Page images
PDF
EPUB

§ 3. EARLY EDITIONS OF BACON'S ESSAYS.

First Edition, 1597. With this edition of the Essayes, two other works were bound up, viz. Religious Meditations and Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. The Religious Meditations (Meditationes Sacrae) were in Latin. The Places of Perswasion and Dissuasion are otherwise called the Coulers of Good and Evil. The volume contained ten Essays on the following subjects:

I.

Study.
Discourse.

2.

3. Ceremonies and Respects. 4. Followers and Friends.

5.

Suitors.

I. Religion.

Death.

In the 'Epistle Dedicatorie,' addressed 'to Mr Anthony Bacon, his deare brother,' the author states his reason for publishing 'these fragments of his conceites' without further revision or expansion. 'I doe nowe,' he says, 'like some that have an Orcharde ill neighbored, that gather their fruit before it is ripe, to prevent stealing....Only I disliked now to put them out because they will bee like the late new halfe-pence, which though the Silver were good, yet the peeces were small.'

2.

3. Goodness and Goodness of

Nature.
Cunning.

4.

5. Marriage and Single-Life. 6. Parents and Children.

7. Nobility.

8. Great Place.

9. Empire.

10. Counsel.

11. Dispatch. 12. Love.

13. Friendship.

14. Atheism.

Second Edition, 1612. This edition contained thirty-eight Essays, twenty-nine of them new, and nine from the First Edition. The Essay on 'Honour and Reputation' was left out. Forty Essays are enumerated in the Table of Contents, but the last two were not printed, their subjects being dealt with in the 38th Essay, which treats of the 'Greatness of Kingdoms.' The Table of Contents is as follows:

Riches.
Ambition.

Young Men and Age.

Beauty.
Deformity.

6.

7.

8.

15. Superstition.

16. Wisdom for a Man's Self.

17. Regiment of Health.

18. Expenses.

19.

Discourse.

20. Seeming Wise.

Expense.

Regiment of Health.

Honour and Reputation.

Faction.

9.

10. Negociating.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26. Nature in Men.

[blocks in formation]

It was Bacon's intention to dedicate this edition to Henry, Prince of Wales. Addressing the Prince, Bacon says that since 'just Treatises' demand 'leasure in the Writer and leasure in the Reader,' he has chosen 'to write certaine breif notes, sett downe rather significantlye than curiously,' which he has called ESSAIES. 'The word is late, but the thing is auncient. For Seneca's Epistles to Lucilius, yf one marke them well, are but Essaies, that is, dispersed Meditacons, though conveyed in the forme of Epistles.' Of his own Essays Bacon hopes that they may be 'as graynes of salte,' which will rather give the Prince an appetite than offend him with satiety. Althoughe, he continues, 'they handle those things wherein both men's lives and their pens are most conversant, yet...I have endeavoured to make them not vulgar, but of a nature whereof a man shall find much in experience, little in bookes.'

The Prince died before the volume appeared, and a dedication to Bacon's brother-in-law, Sir John Constable, was substituted. Bacon had married Alice Barnham, and Sir John had married her sister Dorothy.

Third Edition, 1625. This edition was published the year before Bacon's death. It contains fifty-eight Essays, viz. the thirty-eight from the edition of 1612, the Essay of Honour and Reputation,' which had been omitted from that edition, and the following nineteen Essays which

were new:

[blocks in formation]

The volume is dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham. 'Of all my other workes,' Bacon tells the Duke, 'my Essayes have beene most currant, for that, as it seemes, they come home to men's Businesse and Bosomes. I have enlarged them, both in Number and Weight, so that they are indeed a New Worke....I doe conceive that the Latine Volume of them, (being in the Universall Language) may last as long as Bookes last.'

In modern editions of Bacon's Essays, the text is printed from the edition of 1625.

The Fragment of an Essay 'Of Fame' was discovered by Dr Rawley amongst Bacon's papers, and was printed for the first time in 1657. As its genuineness admits of no dispute, it is commonly included in editions of the Essays.

Translations. In the Dedication of his Essays to the Duke of Buckingham, Bacon makes mention of a Latin version, the title for

which he had himself chosen,-Sermones Fideles, sive Interiora Rerum, 'Faithful Discourses, or the Inwards of Things.' This Latin version did not appear till 1638, when it was published by Dr Rawley. Its authorship has been ascribed to various hands. Bishop Hacket, Ben Jonson, 'the learned and judicious poet,' Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, the philosopher, and John Selden, the scholar and antiquarian, were mentioned, on authority by no means unimpeachable, as contributors to the work. In spite of several obvious errors, it is the most valuable of contemporary translations. Essay 35, 'Of Prophecies,' and Essay 37, 'Of Masques and Triumphs,' are not given in the Latin rendering.

An Italian Translation, with the title Saggi Morali, was published in 1618. Bacon's friend, Toby Matthew, was its editor. It contains the Essay Of Seditions and Troubles,' which had not at that date appeared in English, and an extract from the Dedication to Prince Henry, which had been suppressed. We may therefore infer that this version was made with Bacon's cognisance and approval.

The first French Translation, edited by Sir Arthur Gorges, was published in 1619. Other French versions, which Mr Reynolds describes as 'little known and little worth knowing,' appeared in 1621 and 1626.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »