WE honor Francis Bacon as the prophetic inspirer of modern science. In perusing the long list of the activities of that scientific establishment which is described in the closing pages of “The New Atlantis,”〖Harvard Classics, iii, 143ff.〗 we are astonished by again and again recognizing in its imaginary methods and achievements precise anticipations of what is actually being done in modern medicine, meteorology, engineering, aeronautics, etc. Bacon himself, to be sure, modestly protested that he was but “stirring the earth a little about the roots of science.” He was indeed no great discoverer of data, and from Harvey to Huxley the scientific specialists have sneered at his rather futile experiments. Even his method, which he sincerely believed a new and rapid way to complete mastery of our environment, is now considered somewhat impractical. Yet the prefaces to his “Instauratio Magna,”〖H. C., xxxix, 116ff., 143ff.〗 though no longer accurate guideposts, are revered as monuments in the history of scientific progress. They served an even nobler purpose than to show the scientist just where to go; they sent him forth to seek his way with a new and conquering spirit, the spirit of confidence and of cooperation. The works of Bacon instilled in his successors the faith that by united effort they would presently understand, and thus control, those physical forces which in the past had toyed with the life of man, and exposed him to poverty, disease, and all the accidents of circumstance. In this hope were undertaken the Royal Society and the French “Encyclopédie”—leading enterprises in advancing respectively the discovery and the dissemination of rational knowledge. “We shall owe most,” says Diderot in his prospectus to the “Encyclopédie,” “to the Chancellor Bacon, who threw out the plan of a universal dictionary of sciences and arts at a time when, so to speak, neither sciences nor arts existed. That extraordinary genius, at a time when it was not possible to write a history of what was known, wrote one of what it was necessary to learn.” Wherever experimental investigators are to-day discovering new laws of nature, and thus more and more subjecting the physical world to the welfare of man, the spirit of Bacon is fruitfully at work.

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