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London : Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street

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BACON;

HIS WRITINGS, AND HIS PHILOSOPHY.

INTRODUCTION.

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ACON has himself said, that, although some books may e read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others, lat should be only in the less important arguments and le meaner sort of books ; “ else,” he adds, “distilled poks are like common distilled waters, flashy things." his is in his essay entitled “Of Studies; and undoubtlly the works of a great writer can only be properly udied in their original form. But abridgements, compendiums, analyses, even of the orks of the greatest writers, may still serve important urposes. If properly executed, even the student of the iginal works may find them of use both as guides and

remembrancers. A good compendium should be at ast the best index and synopsis. The more extensive le original book, or books, the more is such a compenjous analysis wanted, not to supersede or be a substiite for the original, but to accompany it as an introducpn and instrument of ready reference.

It is like a ap of a country through which one has travelled, or is bout to travel ; or rather it is like what is called the keyap prefixed to a voluminous atlas, by which all the ther maps are brought together into one view, and their onsultation facilitated. To the generality of readers, again, a comprehensive irvey in small compass of an extensive and various mass i writings is calculated to be more than such a mere conenient table of contents or ground-plan. In the same ssay Bacon has said, “ Some books are to be tasted,

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others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed digested; that is, some books are to be read only parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and s few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attenti This must be understood, from the title and whole st of the essay, to be addressed to students—to the c paratively few a large portion of whose time is occu with books. If the illustrious author had been treat of the subject of reading in general, with the “ great culty," as he has himself called it, which he possesset so eminent a degree, of contracting his view as well a dilating and dispersing it, of making his mental ey microscope to discern the parts of whatever he inve gated as well as a telescope to take in the whole, would not have omitted to remark also, that the sa book is often to be read in one way by one man and another way by another. We cannot have a better ample than his own writings. In their entire form ti fill many volumes; they have been collected in three four large folios, in five quartos, in a dozen or mu octavos. Let the student of literature or philosophy, say again, by all means read and inwardly digest eve page of them; but it would be the height of pedantry recommend that anything like that should be done by readers. Even if the entire body of Bacon's works for be produced at so small a cost as to be within the rea of all readers, the time to peruse them would be wantir Nor, even if such of them as are not in English were be all translated (which they have not yet been), wou they be found to be all, or nearly all, of universal in rest. Another remark that Bacon himself would i have failed to make if he had been examining the que tion of reading books in its whole extent, and on all sidi is, that, with few exceptions, all books lose something their first importance, at least for the world at larg with the lapse of time. Works of science, or positi knowledge, especially, are always to some extent sup seded, at least for their main or primary purpose, by t growth or extension of that very branch of knowled

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