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of arranging his works with reference — not to subject, size, language, or form — but to the different classes of readers whose requirements he had in view when he composed them. So classified, they will be found to fall naturally into three principal divisions. First, we have his works in philosophy and general literature; addressed to mankind at large, and meant to be intelligible to educated men of all generations. Secondly, we have his works on legal subjects; addressed to lawyers, and presuming in the reader such knowledge as belongs to the profession. Thirdly, we have letters, speeches, charges, tracts, state-papers, and other writings of business ; relating to subjects so various as to defy classification, but agreeing in this — they were all addressed to particular persons or bodies, had reference to particular occasions, assumed in the persons addressed a knowledge of the circumstances of the time, and cannot be rightly understood except in relation to those circumstances. In this division every thing will find a place which does not naturally fall into one of the two former; and thus we have the whole body of Bacon's works arranged in three sufficiently distinguishable classes, which may be called for shortness, 1st, The PhiloSOPHICAL and LITERARY ; 2nd, The PROFESSIONAL ; and 3rd, The OCCASIONAL.
In each of these there is work for an editor to do, but the help he can render differs in the several cases both in nature and amount, and requires qual
ifications differing accordingly. To understand and illustrate the Philosophical works in their relation to this age, a man must be not only well read in the history of science both ancient and modern, but himself a man of science, capable of handling scientific questions. To produce a correct text of the Profes
. sional works and supply what other help may be necessary for a modern student, a man must be a lawyer. To explain and interpret the Occasional works, and set them forth in a shape convenient for readers of the present generation, a man must have leisure to make himself acquainted by tedious and minute researches among the forgotten records of the time with the circumstances in which they were written. Now as it would not be easy to find any one man in whom these several qualifications meet, it was thought expedient to keep the three divisions separate, assigning each to a separate editor. It was agreed accordingly that the Philosophical works should be undertaken by Mr. Robert Leslie Ellis ; the Professional works by Mr. Douglas Denon Heath ; the Occasional and the Literary works by me; each division to be made complete in itself, and each editor to be solely responsible for his own part of the work. Such was our original arrangement.
It was concluded in the autumn of 1847; and Mr. Ellis, whose part was to come first, had already advanced so far that he expected to have it ready for the press within another half year, when unhappily about the end of 1849 he was seized with a rheumatic fever, which left him in a condition of body quite incompatible with a labour of that kind. At which time, though the greater portion was in fact done, he did not consider any of it fit to be published as it was; many blanks having been left to be filled up, and some doubtful notes to be corrected, in that general revision which the whole was to have undergone before any part were printed. It was long before he could finally resolve to abandon his task. As soon as he had done so, he handed all his papers over to me, with permission to do with them whatever I thought best.
And hence it is that my name appears in connexion with the Philosophical works ; with hich otherwise I should not have presumed to meddle.
As soon however as I had arranged and examined his papers, I felt that, however imperfect they might
, be compared with his own ideal and with what he would himself have made them, they must on no account be touched by anybody else ; for that if any other man were allowed to make alterations in them, without notice, according to his own judgment, the reader could have no means of knowing when he was reading the words of Mr. Ellis and when those of his editor, and so their peculiar value would be lost. Perfect or imperfect, it was clear to me that they must be kept as he left them, clear of all alien infusion; and not knowing of any one who was likely to take so much interest or able to spend so much time in the matter as myself, I proposed to take his part into my own hands and edit it; provided only that I might print his notes and prefaces exactly as I found them ; explaining the circumstances which had prevented him from completing or revising them, but making no alteration whatever (unless of errors obviously accidental which I might perhaps meet with in verifying any of the numerous references and quotations) without his express sanction. That the text should be carefully printed from the proper authorities, and all the bibliographical information supplied which was necessary to make the edition in that respect complete, — this I thought I might venture to promise. And although I could not undertake to meddle with purely scientific questions, for which I have neither the acquirements nor the faculties requisite, or to bring any stores of learning, ancient or modern, to bear upon the various subjects of inquiry, — although I had no means, I say,
I of supplying what he had left to be done in those departments, and must therefore be content to leave the work so far imperfect, — yet in all matters which lay within my compass I promised to do my best to complete the illustration and explanation of the text; adding where I had anything to add, objecting where I had anything to object, but always distinguishing as my own whatever was not his.
To this proposal he agreed, as the best course that
could be taken in the circumstances. Early in 1853 I took the work in hand ; and in the three volumes which follow, the reader will find the result.
The things then for which in this division I am to be held responsible are —
1st. All notes and prefaces marked with my initials, and all words inserted between brackets, or otherwise distinguished as mine.
2dly. The general distribution of the Philosophical works into three parts, — whereby all those writings which were either published or intended for publication by Bacon himself as parts of the Great Instauration are (for the first time, I believe) exhibited separately, and distinguished as well from the independent and collateral pieces which did not form part of the main scheme, as from those which, though originally designed for it, were afterwards superseded or abandoned.
3dly. The particular arrangement of the several pieces within each part; which is intended to be according to the order in which they were composed ;
a point however which is in most cases very difficult to ascertain.
For the grounds on which I have proceeded in each case, and for whatever else in my part of the work requires explanation, I refer to the places. But there are two or three particulars in which this edition differs from former ones, and which may be more conveniently explained here.