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JULY, 1837.


ART. I.The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of

England. A new Edition. By Basil MONTAGU, Esq. Sixteen Vols. 8vo. London: 1825-1834.*


"E return our hearty thanks to Mr Montagu, as well for his

very valuable edition of Lord Bacon's Works, as for the instructive Life of the immortalauthor, contained in the last volume. We have much to say on the subject of this Life, and will often find ourselves obliged to dissent from the opinions of the biographer. But about his merit as a collector of the materials out of which opinions are formed, there can be no dispute ; and we readily acknowledge that we are in a great measure indebted to his minute and accurate researches for the means of refuting what we cannot but consider his errors.

The labour which has been bestowed on this volume has been a labour of love. The writeris evidently enamoured of the subject.


Though we are quite aware that the unusual length of this article may be apt, notwithstanding the highly recommendatory nature of its subject, to startle some of our readers, we cannot bring ourselves to think it possible that there is any intelligent scholar, who, on perusal, could wish it shorter. Without shortening we could, no doubt, have divided it. The intellectual repast might well furnish two plentiful

But this would have been contrary to our general practice; and more likely, we think, to disappoint than to gratify those we are most anxious to please. We therefore present it entire and at once, confident that we shall receive the thanks of the best class of readers for doing so.




It fills his heart. It constantly overflows from his lips and his pen. Those who are acquainted with the Courts in which Mr Montagu practises with so much ability and success, well know how often be enlivens the discussions of a point of law by citing some weighty aphorism, or some brilliant illustration, from the De Augmentis or the Novum Organum. The Life before us doubtless owes much of its value to the honest and generous enthusiasm of the writer. This feeling has stimulated his activity; has sustained his perseverance; has called forth all his ingenuity and eloquence : but, on the other hand, we must frankly say that it has, to a great extent, perverted his judgment.

We are by no means without sympathy for Mr Montagu even in what we consider as his weakness. There is scarcely any delusion which has a better claim to be indulgently treated than that under the influence of which a man ascribes every moral excellence to those who have left imperishable monuments of their genius. The causes of this error lie deep in the inmost recesses of human nature. We are all inclined to judge of others as we find them. Our estimate of a character always depends much on the manner in which that character affects our own interest and passions. We find it difficult to think well of those by whom we are thwarted or depressed; and we are ready to admit every excuse for the vices of those who are useful or agreeable to us. This is, we believe, one of those illusions to which the whole human race is subject, and which experience and reflexion can only partially remove. It is, in the phraseology of Bacon, one of the idola tribus. Hence it is, that the moral character of a man eminent in letters, or in the fine arts, is treated, ---often by contemporaries,--almost always by posterity,--with extraordinary tenderness. The world derives pleasure and advantage from the performances of such a man." The number of those who suffer by his personal vices is small, even in his own time, when compared with the number of those to whom his talents are a source of gratification. In a few years all those whom he has injured disappear. But his works remain, and are a source of delight to millions. The genius of Sallust is still with us. But the Numidians whom he plundered, and the unfortunate husbands who caught him in their houses at unseasonable hours, are forgotten. We suffer ourselves to be delighted by the keenness of Clarendon's observations, and by the sober majesty of his style, till we forget the oppressor and the bigot in the historian. Falstaff and Tom Jones have survived the gamekeepers whom Shakspeare cudgelled, and the landladies whom Fielding bilked. A great writer is the friend and benefactor of his readers; and they cannot but judge of him under the deluding influence of friendship and gratitude. We all know how unwilling we are to admit the

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