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AMONG the pieces collected by Gruter under the title Impetus Philosophici, the first is entitled Indicia vera de Interpretatione Naturæ. It consists of the preface to the Novum Organum (Qui de naturâ tanquam de re exploratâ fc.) which has already been printed Vol. I. p. 115.; the Partis secundæ delineatio et Argumentum ; and a small portion of the Redargutio Philosophiarum; all three printed consecutively under the same general heading, as if they had been found together in the original manuscript and formed one composition. The last (which has no separate heading, but is printed as if it were a part of the Delineatio) breaks off abruptly. But a manuscript discovered by Robert Stephens among Lord Oxford's collections, and now in the British Museum', enables us to complete it, and supplies the title. That it is the same writing there can be no doubt; for the first three or four pages of the manuscript are identical, or nearly so, with the last three or four printed by Gruter, and the whole fits perfectly into its place.
The Delineatio is a sketch of the plan of the Novum Organum, as then designed; and is interesting for three reasons. First, it contains the earliest intimation of the entire scheme of the Instauratio Magna ; which Bacon had already resolved to distribute into six parts: the second to treat of the art of interpretation; the third, fourth, and sixth to exhibit the results of the art applied; and the fifth to be provisional, consisting of anticipations arrived at by the ordinary method, which were afterwards to be verified by the true method. All which agrees exactly with the design ultimately developed in the Distributro Operis. Of the first part he says nothing; perhaps because, though he had determined to introduce into it the substance of the Advancement of Learning, he had not yet settled the form; and this again agrees very well with my conjecture as to the history of the De Augmentis. Secondly, it marks a stage in the development of Bacon's philosophical theory: by comparing it with the Valerius Terminus, the Cogitata et Visa, and the Novum Organum, we learn something as to the changes which his design underwent as he worked it out (see Mr. Ellis's General Preface, Vol. I. p. 39., and Preface to Novum Organum, p. 79.). Thirdly, though it was afterwards superseded by that portion of the Distributio Operis which describes the contents of the second part of the Instauratio, it is in some placng more full and particular, and the description of the Ministratio ad Rationem adds something to what we otherwise know concerning those parts of the inductive process which were to have been developed in the third book of the Novum Organum.
i Harl. MSS. 6855.
As to the time when it was composed, Mr. Ellis has shown in his preface to the Novum Organum that it must have been written before the Cogitata et Visa, and as there can be no doubt that it was written after the Advancement of Learning and the Valerius Terminus, it may be referred with tolerable confidence to the year 1606 or 1607.
According to the plan sketched out in it, the work was to begin with an attempt to clear the mind from impressions derived from the philosophical theories then extant and received ; and with this accordingly, the sketch of the plan being completed, the work itself begins. The Redargutio Philosophiarum which follows may in fact be considered as the first chapter of the second part of the Instauratio, as it was then designed. I therefore print them together. I would not however be understood to imply thereby that they were composed at the same time. The arguments which convince Mr. Ellis that the Delineatio was written before the Cogitata et Visa apply to the Delineatio only. The Redargutio, like the second chapter of the Temporis Partus Masculus, may have been composed at a much later period than the work of which it was nevertheless meant to form a part; and while the internal evidence proves almost conclusively that that second chapter was an earlier form of the Redargutio than this, there is a piece of external evidence which strongly inclines me to think that the idea out of which they both grew occurred to Bacon about the same time.
In my general preface to the third part of the Philosophical works I have spoken of the difficulty which Bacon found or apprehended about this time in obtaining an audience for his views, and the various devices which he resorted to for the purpose of overcoming or avoiding them. In my preface to the Temporis Partus Masculus I have endeavoured to account for the tone of arrogance assumed in the second chapter, by supposing it to have been an experiment of that kind; and I have quoted two entries from the Commentarius Solutus, as suggesting a possible and I think not improbable explanation of it. I shall now quote, in connexion with this much improved edition of the same argument, the entire page in which one of those entries occurs. The date is July 26, 1608 ; and the notes run thus:
“ Ordinary discourse of plus ultra in sciences, as well the intellectual globe as the material, illustrated by discovery in our age.
“Discoursing scornfully of the philosophy of the Grecians, with some better respect to the Ægyptians, Persians, Caldees, and the utmost antiquity, and the mysteries of the poets.
« Comparing the case with that which Livy sayeth of Alexander, Nil aliud quam bene ausus vana contemnere.
" Qu. of an oration ad filios; delightful, sublime, and mixed with elegancy, affection, novelty of conceit and yet sensible, and superstition.
“ To consider what opinions are fit to nourish tanquam ansæ, and so to grift the new upon the old, ut religiones solent.
“ Ordinary course of incompetency of reason for natural philosophy and invention of works, a pretty device to buy and sell with: Aditus non nisi sub persona infantis.”
Now if the tenor of these notes, especially the fourth, be compared with the noble oration supposed to be addressed to the assembled sages of Paris in the Redargutio Philosophiarum, the connexion will appear close enough, I think, to justify us in concluding that it was composed after July 1608; and this would accord very well with M. Bouillet’s conjecture that this was the manuscript sent by Bacon to Tobie Matthew in a letter dated October 10,1609, and alluded to in the following passage: “ I send you at this time the only part which hath any harshness. And yet I framed to myself an opinion that whosoever allowed well of that preface which you so much commend, VOL. III.