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Bacon quotes the character in the essay, Of Great Place, in six Latin words; in the Advancement of Learning the six words are reduced to five.
In citations from the Bible, Bacon frequently has the Vulgate in mind, quoting it freely just as he quotes Tacitus and Cicero. I have examined all these quotations, and in a number of cases my notes point out variations between the Latin of the Vulgate and Bacon's rendering of it.
In some cases, in order to draw attention to an English word derived directly from a Latin one, I have purposely made a Latinized translation in preference to a more idiomatic one which would have satisfied my own language sense better. One of these premeditated Latinized translations is that from Lucan's Pharsalia in the essay, Of Seditions and Troubles.
Words whose meaning has changed since Bacon's time and obsolete words are defined once only, unless the same word occurs in more senses than one. In defining words, I have followed the authority of the New English Dictionary as far as that work is published, which is at this time, with some breaks, down to the word 'reserve.' Where the Oxford dictionary is not yet available, I have used the Century Dictionary. The words that I have had to define most frequently have been the prepositions 'to,' 'in,' 'of,' 'by,' 'upon,' 'after,' and the like. As one studies the history of these little words, they appear to act the part of sentinels in the expansion of English. Behind them lies the great army of nouns, forever assuming fresh mean
ings to advance into foreign territory, and forever compelling the sentinel prepositions to take up new outposts in order to hold the position gained.
To illustrate Bacon's use of language, I have made a point of drawing upon Shakspere and the Bible. The Authorized Version of the Bible was being translated between the years 1607 and 1610, and was published in 1611. Either The Tempest, composed about 1610 or 1611, or The Winter's Tale, acted May 15, 1611, is Shakspere's last complete play. Bacon brought out the second edition of his Essays, the bulk of them, in 1612. Illustrations from King James's Bible and from Shakspere are the best to be had to explain the English of Bacon's Essays, for the three great classics are almost as precisely contemporaneous as it is possible to be. Making the citations without forethought just as they occurred to me, I found on completing the notes that all the thirty-seven plays of Shakspere had been called into requisition to illustrate Bacon's fifty-eight essays.
"Thy creatures have been my books, but thy Scriptures much more," Bacon wrote in humiliation after his pitiful fall from power. Bacon's knowledge of the Bible, both the Vulgate and the Authorized Version, was thorough and familiar, and he uses it with fine effect, producing that mixture of simplicity and grandeur which marks his style. There is some suggestion of the Bible on almost every page of the Essays. Wherever the Bible is quoted, and wherever there is a reflection of its language or phraseology, I have given in my
notes the exact reference, using the Authorized Version which Bacon knew, and the Vulgate, for the Latin allusions.
But while I have made large use of Shakspere and the Bible, my illustrative notes are by no means confined to the seventeenth century. The English language looks backwards as well as forwards, and I have put its literature to use over the centuries from Chaucer to Thomas Hardy. Some of the quotations from Scottish literature indicate the survival in Scots of forms used by Bacon, but now either lost or obsolescent in English.
I have ventured to hope that my notes may serve a double purpose, not only to make Bacon's thought clear, but to rouse interest and to stimulate to further reading. Occasionally they point a pretty moral and are meant to. Sydney Smith's "Maxims to make one get up" is the happiest of renderings for the Latin proverb in Of Parents and Children, while the quotation from The Faery Queene under the word 'indignity,' Of Great Place, gives Spenser's thought on corruption or 'graft.'
I think I took most pleasure in editing the essay, Of Gardens. It is not possible now to know just what iris Bacon meant by the 'chamaïris,' or whether 'flos Africanus' was the botanical name of the French marigold in his day, but as far as I could I have identified botanically all the plants and flowers Bacon mentions in his Elizabethan garden, except those so familiar as to need no comment. And wherever any of them is mentioned by Shakspere I have added a posy from his plays. But
Keats and Cowper and Tennyson and Ben Jonson and Thomson and Evelyn and Dryden also walked in Bacon's garden, and last, but not least, Sir Walter Scott was there showing his friend, Susan Edmonstone Ferrier, about.
To insure absolute clearness, all titles of books, both English and Latin, have been cited in full. Abbreviations, especially Latin abbreviations, are more misunderstood and so more disregarded than is generally supposed. Elizabethan titles are given in Elizabethan spelling, and in general in the older literature the older spellings have been preserved.
Finally, the notes explain briefly Bacon's historical allusions. All references, whether to Bacon's reading in writing the Essays, or to my own in editing them, have been personally verified.
MARY AUGUSTA SCOTT.