The following is an excerpt from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (15th April, 1452 – 2nd May, 1519):
‘Nature is full of infinite causes which were never set forth in experience!’
We have no lack of system or device to measure and to parcel out these poor days of ours; wherein it should be our pleasure that they be not squandered or suffered to pass away in vain, and without meed of honour, leaving no record of themselves in the minds of men; to the end that this our poor course may not be sped in vain. c.a. 12 v. a
Our judgment does not reckon in their exact and proper order things which have come to pass at different periods of time; for many things which happened many years ago will seem nearly related to the present, and many things that are recent will seem ancient, extending back to the far-off period of our youth. And so it is with the eye, with regard to distant things, which when illumined by the sun seem near to the eye, while many things which are near seem far off. c.a. 29 v. a
Supreme happiness will be the greatest cause of misery, and the perfection of wisdom the occasion of folly. c.a. 39 v. c
Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it may thereby escape from its own incompleteness.
The soul desires to dwell with the body because without the members of that body it can neither act nor feel. c.a. 59 r. b
The thoughts turn towards hope.1 c.a. 68 v. b
O Time, thou that consumest all things! O envious age, thou destroyest all things and devourest all things with the hard teeth of the years, little by little, in slow death! Helen, when she looked in her mirror and saw the withered wrinkles which old age had made in her face, wept, and wondered to herself why ever she had twice been carried away. Time, thou that consumest all things! O envious age, whereby all things are consumed! 1 c.a. 71 r. a
The age as it flies glides secretly and deceives one and another; nothing is more fleeting than the years, but he who sows virtue reaps honour. c.a. 71 v. a
Wrongfully do men lament the flight of time, accusing it of being too swift, and not perceiving that its period is yet sufficient; but good memory wherewith Nature has endowed us causes everything long past to seem present.
Experience is never at fault; it is only your judgment that is in error in promising itself such results from experience as are not caused by our experiments. For having given a beginning, what follows from it must necessarily be a natural development of such a beginning, unless it has been subject to a contrary influence, while, if it is affected by any contrary influence, the result which ought to follow from the aforesaid beginning will be found to partake of this contrary influence in a greater or less degree in proportion as the said influence is more or less powerful than the aforesaid beginning. c.a. 154 r. h
Experience is not at fault; it is only our judgment that is in error in promising itself from experience things which are not within her power. Wrongly do men cry out against experience and with bitter reproaches accuse her of deceitfulness. Let experience alone, and rather turn your complaints against your own ignorance, which causes you to be so carried away by your vain and insensate desires as to expect from experience things which are not within her power! Wrongly do men cry out against innocent experience, accusing her often of deceit and lying demonstrations!
St John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci (1513 – 1516)
The full text could be read from here.
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