« ForrigeFortsæt »
afterwards digested into other collections which are lost.
The first few pages are filled chiefly, though not exclusively, with forms of expression applicable to such matters as a man might have occasion to touch in conversation, — neatly turned sentences describing personal characters or qualities, forms of compliment, application, excuse, repartee, &c. These are apparently of his own invention, and may have been suggested by his own experience and occasions. But interspersed among them are apophthegms, proverbs, verses out of the Bible, and lines out of the Latin poets; all set down without any order or apparent connexion of subject; as if he had been trying to remember as many notable phrases as he could out of his various reading and observation, and setting them down just as they happened to present themselves.
As we advance, the collection becomes less miscellaneous; as if his memory had been ranging within a smaller circumference. In one place, for instance, we find a cluster of quotations from the Bible, following one another with a regularity which may be best explained by supposing that he had just been reading the Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and then the Gospels and Epistles or (perhaps some commentary upon them), regularly through. The quotations are in Latin, and most of them agree exactly with the Vulgate, but not all; the differences however are not more than might perhaps have been expected, if he quoted from memory.
Passing this Scripture series, we come again into a collection of very miscellaneous character. Proverbs, French, Spanish, Italian, and English, sentences out
of Erasmus's Adagia, - -verses from the Epistles, Gospels, Psalms, Proverbs of Solomon,-lines from Seneca, Horace, Virgil, Ovid, succeed each other according to some law which, in the absence of all notes or other indications to mark the connexion between the several entries, the particular application of each, or the change from one subject to another, there is no hope of discovering; though in some places several occur together, which may be perceived by those who remember the struggling fortune and uncertain prospects of the writer in those years, together with the great design which he was meditating, to be connected by a common sentiment.
Here for instance is a cluster of passages taken indiscriminately from several poets, but all pointing to the same subject; which may be described generally as notes of encouragement to those who undertake enterprises that seem too great for their powers:
Est quâdam prodire tenus, si non datur ultra.1
Tentantem majora fere præsentibus æquum.4
Da facilem cursum, atque audacibus annue coeptis.5
Crescent illæ, crescetis amores.
quæ nunc ratio est impetus ante fuit.8 Aspice venturo latentur ut omnia sæclo.
1 Hor. Epist. I. i. 32.
3 Hor. Od. I. vi. 9.
5 Virg. Georg. I. 40.
7 Virg. Ec. x. 50.
9 Virg. Ec. iv. 52.
2 Ov. Met. ii. 328.
4 Hor. Epist. I. xvii. 24.
6 Virg. Æn. vii. 23.
8 Ov. Rem. Amor. 10.
Nor is it less easy, when we consider Bacon's position with regard to the reigning philosophy taught at the universities, to divine the connexion between the eight entries which follow:
In academiis discunt credere.
Vos adoratis quod nescitis.
So give authors their due, as you give time his due, which is to discover truth.
Vos Græci semper pueri.
Non canimus surdis: respondent omnia sylvæ.
Populus vult decipi.
Scientiam loquimur inter perfectos.
Et justificata est sapientia a filiis suis.
Presently after we find the following cluster, which seem to bear upon the same subject:
Vite me redde priori.1
I had rather know than be known.2
Orpheus in sylvis, inter delphinas Arion."
Inopem me copia fecit.*
An instrument in tuning.
A youth set will never be higher.
The nine following entries, which also stand together, need no antiquarian interpreter to make their meaning intelligible:
Væ vobis jurisperiti.
1 Hor. Epist. I. 7. 96.
2. Is enim ego sum qui malim scire quam nosei, discere quam docere.” Ghetaldus`s Archimedes Promotus ; quoted in Mr. Ellis's preface to Ilistoria Deusi et Rari.
3 Ec. viii. 56.
4 Ov. Met. iii. 466.
Nec me verbosas leges ediscere, nec me
Ingrato voces prostituisse foro.1
Fixit leges pretio atque refixit.
Nec ferrea jura
Insanumque forum et populi tabularia vidit.2
Hic clamosi rabiosa fori
Jurgia vendens improbus, iras
Presently we come to a series of English proverbs, all set down together, - remembrances probably or extracts out of some collection which he had been reading; and immediately after these, to a number of Latin proverbs, all taken apparently from some collection of the Adagia of Erasmus, in which the proverbs were arranged under heads, and the heads arranged alphabetically. For they are set down throughout in the order in which they would present themselves in such a volume, with no more exceptions than might naturally in such a case occur by accident.
1 Ov. Amor. I. xv. 5.
2 Virg. Georg. ii. 502.
8 This is a good instance of a mode of quotation not uncommon in Bacon, where an alteration is intentionally introduced for the sake of keeping so much as is to the purpose, and leaving out what is not so. Virgil's words (Georg. ii. 128,) are :
Pocula si quando savo infecere novercæ,
Applied to the lawyers, the word herbas would have had no meaning.
4 Seneca, Herc. Fur.
Having gone through this volume (for the last extract is within a few pages of the end) he returns to modern proverbs; of which there follow a great number, at first chiefly Italian, then entirely Spanish, and lastly English again.
After this he returns again to his Erasmus, commencing as before near the beginning and proceeding regularly to the end, with only two or three deviations from the alphabetical order. The difference is, that in the former collection he selected nothing but proverbs and sentences, whereas in this he selects phrases only. The series is interrupted once or twice by a note or query of his own, relating to something which had occurred to him perhaps during his walk; as for instance that "wild thyme on the ground hath a scent like a cypress chest." "Where harts cast their horns;" "Few dead birds found; "Salt to water, whence it came ;" and the like.
Next we have another collection of proverbs like the former, one or two French, several Italian, more Spanish, most English. After which he returns for the third time to Erasmus, proceeding as before, but now again selecting sentences.
Having as before come to the end of the volume, he now it seems takes up the Æneid and reads it through; for there follow sixteen or seventeen lines, or fragments of lines, all taken from the Eneid and all set down in the order in which they come in the poem; the last being the 833rd line of the 12th book. Then come several lines from Ovid; then a few from Virgil's Eclogues and Georgics; then a good many from the Satires, Epistles, and Art Poetic of Horace; then another selection from the Eneid; and lastly a good