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with satiety. In the edition of 1625 we meet with many things culled from his other writings; and, in his Dedication of that edition to the Duke of Buckingham, he describes the Essays as 'being of the best fruits that, by the good increase which God gives to my pen and labours, I could yield.' The original edition in 1597, consisting of only ten Essays, was the author's earliest publication : the edition of 1625 was his last. In the interval the Essays had been growing both in number and length. In 1612 they were increased to thirty-eight; in 1625 to fifty-eight. The illustrious writer died in the following year.
In Bacon's life-time, the Essays were the most popular of his writings, and he judged rightly that they would ever be so, and took much pains to render them more and more worthy of acceptance. In the Dedication of 1625 he writes: 'I do now publish my Essays, which of all my other works have been most current: for that, as it seems, they come home to men's business and bosoms. I have enlarged them, both in number and weight, so that they are indeed a new work.
I do conceive that the Latin volume of them (being in the universal language) may last as long as books last.'
The Latin translation of the Essays was not by Bacon himself, but was executed under his general supervision by other hands. Dr. Hacket, Bishop of Lichfield, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, are the only persons known with any
certainty to have been engaged in this work. The Latin version is characterised by general elegance, and occasional ingenuity ; but as it frequently takes liberties with the original, in expunging, interpolating, and otherwise altering (though in some few of these instances Bacon himself may have been the innovator), and also in several places misinterprets Bacon's meaning, we cannot think that he revised it very carefully. On the other hand, it is a very great help in enabling us to apprehend the sense in which many phrases and forms of expression were understood in Bacon's time; and on this account I have, in the present volume, made frequent reference to it. The title which he gave to it is-Sermones Fideles, sive Interiora Rerum.
On the merits of Bacon's Essays, Mr. Singer quotes Dugald Stewart as thus speaking of them, in 1815:
Under the same head of Ethics, may be mentioned the small volume to which Bacon has given the title of Essays : the best known and most popular of his works. It is also one of those where the superiority of his genius appears to the greatest advantage; the novelty and depth of his reflections often receiving a strong relief from the triteness of his subject. It may be read from beginning to end in a few hours; and yet, after the twentieth perusal, one seldom fails to remark in it something overlooked before. This, indeed, is a characteristic of all Bacon's writings, and is only to be accounted for by the inexhaustible
aliment they furnish to our own thoughts, and the sympathetic activity they impart to our torpid faculties.'
The design of the present edition of the Essays is not to be regarded as implying an entire dissent from the opinion of Archbishop Whately, who, after remarking that Bacon is, 'especially in his Essays, the most suggestive author that ever wrote,' says that 'the cultivated readers of Bacon do not want expansions of an author whose compactness and fulness are his greatest charms; and that it is doing mischief to those who would find in this suggestiveness, if left to themselves, a valuable mental discipline.' It has not been my aim to make expansion of Bacon's suggestive compactness, but chiefly to secure many of his terms and phrases from being misunderstood, to explain his less obvious or less familiar allusions, to indicate the authorities quoted by him, and to give such general illustrations as are likely to interest the student, without lessening the reflective exercise of his mind. The Essays still remain, and are intended to remain, a study, after all the aid I have here given. Only I have sought to arrest, now and then, and prompt young readers, who may too easily suppose that they understand the terms in which Bacon expresses himself, and who may thus be led to misinterpret his thought, or to dig in a direction that will fail to find it.
I have been particularly careful to avoid inaccuracy
in the text of the Essays, several modern editions being faulty in this respect. I have followed the original copies, modernizing, however, the spelling, and, what was very much wanted, rectifying the punctuation. No such liberty has been taken as that of substituting beholden for beholding, interested for interessed, its for his, &c. The few archaisms of the author should certainly be preserved as characteristics of his time and style. Nor has any attempt been made to correct the grammar of the 'loose thoughts, thrown out without much regularity. Wherever we find ‘Priscian a little scratched, 't will serve'* to convey the author's meaning perspicuously enough, sometimes, indeed, the more perspicuously.
In conclusion, I have to state that my thanks are due to an accomplished scholar, the Rev. G. W. Cox, for his kind revision of this work before it was passed for press, and for several suggestions by which I was enabled to improve my own performance.
J. HUNTER. LONDON : Sept. 9, 1873.
* Love's Lab. Lost, v. I.