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philosophy, were never assembled together in any
work before or since. Like the tree of knowledge, it is laden with fruit both pleasant to the eye and grateful to the palate. Here, as in his Essays,* there is the same originality and clearness of thought, embodied in language often figurative, and always forcible, which expresses, with all the beauty and precision of the pencil, the very shade and shape of his ideas. His imagery is not made, but grows.
Unlike the artificial flower which the disciples of Linnæus presented to their master, it is the fresh and racy production of nature. In closeness of thought and terseness of expression, Bacon may be compared to his friend Hobbes, the famous philosopher of Malmesbury.It would be difficult, how
* Ante, pp. 30–33.
+ The lord Chancellor Bacon,' says Aubrey, 'loved to converse with him. He assisted his lordship in translating several of his essays into latin; one I well remember is that, “Of the Greatness of Cities,” the
ever, to name two men of equal eminence whose characters were so fundamentally different,—who had so little in common. In the writings of Bacon, we see a broad, deep stream of thought, flowing from the fountain of reason, always beautifully arched with the iris of imagination. In the works of Hobbes there is profoundity of thought, but it does not flow; it is rather—so to speak-pumped out of his mind, and transmitted through cold, unimaginative paragraphs, with all the mechanical accuracy of a pipe. Bacon humbly endeavoured to correct the false philosophy of his age, by teaching man to act as the servant and interpreter of nature; Hobbes arrogantly aimed at rearing, on a foundation of his own, a perfect system of moral and political science, 'counting it more honour to make a thing than to mend it.' * Bacon's ruling passion was a zeal for the advancement of knowledge; Hobbes sought for truth, but was blinded by the pride of paradox.
rest I have forgot. His lordship was a very contemplative person, and was wont to contemplate in his delicious walks at Gorhambury, and dictate to Mr. Bushell, or some other of his gentlemen, that attended him with ink and paper, ready to set down presently his thoughts. His lordship would often say that he better liked Mr. Hobbes's taking his thoughts, than any of the others, because he understood what he wrote, which the others not understanding, my lord would many times have a hard task to make sense of what they writ.'-Letters from the Bodleian Library, &c. vol. 2, p. 602, and see
Fearing that our modern languages would, at one time or other, play the bankrupt with books,t Bacon applied to Dr. Playfer, professor of divinity in the University of Cambridge, who had a great reputation as an elegant scholar, to translate his Advancement of Learning into latin, then the general language of the learned; for since,
* Fuller's Sermon of Reform, p. 21. Ed. 1643. # Letter to Mr. Matthew, vol. 12, p. 448.
And since,' he adds, “I have lost much time with this age, I would be glad, as God shall give me leave, to recover it with posterity.'
says Bacon, in a letter to the professor, ‘I have only taken upon me to ring a bell, to call other wits together, (which is the meanest office, it cannot but be consonant to my desire to have that bell heard as far as can be.' 'And since,' he continues, 'they are but sparks, which can work but upon matter prepared, I have the more reason to wish, that those sparks may fly abroad, that they may the better find, and light upon those minds and spirits which are apt to be kindled. And therefore, the privateness of the language considered wherein it is written, excluding so many readers, (as on the other side the obscurity of the argument, in many parts of it, excludeth many others;) I must account it a second birth of that work, if it might be translated into latin, without manifest loss of the sense and matter. For this purpose, I could not represent to myself any man, into whose hands I do more earnestly desire that work should fall, than yourself; for by that I have heard and read,
I know no man a greater master in commanding words to serve matter. Nevertheless I am not ignorant of the worth of your labours, whether such as your place and profession imposeth on you, or such as your own virtue may, upon your voluntary election, take in hand. But I can lay before you no other persuasions, than either the work itself may affect you with, or the honour of his majesty, to whom it is dedicated, or your particular inclination to myself; who as I never took so much comfort in any labours of my own, so I shall never acknowledge myself more obliged in any thing to the labour of another, than in that which shall assist this.' * Dr. Playfer readily undertook the task, but the specimen sent to Bacon being too polished and affected, he did not encourage him to proceed; and it is said, that he afterwards employed the pens of Mr. Herbert, Ben Jonson, and some
* Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 81.