Bacon eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 253 pages of information about Bacon.
or at least set apart for a while, these volatile and preposterous philosophies which have preferred theses to hypotheses, led experience captive, and triumphed over the works of God; and to approach with humility and veneration to unroll the volume of Creation, to linger and meditate therein, and with minds washed clean from opinions to study it in purity and integrity.  For this is that sound and language which “went forth into all lands,” and did not incur the confusion of Babel; this should men study to be perfect in, and becoming again as little children condescend to take the alphabet of it into their hands, and spare no pains to search and unravel the interpretation thereof, but pursue it strenuously and persevere even unto death.”—­Preface to Historia Naturalis:  translated, Works, v. 132-3.



Bacon’s name belongs to letters as well as to philosophy.  In his own day, whatever his contemporaries thought of his Instauration of Knowledge, he was in the first rank as a speaker and a writer.  Sir Walter Raleigh, contrasting him with Salisbury, who could speak but not write, and Northampton, who could write but not speak, thought Bacon eminent both as a speaker and a writer.  Ben Jonson, passing in review the more famous names of his own and the preceding age, from Sir Thomas More to Sir Philip Sidney, Hooker, Essex, and Raleigh, places Bacon without a rival at the head of the company as the man who had “fulfilled all numbers,” and “stood as the mark and [Greek:  akme] of our language.”  And he also records Bacon’s power as a speaker.  “No man,” he says, “ever spoke more neatly, more pressly, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered."..."His hearers could not cough or look aside from him without loss.  He commanded when he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion ... the fear of every man that heard him was that he should make an end.”  He notices one feature for which we are less prepared, though we know that the edge of Bacon’s sarcastic tongue was felt and resented in James’s Court.  “His speech,” says Ben Jonson, “was nobly censorious when he could spare and pass by a jest.”  The unpopularity which certainly seems to have gathered round his name may have had something to do with this reputation.

Yet as an English writer Bacon did not expect to be remembered, and he hardly cared to be.  He wrote much in Latin, and his first care was to have his books put into a Latin dress.  “For these modern languages,” he wrote to Toby Matthews towards the close of his life, “will at one time or another play the bank-rowte with books, and since I have lost much time with this age, I would be glad if God would give me leave to recover it with posterity.”  He wanted to be read by the learned out of England, who were supposed to appreciate his philosophical ideas better than his own countrymen, and the only way to

Project Gutenberg
Bacon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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