Friar Bacon His Discovery of the Miracles of Art, Nature, and Magick

Chap. VIII.

Of obscuring the Mysteries of Art and Nature.

AFter an emumeration of some few examples concerning the prevalency of Nature and Art (that by these few we may gather many,) by these parts the whole; and so from particulars, universals, which will demonstrate the unnecessary aspiring to Magick, since both Nature and Art afford such sufficencies. I shall now endeavour a methodical procedure in singulars, laying open both the causes and wayes in particular: and yet I will call to mind how as Secrets (of * Nature) * Deest in alio. are not committed to Goats-skins and Sheeps-pelts, that every clown may understand them, if we follow Socrates or Aristotle. For the latter in his Secreta Secretarum affirmes, He breaketh the Heavenly Seal, who communicateth the Secrets of Nature and Art; the disclosing of Secrets and Mysteries, producing many inconveniences. In this case Aulus Gellius in Noct. Atti. de Collatione Sapientum, sayes, It's but folly to profer Lettices to an Asse, since hee's content With his Thistles. Et in lib. lapidum, The divulging of Mysteries is the diminution of their Majesty, nor indeed continues that to be a Secret, of which the whole fry of men is conscious.

For that which all men, which wise, and the more noted men affirme is truth. That therefore which is held by the multitude, as a multitude, must be false; I mean of that multitude, which is distinct from knowing men. The multitude, it's true, agree with wise men in the more vulgar conceptions of their mind; but when they ascend to the proper principles and conclusions of Sciences and Arts, they much dissent (striving to get onely the appearancies in Sophismes and subtilties which wise men altogether reject.) Al. Vacans sophisinatibus & inutilibus. And this their ignorance of the properties and Secrets, makes the division from knowing men. Though the common conception of the mind, have all one Rule and Agreement with knowing men. Yet as for common things, they are of small value, nor enquirable for themselves, but rather for particular and proper ends.

The Reason then, why wise men have obscured their Mysteries from the multitude, was, because of their deriding and flighting wise mens Secrets of wisdome, being also ignorant to make a right use of such excellent matters. For if an accident help them to the knowledge of a worthy Mystery, they wrest and abuse it to the manifold inconvenience of persons and communities. Hee's then not discreet, who writes and Secrets, unlesse he conceal it from the vulgar, and make the more intelligent pay some labour and sweat before they understand it. In this stream the whole fleet of wise men have failed from the beginning of all, obscuring many wayes the abstuser parts of wisdome from the capacity of the penerality. Some by Characters and Verses have delivered many Secrets. Others by ænigmatical and figurative words, as Aristotle sayes, (in lib. Secret, O Alexander, I shall disclose to you the greatest of Secrets, which it becomes you by divine Assistance to keep secret, and perfect the thing proposed. Take then then the Stone, which is no Stone, which is in every man, and in every place, and in all times; and it shall be called the Philosophers Egge, and the Terminus Ovi. And thus we find multitudes of things obscured in the Writings and Sciences of men, which no man without his Teacher can unvail.

Thirdly, They have obscured their Secrets by their manner of Writing, as by Consonants without Vowels, none knowing how to read them, unlesse he know the signification of those words. Significata. Thus the Hebrews, Caldees, Arabians, nay the major part of men do most an end write their Secrets, which causeth a great obscurity amongst them, especially amongst the Hebrewes. For as Aristotle sayes in his fore-recited Book, God gave them all manner of Wisdome long before they were Philosophers: And all Nations had their Originals of Philosophy from the Hebrewes, as Albumazar in lib. Introductorii Majoris; and other Philoso phers, with Josephus lib.I. & lib.8. Antiquit. makes it evident.

Fourthly, This obscuring is occasioned by the mixture of several sorts of Letters, for so the Ethnick Astronomer hid his knowledge, writing it in Hebrew, Greek and Latine Letters altogether. Ethicus Astronomus fortasse. N. deest ergo Anglice dedi Ethnick.

Fifthly, This obscuring was by their inventing other letters, then those which were in use in their own, or any other Nation, being framed meerly by the pattern of their own fancy, which surely is the greatest impediment; yet this was the practice of Artesius in lib. de Secretis Naturæ.

Sixthly, They used not the Characters of Letters, but other Geometrical Characters, which have the power of Letters according to the several Position of Points, and Markes. And these he likewise made use of.

Seventhly, There is a greater Art of obscuring, which is called Ars Notoria, which is the Art of Noting and Writing, with what brevity, and in what manner we desire. This way the Latines have delivered many things. I held it necessary to touche at these obscurings, because it may fall out, I shall thorow the magnitude of our Secrets discourse this way, that I may help you so farre as I may.

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