Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

EXTRACTS

FROM THE

PROMUS OF FORMULARIES AND ELEGANCIES.

[ocr errors]

I.

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 " 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.

[ocr errors]

Here for instance are some forms for describing personal characters or qualities:

1. No wise speech, though easy and voluble. 2. Notwithstanding his dialogues (of one that giveth life to his speech by way of question).

3. He can tell a tale well (of those courtly gifts of 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 certainly 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.1

[ocr errors]

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 strength.

1 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 formula 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 may do you service.

5. Ceremonies and green rushes are for strangers.

6. Small matters need solicitation; great are remembered 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 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

news.

12. The difference is not between you and me, but between your profit and my 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 obtaining 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:

[ocr errors]

1. Now you say somewhat. Even when you will; now you begin to conceive, I begin to say.

Bis ac ter pulchra.

2. Repeat your reason. 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 say 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.

[ocr errors]

8. Answer me shortly. Yea, that you may comment upon it.

9. The cases will come together.— It will be to fight then.

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 cœperunt philosophari.

15. Prudens celat scientiam, stultus proclamat stulti

tiam.

16. Non recipit stultus verba prudentiæ nisi ea dixeris quæ sunt in corde ejus.1

1 A sentence frequently quoted by Bacon. It is the Vulgate version of Proverbs xviii. 2., which is rendered differently in the English translation,

« AnteriorContinuar »