Bacon eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 253 pages of information about Bacon.

Mirabeau said, what of course had been said before him, “On ne vaut, dans la partie executive de la vie humaine, que par le caractere.”  This is the key to Bacon’s failures as a judge and as a statesman, and why, knowing so much more and judging so much more wisely than James and Buckingham, he must be identified with the misdoings of that ignoble reign.  He had the courage of his opinions; but a man wants more than that:  he needs the manliness and the public spirit to enforce them, if they are true and salutary.  But this is what Bacon had not.  He did not mind being rebuffed; he knew that he was right, and did not care.  But to stand up against the King, to contradict him after he had spoken, to press an opinion or a measure on a man whose belief in his own wisdom was infinite, to risk not only being set down as a dreamer, but the King’s displeasure, and the ruin of being given over to the will of his enemies, this Bacon had not the fibre or the stiffness or the self-assertion to do.  He did not do what a man of firm will and strength of purpose, a man of high integrity, of habitual resolution, would have done.  Such men insist when they are responsible, and when they know that they are right; and they prevail, or accept the consequences.  Bacon, knowing all that he did, thinking all that he thought, was content to be the echo and the instrument of the cleverest, the foolishest, the vainest, the most pitiably unmanly of English kings.


[3] Calendar of State Papers (domestic), March 24, 1621.

[4] Commons’ Journals, March 17, April 27; iii. 560, 594-6.

[5] Commons’ Journals, iii. 578.  In his copy of the Novum Organum, received ex dono auctoris, Coke wrote the same words.

          “Auctori consilium
  Instaurare paras veterum documenta sophorum: 
  Instaura leges justitiamque prius.”

He added, with allusion to the ship in the frontispiece of the Novum Organum,

  “It deserveth not to be read in schools,
  But to be freighted in the ship of Fools.”




The tremendous sentences of those days, with their crushing fines, were often worse in sound than in reality.  They meant that for the moment a man was defeated and disgraced.  But it was quite understood that it did not necessarily follow that they would be enforced in all their severity.  The fine might be remitted, the imprisonment shortened, the ban of exclusion taken off.  At another turn of events or caprice the man himself might return to favour, and take his place in Parliament or the Council as if nothing had happened.  But, of course, a man might have powerful enemies, and the sentence might be pressed.  His fine might be assigned to some favourite; and he might be mined, even if in the long

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Bacon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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