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THE history of these translations has been already told; but as it is somewhat complicated, and appears in some points not to be clearly understood, it may be convenient that I should repeat it here.
The works to be translated were selected by Mr. Ellis, and were meant to include everything which is requisite to give an English reader a complete view of Bacon's philosophy. The selection does, in fact, include all the Latin works belonging to the first and second parts, and as many of those belonging to the third as are not to be found in a more perfect form in the others. And though the Editors' prefaces and notes are not reprinted along with them, yet the several pieces being set out in the same order, and bearing the Latin titles on the top of each leaf, it will be easy to find them by reference to the corresponding titles in the three former volumes. So that those who cannot read the Great Instauration in the original may nevertheless have the full benefit of all the explanatory and illustrative matter contained in this edition.
Of the style of translation which has been attempted, I have spoken in my preface to the fourth volume. And though the authorship is of a more mixed character than I could have wished, I hope it will not be found that the
number of the workmen has materially impaired the substantial value of the work.
The translation of the Novum Organum was finished many years ago. The manuscript, having been carefully examined and much corrected, first by myself, and afterwards by Mr. Ellis, remained in my hands pending the completion of the first three volumes; and was ultimately, for reasons with which it is not necessary to trouble the reader, committed entirely to my charge. In carrying it through the press, I felt myself at liberty to make whatever alterations I pleased; and therefore, if any errors remain, I must consider myself answerable for them.
The task of translating the remainder was entrusted to Mr. Francis Headlam, of University College, Oxford; and I hoped that my part in it would be no more than that of a critic I was to revise his manuscript, find faults, and suggest improvements, leaving him to deal with my suggestions upon his own responsibility, according to his own judgment. In this manner the first 320 pages of this volume were executed. But the progress of the sheets through the press (which was still engaged with the third volume) was slow; and before it could proceed further, Mr. Headlam was called upon to fulfil an engagement, which detained him on the continent for the rest of the year; upon which he agreed to leave his manuscript with me, to be dealt with as I thought fit. I used my judgment without any restraint; and as I had certainly full opportunity to remove all defects, it is my fault if I have either introduced any that were not there, or left any that were.
It will be understood, therefore, that the translation of the seventh, eighth, and ninth books of the De Augmentis Scientiarum, of the Historia Ventorum, and the Historia Vitæ et Mortis-extending from the beginning to the three hundred and twentieth page of this volume—is all
for which the final responsibility rests with Mr. Headlam. With the translation of the Novum Organum he had nothing to do; and the alterations which I made in his manuscript of the rest were not seen by him until they were printed.
With regard to the method observed in the translation, I have only to add, on his behalf, that he agrees with what I have said on that subject in my preface to the fourth volume that in translating the De Augmentis, his object has been to adopt, as far as he could, the style employed in the Advancement of Learning, -retaining also the original English, wherever no further meaning seemed to be expressed in the Latin;-and that where the form of expression in the translation appears to vary from the Latin more widely than would otherwise be requisite or justifiable, it will generally be found that it is the form used by Bacon himself in the corresponding passage of the English work.