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Bacon, Francis (1561-1626), 1st Viscount St Alban, Lord Chancellor, politician and philosopher
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Letter from Augustus De Morgan

7 Camden St, N.W. - Thanks him 'for the Bacon which you found in the Barrow - It all amounts to wondrous little'. If Whewell is right that Bacon was well known with Cambridge men how could he be so little quoted? When he has time he intends to work out the thesis 'That Newton was more indebted to the schoolmen than to Bacon, and probably better associated with them'. He has received Mansel's Bampton lectures: 'I tell him by this post that it is the best argument I have seen against subscription at matriculation'. Discusses Earnshaw's integration of the equation of sound, his own method from 1848 and that of Jacques Charles.

Postcard from W. W. Skeat to W. Aldis Wright

(Cambridge.)—Discusses the meaning of the phrase ‘cat in the pan’.

(Undated. Postmarked at Cambridge on 7 Dec. 1899.)



My reasons for supposing that, in ‘cat in the pan’ {1}, the cat means a pussy, are: (1) that the word cate does not seem ever to have been spelt without a final e; & (2) that cate does not appear in the singular number earlier than the time of Shakespeare; in all older quotations it is cates in the plural.

W W Skeat

[Direction:] W. Aldis Wright Esq. | Trinity College [At the foot:] Local.


Postmarked at Cambridge on 7 December 1899.

{1} The phrase occurs in Bacon’s essay ‘Of Cunning’.

Copy letter from Henry Sidgwick to Lady Victoria Welby-Gregory

Typewritten copy of letter dated 11 August 1891. Says that her two pamphlets she sent him have greatly interested him; believes that her Great Cloud of Witnesses will be most improving to the reader, 'if it does not reduce him to a too depressing state of scepticism.' Observes that it is difficult 'to persuade a plain man to go through the process necessary to attain precision of thought': attempted to do something similar in The Principles of Political Economy, but fears that he 'bored the readers horribly'. Would much like to see Herbert Spencer's answer to her Apparent Paradox; refers to the belief in ancestral ghosts. If she wants 'to call Locke as a "witness", it would be easy to find suitable quotations in Chap. ix of Book III of the Essays on the Human Understanding, which deals with the "Imperfection of Words".' Also refers to 'Aphorism xv in [Bacon's] Novum Organum'. However, he believes modern instances to be more impressive, 'as it might be supposed that the progress of science had removed the evils pointed out by Bacon and Locke.'

Gregory, Lady Victoria Alexandrina Maria Louisa Welby- (1837-1912) Lady Welby, philosopher

Letter from Wilfrid Gibson to R. C. Trevelyan

East Hendred, Wantage, Berkshire. - Thanks Bob for his 'delightful Christmas gift' [his poem "A Dream"]. Was 'busy on hack-work' when it arrived, so only read it yesterday with 'much interest and admiration'. Asks if the 'two lines about Verulam' mean that Bob is an 'advocate of the Baconian heresy' [about the authorship of Shakespeare's works]: if so, he is the first poet Wilfrid has met 'who could believe for a moment that the author of the essays could have written the plays'; has also 'never met an actor who could conceive that they were the work of an author without intimate stage-experience'. This is however a 'minor issue', which 'detracts little from the beauty and wisdom of the poem'. He and his wife send best wishes to the Trevelyans for Christmas and the new year.

Copy letter from Henry Sidgwick to Victoria Welby

Thanks Welby for sending him her two pamphlets [Ambiguities and Apparent Paradox], which he discusses. Declares that it is a difficult matter 'to persuade a plain man to go through the process necessary to attain precision of thought: it requires great literary skill in presenting the process.' Claims that he tried to do something of this sort in his Principles of Political Economy, but fears that he bored the readers. States that he would like to see Herbert Spencer's answer to Apparent Paradox. States that if she wants to call Locke as a witness 'it would be easy to find suitable quotations in Chap. IX of Book III of the Essay on Human Understanding, and that with regard to Bacon, there is Aphorism XV in the Novum Organum. Believes that modern instances are more impressive however.

Letter from John Sherren Brewer

JSB was aware that WW had a chapter on Francis Bacon in his Inductive Philosophy. WW's account has generated much of the current interest in Francis Bacon's philosophy. JSB is not at present employed on the Opus Majus, but the 'Opus Tertium' and 'Opus Minus'. The MS of these are very rare. Bacon frequently refers to the Opus Majus which is found in the Trinity MS, and JSB would like to see it. He has discovered a 'fine MS of this work at [Badby]'.

James Spedding: letters to William Henry Thompson, William George Clark, and William Aldis Wright

48 letters to W. H. Thompson dated 1831-1866, and 1 letter addressed to [John] Allen dated 24 Aug. 1840. Names mentioned in the accompanying calendar of the letters include Henry Alford; John Allen; Robert Leslie Ellis; Edward FitzGerald; Arthur Hallam; Walter Savage Landor; Samuel Laurence; Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton; Stephen Spring Rice; Sir Henry Taylor; Robert John Tennant; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Charles Tennyson [later Turner]; and William Wordsworth. Spedding also refers to his work on Francis Bacon.
With a further 35 letters to William Aldis Wright and William George Clark, dated 1862-1881. Letters to William George Clark date from 1862 to 1864 and relate to collations of Shakespeare's plays. Letters from 1881 to William Aldis Wright relate to Frederick James Furnivall, with copies of Spedding's letters to Furnivall, and one letter from Furnivall to Spedding dated 26 Feb. 1881. Accompanied by a mechanical copy of the Northumberland Manuscript.

Spedding, James (1808–1881), literary editor and biographer