Francis Bacon (15611626). Of the Wisdom of the Ancients. 1857.
To the Most Illustrious The Earl of Salisbury
Lord High Treasurer of England, and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
THINGS dedicated to the University of Cambridge accrue to you as Chancellor; to all that proceeds from me you have a personal title. The question is, whether as these things are yours, so they are worthy of you. Now for that which is least worth in them (the wit of the author), your kindness towards me will let that pass; and there is nothing else in the matter to disgrace you. For if time be regarded,primæval antiquity is an object of the highest veneration; if the form of exposition,parable has ever been a kind of arc, in which the most precious portions of the sciences were deposited; if the matter of the work,it is philosophy, the second grace and ornament of life and the human soul. For be it said, that however philosophy in this our age, falling as it were into a second childhood, be left to young men and almost to boys, yet I hold it to be of all things, next to religion, the most important and most worthy of human nature. Even the art of politics, wherein you are so well approved both by faculty and by merits, and by the judgment of a most wise king, springs from the same fountain, and is a great part thereof. And if any man think these things of mine to be common and vulgar, it is not for me of course to say what I have effected; but my aim has been, passing by things obvious and obsolete and commonplace, to give some help towards the difficulties of life and the secrets of science. To the vulgar apprehension therefore they will be vulgar; but it may be that the deeper intellect will not be left aground by them, but rather (as I hope) carried along. While however I strive to attach some worth to this work, because it is dedicated to you, I am in danger of transgressing the bounds of modesty, seeing it is undertaken by myself. But you will accept it as a pledge of my affection, observance, and devotion to yourself, and will accord it the protection of your name. Seeing therefore that you have so many and so great affairs on your shoulders, I will not take up more of your time, but make an end, wishing you all felicity, and ever remaining yours,
Most bounden to you both by my zeal and your benefits,