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would be no less acceptable to you, than, I persuade myself, they will be to the public. For it is scarce to be imagined, but that the bringing to light, from obscurity and oblivion, the remains of so eminent a person, will be thought an acquisition not inferior to the discovery (if the ruins of Herculaneum should afford such a treasure) of a new set of the Epistles of Cicero, whom our immortal countryman most remarkably resembled as an orator, a philosopher, a writer, a lawyer, and a statesman. The communication of them to the public appearing to me a duty to it and the memory of the author, to whom could I, separately from the consideration of all personal connexions and inducements, so justly present them, as to him, whom every circumstance of propriety, and conformity of character, in the most valuable part of it, pointed out to me for that purpose? Similarity of genius; the same extent of knowledge in the laws of our own and other countries, enriched and adorned with all the stores of ancient and modern learning; the same eloquence at the bar and in the senate; an equal force of writing, shewn in a single work indeed, and
composed at a very early age, but decisive of a grand question of law and sanction of government, the grounds of which had never before been stated with due precision; and the most successful discharge of the same offices of King's Council and Solicitor and Attorney-General.
These reasons, Sir, give your name an unquestionable right to be prefixed to these posthumous pieces. And I hope, while I am performing this act of justice, I may be excused the ambition of preserving my own name, by uniting it with those of BACON and YORKE.
Your delicacy here restrains me from indulging myself farther in the language which truth and esteem would dictate. But I must be allowed to add a wish, in which every good man and lover of his country will join with me, that as there now remains but one step for you to complete that course of public service and glory, in which you have so closely followed your illustrious father, he, happy in the
most important circumstances of human life, the characters and fortunes of his children,
longo ordine Nati,
may live to see you possessed of that high station, which himself filled for almost twenty years, with a reputation superior to all the efforts of envy or party. Nor is it less to his honour (and may be it yours at a very distant period), that, though he thought proper to retire from that station in the full vigour of his abilities, he still continues to exert them in a more private situation, for the general benefit of his country; enjoying in it the noblest reward of his services, an unequalled authority, founded on the acknowledged concurrence of the greatest capacity, experience, and integrity.
I am, Sir,
Your most obliged and
most devoted humble servant, THOMAS BIRCH.
London, June 1, 1762.
As the reader will undoubtedly have some curiosity about the history of the transmission of these papers, now presented to him at the distance of a hundred and forty years from the date of most of them, though the hand of the incomparable writer is too conspicuous in them to admit of any suspicion of their genuineness; it will be proper here to give him some information upon that subject. Dr. Thomas Tenison is known to have been the editor of the Baconiana, published at London, 1679, though he added only the initial letters of his name to the account of all the Lord Bacon's works, (a) subjoined to that collection. He had been an intimate friend of, and fellow of the same college (b) with Mr. William Rawley, only son of Dr. William Rawley, chaplain to the Lord Chancellor Bacon, and employed by his lordship, as publisher of most of his works. Dr. Rawley dying in the 79th year of his age, June the 18th, 1667, near a year after his son, (c) his executor, Mr. John Rawley, put into the hands of his friend Dr. Tenison these papers of Lord Bacon, which composed the Baconiana; and probably, at the same time, presented to him all the rest of his lordship's manuscripts, which Dr. Rawley had been possessed of, but did not think
(a) This account is dated Nov. the 30th, 1678.