« VorigeDoorgaan »
The original collection, it is afterwards added, was (as I remember) gathered partly out of his own store and partly from the antients; and accordingly 'tis supplied out of his own works and the Mimi of Publius.” Publius is Publius Syrus (or the Syrian), the Mimographer, who flourished at Rome in the half century immediately preceding our era, and from whose lost Mimi, or Mimes, about a thousand pregnant or pithy remarks have been preserved, and often printed. Of these Tenison has selected 36, to supply the loss of those collected by Bacon. And to these he has added 73 sentences collected out of Bacon's own writings, mostly from the Essays. The title 'Ornamenta Rationalia' comprehends both these collections, and not only the first of them, as it is made to do by Mr. Montagu, and in all the common editions of Bacon's works.
The 'Short Notes for Civil Conversation' are taken, with the Essay on Death already mentioned, from the Remains, published in 1648. They consist of only nine short paragraphs or observations, of which the following is the third:
In all kinds of speech, either pleasant, grave, severe, or ordinary, it is convenient to speak leisurely, and rather drawingly than hastily; because hasty speech confounds the memory, and oftentimes, besides unseemliness, drives a man either to a nonplus or unseemly stammering, harping upon that which should follow; whereas a slow speech confirmeth the memory, [and] addeth a conceit of wisdom to the hearers, besides a seemliness of speech and countenance.
THE THEOLOGICAL WORKS.
Or what are called Bacon's Theological writings the first published, as far as is known, are his Meditationes Sacra, or Religious Meditations, which we have both in Latin and in English; the Latin copy having appeared, as already mentioned, along with the Essays as first published in 1597; the English, with the second edition of the Essays, dated 1598. They were probably originally written in Latin; but the English version may also be Bacon's own. The Latin title is preserved in both the original editions.
The Meditationes Sacræ are twelve short compositions of the same kind with the other Essays, except that they are on religious subjects. When the Essays were extended in the later editions, many things that were added were taken from the Meditationes Sacra, which were withdrawn from all the editions after that of 1606. One or two of the new Essays are indeed almost the same with what had previously appeared as Meditations. Other thoughts originally published under that title were afterwards transferred to the Advancement of Learning.
The titles of the Meditations are, 1. Of the Works of God and Man; 2. Of the Miracles of our Saviour; 3. Of the Innocency of the Dove, and the Wisdom of the Serpent; 4. Of the Exaltation of Charity; 5. Of the Moderation of Cares; 6. Of Earthly Hope; 7. Of Hypocrites; 8. Of Impostors; 9. Of the several kinds of Imposture; 10. Of Atheism; 11. Of Heresies; 12. Of the Church and the Scripture. Each begins with or is headed by a text of Scripture, on which it is in fact a brief comment, generally very ingenious, and either propounding a new interpretation of the words, or setting the subject in a peculiar and striking
light. Here is the Fourth, "Of the Exaltation of Charity:"
If I have rejoiced at the overthrow of him that hated me, or took pleasure when adversity did befall him.”—The detestation or renouncing of Job. For a man to love again where he is loved, it is the charity of publicans contracted by mutual profit and good offices; but to love a man's enemies is one of the cunningest points of the law of Christ, and an imitation of the divine nature. But yet again, of this charity there be divers degrees, whereof the first is to pardon our enemies when they repent, of which charity there is a shadow and image even in noble beasts; for of lions it is a received opinion that their fury and fierceness ceaseth towards anything that yieldeth and prostrateth itself. The second degree is to pardon our enemies though they persist, and without satisfactions and submissions. The third degree is not only to pardon and forgive, and forbear our enemies, but to deserve well of them and to do them good. But all these three degrees either have or may have in them a certain bravery and greatness of the mind rather than pure charity; for when a man perceiveth virtue to proceed and flow from himself, it is possible that he is puffed up, and takes contentment rather in the fruit of his own virtue than in the good of his neighbours; but if any evil overtake the enemy from any other coast than from thyself, and thou in the inwardest motives of thy heart be grieved and compassionate, and dost no ways insult as if thy days of right and revenge were at last come; this I interpret to be the height and exaltation of Charity.
The Fifth, "Of the Moderation (the moderating or restraining) of Cares," is as follows:
"Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof."-There ought to be a measure in worldly cares, otherwise they are both unprofitable, as those which oppress the mind and astonish the judgment, and prophane, as those which savour of a mind which promiseth to itself a certain perpetuity in the things of this world; for we ought to be day's men, and not to-morrow's men, considering the shortness of our time; and as he saith, "Laying hold on the present day;" for future things shall in their turns become presents, therefore the care of the present sufficeth. And yet moderate cares (whether they concern our particular or common wealth, or our friends) are not blamed.
But herein is a twofold excess; the one when the chain or thread of our cares is extended and spun out to an over great length, and unto times too far off, as if we could bind the divine Providence by our provisions, which, even with the heathen, was always found to be a thing insolent and unlucky; for those which did attribute much to fortune, and were ready at hand to apprehend with alacrity the present occasions, have for the most part in their actions been happy; but they who in a compass wisdom have entered into a confidence that they had belayed all events, have for the most part encountered misfortune. The second excess is when we dwell longer in our cares than is requisite for due deliberating or firm resolving; for who is there amongst us that careth no more than sufficeth either to resolve of a course or to conclude upon an impossibility, and doth not still chew over the same things, and tread a maze in the same thoughts, and vanisheth in them without issue or conclusion. Which kind of cares are most contrary to all divine and human respects.
And here is the Sixth, "Of Earthly Hope:"
"Better is the sight of the eye, than the apprehension of the mind."-Pure sense, receiving everything according to the natural impression, makes a better state and government of the mind, than these same imaginations and apprehensions of the mind; for the mind of man hath this nature and property even in the gravest and most settled wits, that from the sense of every particular, it doth as it were bound and spring forward, and take hold of other matters, foretelling unto itself that all shall prove like unto that which beateth upon the present sense; if the sense be of good, it easily runs into an unlimited hope, and into a like fear when the sense is of evil, according as is said
"The oracle of hopes doth oft abuse."
And that contrary,
"A froward soothsayer is fear in doubts."
But yet of fear there may be made some use, for it prepareth patience and awaketh industry:
"No shape of ill comes new or strange to me,
But hope seemeth a thing altogether unprofitable; for to what end serveth this conceit of good?
Consider and note a
little: if the good fall out less than thou hopest; good though
But perhaps you will ask the question, whether it be not better, when things stand in doubtful terms, to preserve the best, and rather hope well than distrust; specially seeing that hope doth cause a greater tranquillity of mind?
Surely I do judge a state of mind which in all doubtful expectations is settled and floateth not, and doth this out of a good government and composition of the affections, to be one of the principal supporters of man's life: but that assurance and repose of the mind, which only rides at anchor upon hope, I do reject as wavering and weak. Not that it is not convenient to foresee and pre-suppose out of a sound and sober conjecture, as well the good as the evil, that thereby we may fit our actions to the probabilities and likelihoods of their event, so that this be a work of the understanding and judg