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made strenuous efforts to obtain for Bacon the position of attorneygeneral and a rich wife, and, failing in both undertakings, presented him with an estate at Twickenham valued at eighteen hundred pounds. In the struggle for both these ends, Bacon came into collision with
the famous lawyer, Sir Edward Coke, who obtained both the office and the lady; incidentally, the men became life-long enemies. Bacon repaid the efforts of Essex in his behalf by an act of perfidy that has hardly a parallel in history. Essex was a proud and hot-headed
man and these qualities finally caused him to lose the favor of Queen Elizabeth. In his efforts to regain it, he, contrary to Bacon's advice, committed first indiscreet and then treasonable acts. In the prosecution which followed, Bacon, in order to win the favor of the Queen, consented to appear against his friend and was instrumental in securing his condemnation and execution. This signal proof of subserviency did not, however, advance him in Elizabeth's confidence, and it was not until her successor, James I, came to the throne that he began to make much progress in a material way. Upon James's accession he was made a knight, along with three hundred others, and repaid his patron by using his great talents in parliament to promote the power of the crown against the rights of the people. In 1607 he became solicitor-general, in 1613 attorney-general, in 1616 lord chancellor, in 1618 Baron Verulam, and in 1620 Viscount St. Albans. In connection with these various offices he undoubtedly performed some great public services, the chief of them being in connection with the political union of England and Scotland, and he discharged his duties with efficiency and dispatch; but he permitted himself to be influenced in judicial decisions by the wishes of the court. He also made two fatal mistakes. The first of these was to receive presents from litigants, and the second was to use his power to oust Coke from office. The result was in 1620 a parliamentary prosecution, which found him guilty of receiving bribes and sentenced him to imprisonment in the Tower during the king's pleasure, to a fine of forty thousand pounds, and to loss of citizenship. He spent the remaining six years of his life in literary pursuits.
In the career thus briefly outlined, there is little to command the respect or admiration of posterity; indeed, it seems amply to justify Pope's famous couplet,
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind.” But when we turn from Bacon's life to his literary and philosophical works, we are at once in a different world. From his boyhood days his chief interest had been in intellectual pursuits, his chief ambition to increase the sum of human knowledge. In 1591 he had written to Burleigh that he had taken all knowledge to be his field. The first
o the es eric hot-be
published fruits of his genius were his essays, of which he published ten in 1597. In 1612 he issued a second edition, in which the number had grown to thirty-eight, and in 1625 a third, which contained fifty-eight. These compositions are in reality little more than collections of notes on various subjects, often thrown together without any apparent connection or arrangement. There had been nothing like them before in the English language and nothing, indeed, in any language, unless we except the French essays of Montaigne. They immediately became popular and have continued so ever since, and with good reason, for they are among the weightiest and wisest compositions in the language. The student who wishes to get a taste of their quality would probably do best to begin by reading the essays on Death, Beauty, Deformity, Adversity, and Studies. In the latter, Bacon
says “ that some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." These essays belong in the third class. They are hard reading; but once mastered they are a source of perennial intellectual power. The thing about them which undoubtedly will most strike the casual reader is the number of proverbial phrases and sentences which they contain; for instance:
“God Almighty first planned a garden, and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures." Of Gardens.
“ Houses are built to live in and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had.” Of Building.
“No pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of Truth.” Of Truth.
“Men fear death as children fear to go into the dark.” Of Death.
“ Virtue is, like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed.” Of Adversity.
Let parents choose betimes the vocations and courses their children should take.” Of Parents and Children.
“When a man should marry? A young man not yet, an elder man not at all.” Of Marriage and Single Life.
“Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.” Of Seditions and Troubles.
A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to Atheism, but depth
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in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.” Of Atheism.
“I knew a wise man that had it for a byword when he saw men hasten to a conclusion, “ Stay a little that we may make an end the sooner. Of Dispatch.
“ There is no man who imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his grief to his friend, but that he grieveth the less." Of Friendship.
“Discretion of speech is more than eloquence.” Of Discourse.
“It breeds great perfection if the practice be harder than the use." Of Nature and Men.
Bacon's fame, however, rests upon a more solid foundation than his essays. It rests upon a great but unfinished work, the “Instauratio Scientiarum,” which he designs to be a review and encyclopædia of all knowledge. In 1605 he published “ The Advancement of Learning,” which, afterwards revised and translated into Latin under the title "De Augmentis Scientiarum," constitutes the first part of this work. In it he discusses the excellence of knowledge, the means of disseminating it, and its three branches, which are history, poetry, and philosophy, which correspond to the three parts of man's understanding, the memory, the imagination, and the reason. The “Novum Organum," or “ New Method,” constitutes the second part of the “ Instauratio.” In this work, which was published in 1620, after being thirty years in preparation, Bacon undertakes to set forth a method of study which shall add effectively and fruitfully to the sum of human knowledge. The method generally used by scholars up to his time was what is known as the deductive method of Aristotle, which amounted to this, that, starting from a general proposition, the investigator proceeded to draw from it by the rules of logic such conclusions as he could concerning specific facts or phenomena. In other words, he began with the general and ended with the particular. This method, not being based upon accurate observation of facts, had during the two thousand years intervening between Aristotle and Bacon produced no really practical results. Bacon proposed to reverse it. He proposed to begin with the accumulation and analysis of individual facts and to proceed from them to general principles. The student should not make the mistake of supposing that Bacon invented this sort of
reasoning, which is called induction; he did nothing of the sort. He did, however, show mankind convincingly and eloquently that induction and not deduction would produce what he called fruit. Macaulay writes as follows of the value to the world of the methods laid down in the “Novum Organum":
“It has lengthened life; it has mitigated pain; it has extinguished diseases; it has increased the fertility of the soil; it has given new securities to the mariner; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned great rivers and estuaries with bridges of form unknown to our fathers; it has guided the thunderbolt innocuously from heaven to earth; it has lighted up the night with the splendor of the day; it has extended the range of the human vision; it has multiplied the power of the human muscles; it has accelerated motion; it has annihilated distance; it has facilitated intercourse, correspondence, all friendly offices, all despatch of business; it has enabled man to descend to the depths of the sea, to soar into the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious recesses of the earth, to traverse the land in cars which whirl along without horses, and the ocean in ships which run ten knots an hour against the wind. These are but a part of its fruits, and of its first fruits. For it is a philosophy which never rests, which has never attained, which is never perfect. Its law is progress. A point which yesterday was invisible is its goal to-day and will be its starting-post to-morrow.”
One critic condemns the essay from which this passage was taken as an elaborate libel on Lord Bacon; another censures it as equally unfounded praise and glorification. It is perhaps reasonable therefore to assume that Macaulay is not very far from the truth.
Among Bacon's other works are a few poems, a philosophical romance called the “New Atlantis," a "History of Henry VII," and a collection of anecdotes and witticisms. The poems are important chiefly because they prove beyond the shadow of a doubt to anybody with the faintest tincture of literary taste that Bacon could not have written Shakespeare's plays. The “New Atlantis” belongs in the same class with Sir Thomas More's "Utopia " and Ignatius Donnelly's “Atlantis," being an attempt to describe an ideal state, which is located in the North Pacific Ocean. The “ History of Henry VII”