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among the nations, and an English House of Commons would have heartily supported them. And had Bacon been called into council at this time, he would apparently have advised a bolder foreign policy -a policy aiming, not indeed at direct aggression, but at an assertion of influence and of a right to interfere in the settlement of European questions. The occasion and the manner would of course depend upon the course of events, which could not be foreseen. But the prudence of a general inclination of the national policy in that direction would depend upon the measure of forces, and upon the question whether England had the means of carrying it out successfully. To show that she might safely aspire to such a position, Bacon now commenced an elaborate treatise, to be submitted to the King, upon the conditions of national greatness; tending to prove-and it will not be thought that our subsequent history has discredited his judgment—that England, Scotland, and Ireland, united under one Crown, possessed all those conditions in a higher degree than any of the great monarchies of the world did at the beginning of their career; and that the vision of “ a sun rising in the west was as likely to be verified in Britain as in any other kingdom of Europe. Though this treatise was never finished according to the design (probably because the idea was not taken, and the measures shortly after adopted by Salisbury were at variance and incompatible with it), I do not find that Bacon ever lost his own faith in the opinion which suggested it. As the internal disputes which threatened to divide the kingdom against itself grew more formidable, and external accidents offered chances of taking up the policy which he had indicated, we shall find him now and then recurring to it; and whoever cares to understand how he would have endeavoured to bring about a reconciliation between the conflicting interests of the Crown and the Commons, would do well to turn to his fragment “on the true greatness of Britain," and read it in connexion with the Parliamentary proceedings of the last session. That it had a real connexion with them, will appear from some remarkable memoranda in the paper which comes next in order of date; a paper to which I have made many references in the preceding volumes, and which is important enough to have a chapter to itself.
| Works, Vol. VII. p. 37.
To avoid loss of time and opportunity from not remembering things at the moment they were wanted, Bacon appears to have been in the habit of reviewing all his businesses from time to time, and setting down in a note-book or on a sheet of paper whatever he wished to have ready for recollection. These books or sheets he would again from time to time revise, striking out such notes as were obsolete, and transferring the others to a fresh book. Such at least was his plan of action. How early he began, or how regularly and how long he persevered in it, we have no means of knowing, The old books would naturally be destroyed as they were superseded by the new, their contents being presumably of too private and confidential a nature in many parts for other people's reading. One of them, however (probably because it contained among other things notes for a philosophical investigation, which was never finished), was preserved among bis papers, and coming into the hands of Archbishop Tenison, found a resting place in his library in St. Martin's. in-the-Fields, where it remained undisturbed and unknown till March, 1818, when I chanced upon it, and recognizing the handwriting, made (by permission of the then librarian, Mr. Hale) a copy for insertion in this collection in the proper time and place; at which I have at last arrived.
The notes being made solely for the help of Bacon's own memory, and evidently not meant to be seen by anybody else, are, as might be expected, in many places unintelligible, and even where a probable meaning may be put upon them, require caution in the interpreting. For most of the names of persons, and many of the principal words, are indicated only by the first letter or syllable, which, though enough for him, may easily mislead us: and where the words are
1 Upon the sale of that library in 1861, the original was bought by Mr. John Forster, and is now in the British Museum.
written at full length, they are but notes or hints of thoughts as they passed through his mind, unguarded by any of the explanations, cautions, qualifications, etc., of which it was unnecessary to remind himself, though it would have been very necessary to inform a neighbour, had he been addressing himself to a neighbour. Indeed so very private and confidential are they, that a question may perhaps arise whether it be justifiable even now to publish them. There can be no doubt that a literary executor who should publish any similar record left by a man who died within this century would be severely censured, and that too without any reference to the feelings of relations still living, but merely on the ground of justice to the dead.
“Proclaim the faults he would not show :
Break lock and seal: betray the trust :
Keep nothing sacred : 'tis but just
And many people besides the Poet Laureate would join in the censure. Archbishop Tenison, upon whom the trust in this case appears to have devolved, would hardly, I think, have sanctioned the publication of this manuscript; and I do not see that the distance of time so alters the case, but that the reasons against it, if good then, would be good still. Nevertheless, the piety of friends endeavouring to keep men's faults out of sight proves often injurious to their reputation in the end. Their acts remain, and to suppose that mankind will construe them in a sense more favourable than the truth would have suggested, is a rash assumption. If Bacon himself could have foreseen what “the next ages were going to think of him, he would probably have much preferred that they should know the whole truth, even where it was least favourable. And therefore though I am aware that a general account of this manuscript, giving full extracts of the more interesting parts, and passing by what is trivial or obscure, might be made more agreeable and entertaining, I have resolved to print the whole of it as exactly as I can.
To guard against the misreading of abbreviated words I print it literatim, confining conjectural interpretations to the foot-notes. To guard against false inferences from abbreviated thoughts, I must be content with offering a few general considerations.
I am not going to urge the duty of judging favourably or charitably, or of giving the benefit of doubts to the party interested; for Bacon's interest in what men thought of him expired 240 years ago,
and the only interest that any man now living or any that shall be born hereafter can have in the matter is to understand and believe what is true. But in order to understand rightly the notices con
tained in such a record as this, it is necessary to remember that the things of which a man needs to remind himself are those which he is himself apt to forget. The man who most needs to caution himself against being overreached in a bargain or taken in by an impostor, has least occasion to remind himself of the duty of fair dealing or charity. The man who is paturally liberal and not naturally covetous will have to urge upon himself the duty of getting money, but not of bestowing it upon unselfish objects. When a man says to himself “I must be patient," the inference is that patience is not the virtue in which he most abounds. When he says “I must endure this no longer," the inference is that he is disposed to endure too much. When we find Bacon resolving in soliloquy to "suppress his speaking with panting and straining of the voice and breath," to make a point of "composing and drawing himself in " when he begins to speak, and “not to fall too suddenly upon the main,” we learn that his natural manner was to speak eagerly and impetuously, and run himself out of breath, and to proceed at once without circumlocution to the heart of his subject. When we find him reminding himself to assume (or perhaps only raising within himself the question whether he shall assume) "greater confidence and authority in discourses of this nature ” (that is on philosophical subjects], “ tanquam sui certus et de alto despiciens," we may be sure that such a tone of confidence and authority was not natural to him. When we find him in his 48th year, and having been a courtier from his boyhood, borrowing a lesson in the courtier's art from so inferior a man as Sir Henry Hobart, we may presume that it was not an art which he had himself been studying for the last twenty years with the zeal of a man whose heart was in it. So, again, when we see a page of suggestions concerning the means of husbanding and improving his property, if we should infer that he was a diligent manager of his own money, we should certainly be wrong: we have abundant evidence that both early and late in life he was negligent in such matters to a fault. This book only shows that he was aware of the fault, and made some endeavours more or less effectual to correct it. And though we have not evidence equally conclusive that he was by nature disinclined to the arts and appliances by which men win the favour of the great and rise in the world, or that he was apt to neglect them more than his judgment approved, the many memoranda which will be found here of things to be done and cautions to be observed with a view to political advancement are subject to the same observation. Hitherto if he had been an assiduous student of such arts, he bad certainly not been a successful one. And my own impression is that they
See p. 93.
were naturally distasteful to him, and that though he thought it right to practise them, he had to work against the grain in doing it.
Nor is it to be forgotten that the same action is regarded (and justly regarded) with very different feelings according to the end which it is meant to serve; and as a man does not want to remind himself of the end which at the very time he is looking about for means to attain, his note-book (if really addressed to himself) will say nothing of that; though sometimes it may be easily and safely conjectured. When we find Bacon proposing to himself (with a view to the interests of the Instauratio Magna,--which in his idea were the interests of the human race in the largest sense), circuitous methods of“ gaining entrance into the inner of some great persons,"-we easily excuse the condescension which is submitted to for such an object. When we find him proposing to himself methods of the same kind with a view to his own advancement in fortune and position, can we be certain that he is not there also entitled to a similar excuse ? He had a deep interest in the welfare of England. He had many abilities and accomplishments which would have enabled him to promote it. He saw many errors committed which he could bave prevented if he had had weight enough in her councils. Influence depended upon position, and position could only be got by the favour of the great. In studying the likeliest means to procure that favour, it is quite conceivable that he was really aiming at the patriotic ends which lay beyond. But those ends being familiar to him and always present to his mind, it would have been waste of time and paper to make a note of them for the help of his own memory.
These general considerations being premised, I may leave the notebook to tell its own story. Of its authenticity there can be no question, being written throughout in his own hand. It appears to have been the work of seven consecutive days (Saturday omitted) at the beginning of the long vacation of 1608; the first page being dated July 25, and the last (except a page or two added afterwards) July 31. The occasion which led him at this time to take so complete a survey of all his affairs was probably the falling in of a considerable addition to his fortune. On Saturday, July 16, 1608, William Mylle, Clerk of the Star Chamber, died, and Bacon, who had held the reversion since October, 1589, was sworn in the same day. He reckoned the place as worth £2000 a year. This, added to the profit derived from bis Solicitorship and his wife's fortune (both accessions of the year before), trebled his income, and made it a fit time to settle his arrangements for the future in accordance with his increased means. As the pages all bear a running title of Transportata, that is, notes
Egerton Papers (Camd. Soc.), p. 427.