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BACON's collection of Apophthegms, though a sick man's task, ought not to be regarded as a work merely of amusement; still less as a jest-book. It was meant for a contribution, though a slight one, towards the supply of what he had long considered as a desideratum in literature. In the Advancement of Learning he had mentioned Apophthegms with respect, along with Orations and Letters, as one of the appendices to Civil History; regretting the loss of Cæsar's collection ; " for as for those which are collected by others (he said) either I have no taste in such matters, or their choice hath not been happy.”] This was in 1605. In revising and enlarging that treatise in 1623, he had spoken of their use and worth rather more fully. “ They serve (he said) not for pleasure only and ornament, but also for action and business ; being, as one called them, mucrones verborum, — speeches with a point or edge, whereby knots in business are pierced and severed. And as former occasions are continually recurring, that which served once will often serve again, either produced as a man's own or cited as of ancient authority. Nor can there be any doubt of the utility in business of a thing which Cæsar the Dictator thought worthy of his own labour; whose collection I wish had been preserved; for as for any others that we have in this kind, but little judgment has in my opinion been used in the selection.”2 Of this serious use of apo
1 Vol. III. p. 342.
2 “Neque apophthegmata ipsa ad delectationem et ornatum tantum prosunt, sed ad res gerendas etiam et usus civiles. Sunt enim (ut aiebat ille) veluti secures aut mucrones verborum; qui rerum et negotiorum nodos acumine quodam secant et penetrant ; occasiones autem redeunt in orbem, et quod olim erit commodum rursus adhiberi et prodesse potest, sive quis ea tanquam sua proferat, sive tanquam vetera. Neque certe de utilitate ejus rei ad civilia dubitari potest, quam Cæsar Dictator operâ suâ honestavit ; cujus liber, utinam estaret, cum ea quæ usquam habentur in hoc genere nobis parum cum delectu congesta videantur." --- De duy. Sri. ii. 12.
phthegms Bacon himself had had long experience, having been all his life a great citer of them; and in the autumn of 1624, when he was recovering from a severe illness, he employed himself in dictating from memory a number that occurred to him as worth setting down.
The fate of this collection has been singular. The original edition' (a very small octavo volume dated 1625, but published about the middle of December 16242) consisted of 280 apophthegms, with a short preface. Of this volume Dr. Rawley, in the first edition of the Resuscitatio (1657), makes no mention whatever, either where he enumerates the works composed during the last five years of Bacon's life, or in the “ perfect list of his Lordship's true works both in English and Latin” at the end of the volume. And his words, taken strictly, would seem to imply (since he cannot have been ignorant of its existence) that he did not acknowledge it as Bacon's. But I suppose he had either forgotten it, or did not think it important or original enough to be worth mentioning.
In 1658 there came forth a small volume, without any editor's name, under the following title: Witty Apophthegms delivered at several times and upon several occasions, by King James, King Charles, the Marquess of Worcester, Francis Lord Bacon, and Sir Thomas Moore. Collected and revised. In this volume the apophthegms attributed to Bacon are in all 184; of which 163 are copied verbatim from his own collection of 1625, and follow (with one or two slight exceptions, probably accidental) in the same order. The remaining 21, which are mostly of a very inferior character, are not added but interspersed.
In 1661 appeared a second edition, or rather a reissue, of the Resuscitatio, edited as before by Dr. Rawley, and with some additions; among which was a collection of “ Apophthegms, new and old." This, though introduced without a word of preface or advertisement from editor or publisher, was so far from being a reprint of the original collection of 1625, that I do not think the editor can have had a copy of it to refer to. Of the original 280 no less than 71 are entirely omitted; 39 new ones are introduced; the order is totally changed; the text considerably altered. The alterations in the text are indeed (though I think not generally for the better) no more than might have been made by Bacon himself in revising the book. A few of the omissions also might be accounted for in the same way; but very many of the omitted ones are among the best in the volume, and such as he could have no motive for suppressing. Still less is it possible to imagine a reason for the change of order, which could hardly have been more complete or more capricious if the leaves of the book had been first separated and then shuffled. Whoever will take a copy of the bound volume and endeavour to write directions in it for any such change in the arrangement, will see that it could not have been done without a great deal of time and trouble. And seeing that it was now more than thirty years since that volume appeared, that it had never been reprinted, nor ever much valued, and (being so small) might easily be lost, the more probable supposition is that Dr. Rawley had no copy of it, and made up his collection from loose and imperfect manuscripts.
| Apophthegmes new and old. Collected by the Right IIonourable Francis Lo. Verulain l'iscount St. Alban. London. Privteil for Hanna Burret and Richard Whittaker, and are to be sold at the King's Ilead in Paul's Church.yard. 1625.
A copy in Gray's Inn Library has the date 1626 : but appears to be in all other respects exactly the same.
* Chamberlain to Carlton, 18 Dec. 1624. Court and Times of James I., ii. p. 180.
In 1671, three or four years after Dr. Rawley's death, appeared a third edition of the Resuscitatio, in two parts. The first part contains a collection of Apophthegms, which from the publisher's preface one would expect to find a mere reprint from the second edition. But it is in fact a new collection, made up by incorporating the “ Witty Apophthegms” of 1658, of which it contains all but 12, with Dr. Rawley's collection of 1661. By this means the number of apophthegms is increased from 248 to 296 ; the new ones being not added as a supplement, but interspersed among the old. Of the 71 which formed part of Bacon's original collection but not of Dr. Rawley's, 32 are thus supplied. Eight more might have been supplied from the same source, but were left out perhaps by accident. There remained therefore 39 genuine ones still to be recovered; a fact which may be best explained by supposing that the editor of the third edition of the Resuscitatio had not been able, any more than Dr. Rawley when he edited the second, to procure a copy of the original volume.
In 1679, a new volume of remains, under the title of Baconiana, was published by Dr. Tenison from original manuscripts; with an introduction containing “an account of all the Lord Bacon's works.” In this introduction he tells us (p. 59.) that the best edition of the Apophthegms was the first (1625); and censures as spurious, or at least as including spurious matter, the additions contained in the two collections last mentioned of 1658 and 1671 ; but of Dr. Rawley's collection in 1661 he strangely enough makes no mention whatever. In the body of the work he gives 27 additional apophthegms, found among Bacon's papers, and never before printed.
Next came Blackbourne, in 1730, with an edition of Bacon's works complete in 4 volumes folio. His plan in dealing with the Apophthegms was to reprint,lst, the whole collection (repetitions omitted) as it stood in the third edition of the Resuscitatio; 2ndly, the 27 additional ones in Tenison's Baconiana (all but 3; which he omitted, not very judiciously, because they are to be found in the Essays); 3rdly, the remaining 39, contained in the original edition, but omitted in all later copies. Thus we had for the first time a collection which included all the genuine apophthegms. But it was defective in this, – that it included likewise all, or all but one or two, of those which Tenison had alluded to in general terms as spurious; and that no attempt was made in it to distinguish those which had Dr. Rawley's sanction from those which had not.
Succeeding editors followed Blackbourne, without either noticing or trying to remedy this defect; until Mr. Montagı took up the task in his edition of 1825, in which he made an attempt, more laudable than successful, to separate the genuine from the spurious. Taking Tenison's remark as his guide, he reprinted the original collection of 1625 exactly as it stood, (or at least meant to do so; for there are more than 130 places in which his copy differs from the original,) and then added the supplementary collection in the Baconiana. The rest he concluded to be spurious, and gathered them (or meant to gather them and thought he had done so) into an appendix, under that title. But in this he took no account of the second edition of the Resuscitatio, which must certainly be considered as having the sanction of Dr. Rawley; and the principle, whatever it was, upon which he proceeded to climinate the spurious apophthegms was altogether fallacious. Observing that the last apophthegm in the third edition of the Resuscitatio was numbered 308, whereas in the original collection there
were only 280; and not observing that of those 308, 12 were given twice over; he seems to have concluded that the number of the spurious must be 28, and that they might be found by simply going through the later collection, and marking off all those which were not given in the earlier. And the first 25 in his spurious list were probably selected in that way; for they are the first 25 (one only excepted, which is given in the original collection, and was probably marked off by mistake) which answer the conditions; and they are set down in the order in which to a person so proceeding they would naturally present themselves. Upon what principle he selected the other three which make up the 28, I cannot guess. One of them he has himself printed a few pages before among the genuine; another he quotes in his preface as one which he can hardly believe not to be genuine; and before he came to the third, he must, if he took them as they stand in the book, have passed by 20 others which have precisely the same title to the distinction. But howsoever he went about it, his result is certainly wrong; for among his 28 spurious apophthegms there are several which were undoubtedly sanctioned by Dr. Rawley, besides the two which had been previously printed among the genuine ones by himself; and when all is done, there remain no less than 30 others, silently omitted and entirely unaccounted for.
Such is the latest shape in which this little work appears.' The common editions contain all the apophthegms; but some that are spurious are printed in them as genuine. Mr. Montagu's edition does not contain all : and some that are genuine are printed in it as spurious.
I have now to explain the plan upon which I have myself proceeded in order to set the matter right.
First. Considering that the edition of 1625 was published during Bacon's life, with his name on the title-page; that there is no reason for supposing that he revised or altered it afterwards; and that there is some reason for suspecting that the collection published by Dr. Rawley in 1661, far from
This was written before the appearance of Mr. Bohu's volume of the Moral and Historical Works of Lord Bacon, edited by Joseph Devey, M.A., which professes to contain the “ Apophthegms; omitting those known to be spurious." Of the collection there given however it is not necessary to take any further notice. It is merely a selection from a selection, in which no attempt has really been made to distinguish the spurious from the genuine.