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"THE Philosophical, Literary, and Professional Works of Francis Bacon," in seven volumes, octavo, was issued in England in 1857-59, under the editorship of Messrs. Spedding, Ellis, and Heath, and reprinted in this country with the sanction and aid of Mr. Spedding, in fifteen volumes, crown octavo. The plan of the English edition intended a second series, to contain the occasional writings of Bacon, and this series, under the editorship of Mr. Spedding alone, followed in 1861-1874, and occupied seven volumes, uniform with the previous series. It was so far a distinct work as to take on an independent title, as follows:

"The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon, including all his Occasional Works, namely, Letters, Speeches, Tracts, State Papers, Memorials, Devices, and all authentic writings not already printed among his Philosophical, Literary, or Professional Works: newly collected and set forth in chronological order, with a Commentary, biographical and historical; by James Spedding.'

This descriptive title indicates the editor's purpose to make the later division of Bacon's writings as exhaustive as the earlier; the character of the writings led him to present them in a different manner. In the first series, critical and historical prefaces and notes precede and accompany the separate works; in the second, a bio

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graphical and historical commentary forms a frame in which are set the letters and occasional writings, so that while the book is entitled "The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon," not far from one half of the whole work consists of Mr. Spedding's commentary. As Bacon entered the service of the state when twenty-four years old, and remained in it until his death, and as the years included by his life, 1560-1626, covered one of the notable periods of English history, it is plain that the resulting work must be a contribution both to the personal history of Bacon and to the political history of England.

Covering this field and displaying so minute a criticism, "The Letters and the Life of Bacon " is a comprehensive and suggestive work, which no thorough student of Bacon and his times can afford to neglect. But the comprehensiveness of the plan has stood in the way of a republication of the book in this country. The number of scholars who can give themselves to so full an examination of the subject is necessarily small, and for such the original edition remains. But the recent issue here of a Popular Edition of Bacon's works, in two volumes, gathered from the complete edition in fifteen volumes, has met with so hearty a reception from the public as to encourage the publishers in the belief that there is a large body of readers interested in Bacon and his writings, who would gladly avail themselves of an opportunity to read a biography which should present the result of the most thorough criticism and inquiry, and include so much of contemporary history as is needed to give the Life its proper setting.

With this view the present work has been planned and executed. Mr. Spedding, in the original edition, gave every scrap of Bacon's writings, not included in the previous series, which he could discover, adding also various


papers conjecturally Bacon's, and supplied the reader with all necessary apparatus for an intelligent apprehension of the occasion, scope, and influence of these writ ings. His plan led him into many subjects which have only an antiquarian interest, but it also required him to examine and state anew many points of English history which never can lose their interest for English and American readers. The editor of this American abridgment has followed Mr. Spedding's order and authority in all points; his part has been to retain those portions which he judges to be of most interest to American readThe result is that the relations of the two parts of the work have been somewhat altered. The commentary has become the main thing, and the writings are introduced as illustrating that. Hence, the book is no longer the Letters and the Life; it is not even the Life and the Letters, for the letters form so subordinate a part that the introduction of the word in the title would be misleading. Bacon's letters form a considerable portion of the original work, but in any popular and brief life of Bacon, the majority of them are not essential to the reader, although necessary to the writer.


The task of condensation was undertaken with Mr. Spedding's permission, but without any suggestion from him as to its scope. When the selections had been made, he examined them with a view of their being read as a separate Life, inserted what he thought wanting in the way of connection or explanation, and corrected such errors or supplied such deficiencies as he had discovered since the publication of his original work. The book, therefore, as it now stands, may be regarded as embodying the editor's conception of what would be chosen by an American reader who should judiciously skip in his reading of the original work, and Mr. Spedding's final

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