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COGITATIONES DE SCIENTIA HUMANA.
The value of this collection would be much increased if the dates of the several pieces could be fixed, or even the order of succession. I fear however that it is impossible to do this with any certainty. I have arranged them in the order in which it seems to me most probable that they were written, but the evidence is so scanty and unsatisfactory that I wish every reader to consider it an open question and to judge for himself upon the data which will be laid before him.
This which I place first, and to which for convenience of reference I give the title Cogitationes de Scientiâ Humanâ, is a fragment, or rather three separate fragments, that have not been printed before. They are copied from a manuscript which came to the British Museum among the papers of Dr. Birch, who appears to have received it from the executors of Mr. John Locker. Locker was a friend of Robert Stephens, the Historiographer Royal; was employed by him to see through the press his second collection of Bacon's letters, published in 1734; was afterwards engaged in preparing an edition of all Bacon's works, but died before it was completed; whereupon the task, together with the papers which he had collected, was transferred to Dr. Birch.
Of the history of this manuscript I have not been able to learn anything beyond what appears upon the face of it. It is a transcript in a hand of the 18th century, and has evidently been made from a mutilated original ; blank spaces having been left by the transcriber in several parts, such as would occur in the copy, not of an unfinished or illegible writing, but of one worn away at the edges of the outer leaves. The leaves of the transcript are put together in a false order, and are not numbered; which makes it less easy to guess what the original consisted of. But it looks as if there had been three separate papers, each wanting a leaf or two at the beginning, and each containing a series of “ Cogitationes” or short philosophical essays. The transcript has been corrected throughout by Locker himself and prepared for the press or the copyist; some passages being marked for omission, and some to stand, and titles being added to the latter. It seems that he meant to include in his edition of Bacon's works all those portions which were not to be found elsewhere in the same or nearly the same words. As these titles do not appear to have formen part of the original, I have omitted them here; my object being to print Bacon's own paper as Locker received it; which I suppose the transcriber to have copied as correctly as he could.
The subjects of cogitation are various, and not arranged in any logical order. I find interspersed among them the four fables, Metis, Soror Gigantum, Cælum, and Proteus, exactly as they are printed in the De Sapientiâ Veterum; and the fifth, sixth, seventh, and tenth of the Cogitationes de Rerum Naturâ, exactly as they are given by Gruter; except a few verbal differences which I have pointed out where they occur. In the last mentioned (which forms the seventh article of the first fragment), the passage about the new star in Cassiopeia appears in the same words and with the same context precisely ; and therefore the reasons which I have given for presuming that the Cogitationes de Rerum Naturâ were written before 1605 are equally applicable to this fragment. It is on this account that I place it first in the series; not that some of the other pieces contained in this part may not have been written earlier than 1605, but that there is none among them concerning which I have such good grounds for concluding that it cannot have been written later.
The Cogitatio in which this passage occurs is immediately followed by one on the true relation between natural philosophy and natural history; in which the kind of natural history on which a sound and active philosophy may be built is particularly described. If we could be sure that this also was written before 1605, the fact would be valuable; as showing that this part of the design was no after thought, but was as clearly conceived, and its essential importance as