Francis Bacon

Biography

(1561-1626)

This son of British aristocracy lived a charged political life in which he yo-yoed in and out of favor with England's royal court. He served in parliament, and on the Queen's Council, and the Council of the Learned, but never managed to gain a truly lucrative post. Poor political connections, bad money management, and perhaps a questionable personal life led to a series of legal problems that landed him a few days in the Tower of London and forced him into retirement. He wrote much of his life, covering everything from science and philosophy to politics and personal essays. Among other works, he published The Advancement of Learning (1605), and Novum Organum (1620), two books representative of his influence on the modern scientific method, as well as a utopian novel, The New Atlantis (1627), and, of course, his Essays (1597-1625), a personal, candid treatment of quotidian subjects like truth, revenge, love, atheism, superstition, travel, friendship, anger, and fame. As profound as he was prolific, Bacon stands with Montaigne at the head of the modern essayistic tradition, a forerunner of England's future master essayists.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Francis Bacon

Of atheism

Certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.

Of praise

There be so many false points of praise, that a man may justly hold it a suspect.

Of simulation and dissimulation

The best composition and temperature, is to have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit; dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign, if there be no remedy.

Of studies

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

Of truth

Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond, or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights.

Of vicissitude of things

In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandize.
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