« PreviousContinue »
mellius rendreth the Hebrew) pleasant Words, (that is, perhaps, his Book of Canticles); and Verba 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 LoP. 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" II. 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" II. 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 Simulation 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 V.) 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 Philologiæ puriora, monimentum reliquit mentis Philosophicæ in libris de nugis Curialium ; nuperrime vero magnus ille Franciscus Baconus 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 CII.DC.XIX.” There is one allusion in it which favours the supposition that it may have been Selden's. “ Propterea si sapientiæ 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 author 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.
VII. Of Parents and Children 1612; enlarged 1625 . . . .