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London : Printed by WILLIAM Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street

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BACON;

HIS WRITINGS, AND HIS PHILOSOPHY.

INTRODUCTION

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 ooks 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 rposes. 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 introducon and instrument of ready, reference.

It is like a ep of a country through which one has travelled, or is bout to travel ; or rather it is like what is called the keyep prefixed to a voluminous atlas, by which all the her maps are brought together into one view, and their insultation facilitated. To the generality of readers, again, a comprehensive rrvey 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 on) parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attenti This must be understood, from the title and whole s of the essay, to be addressed to students—to the paratively few a large portion of whose time is occr with books. If the illustrious author had been tre: of the subject of reading in general, with the “

grea culty," as he has himself called it,

he possesse so eminent a degree, of contracting his view as well dilating and dispersing it, of making his mental e microscope to discern the parts of whatever he inv gated as well as a telescope to take in the whole would not have omitted to remark also, that the book is often to be read in one way by one man an another way by another. We cannot have a better ample than his own writings. In their entire form fill many volumes ; they have been collected in thre four large folios, in five quartos, in a dozen or 1 octavos. Let the student of literature or philosophy say again, by all means read and inwardly digest e page of them; but it would be the height of pedantr recommend that anything like that should be done by readers. Even if the entire body of Bacon's works ei be produced at so small a cost as to be within the ri of all readers, the time to peruse them would be want Nor, even if such of them as are not in English wer be all translated (which they have not yet been), w they be found to be all, or nearly all, of universal i

Another remark that Bacon himself would have failed to make if he had been examining the ୩ tion of reading books in its whole extent, and on all si is, that, with few exceptions, all books lose somethin their first importance, at least for the world at la with the lapse of time. Works of science, or posi knowledge, especially, are always to some extent su seded, at least for their main or primary purpose, by growth or extension of that very branch of knowle

rest.

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