The text presented here is based on James Spedding's authoritative edition of 1861. Spedding derived his text from the manuscript in the British Museum (Add. ms 7084 Plut. CXXIV. D.) and the first edition of 1622, printed by W. Stansby for Mathew Lownes and William Barret. To check Spedding's accuracy and judgment, I compared his text, line by line, with both the manuscript and the 1622 edition, the only edition to appear during Bacon's life. Spedding rightly chose to use the manuscript as the ultimate authority, in most cases and whenever possible. For although the manuscript is not in Bacon's hand, many of its corrections are, and clearly he went over it very carefully. We can only assume that Bacon intervened and made corrections in the course of producing the first printed edition.
Spedding for the most part used paragraph divisions as they appear in the manuscript. He followed the spirit if not the form of its punctuation and modernized the spelling. My examination of the three texts reveals Spedding to have been careful and sober in his judgment. I have noted the few instances in which he did not indicate, in the case of a discrepancy, that he has followed the manuscript or the 1622 edition. The manuscript has three small sets of missing leaves, which I have identified in the footnotes. The 1622 edition is remarkably faithful to the manuscript; discrepancies, when they occur, range from the trivial to the minor and in no case lead to any problem of meaning. When discrepancies are more than merely trivial, I have noted them. In addition to comparing the original English texts, I also compared them, again retracing Spedding's steps, to the Latin translation, which