Page images
PDF
EPUB

Prince Henry was incorporated in Matthew's preface. The passage To write iust Treatises... fansies" is translated nearly word for word, the change of person being of course observed. Of this Italian translation, aca cording to Mr Singer, there were two editions bearing the same date, but differing in the titles of some of the Essays. As I have seen but one, I subjoin his descrip. tion. He says, In one of the copies now before me the Essays contain 102 pages, the Wisdom of the Ancients 150 pages, and a list of Errata is appended to each. In the other copy the Essays comprise 112 pages, the last of which is blank; the Wisdom of the Ancients 126 pages only, and there is no list of Errata. Beside the changes in the titles of the Essays, there are also some in the titles of the chapters in the Wisdom of the Ancients; and it is probable that the text of the version is also revised, but I have not collated it."

The French translation published in 1619 was by Sir Arthur Gorges.

But the only translation to which any importance can be attached, as having in a great measure the impress of Bacon's authority, is the Latin. From the dedication of the third edition it is evident that, at the time it was written, Bacon had in course of preparation a Latin translation of the Essays, which it appears to have been his intention to have published immediately, probably as part of the volume of which we find the entry in the books of Stationers' Hall, on the 4th of April, 1625, but which he did not live to bring out. The entry is as follows: Mrs Griffin. 70. Havilond. Entred for their coppie under the hands of Doct' Wilson and Mathewes Lownes. warden A booke called

Operum Francisci Baronis Verulami Vice Comitis Sancti Albani by S" Fran: Bacon.This was probably intended to be the second volume of his works, the De Augmentis being the first, and to have contained what were afterwards published by his chaplain, Dr Rawley, in 1638, under the title Operum Moralium et Civilium Tomus. Among these were the Essays in their Latin dress: “Sermones fideles, sive interiora rerum, Per Franciscum Baconum Baronem de Vera. lamio, Vice-Comitem Sancti Albani.The question then arises, by whom was the translation made ? Iran ternal evidence is sufficient to shew that it was the work of several hands, but it is impossible from this alone to assign to each his work. Archbishop Tenison, in his Baconiana (op. 60, 61, ed. 1679) says of the Essays: "The Latine Translation of them was a Work performed by divers Hands; by of Doctor Hacket (late Bishop of Lichfield) Mr. Benjamin Johnson (the learned and judicious Poet) and some others, whose Names I once heard from Dr. Rawley; but I cannot now recal them. To this Latine Edition, he gave the Title of Sermones Fideles, after the manner of the Jews, who calld the words Adagies, or Observations of the Wise, Faithful Sayings; that is, credible Propositions worthy of firm Assent, and ready Acceptance. And (as I think) he alluded more particularly, in this Title, to a passage in Ecclesiastes 3, where the Preacher saith that he sought to find out Verba Delectabilia, (as Tremellius rendreth the Hebrew) pleasant Words, (that is, perhaps, his Book of Canticles); and Verba

3 Eccles. xii. 1o, II.

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 Lor. 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 Lo. 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, II. 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 Citiesis 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.

tion and Dissimulation,and Of Innovations." This of course is a mere conjecture, but it seems a reasonable one. Who translated the others it is impossible to say. Among the Maloniana in Prior's Life of Malone (p. 424, ed. 1860), we find the following. It is not commonly known that the translation of Bacon's Essays into Latin, which was published in 1619, was done by the famous John Selden; but this is proved decisively by a letter from N. N. (John Selden N.) to Camden (See Camden. Epistol., 4to. 1691, p. 278). In the General Dict, and several other books, this translation is ascribed to Bishop Hacket and Ben Jonson.The letter to which Malone alludes is anonymous, and the writer says that he had translated Bacon's Essays into Latin, after the correctest copy published in Italian. The original is among the Cotton MSS. Julius C. 5, and is evidently a transcript in some hand not Selden's. In the heading as it stands in the printed volume, N. N. Clarissimo Viro Gulielmo Camdeno suo,” N. N. (i.e. non nominato) is added by the editor, who was certainly not aware that Selden was the writer. What authority Malone had for speaking so positively upon the point I have been unable to discover. There is nothing contrary to probability in the supposition that Selden may have translated the Essays in 1619, but there is nothing to shew that his translation was ever published, as Malone asserts. It certainly is not indicated in the letter itself, of which the following is the passage in question. Joannes Sarisburiensis e nostris pene solus est, qui rimatus arcana Ethices et Philologia puriora, monimentum. reliquit mentis Philosophicæ in libris de nugis Curia

lium; nuperrime vero magnus ille Franciscus Ba. conus in tentamentis suis Ethico-politicis, quæ ex Anglico sermone ad correctissimum, Italice editum, exemplar, in Latinum transtuli.The date of the letter is Londini xiv Julii Anglorum Ct].DC.XIX.” There is one allusion in it which favours the supposi. tion that it may have been Selden's. Propterea si șapientiæ et scientiarum in Britannia nondum cælitus edocta lineamenta enucleatius exposuero in Historiis meis, qualia apud priscos cum Druydes, tum Saxones (parentes nostros) ea extitisse comperero, haud perperam ego aut inutiliter bonas horas trivisse judicer, utpote quæ ad bonam mentem suo more fecerint.This may refer to his Analecta Anglo-Britannica, and the Notes to Drayton's Polyolbion; but upon such evidence it is impossible to decide.

There are strong indications of Bacon's supervision in the translation of the Essays Of Plantations," Of Building,and Of Gardens,in which there are alterations and additions which none but the authot himself would have ventured to make. In the other Essays the deviations from the English are not so remarkable, though even in these there are variations which are worthy of notice. The most important are given in the notes to the present Volume.

That the preparation of a Latin translation had been in Bacon's mind for two or three years before his death is clear, from a letter to Mr Tobie Matthew, written apparently about the end of June, 1623. It is true, my labours are now most set to have those works, which I had formerly published, as that of Advancement of Learning, that of Henry VII. that of the

« PreviousContinue »