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an extacy as to reject Truth in Philosophy because the author dissenteth in Religion."
When we consider the great debt we owe to the man, of whom Aubrey says, " All that were great and good loved and honoured him," it seems impossible (says Dugald Stewart) for a candid mind not to feel a strong inclination to dwell rather on the fair than on the dark side of his character. It is evident, from the remarkable passage in his dedication of the Essays to his brother in 1597, how early he felt that his vocation was rather the private retirement of study than public life: "I sometimes wish your infirmities translated upon myself, that her Majesty might have the service of so active and able a mind, and I might be with excuse confined to these contemplations and studies for which I am fittest." Happy would it have been for his peace of mind had his life been so devoted, but we are reminded of Gray's lines, " Ambition this shall tempt to rise," &c. In his letter to Sir Thomas Bodley, accompanying the Advancement of Learning, Bacon had said: "Knowing myself, by inward calling, to be fitter to hold a Book, than to play a part, I have led my life in civil causes, for which I was not very fit by nature, and more unfit by the preoccupation of my mind." And in the affecting allusion to the errors and misfortunesof his public life, which occurs in the eighth book of the De Augmentis Scientiarum, he again recurs to this contravention of his destiny. "Ad literas potius quam ad aliud quicquam natus, ad res gerendas nescio quo fato contra genium suum abreptus."
This, as Dugald Stewart justly observes, if it does not atone for his faults, may at least have some effect in sostening the asperity of our censures; especially when we consider with Cowley what he achieved—
"In his few years, divided 'twixt th' excess
For, as Mr. Hallam has said, "we must give to written wisdom its proper meed ;—and he may be compared to those liberators of nations, who have given them laws by which they may govern themselves, and retained no homage but their GratiTude."
Nearly a century since the Honourable Charles Yorke, in a letter to Dr. Birch, thus expresses himself: "The foibles and vices of great men, celebrated for their parts and actions, too much exposed to view, only confirm and comfort the vulgar in the like conduct, without teaching to that vulgar the imitation of their virtues." In another part of the same letter, he says, "Though Sir Francis Bacon has been dead almost one hundred and forty years, yet I think his fame and his memory more recent, more living, and more bright than when he was alive. His faults are cast in the shade by the candour of posterity, and finer colours laid over his virtues, unsullied by envy and detraction (those busy and malignant passions of contemporaries), or even by his own weaknesses."
S. W. S. Mickleham, August 21, 1856.
23. Of Wisdom for a Man's Self. 1612, enlarged
1625 , 88
28. Of Expense. 1597, enlarged 1612, and again
42. Of Youth and Age. 1612, slightly enlarged
52. Of Ceremonies and Respect. 1597, enlarged