BACON AS A WRITER.
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