Page images
PDF
EPUB

bee like the late new halfe-pence?, which though the Siluer were good, yet the peeces were small. But since they would not stay with their Master, but would needes trauaile abroade, I haue preferred them to you that are next my selfe, Dedicating them, such as they are, to our loue, in the depth whereof (I assure you) I sometimes wish your infirmities translated vppon my selfe, that her Maiestie mought haue the seruice of so actiue and able a mind, & I mought be with excuse confined to these contemplations & Studies for which I am fittest, 50 commend I you to the preseruation of the diuine Maiestie. From my Chamber at Graies Inne this 30. of Ianuarie. 1597.

Your entire Louing brother.

FRAN. Bacon.

The date of this letter, if not a printer's error, is widently intended to be 1596–7, according to the then reckoning of the civil year, which began on the 25th of March. We have the entry at Stationers' Hall on Feb. 5; a memorandum on the title page of the copy in the British Museum that it was sold on the 7th of Feb., 39 Eliz. (i.e. 1596–7); and a letter of Anthony Bacon's to the Earl of Essex, written on the 8th of Feb. 1596, which appears to have accompanied a presentation copy of the Essays. There are MSS. of this edition in the British Museum (Lansd. MSS. 775), and the Cam. bridge Univ. Lib. (Nn. 4. 5). The latter I have

1 Coined for the first time in 1582-3, and used without in. terruption till 1601. See Folkes, Table of English Silver Coins, p. 57, ed. 1745.

[graphic]

Fidelia (as the same Tremellius) Faithful Sayings; meaning, it may be, his Collection of Proverbs. In the next Verse, he calls them Words of the Wise, and so many Goads and Nails given Ab eodem Pastore, from the same Shepherd (of the Flock of Israel].The next direct testimony is that of Aubrey. Speaking of Hobbes of Malmesbury, and his intimacy with Bacon, he says; "Mr. Tho. Hobbes (Malmesburiensis) was beloved by his Lop. who was wont to have him walke with him in his delicate groves, when he did meditate : and when a notion darted into his mind, Mr. Hobbes was presently to write it downe, and his Loo. was wont to say that he did it better than any one els about him; for that many times, when he read their notes he scarce understood what they writt, because they understood it not clearly themselves" (Letters, 11. 222, 3). Again; He assisted his Lordship in translating severall of his essayes into Latin, one I well remember is that, Of the Greatness of Cities: the rest I have forgott(11. p. 602). In another passage Aubrey is still more precise: He told me that he was employed in translating part of the Essayes, viz. three of them, one whereof was that of the Greatnesse of Cities, the other two I have now forgott(11. p. 234). The Essay here called Of the Greatnesse of Cities" is no doubt that which stands as Essay XXIX. “Of the true Greatnesse of Kingdomes and Estates," and which first appeared in Latin in the De Augmentis. It is certainly one of the best translated of all, and arguing from internal evidence, based on a comparison of it with the rest, I should be inclined to set down as the other two, which Hobbes translated but which Aubrey had forgotten, the Essays Of Simula. printed in the Appendix. A fragment containing the essays Of Faction' and 'Of Negotiatinge' is in the Harleian collection (no. 6797). In 1998 a second edi. tion was published by Humfrey Hooper, also in small 8vo, differing from the first in having the Meditations in English, and the table of Contents of the Essays at the back of the title page. A pirated edition was printed for John Jaggard in 1606, and in 1612 he was preparing another reprint, when the second author's edition appeared. In consequence of this, Jaggard cancelled the last two leaves of quire G, and in their place sub. stituted the second part of Essaies,which contains all the additional Essays not printed in the edition of 1597. On the authority of a MS. list by Malone Mr Singer mentions an edition in 1604, but I have found no other trace of it.

During the summer of the year 1612 Bacon himself had prepared and printed, in a small 8vo. volume of 241 pages, a second edition of the Essays by themselves, in which the original ten, with the exception of that « Of Honour and reputation,were altered and enlarged, and twenty-nine new Essays added. The title of this second edition is; The Essaies of S. Francis Bacon Knight, the Kings Solliciter Generall. Imprinted at London by John Beale, 1612." It was entered at Stationers' Hall on the 12th of October, as follows. Wm Hall, John Beale. Entred for their copy under the handes of my Lo: Bysshopp of London & the Wardens A booke called The Essayes of S* Fr. Bacon knight the Ks Sollicitor gen'all.It was Bacon's in. tention to have dedicated it to Prince Henry, and the dedication was actually written, but in consequence of the Prince's death on the 6th of November, it was ad. dressed instead to his brother in law Sir John Con. stable A copy of the dedication to Prince Henry exists in the British Museum (Birch MSS. 4259, fol, 155), and is written on a single leaf which appears on examination to have belonged to an imperfect MS. of the Essays, preserved among the Harleian MSS. (no. 5106), which Mr Spedding describes as a volume undoubtedly authentic; for it contains interlineations in Bacon's own hand; and transcribed some time between 1607, when Bacon became Solicitor-general, and 1612, when he brought out a new edition of the Essays with further additions and alterations. It is unluckily not quite perfect; one leaf at least, if not more, having been lost at the beginning; though otherwise in excellent preservation.

The title page, which remains, bears the following inscription, very handsomely written in the old English character, with flourished capitals : The writings of Sr Francis Bacon Knt. the Kinge's Sollicitor Generall : in Moralitie, Policie, and Historie.” (Bacon's Works, vi. p. 535).

The Essays in this MS. are thirty-four in number, and include two, Of Honour and Reputation" and Of Seditions and Trouoles,which are not contained in the edition of 1612, while in the printed edition six new Essays were added, Of Religion,Of Cun. ning,Of Loue,” “Of Iudicature," Of vaine glory,and Of greatnes of Kingdomes.It is to this MS. I have referred in the notes, when quoting the

2 Sir John Constable married Dorothy Barnham the sister of Lady Bacon.

« PreviousContinue »