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THE LETTERS AND THE LIFE
INCLUDING ALL HIS
LETTERS SPEECHES TRACTS STATE PAPERS MEMORIALS DEVICES
PHILOSOPHICAL LITERARY OR PROFESSIONAL WORKS
Ree? Wilmann 2,1577.
J. E. TAYLOR AND CO., PRINTERS,
The two volumes last published included all Bacon's occasiona works of the descriptions enumerated in the title-page, up to April 1601. The two which I publish now carry on the series to the end of 1613, when he had just been made Attorney General. They are set forth upon the same plan in all respects as the former, and what I have to say about each piece will be found beside it.
The chief thing to be noticed here is the engraving which accompanies this volume, but which it will probably be thought expedient to transfer to Vol. I.
In the “ History and Plan of the Edition” prefixed to the Philosophical works, I told what I then knew about the portraits of Bacon : at which time (January, 1857) I had not seen any likeness of him in mature life which did not appear to be traceable to one or other of two originals,—the full-length painting at Gorhambury by Van Somer, or the old engraving by Simon Pass. But among the miniatures lent to the South Kensington museum for exhibition in 1865 there was a small one belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, which though evidently representing not only the same man but the same likeness of the same man as Van Somer's picture, could not be taken for a copy of it. In all those points in which copies always agree and independent originals always differ,the attitude, the point of view, the arrangement of the dress, the light and shadow, etc.,—the resemblance between the two was exact: in all those in which all copies fall short and only the best come near,- the physiognomical character, the drawing of the more delicate features, the living look,—the differences were considerable and the inferiority of the large picture manifest. All that was in the picture (as far as the head and shoulders) might easily have been got from the miniature : but there was much in the miniature which could not possibly have been got from the picture. And though, if we judge from modern practice, it may seem improbable that an artist of reputation like Van Somer would have painted a full-length portrait of a living subject from a miniature drawing by another man, I was told by the late Sir Charles Eastlake that it is not so. In those times it was the common practice (he said), when a portrait was wanted, to have in the first instance a careful drawing done in miniature; from which various copies would afterwards be made in any size or style that might be wished; “ and therefore” (he added) “when you meet with two portraits of that period—a miniature and a life-size painting—of which there is reason to believe that one has been copied from the other, the presumption always is that the miniature was the one taken from the life.” I am persuaded that there is no other way of explaining satisfactorily the peculiar relation between these two; and I now look upon the Duke of Buccleuch's miniature as the undoubted head of that whole family of Bacon portraits.
That it has never been engraved before, I cannot assert positively; for it is evident to me now that Houbraken's wellknown engraving was taken, not from Van Somer's painting (as I formerly supposed), but from this,—either directly or through some other copy. The resemblance however which convinces me of that fact is only in the composition and the general effect. It does not extend to the features, which are treated as usual with so little care for the likeness that no one could guess from the copy what the character of the face in the original really is. Without saying therefore that it has never been engraved before, I may at least say that another engraving was wanted : and having by the Duke of Buccleuch's permission (for which I hope everybody will join me in thanking him) had one made directly from the original, I leave it to speak for itself and make good its own title to acceptance.
Of the history and adventures of this miniature before it came into the Duke's possession nothing, I believe, is known. It is said to be by Peter Oliver ; though, if the dates be correct, he must have been a very young man when it was done. Isaac Oliver is said to have died in 1617, Peter to have been born in 1601. The picture is dated 1620. If there is no better reason for ascribing it to Peter than that his father was dead when the date was inserted, it is obvious to suggest that the date represents the time when it was finished : the face may have been painted some years earlier. But whether it were a very early work of the son's or a very late one of the father's, or a work left unfinished by the father and finished by the son, it is a masterly performance, and bears upon its face the evidence of its value. The letters seen round the margin, giving the year date and the age date, are in the original painted with gold on the blue background of the picture, round the inner border. In white on black it was thought they would be scarcely visible. In all other respects the engraving is as exact as it could be made.
There still remains to be discovered the original of Pass's print; which is to be sought for, not (as I once thought) among pictures by Cornelius Jansen, but among miniatures by Hilliard and the Olivers. A miniature undoubtedly representing the same portrait, and also ascribed to Peter Oliver, was to be seen in another part of the same exhibition at South Kensington; and though I cannot think that it was the same which Pass engraved, because the engraving has so much more life and cha. racter in it, or that it can have been the work of either Oliver's own hand at any stage in the development of their powers, it affords a fair presumption that such a miniature was once in existence.
The new matter of Bacon's own, contained in these two volumes,-reckoning as new not only what has not been printed before, but what has not been included in any former edition of Bacon's works-would fill about 150 pages, if collected together. A good deal of it however consists of notes of his speeches in Parliament, taken from the Journals of the House of Coinmons; which are so disjointed and fragmentary that it will be a question with many, whether they ought to have beeu included in a