« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
an extacy as to reject Truth in Philosophy because the author diffenteth in Religion."
When we confider the great debt we owe to the man, of whom Aubrey fays, " All that were great and good loved and honoured him," it seems impoffible (fays Dugald Stewart) for a candid mind not to feel a strong inclination to dwell rather on the fair than on the dark fide of his character. It is evident, from the remarkable passage in his dedication of the Effays to his brother in 1597, how early he felt that his vocation was rather the private retirement of study than public life: "I fometimes wish your infirmities tranflated upon myself, that her Majesty might have the service of so active and able a mind, and I might be with excufe confined to these contemplations and studies for which I am fitteft." Happy would it have been for his peace of mind had his life been fo devoted, but we are reminded of Gray's lines, "Ambition this shall tempt to rife," &c. In his letter to Sir Thomas Bodley, accompanying the Advancement of Learning, Bacon had faid: "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 misfortunes of 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 nefcio quo fato contra genium fuum abreptus."
This, as Dugald Stewart juftly observes, if it does not atone for his faults, may at least have some effect in softening the afperity of our cenfures; efpecially when we confider with Cowley what he achieved
"In his few years, divided 'twixt th' excess
For, as Mr. Hallam has faid, "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 themfelves, and retained no homage but their GRATITUDE."
Nearly a century fince 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 fame letter, he fays, "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 pofterity, and finer colours laid over his virtues, unfullied by envy and detraction (those busy and malignant paffions of contemporaries), or even by his own weaknesses."
S. W. S.
Mickleham, August 21, 1856.
7. Of Parents and Children. 1612, enlarged 1625
13. Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature. 1612,
16. Of Atheism. 1612, flightly enlarged 1625
22. Of Cunning. 1612, rewritten 1625
23. Of Wisdom for a Man's Self. 1612, enlarged
27. Of Friendship. 1612, rewritten 1625
28. Of Expense. 1597, enlarged 1612, and again
APPENDIX TO ESSAYS.
1. A Fragment of an Effay of Fame
3. An Essay on Death
48. Of Followers and Friends. 1597, flightly en-
1597, enlarged 1625
52. Of Ceremonies and Refpect. 1597, enlarged
faid not to be by Bacon
55. Of Honour and Reputation. 1597, omitted 1612,