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All the editions of Bacon's works contain a small collection of Latin sentences selected from the Mimi of Publius Syrus, under the title of Ornamenta Rationaliu; followed by a larger collection of English sentences selected from Bacon's own writings. These are printed as two separate pieces, with titles which seem to imply that the selection was made by Bacon himself. But this is wrong.
The history of them is shortly this. Dr. Tenison found in three several lists of Bacon's unpublished papers the title Ornamenta Rationalia. He remembered also to have seen in the possession of Dr. Rawley's son a collection made by Bacon under that title. But no part of it was to be found among the manuscripts transmitted to him, and he retained only a general remembrance of its quality, namely that "it consisted of divers short sayings, aptly and smartly expressed, and containing in them much of good sense in a little room ;” and that “it was gathered partly out of his own store and partly from the ancients."1 Considering himself to blame however for not having preserved it, “ he held himself obliged, in some sort, and as he was able, to supply the defect ; " and accordingly made a collection
1 Baconiana, pp. 89. 94.
on the same plan, and printed it in the Baconiana with the following title:
* Ornamenta Rationalia. A supply (by the Publisher) of certain weighty and elegant Sentences, some made, others collected, by the Lord Bacon; and by him put under the above said Title; and at present not to be found."
The “supply” consists of, 1st, “a collection of sentences out of the Mimi of Publius ; englished by the publisher;" 2nd, “a collection of sentences out of some of the writings of the Lord Bacon.”
Whatever be the value of these collections, they have clearly no right to appear among the works of Bacon, — least of all under a title which ascribes them to Bacon himself, inasmuch as the selection was avowedly and entirely the work of Dr. Tenison. But there is a MS. in the British Museum written in Bacon's own hand, and entitled Promus of Formularies and Elegancies, which (though made in his early life for his own use and not intended for preservation in that shape) contains many things which might have formed part of such a collection as Tenison describes; and the place of the lost Ornamenta Rationalia will perhaps be most properly supplied by an account of it.
A date at the top of the first page shows that it was begun on the 5th of December 1594, — the commencement of the Christmas vacation. It consists of single sentences, set down one after the other without any marks between or any notes of reference or explanation. This collection (which fills more than forty 4to pages) is of the most miscellaneous character, and seems by various marks in the MS. to have been