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Of Studies
2018-03-07 22:47   审核人:

Input: Yu Pin

Source: from Essays by Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was aphilosopher and a statesman as well as a man of letters -– a renaissance man of his time. He wrote important literary and philosophical works and was a major contributor to modern scientific thought. His Essays (published sporadically between 1597 and 1625) incorporate elements of all three disciplines and are considered his chief contribution to literature. What is given below is one such essay and the Chinese version that follows it is considered one of the best so far that can do justice to the original.

Of Studies

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business.

For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshaling of affairs, come best from those that are learned.

To spend too much time in studies is sloth; touse them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humor of a scholar.

They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience:for natural abilities are like natural plants that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they bebounded in by experience.

Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their own use, but that is awisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.

Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,and some few to be chewed and digested;that is, some books are to be read onlyin parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly,and with diligence and attention.

Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others, but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of book;else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things.

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit;and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.

Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics,subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able tocontend.Abeunt studia in mores.

Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fitstudies, like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins, shooting for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the head, and the like.

So if a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little,he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences,let him study the schoolmen, for they are cumini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters and tocall up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers’cases. So every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.


except they be: except they should be

maketh:old usemakes

had need have: would require to have; ought to have

if a man’s wit be wandering: if a man’s wit should be wandering

Abeunt studia in mores:Latinfrom Ovid,Heroides, XV, 83: Studies pass into the character.

cymini sectores:Latinpeople who pay too much attention to details





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