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are selected for exposition in the 8th book of the De Augmentis, standing by themselves without comment, we might wonder at the selection; but when we read the explanations which are there annexed, we see how much meaning in his mind they carried with them. Some further light may perhaps be thrown on this point by an observation, or the hint of an observation, which I find in a sheet of memoranda in his hand-writing (Harl. MSS. 7017. fo. 107.) which seems to have been preserved in the same bundle with the “ Promus." It is a thought jotted down in evident haste, and in circumstances apparently very inconvenient for calligraphy,—with a bad pen or bad ink, or in the dark, or perhaps in a carriage,—and stands thus, literatim.
“ Mot. of the mynd explicate in woords implicate in thowghts. I judg. best implicate in thowg. or pticul. or mark. bycause of swiftnes collocat. and differe, and to make woords sequac.” By which I understand him to mean, that he found the slow and imperfect process of expounding ideas in words to impede too much the free motions of the mind; and that he judged it a better practice to keep the pure mental conception involved in the thought, or represented by some particular image or simple mark; because by that means the mental process of comparison and distinction could be carried on more swiftly, and a habit acquired of “making words sequacious; ” that is of teaching words to follow ideas, instead of making ideas wait upon words. I am not aware that he ever recorded this as his final judgment upon the point, but it may serve to explain his own practice at this time of embodying his thoughts in brief sentences, picturesque images, or memorable expressions; such as might serve to represent and recall the entire idea which remained in puris naturalibus in his mind.
From what I have said, it will be readily understood that this Promus, which is of considerable length, is not worth printing in extenso. But my account of it may be thought too incomplete without some extracts by way of specimen. For this purpose
I shall select such entries as have most substantial value, independent of that Baconian comment which no editor can now supply; and I shall arrange them as well as I can under separate heads according to their character.
PROMUS OF FORMULARIES AND ELEGANCIES.
It is a fact worth knowing, — for it may serve as a caution and encouragement both, and it is one of those which the reverence of posterity is too apt to overlook or keep out of sight,- that the various accomplishments for which Bacon was distinguished among the men of his time, were not given to him ready-made. It may be gathered from this manuscript that the secret of his proficiency was simply that, in the smallest matters no less than in the greatest, he took a great deal of pains. Everybody prepares himself beforehand for great occasions. Bacon seems to have thought it no loss of time to prepare for small ones too, and to have those topics concerning which he was likely to have to express himself in conversation ready at hand and reduced into “ forms ” convenient for use. Even if no occasion should occur for using them, the practice would still serve for an exercise in the art of expression.
Here for instance are some forms for describing personal characters or qualities : 1. No wise speech, though easy and voluble. 2. Notwithstanding his dialogues (of one that giveth life to his
speech by way of question). 3. He can tell a tale well (of those courtly gifts of speech which
are better in describing than in considering). 4. A good comediante (of one that hath good grace in his
speech). 5. Cunning in the humours of persons, but not in the conditions
of actions, 6. He had rather have his will than his wish.
7. A brain cut with fascets. 8. More ingenious than natural. 9. He keeps his ground: - of one that speaketh certainly and
pertinently. 10. He lighteth well; - of one that concludeth his speech
well. 11. Of speeches digressive: This goeth not to the end of the
matter: – from the lawyers. ' 12. Per otium : - to anything impertinent.
: 13. Speech that hangeth not together nor is concludent: Raw
silk; sand. 14. Speech of good and various weight but not nearly applied :
- A great vessel that cannot come near land. 15. Of one that rippeth things up deeply: He shooteth too high
a compass to shoot near. 16. Ingenuous honesty and yet with opposition and strength.
Here again is a set of phrases adapted to occasions of compliment, of excuse, of application, of acknowledgment, of introduction, of conclusion, &c., belonging to the same class with the formula minores orationis, of which he explains the nature and use in the 4th book of the De Augmentis under the head of Rhetoric: 1. The matter though it be new, (if that be new which hath
been practised in like case, though not in this particular). 2. I leave the reasons to the party's relation and the considera
tion of them to your wisdom. 3. Wishing you all, &c., and myself occasion to do you 4. I shall be glad to understand your news, but none rather than some overture wherein I
service. 5. Ceremonies and green rushes are for strangers. 6. Small matters need solicitation; great are remembered of
themselves. 7. The matter goeth so slowly forward that I have almost
forgot it myself, so as I marvel not if my friends forget.
you service. 8. I shall be content my course intended for service leave me in
| The last three forms are not from the Promus, but from a separate sheet of similar character, fo, 107. The next four are from another, fo. 109.
liberty. 9. It is in vain to forbear to renew that grief by speech, which
the want of so great a comfort must needs renew. 10. As I did not seek to win your thanks, so your courteous
acceptation deserveth mine. 11. I desire no secret news, but the truth of common news. 12. The difference is not between you and me, but between
your profit and my trust. 13. Why hath not God sent you my mind or me your means ? 14. I think it my double good hap, both for the obtaining and
for the mean.
15. I wish one as fit as I am unfit.
A separate sheet in the same bundle is filled with forms of morning and evening salutation.
The following may be all classed under the head of repartees, and were probably suggested by his experience in the courts of law : 1. Now you say somewhat. - Even when you will; now you
begin to conceive, I begin to say. 2. Repeat your reason.-Bis ac ter pulchra. 3. You go from the matter.—But it was to follow you. 4. Come to the point.—Why I shall not find you there. 5. Let me make an end of my tale.—That which I will say
will make an end of it. 6. You take more than is granted. You grant less than is
proved. 7. It is so, I will warrant you. You may warrant me, but I
think I shall not vouch you. 8. Answer me shortly.— Yea, that you may comment upon it. 9. The cases will come together.—It will be to fight then.
There are more of these; but these will serve for specimens.