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PROMUS OF FORMULARIES AND ELEGANCIES.
It is a fact worth knowing, - for it may serve as a caution and encouragement both, and it is one of those which the reverence of posterity is too apt to overlook or keep out of sight, — that the various accomplishments for which Bacon was distinguished among the men of his time, were not given to him ready-made. It may be gathered from this manuscript that the secret of his proficiency was simply that, in the smallest matters no less than in the greatest, he took a great deal of pains. Everybody prepares himself beforehand for great occasions. Bacon seems to have thought it no loss of time to prepare for small ones too, and to have those topics concerning which he was likely to have to express himself in conversation ready at hand and reduced into 6 forms convenient for use. Even if no occasion should occur for using them, the practice would still serve for an exercise in the art of expression.
Here for instance are some forms for describing personal characters or qualities :
1. No wise speech, though easy and voluble.
life to his speech by way of question).
speech which are better in describing than in
considering). 4. A good comediante (of one that hath good grace in
his speech). 5. Cunning in the humours of persons, but not in the
conditions of actions. 6. He had rather have his will than his wish. 7. A brain cut with fascets. 8. More ingenious than natural. 9. He keeps his ground:- of one that speaketh cer
— tainly and pertinently. 10. He lighteth well ; — of one that concludeth his
speech well. 11. Of speeches digressive: This goeth not to the end
of the matter : — from the lawyers.) 12. Per otium : — to anything impertinent. 13. Speech that hangeth not together nor is concludent:
Raw silk; sand. 14. Speech of good and various weight but not nearly
applied : A great vessel that cannot come near
land. 15. Of one that rippeth things up deeply: He shooteth
too high a compass to shoot near. 16. Ingenuous honesty and yet with opposition and
i The last three forms are not from the Promus, but from a separate sheet of similar character, fo. 107. The next four are from another, fo. 109.
Here again is a set of phrases adapted to occasions of compliment, of excuse, of application, of acknowledgment, of introduction, of conclusion, &c., belonging to the same class with the formulee minores orationis, of which he explains the nature and use in the 4th book of the De Augmentis under the head of Rhetoric: 1. The matter though it be new, (if that be new
which hath been practised in like case, though
not in this particular). 2. I leave the reasons to the party's relation and the
consideration of them to your wisdom. 3. Wishing you all, &c., and myself occasion 'to do
you service. 4. I shall be glad to understand your news, but none rather than some overture wherein I
5. Ceremonies and green rushes are for strangers. 6. Small matters need solicitation ; great are remem
bered of themselves. 7. The matter goeth so slowly forward that I have
almost forgot it myself, so as I marvel not if
my friends forget. 8. I shall be content my course intended for service
leave me in liberty. 9. It is in vain to forbear to renew that grief by
speech, which the want of so great a comfort 12. The difference is not between you and me, but be tween your profit and my
must needs renew. 10. As I did not seek to win your thanks, so your
courteous acceptation deserveth mine. 11. I desire no secret news, but the truth of common
trust. 13. Why hath not God sent you my mind or me your
means ? : 14. I think it my double good hap, both for the obtain
ing and for the mean. 15. I wish one as fit as I am unfit.
A separate sheet in the same bundle is filled with forms of morning and evening salutation.
The following may be all classed under the head of repartees, and were probably suggested by his experience in the courts of law : 1. Now you say somewhat. — Even when you will ;
now you begin to conceive, I begin to say. 2. Repeat your reason. — Bis ac ter pulchra. 3. You go from the matter.— But it was to follow you. 4. Come to the point.—Why I shall not find you
there. 5. Let me make an end of my tale. — That which I
will make an end of it. 6. You take more than is granted. —You grant less
than is proved. 7. It is so, I will warrant you. You may warrant
me, but I think I shall not vouch you. 8. Answer me shortly.— Yea, that you may comment
9. The cases will come together.— It will be to fight
There are more of these ; but these will serve for specimens.
II. In wise sentences and maxims of all kinds the collection, as might be expected, is rich. But very many
of them are now hacknied, and many others are seen to greater advantage in different parts of Bacon's works, where they are accompanied with his comments or shewn in their application. The general character of them will be sufficiently understood from the following samples, which are taken almost at random: 1. Suavissima vita indies meliorem fieri : 2. Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.
. 3. L'astrologia è vera, ma l'astrologico non vi truova. 4. If the bone be not true set, it will never be well
till it be broken. 5. All is not in years, somewhat is in hours well spent. 6. Detractor portat diabolum in linguâ. 7. Velle suum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno. 8. Black will take no other hue. 9. Qui in parvis non distinguit in magnis labitur. 10. Everything is subtle till it be conceived. 11. That which is forced is not forcible. 12. Quod longe jactum est leviter ferit. 13. Nec nihil neque omnia sunt quæ dicuntur. 14. Super mirari coeperunt philosophari. 15. Prudens celat scientiam, stultus proclamat stulti
tiam. 16. Non recipit stultus verba prudentiæ nisi ea dixeris
quæ sunt in corde ejus.
1 A sentence frequently quoted by Bacon. It is the Vulgate version of Proverbs xviii. 2., which is rendered differently in the English translation,