6 Cp. Colonel Hime's work on the origin of Gunpowder (1904). 6 Bridges, i, p. Ixxix. 7 R. Adamson, Roger Bacon : the Philosophy of Science in the Middle Ages 1876, p. 33. 18 PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY social life, a brevity probably due to the author's hostility towards the introduction of Roman Law. 1 In the third section of the work, personal morality is expounded with great fullness. ' In the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, we can be conscious ' (says Bacon) * of things unknown even to the ancient philosophers. But, in the virtues needed for integrity of life, and for human fellowship and conversation, we are not their equals, either in word or deed.' 2 This part, accordingly, almost entirely consists of selections from Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, and, above all, Seneca, including nearly the whole of the three Dialogues on Anger, rearranged from Bacon's own point of view. The final section is the earliest attempt towards a com- parative study of the religions of the world. The work, in its present form, concludes with an impressive passage on the Holy Eucharist. The fifth and sixth sections of this seventh part are now lost. The fifth section enlarged on the importance of oratory, style, and gesture to the moral and religious teacher ; and the sixth on judicial decisions made with a view to the attainment of justice. 3 We have now recalled the general outline of the life of Roger Bacon, and noticed some of his relations to the literature of the Greek and Latin world. We have also seen something of his study of the several sciences Theology, Philosophy, Mathematics, Geo- graphy, Astronomy and Astrology, Physics, Optics, Chemistry and Alchemy, and Experimental Science. We have seen that he 'has come very near to a satisfactory theory of scientific method'. His scientific studies covered a wide range ; he was interested in every one of the sciences, taken separately, but we know from his own testimony that he realized the close connexion of all the sciences with one another, and their mutual interdependence as parts of the same whole. He tells us in his Opus Tertium that ' all the sciences are connected, and foster one another with mutual aid. They are like parts of the same whole, every one of which accomplishes its own work, not for itself alone, but for the others also.' Omnes scientiae sunt connexae, et mutuis se fovent auxiliis, sicut partes eiusdem totius, quarum quaelibet opus suum peragit non solum propter se, sed pro aliis. 4 1 Cp. Opus Tertium, pp. 84 f., and Comp. Stud. Phil, p. 418, Brewer. 2 ii. 323, cp. 255, and Opus Tertium, p. 60, 'sine comparatione sumus im- perfectiores in moribus quam pnilosophi infideles '. 8 Opus Tertium, c. 14, p. 62, Brewer. 4 Opus Tertium, c. 4, p. 18, Brewer. B 765 .B24 S25 1914 IMS Sandys- John Edwin Roger Bacon 47230191 (mc/sk)