« AnteriorContinuar »
which a personal intercourse which would have passed unrecorded was turned into an intercourse by letters, some of which have been preserved, we get this year a little information as to the progress of the Great Instauration. Most of the letters are unluckily without date, and the writings enclosed or referred to are not always recog. nisable by the description. But the allusions are intelligible enough to justify a conjecture as to the order in which they were written, and if they be read in connexion with the third part of the Philosophical works as set out in this edition, (see especially pp. 523-620 of Vol. III.) we may learn from them a good deal that we should not otherwise have known as to the course and the spirit in which the great enterprise was proceeding.
Some of them come from his own collection, and some from Sir Toby Matthew's; and I have arranged them in the order which seems to me most probable. As to the particular dates of each, there is scarcely enough to hang a conjecture on. Toby Matthew, as I have already had occasion to observe, appears to bave purposely obliterated or disguised names and particulars; and if the headings were inserted by himself (which is doubtful-for the collection was not published till after his death) we must conclude that he had either forgotten the dates or intended to confuse and conceal them.
The first letter comes from Bacon's collection; and must have been written late enough in 1609 to allow time for the news of Duke Ferdinand's death (17 Feb., 1608-9) to have reached England: and probably not much later; because it carried a copy of the In felicem memoriam Elizabethæ ; of which there were copies in circulation as early as December, 1608.
A LETTER TO MR. MATTHEW, TOUCHING INSTAURATIO MAGNA. Mr. Matthew,
I heartily thank you for your letter of the 10th of February, and am glad to receive from you matter both of encouragement and advertisement touching my writings. For my part I do wish that since there is almost no lumen siccum in the world, but all madidum and maceratum, infused in affections and bloods or humours, that these things of mine had those separations that might make them more acceptable; so that they claim not so much acquaintance of the present times, as they be thereby the less like to last. And to shew you that I have some purpose to new-mould them, I send you a leaf or two of the Preface, carrying some figure of the whole work: wherein I purpose to take that which I count real and effectual of both writings; and chiefly to add pledge if not payment to my promise. I send you also a memorial of Queen Elizabeth, to requite your elogy of the late Duke of Florence's felicity. Of this, when you were here, I shewed you some model; though at that time methought you were more willing to hear Julius Cæsar than Queen Elizabeth commended. But this which I send is more full, and hath more of the narrative: and further, hath one part that I think will not be disagreeable either to you or that place; being the true tracks of her proceedings towards the Catholics, which are infinitely mistaken. And though I do not imagine they will pass allowance there, yet they will gain your excuse.
| Addl. MSS. 5503. fo. 33 b. compared with Resuscitatio, p. 37.
3 I find Mr. Le Zuret to use you well (I mean his tongue of you), which shews you either honest or wise. But this I speak merrily. For in good faith I do conceive hope that you will so govern yourself, as we may take you as assuredly for a good subject and patriot, as you take yourself for a good Christian ; and so we may again enjoy your company, and you your conscience, if it may no otherwise be. For my part, assure yourself that (as we say in the law) mutatis mutandis, my love and good wishes to you are not diminished. Aud so I remain
The next letter comes from Sir Toby Matthew's collection, where it is printed with the following heading :-“Mr. Bacon, by way of advertisement of several things in a familiar way, to the same friend and servant of his.” This, if correct, would imply that it was written before the 23rd of July, 1603, when Mr. Bacon became Sir Francis : but that cannot be; for the Advancement of Learning was not then in existence. The evidence of the heading being set aside therefore as inadmissible, we are left free to choose the date which seems likeliest. And the terms in which Matthew's state of mind is spoken of, in connexion with loyalty,' 'honesty,' 'native country,' and 'trust with the state,' seem to me to carry a silent allusion to his
1 The copy in the 'Resuscitatio' has promises, with only a comma after it, as if this clause referred to the Memorial of Elizabeth. I follow the MS.
? Ferdinand I. de Medici died 17th Feb., 1608-9. I suppose, therefore, that the 'elogy' had been written before, though I doubt whether Birch was right in supposing it to be alluded to in the expression “ flowers of Florence,” vol. iii. p. 256. I believe the old style was still in use in Florence.
3 Upon excuse in Res.
4 “Le Sieur is returned from Florence re infecta.” Chamberlain to Carlton, 3 Jan., 1608-9.
change of religion : in which case it cannot be placed earlier than 1608. How much later I find no means of determining.
To Mr. Matthew.' Sir,
Two letters of mine are now already walking towards you; but so that we might meet, it were no matter though our letters should lose their way. I make a shift in the mean time to be glad of your approaches, and would be more glad to be an agent for your presence, who have been a patient by your absence. If your body by indisposition make you acknowledge the healthful air of your native country, much more do I assure myself that you continue to have your mind no way estranged. And as my trust with the state is above suspicion, so my knowledge both of your loyalty and honest nature will ever make me show myself your faithful friend without scruple. You have reason to commend that gentleman to me, by whom you sent your last, although his having travelled so long amongst the sadder nations of the world make him much the less easy upon small acquaintance to be understood. I have sent you some copies of my
book of the Advancement, which you desired; and a little work of my recreation, which you desired pot. My Instauration I reserve for our conference; it sleeps not. Those works of the Alphabet are in my opinion of less use to you where you are now, than at Paris; and therefore I conceived that you had sent me a kind of tacit countermand of your former request. But in regard that some friends of yours have still insisted here, I send them to you; and for my part, I value your own reading more than your publishing them to others. Thus, in extreme haste, I have scribbled to you I know not what, which therefore is the less affected, and for that very reason will not be esteemed the less
What these "works of the alphabet” may have been, I cannot guess; unless they related to Bacon's cipher; in which by means of two alphabets, one having only two letters, the other having two forms for each of the twenty-four letters, any words you please may be so written as to signify any other words, provided only that the opeu writing contains at least five times as many letters as the concealed. (See Phil. Works, Vol. I. p. 659). It is not impossible that
| Sir Toby Matthew's Collection of Letters, p. 14.
a man in Matthew's position may have needed a safe cipher, and may have needed it more at Paris than in Italy or Spain.
The next letter, which is from the same collection, is headed “Mr. Francis Bacon to a dear friend, concerning some of his works in writing.” And here again the“ Mr.” must be wrong. The allusion to“ that of Queen Elizabeth,” coupled with the report he had received of it from “the Leiger at Paris," leaves no room for doubt that this letter was written while Sir George Cary was still ambassador in France; therefore before October, 1609: and though it contains no particulars which enable us to fix the exact date, I see nothing to prevent us from assigning it to the summer of that year; ; which, supposing the letter which conveyed the In felicem memoriam Elizabethve to have been despatched in March or April, would allow time enough for the arrival of Matthew's answer.
To MR. MATTHEW. Sir,
I thank you for your last, and pray you to believe that your liberty in giving opinion of those writings which I sent you, is that which I sought, which I expected, and which I take in exceeding good part; so good as that it makes me recontinue, or rather continue, my hearty wishes of your company here, that so you might use the same liberty concerning my actions which now you exercise concerning my writings. For that of Queen Elizabeth, your judgment of the temper and truth of that part which concerns some of her foreign proceedings concurs fully with the judgment of others, to whom I have communicated part of it; and as things go, I suppose they are likely to be more and more justified and allowed. And whereas you say, for some other part, that it moves and opens a fair occasion and broad way into some field of contradiction : on the other side it is written to me from the leiger at Paris, and some others also, that it carries a manifest impression of truth with it, and that it even convinces as it goes. These are their very words; which I write not for nine own glory, but to show what variety of opinion rises from the disposition of several readers. And I must confess my desire to be, that my writings should not court the present time, or some few places, in such sort as might make them either less general to persons, or less permanent in future ages. As for the Instauration, your so full approbation thereof I read with much comfort, by how much more my heart is upon it; and by how much less I expected consent and concurrence in a matter so obscure. Of this I can assure you, that though many things of great hope decay with youth (and multitude of civil businesses is wont to diminish the price, though not the delight, of contemplations), yet the proceeding in that work doth gain with me upon my affection and desire, both by years and businesses. And therefore I hope, even by this, that it is well pleasing to God, from whom and to whom all good moves. To Himn I most heartily commend you.
| Sir Toby Matthew's Collection of Letters, p. 12.
At last we come to a letter with a date:-a date which may
be taken as conclusive of the time when it was written; and as no question that I know of depends upon the time when it was received, it will serve our purpose as well as if it had been despatched and delivered in due course. It is addressed to Toby Matthew, and was meant to accompany another piece of the Instauratio Magna. Already in a former letter, as we have seen, he had sent him “a leaf or two of the Preface, carrying some figure of the whole work; wherein he purposed to take what he counted real and effectual of both writings.” This may perhaps have been the very Prafatio which introduces the Distributio operis (Vol. I. p. 125), which was designed to stand as Preface to the whole Instauratio, and the argument of which is thus announced: De statu scientiarum, quod non sit felix aut in majorem modum auctus ; quodque alia omnino quam prioribus cognita fuerit via aperienda sit intellectui humano, et alia comparanda auxilia, ut mens suo jure in rerum naturam uti possit. “That the state of knowledge is not prosperous nor greatly advancing: and that a way must be opened for the human understanding entirely different from any hitherto known; and other helps provided ; in order that the mind may exercise over the nature of things the authority which properly belongs to it.” Whatever it was, it seems that Matthew highly approved and applauded it, taking exceptions, however to some other parts of the work, as likely to offend the Churchmen. Bacon now proposed to send him another piece, — which is supposed by M. Bouillet' to have been the Redargutio Philosophiarum. And certainly the terms in which it is spoken of are exactly applicable to that fine composition; the most perfect piece, perhaps, for form and execution that Bacon left behind him: in which, under the form of a speech supposed to be addressed by a philosopher in Paris to an assembly of sages, the whole subject of
| Eurres Philosophiques de Bacon, vol. ii. p. 46.