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He was, fays he, a man of too high and fevere a deportment, and too great a contemner of ceremony to have many friends at court, and therefore could not but have enemies enough. He was a perfon of great parts, and extraordinary endowments of nature, not unadorned with fome addition of art and Tearning, though that again was more improved and illustrated by the other; for he had a readiness of conception, and fharpness of expreffion, which made his learning thought more than, in truth, it was. His firft inclinations and addreffes to the court were only to establish hisgreatnefs in the country, where he apprehended fome acts of power from the lord Saville, who had been his rival always there, and of late had ftrengthened himself by being made a privy-counsellor and officer at court: but his first attempts were fo profperous, that he contented not himfelf with being fecure from that lord's power in the country, but refted not till he had bereaved his adverfary of all power and place in court, and fo fent him down a moft abject, difconfolate old man, to his country, where he was to have the fuperintendency over him too, by getting himself, at this time, made lord-prefident of the North: Thefe fucceffes, applied to a nature too elate and haughty of itself, and a quicker progress into the greatest employments and truft than ufual, made him more tranfported with dif dain of other men, and more contemning the
forms of bufinefs, than haply he would, if he had met with fome interruptions in the beginning, and had paffed in a more leisurely gradation to the office of a ftatefman. He was a perfon of great obfervation, and a piercing judgment, both in things and perfons; but his too good fkill in perfons, made him judge. the worse of things, for it was his misfortune to be in a time when very few wife men were equally employed with him; and fcarce any but the lord Coventry (whofe trust was more confined) whofe faculties and abilities were equal to his fo that upon the matter he relied wholly upon himself; and difcerning many defects in moft men, he too much neglected what they faid or did. Of all his paffions his pride was the most predominant, which a moderate exercife of ill fortune might have corrected and reformed; and which was, by the hand of heaven, ftrangely punished, by bring ing his deftruction upon him by two things, which he most despised, the People, and Sir Harry Vane. In a word, the epitaph which Plutarch records, that Sylla wrote for himself, may not be unfitly applied to him: "That
no man ever did exceed him, either in doing good to his friends, or in doing mifchief to his enemies," for his acts of both kinds were: moft notorious.
An ACCOUNT of
The Philofophical Works of
HE Firft Part of Effays, or Counfels, Civil and Moral: an admirable work; in which our author inftructs men in the most ufeful principles of wisdom and prudence, and teaches how to acquire what are esteemed the greatest bleffings, and how to avoid the evils which are most dreaded in the conduct of human life. His penetration, exactness, and perfect skill in all the offices of civil life, appeared to great advantage in this performance; which, as our author himself was sensible, proved
proved of great fervice to his character, and promoted the high efteem that was already. conceived of his parts and learning.
The reason why Mr. Bacon published thefe effays at this time, is affigned in his dedication. of them to his brother Mr. Anthony Bacon; which was, that many of them had stolen abroad in writing, and were very likely to come into the world, in print, with more imperfections than the author thought it just to take upon himself.
About fixteen years afterwards, he had thoughts of publishing a new edition of them, which he intended to dedicate to prince Henry; and in his dedication he inferted a very clear. and candid account of the book..
"To write juft treatifes," fays he, " quires leifure in the writer, and leisure in the reader; and therefore are not fo fit either in your highness's princely affairs, or in regard of my continual fervice; which is the cause that hath made me chufe to write certain brief notes, fet down rather fignificantly than curioufly, which I have called Effays. The word is late, but the thing is antient; for Seneca's epiftles to Lucilius, if you mark them well, are but effays; that is, difperfed meditations, though conveyed in the form of epiftles. Thefe labours of mine, I know, cannot be worthy of your highnefs; for what can be worthy of you! But my hope is, they may be as grains of falt, that will rather give you an appetite than offend you with fatiety and, although
although they handle thofe things, wherein both mens lives and their perfons are moft converfant, yet what I have attained I know not; but I have endeavoured to make them not vulgar, but of a nature whereof a man fhall find much in experience and little in books; fo as they are neither repetitions nor fancies."
Sir Francis Bacon defigned to have prefixed this epistle to his effays, printed in the year 1612; but was prevented by the prince's death. Yet it was fo well liked by Mr. Matthew, that he inferted it in his declaration to the duke of Tuscany, before his tranflation of thofe effays printed in 1618. This fecond edition, when published, the author addreffed to Sir John Constable, his brother-in-law. He afterwards fent them abroad, revised and enlarged in Latin and English, dedicating them in both languages to the duke of Buckingham; in which dedication he tells his grace, that he thought it agrecable to his affection and obligations to prefix his name before them, becaufe he conceived they might laft as long as books laft.
There are other places in our author's writings, in which thefe effays are mentioned, and in which he expreffes a particular sense of their usefulness to mankind; and redounding as much or more to his honour than those large and extenfive works which had coft him much greater pains and labour; in which he certainly was not mistaken.