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graphical and historical commentary forms a frame in which are set the letters and occasional writings, so that while the book is entitled “The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon," not far from one half of the whole work consists of Mr. Spedding's commentary. As Bacon entered the service of the state when twenty-four years old, and remained in it until his death, and as the years included by his life, 1560-1626, covered one of the notable periods of English history, it is plain that the resulting work must be a contribution both to the personal history of Bacon and to the political history of England.
Covering this field and displaying so minute a criticism, “ The Letters and the Life of Bacon ” is a comprehensive and suggestive work, which no thorough student of Bacon and his times can afford to neglect. But the comprehensiveness of the plan has stood in the way of a republication of the book in this country. The number of scholars who can give themselves to so full an examination of the subject is necessarily small, and for such the original edition remains. But the recent issue here of a Popular Edition of Bacon's works, in two volumes, gathered from the complete edition in fifteen volumes, has met with so hearty a reception from the public as to encourage the publishers in the belief that there is a large body of readers interested in Bacon and his writings, who would gladly avail themselves of an opportunity to read a biography which should present the result of the most thorough criticism and inquiry, and include so much of contemporary history as is needed to give the Life its proper setting
With this view the present work has been planned and executed. Mr. Spedding, in the original edition, gave every scrap of Bacon's writings, not included in the previous series, which he could discover, adding also various
papers conjecturally Bacon's, and supplied the reader with all necessary apparatus for an intelligent apprehension of the occasion, scope, and influence of these writings. His plan led him into many subjects which have only an antiquarian interest, but it also required him to examine and state anew many points of English history which never can lose their interest for English and American readers. The editor of this American abridgment has followed Mr. Spedding's order and authority in all points ; his part has been to retain those portions which he judges to be of most interest to American read
The result is that the relations of the two parts of the work have been somewhat altered. The commentary has become the main thing, and the writings are introduced as illustrating that. Hence, the book is no longer the Letters and the Life; it is not even the Life and the Letters, for the letters form so subordinate a part that the introduction of the word in the title would be misleading Bacon's letters form a considerable portion of the original work, but in any popular and brief life of Bacon, the majority of them are not essential to the reader, although necessary to the writer.
The task of condensation was undertaken with Mr. Spedding's permission, but without any suggestion from him as to its scope. When the selections had been made, he examined them with a view of their being read as a separate Life, inserted what he thought wanting in the way of connection or explanation, and corrected such errors or supplied such deficiencies as he had discovered since the publication of his original work. The book, therefore, as it now stands, may be regarded as embodying the editor's conception of what would be chosen by an American reader who should judiciously skip in his reading of the original work, and Mr. Spedding's final
literary revision. For the selection (though modified here and there according to Mr. Spedding's suggestions) the editor is responsible. The text is wholly Mr. Spedding's.
With regard to the specific division into chapters, and the selection of foot-notes, the editor has used his discretion, without recourse to Mr. Spedding. In the original work, the division was into books, chapters and sections. In this, the order of books has been followed, the section divisions have been dropped, and the chapters have been reformed to meet the necessities of an abridgment which sometimes accepted an entire chapter, sometimes combined several chapters into one. In selecting the footnotes, the editor's plan has been to retain generally those which supplement the text, and a few which refer to authorities accessible to American students; he has omitted those which point to authorities not accessible, or are introduced to enable students to verify statements in the text. The general reader must and will accept Mr. Spedding's word in a work of this kind ; if he wishes for final authorities, he will find abundant help in his search by a reference to Mr. Spedding's original work.
The footnote references to Bacon's Works are in all cases to the Popular Edition in two volumes, published by Houghton, Osgood & Co., unless otherwise specified.
Character of the Act passed in the last Parliament for Defense of
Conduct of Elizabeth. — Proceedings in Parliament. — Subsidy
Fresh Intrigues between Spain and Scotland. Apprehensions of In-
vasion. - A new Parliament summoned. - Relations between the