The Cathedral Library was built in the mid-fifteenth century over the East Cloister.
Featured Book of the Month : SEPTEMBER
BACON, Francis Sylva Sylvarum (1639)
The life of Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626), embodies many of the ideals and expectations of the Renaissance humanist. Active in the politics of the court of James I, Bacon was also a man of letters whose vast philosophical work would challenge the traditional methods of scientific inquiry.
During his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge (1573-5), Bacon became aware of the shortcomings of a curriculum utterly dominated by Aristotelianism. Critical of the deductive method, Bacon’s writings would explore fully the proposition that our knowledge of the world must begin with an exhaustive computation of observation and experience.
The Sylva Sylvarum perfectly describes the structure of the volume: “a miscellany of topics.” More explicitly, it is an anthology of one thousand paragraphs consisting of extracts from many books, mostly from antiquity, and Bacon’s own experiments and observations. At the end of the volume, Rawley, who edited it after his death, also included the New Atlantis. A Worke unfinished. This brief tract is a description of a utopian island and its scientific community: Salomon’s House, which many have seen as the inspiration for the Royal Society which was formed shortly afterwards. The Sylva Sylvarum is particularly fascinating as it contains numerous passages dealing with medical treatments for the prolongation of life and the preservation of flesh.
We have Bacon’s complete works at L 1/26 -29; his History of the reign of Henry VII at A 2/38; his Of the Advancement of Learning at A 2/43; the Resuscitatio at A 2/37; and two copies of Sylva Sylvarum.
This copy was given by Catherine Poulet, the daughter of Bishop Robert Creyghtone (1670-2).