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DE INTERPRETATIONE NATURÆ
The next piece is not properly a fragment, being complete in itself. It is one of the many drafts of that great “speech of preparation " which Bacon turned into so many different shapes before it issued finally in the first book of the Novum Organum. Of the rejected forms this is perhaps the most remarkable for weight, condensation, and comprehensiveness. It was first published by Gruter in 1653, who places it among the Impetus Philosophici ; and though the typographical arrangement makes it seem to be connected with the Tradendi Modus legitimus which follows, I think this must have been by accident or error. It exactly answers to its own title, which contains nothing that should lead one to expect a sequel ; while on the other hand there is nothing in the Tradendi Modus legitimus which seems to require an introduction.
Considering it then as a separate piece, there seem to be no data for determining when it was composed ; though, judging by the form and style, I am myself inclined to refer it to the period when Bacon thought of throwing the exposition of his argument into a dra
inatic form; the rather because the allusions to the ordinato chartarum sequelæ, the coordinationes, reordinationes, charta novellae, &c. belong to the days of the Filum Labyrinthi, when he was more occupied in perfecting and explaining his method than in taking steps for collecting a natural history, — not having then perceived so fully as I think he afterwards did, how much of the Labyrinth must be explored before the clue could be obtained or used.
Both this piece and the Aphorismi et Consilia which follow have been printed by M. Bouillet as parts of the Temporis Partus Masculus ; which he assumes to be the same work which Bacon says he composed at the age of twenty-four, under the title of Temporis Partus Maximus. My reasons for disagreeing with him on both points have been already stated.?