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complete the work, I some years since prepared that part which relates to the charge against him, and entrusted it to a friend, that, in the event of my death, my researches might not be lost.
The life is now submitted to public consideration. I cannot conclude without returning my grateful acknowledgments to the many friends to whom I am much indebted :—particularly to Archdeacon Wrangham, with the feeling of more than forty years' uninterrupted friendship;—to my intelligent friend, B. Heywood Bright, for his important co-operation and valuable communication from the Tanner Manuscripts;—to my dear friend, William Wood, for his encouragement during the progress of the work, and for his admirable translation of the Novum Organum. How impossible is it for me to express my obligations to the sweet taste of her to whom I am indebted for every blessing of my life!
I am well aware of the many faults with which the work abounds, and particularly of the occasional repetitions. I must trust to the lenient sentence of my reader, after he has been informed that it was not pursued in the undisturbed quiet of literary leisure, but in the few hours which could be rescued from arduous professional duties; not carefully composed by a student in his pensive citadel, but by a daily "delver in the laborious mine of the law," where the vexed printer frequently waited till the impatient client was dispatched; and that, to publish it as it is, I have been compelled to forego many advantages; to relinquish many of the enjoyments of social life, and to sacrifice not only the society, but even the correspondence of friends very dear to me. I ask, and I am sure I shall not ask in vain, for their forgiveness. One friend the grave has closed over, who cheered me in my task when I was weary, and better able, from his rich and comprehensive mind, to detect errors than any man, was always more happy to encourage and to commend. Wise as the serpent, gall-less as the dove, pious and pure of heart, tender, affectionate and forgiving, this and more than this I can say, after the trial of forty years, was my friend and instructor, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
I am now to quit for ever a work upon which I have so long and so happily been engaged. I must separate from my companion, my familiar friend, with whom, for more than thirty years, I have taken sweet counsel. With a deep feeling of humility I think of the conclusion of my labours; but I think of it with that satisfaction ever attendant upon the hope of being an instrument of good. "Power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring. Merit and good works is the end of man's motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man's rest; for, if man can be a partaker of God's theatre, he will be a partaker of God's rest.'" (a)
I please myself with the hope that I may induce some young man, who, at his entrance into life, is anxious to do justice to his powers, to enjoy that "suavissima vita indies sentire se fieri meliorem" to look into the works of our illustrious countryman. I venture also to hope that, in these times of inquiry,
(a) Essay on Great Place.
the works of this philosopher may, without interfering with academical studies, be deemed deserving the consideration of our universities, framed, as they so wisely are, for the diffusion of the knowledge of our predecessors. Perhaps some opulent member of the university, when considering how he may extend to future times the blessings which he has enjoyed in his pilgrimage, may think that in the University of Cambridge, a Verulamian Professorship might be productive of good :—but these expectations may be the illusions of a lover; and it is not given to man to love and to be wise.—There are, however, pleasures of which nothing can bereave me; the consciousness that I have endeavoured to render some assistance to science and to the profession, the noble intellectual profession of which I am a member. How deeply, how gratefully do I feel; with what a lofty spirit and sweet content do I think of the constant kindness of my many, many friends.
And now, for the last time, I use the words of Lord Bacon, "Being at some pause, looking back into that I have passed through, this writing seemeth to me, 'si nunquam fall it imago,' as far as a man can judge of his own work, not much better than the noise or sound which musicians make while they are tuning their instruments, which is nothing pleasant to hear, but yet is a cause why the music is sweeter afterwards: so have I been content to tune the instruments of the muses, that they may play that have better hands."
To posterity and distant ages Bacon bequeathed his good name, and posterity and distant ages will do him ample justice. Wisdom herself has suffered in his disgrace, but year after year brings to light proof of the arts that worked Bacon's downfall, and covered his character with obloquy. He will find some future historian who, assisted by the patient labours of the present editor, with all his zeal and ten-fold his ability; with power equal to the work and leisure to pursue it, will dig the statue from the rubbish which may yet deface it; and, obliterating one by one the paltry libels scrawled upon its base, will place it, to the honour of true science, in a temple worthy of his greatness.