The impediments of knowledge for want of a true succession of wits, and that hitherto the length of one man's life hath been the greatest measure of knowledge, being the 6th chapter, the whole chapter.
The error is both in the deliverer and in the receiver. He that delivereth knowledge desireth to deliver it in such form as may be soonest believed, and not as may be easiliest examined. He that receiveth knowledge desireth rather present satisfaction than expectant search, and so rather not to doubt than not to err. Glory maketh the author not to lay open his weakness, and sloth maketh the disciple not to know his strength.
Then begin men to aspire to the second prizes; to be a profound interpreter and commenter, to be a sharp champion and defender, to be a methodical compounder and abridger. And this is the unfortunate succession of wits which the world hath yet had, whereby the patrimony of all knowledge goeth not on husbanded or improved, but wasted and decayed. For knowledge is like a water that will never arise again higher than the level from which it fell; and therefore to go beyond Aristotle by the light of Aristotle is to think that a borrowed light can increase the original light from whom it is taken. So then no true succession of wits having been in the world, either we must conclude that knowledge is but a task for one man's life, and then vain was the complaint that life is short, and art is long: or else, that the knowledge that now is, is but a shrub, and not that tree which is never dangerous, but where it is to the purpose of knowing Good and Evil; which desire ever riseth upon an appetite to elect and not to obey, and so containeth in it a manifest defection.
[@ Works III, 226-7]