Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small]

THE TREATISE DE DIGNITATE ET AUGMENTIS SCIENTIA

RUM; FORMING THE FIRST PART OF THE INSTAURATIO MAGNA.

WHEN the treatise De Augmentis Scientiarum was published, by itself, in 1623, it was introduced by a short advertisement from Dr. Rawley, Bacon's chaplain, the more essential portion of which is to the following effect :

“ Since it hath pleased my lord to do me the honour of making use of my assistance in setting forth his works, I have thought that it would not be improper for me briefly to inform the reader of some things which concern this First Volume. The present treatise, on the Dignity and Advancement of the Sciences, was published by his lordship eighteen years ago, in the English language, and in two Books only; and was addressed to his majesty, as it still is. Not long afterwards he became anxious to have it translated into Latin; having heard that that was desired in foreign countries, and being, moreover, himself wont often to say that books written in the modern tongues would ere long become bankrupt. He now, accordingly, publishes such a translation, executed by persons distinguished for their eloquence, and revised and corrected, besides, by himself. The First Book is merely a translation, and is very little changed; but the remaining eight, which declare the partitions of learning, and formerly made only one Book, come forth now as a new work. The principal reason which moved his lordship thus to rewrite and amplify the work was this ; that, in publishing long afterwards his Instauratio Magna, he appointed the Partitions of the Sciences to be the first part of that work; and to be followed first by the Novum Organum, then by the Historia Naturalis, and so forth. Finding, then, the said

part relating to the Partitions of the Sciences already executed (though less salidly than the dignity of the argument demanded), he thought the best thing he could do would be to go over again what he had written, and to bring it to the state of a satisfactory and completed work. And in this way he considers tiskat he fulfils the promise which he has given respecting the First Part of the Instauration.It had been noted at the end of the Distributio, published with the Novum Orguinum, that the First Part of the Instauration, comprehending the Partitions of the Sciences, was wanting ; but that the said Partitions might in part be gathered from the Se. cond Book of "The Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human.'

In his Life of Bacon prefixed in English to the Resuscitatio (1657), and in Latin to the Opuscula Posthuma (1658), Rawley speaks of the translation of the . Advancement of Learning' into Latin somewhat differently from what he does in this advertisement. In the English Life, in enumerating in their order the “ books and writings, both in English and Latin," written by Bacon after his retirement, he merely mentions the “ De Augmentis Scientiarum, or The Advancement of Learning, put into Latin, with several enrichments and enlargements," as if the translation had been wholly Bacon's own. In the Latin Life he expresses himself more emphatically: in there noticing the De Augmentis he describes it as a work which the author bestowed much labour in turning from English into Latin by his own exertions, or as the phrase might almost be rendered, without assistance ;="in quo e lingua vernacula, proprio marte, in Latinam transferendo honoratissimus auctor plurimum desudavit.” We must probably, however, understand the meaning of the worthy chaplain to be only that the translation was in part done by Bacon himself; and his words, in truth, strictly taken, do not assert more. In the Resuscitatio Rawley has printed among other Letters of Bacon's one entitled " A Letter of Request to Doctor Playfer to translate the book of Advancement of Learning into Latin.' There Bacon,

after some explanation of his desim in writing the Advancementin which, he says he had only taken upon him “ to ring a bell to call other wits together, which is the meanest office,"— aus, “ It cannot but be consonant to my

desire to have that bell heard as far as can be. 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 may 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 desire more earnestly 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, 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 own particular inclination to myself; who, as I never took so much comfort in any labour of mine own, so I shall never acknowledge myself more obliged in anything to the labour of another than in that which shall assist it; which your labour, if I can by my place, profession, means, friends, travail, work, deed, requite unto you, I shall esteem myself so straitly bound thereunto as I shall be ever most ready to take and seek occasion of thankfulness.' Doctor Thomas Playfer, or Playfere, who was Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, died in the beginning of the year 1608; so that the letter must have been written before then. Tenison relates, in the Introduction to the Baconiana (1679), that the translation was undertaken and actually begun by Playfer. “ The Doctor,” he says,

was willing to serve so excellent a person, and so worthy a design; and within a while sent him a specimen of a Latin translation. But men generally come short

of themselves when they strive to outdo themselves. They put a force upon their natural genius, and by straining of it crack and disable it. And so, it seems, it happened to that worthy and elegant man. Upon this great occasion he would be over-accurate; and he sent a specimen of such superfine Latinity, that the Lord Bacon did not encourage him to labour further in that work, in the penning of which he desired not so much neat and polite as clear, masculine, and apt ex, pression.” At this time, probably, Bacon contemplated nothing more than a correct translation of the English work, without additions. When he long afterwards determined to extend it so as that it might serve for the First Part of the Instauratio," he caused that part of of it,” Tenison tells us, " which he had written in English to be translated into the Latin tongue by Mr. Herbert [that is, George Herbert the poet], and some others who were esteemed masters in the Roman eloquence.'? If we are to understand this in what seems to be the natural and proper sense of the words, it would appear to have been only so much of the De Augmentis as had been already published under the title of the Advancement of Learning that was rendered into Latin by Herbert and his fellow-labourers; what was added, we are left to suppose, Bacon wrote in Latin, while, in the rest, also, “ he so suited the style to his conceptions, by a strict castigation of the whole work,” as Tenison adds, " that it may deservedly seem his own. We may add what Bacon has himself said in his letter to Bishop Andrews, prefixed to his . Advertisement touching an H ly War,' and written in 1623 : For that my book of Advancement of Learning may be some preparative or key for the better opening of the Instauration ; because it exhibits a mixture of new conceits and old, whereas the Instauration gives the new unmixed, otherwise than with some little aspersion of the old for taste's sake; I have thought good to procure a translation of that book into the general language, not without great and ample additions and enrichment thereof, especially in the Second Book, which handles the Partition of Sciences ; in such

sort as I hold it may serve in lieu of the First Part of the Instauration, and acquit my promise in that part.”

A few additional facts proper to be mentioned here may be gleaned from various letters of Bacon's, in which mention is made of the Advancement of Learning or of the De Augmentis. In a letter to his friend, Sir Toby Matthew, sent with a copy of the former on its first publication in 1605, we find him writing : “I have now at last taught that child to go, at the swaddling whereof you were. My work touching the Proficiency and Advancement of Learning, I have put into two Books; whereof the former, which you saw, I can't but account as a page to the latter. I have now published them both : whereof I thought it a small adventure to send you a copy,

who have more right to it than any man, except Bishop Andrews, whc was my inquisitor.” From this it would appear that the First Book of the Advancement had been completed probably some years before the second was added. In the letter accompanying the copy of the De Augmentis sent to the King Bacon writes :-" This book was the first thing that ever I presented to your majesty; and, it may be, will be the last. For I had thought it should have been posthuma proles. But God hath otherwise disposed for a while. It is a translation, but almost enlarged to a new work. I had good helps for the language. I have been also mine own index ecm purgatorius, that it may be read in all places. For, since my end of putting it into Latin was to have it read everywhere, it had been an absurd contradiction to free it in the language, and to pen it up in the matter." To the Prince he writes ;-" I send your highness, in all humbleness, my book of Advancement of Learning, translated into Latin, but so enlarged as it may go for a new work. It is a book, I think, will live, and be a citizen of the world as English books are not."

The De Augmentis was not reprinted in the lifetime of the author ; and the first edition is now an extremely rare book. The copy which Bacon presented to King James is still preserved in the British Museum. The subsequent editions Tenison complains of as having been

« AnteriorContinuar »