NATURE IS A BOOK OF GOD "Thy creatures have been my books, but Thy Scriptures much more.
I have sought Thee in the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found
Thee in Thy temples."--A Prayer by Lord St. Alban, April, 1621 "This primary history is the book of God's works, and a kind of
second Scripture." "He makes the Heaven his book, His wisdom earthly things."-Verses by Francis Bacon "Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious courts?.... And this our life exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and Good (or God) in everything." --As You Like It ii. 1 In Nature's infinite Book of secresy A little I have read."--Antony & Cleopatra i.2
Bacon's fragmentary work titled "The Alphabet of Nature" happened to be published by a somewhat curious chain of events. When Bacon died in 1626 he left behind quite a few manuscripts in various stages of completion. These entered the possession of his chaplain, Dr. William Rawley, after his death. Rawley, died in the 79th year of his age on June 18th, 1667. Rawley had in his keeping all those years since 1626 the considerable collection of manuscripts that had been left by Francis Bacon. When Dr. William Rawley died his son John Rawley was Executor of his estate. John Rawley and his brother William Rawley both were close friends of Dr. Thomas Tenison who was interested in the works of Bacon. John Rawley presented to Tenison all of the papers and manuscripts of Bacon, and in 1669 Tenison published some of these writings in a book he titled, "Baconiana". Included in this book was
the short, incompleted work, "The Alphabet of Nature."
Thanks to Mather Walker for providing the Digitalized TextFrancis Bacon's"The Alphabet of Nature."From the book:Baconianafirst published in 1669 by Thomas Tenison "Seeing so many things are produced by the earth and waters; So many things pass through the air, and are received by it; So many thing are changed and dissolved by fire; other Inquisitions would be less perspicuous, unless the nature Of these masses which so often occur, were well known and Explained. To these we add inquisitions concerning celestial Bodies, and meteors, seeing they are of greater masses, and Of the number of catholic bodies. Inquiries concerning Greater Masses: 67th Inquisition Earth Threefold Tau 68th Inquisition Water Threefold Upsilon 69th Inquisition Air Threefold Phi 70th Inquisition Fire Threefold Chi 71st Inquisition Heavens Threefold Psi 72nd Inquisition Meteors Threefold Omega Conditions of Entities. There yet remain, as subjects of our inquiry, in our alphabet, The conditions of beings, which seem, as it were, transcendentals, And as such touch very little of the body of nature. Yet, by That manner of inquisition which we use, they will considerably Illustrate the other objects. First, therefore; seeing (as Democritus excellently observed) The nature of things is in the plenty of matter, and variety Of individuals large, and (as he affirmeth) infinite; but in Its coitions and species so finite, that it may seem narrow And poor; seeing so few species are found, either in actual Being or impossibility, that they scarce make up a muster of A thousand; and seeing negatives subjoined to affirmatives, Conduce must to the information of the understanding: it is Fit that an inquisition be made concerning being, and not Being. Inquiries concerning conditions of Transcendental Beings: 73rd Inquisition Existence/Non-Existence Fourfold Alpha 74th Inquisition Possibility/Impossibility Fourfold Beta 75th Inquisition Much and Little Fourfold Gamma 76th Inquisition Durable & Transitory Fourfold Delta 77th Inquisition Natural & Unnatural Fourfold Epsilon 78th Inquisition Natural & Artificial Fourfold Zeta We have not subjoined examples in the explication of the Order of this our alphabet: for the inquisitions themselves Contain the whole array of examples. It is by no means intended, that the titles, according to Which the order of this alphabet is disposed, should have So much authority given to them, as to be taken for true And fixed partitions of things. That were to profess we Already knew the things after which we inquire; for no man Does truly dispose of things into their several classes, Who does not beforehand very well understand the nature Of them. It is sufficient, if these titles be conveniently Adapted to the order of inquiry; the thing which is at Present designed. The Rule or Form of the Alphabet After this manner we compose and dispose our alphabet: We begin solely with history and experiments. These, if They exhibit an enumeration and series of particular things, Are disposed into tables; otherwise, they are taken separately And by themselves. But, seeing we are often at a loss for history and experiments, Especially such as are luciferous, or instructive, and, as we Call them instances of the cross; by which the understanding Might be helped in the knowledge of the true causes of things: We propose the task of making new experiments. These may Serve as a history in design. For what else is to be done By use who are but breaking the ice? For the mode of any more abstruse experiment, we explain it, Lest any mistake arise about it; and to the intent, also, That we may excite others to excogitate better methods. Also, we interspect certain admonitions, and cautions Concerning such fallacies of things, and errors in invention, As we meet with in our way. We subjoin our observations upon history and experiments, That the interpretation of nature may be the more in Readiness and at hand. Likewise, we lay down canons (but not such as are fixed and Determined) and axioms which are, as it were, in embryo: Such as offer themselves to us in the quality of inquirers, And not of judges. Such canons and axioms are profitable, Though they appear not yet manifest, and upon all accounts True. Lastly: we meditate sometimes certain essays of interpretation, Though such as are low and of small advance, and by no means To be honoured (in our opinion) with the very name of Interpretation. For, what need have we of arrogance or imposture, seeing we Have so often professed that we have not such a supply of History and experiments as is needful; and that, without These, the interpretation of nature cannot be brought to Perfection. Wherefore, it is enough for us if we are not Wanting to the beginning of things. Now, for the sake of perspicuity and order, we prepare our Way by avenues, which are a kind of prefaces to our
Inquisitions. Likewise, we interpose bonds of connection,That our inquisitions may not seem abrupt and disjointed. Also, we suggest for use some hints of practice. Furthermore, We propose wishes of such things as are hitherto only desired And not had, together with those things which border on them, For the exciting the industry of man's mind. Neither are we ignorant that those inquisitions are sometimes Mutually entangled; so that some things of which we inquire, Even the same things belong to several titles. But we will Observe such measure, that (as far as may be) we may shun Both the nauseousness of repetition, and the trouble of Rejection, submitting notwithstanding, to either of these, When, in an argument so obscure, there is necessity of so Doing, in order to the more intelligible teaching of it. This is the form and rule of our alphabet. May God, the creator, preserver, and renewer of the universe, Protect and govern this work, both in its ascent to his glory, And in its descent to the good of mankind, for the sake of His mercy and good will to men, through his only Son, Immanuel, God with us."
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