The impressive, elegance of phrasing, eliminates the bore by adding quenching flavor. In Bacon’s essay, Of Marriage and Single Life, an intriguing adds spice, “A single life doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool.” The analogy is poetry in an informative essay. It impresses and tantalizes. It speaks visually in a world that loves to see. Elegance of phrasing in literature allows enveloped reading.
Cultured precepts in literature are proverbs we can apply in our lives. In Bacon’s essay, Of Love, there is a strong minded piece of advice, “You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons, (whereof the memory remainth ancient or recent), there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love, which shows that great spirits and great business do keep out of this weak passion.” We live by what we learn. Through learning we gather wisdom and knowledge and incorporate it in our lives.
Now Macaulay does not directly say all these things, but these are the spirit and gist of the interpretation which he puts upon Bacon’s writings. The philosophy of Bacon leads directly to these blessings; and these constitute its great peculiarity. And it cannot be denied that the new era which Bacon heralded was fruitful in these very things,–that his philosophy encouraged this new development of material forces; but it may be questioned whether he had not something else in view than mere utility and physical progress, and whether his method could not equally be applied to metaphysical subjects; whether it did not pertain to the whole domain of truth, and take in the whole realm of human inquiry. I believe that Bacon was interested, not merely in the world of matter, but in the world of mind; that he sought to establish principles from which sound deductions might be made, as well as to establish reliable inductions. Lord Campbell thinks that a perfect system of ethics could be made out of his writings, and that his method is equally well adapted to examine and classify the phenomena of the mind. He separated the legitimate paths of human inquiry, giving his attention to poetry and politics and metaphysics, as well as to physics. Bacon does not sneer as Macaulay does at the ancient philosophers; he bears testimony to their genius and their unrivalled dialectical powers, even if he regards their speculations as frequently barren. He does not flippantly ridicule the homoousian and the homoiousian as mere words, but the expression and exponent of profound theological distinctions, as every theologian knows them to be. He does not throw dirt on metaphysical science if properly directed, still less on noble inquiries after God and the mysteries of life. He is subjective as well as objective. He treats of philosophy in its broadest meaning, as it takes in the province of the understanding, the memory, and the will, as well as of man in society. He speaks of the principles of government and of the fountains of law; of universal justice, of eternal spiritual truth. So that Playfair judiciously observes (and he was a scientist) “that it was not by sagacious anticipations of science, afterwards to be made in physics, that his writings have had so powerful an influence, as in his knowledge of the limits and resources of the human understanding. It would be difficult to find another writer, prior to Locke, whose works are enriched with so many just observations on mere intellectual phenomena. What he says of the laws of memory, of imagination, has never been surpassed in subtlety. No man ever more carefully studied the operation of his own mind and the intellectual character of others.” Nor did Bacon despise metaphysical science, only the frivolous questions that the old scholastics associated with it, and the general barrenness of their speculations. He surely would not have disdained the subsequent inquiries of Locke, or Berkeley, or Leibnitz, or Kant. True, he sought definite knowledge,–something firm to stand upon, and which could not be controverted. No philosophy can be sound when the principle from which deductions are made is not itself certain or very highly probable, or when this principle, pushed to its utmost logical sequence, would lead to absurdity, or even to a conflict with human consciousness. To Bacon the old methods were wrong, and it was his primal aim to reform the scientific methods in order to arrive at truth; not truth for utilitarian ends chiefly, but truth for its own sake. He loved truth as Palestrina loved music, or Raphael loved painting, or Socrates loved virtue.
In regard to Essex, nobody can approve of the ingratitude which Bacon showed to his noble patron. But, on the other hand, remember the good advice which Bacon ever gave him, and his constant efforts to keep him out of scrapes. How often did he excuse him to his royal mistress, at the risk of incurring her displeasure? And when Essex was guilty of a thousand times worse crime than ever Bacon committed,–even high-treason, in a time of tumult and insurrection,–and it became Bacon’s task as prosecuting officer of the Crown to bring this great culprit to justice, was he required by a former friendship to sacrifice his duty and his allegiance to his sovereign, to screen a man who had perverted the affection of the noblest woman who ever wore a crown, and came near involving his country in a civil war? Grant that Essex had bestowed favors, and was an accomplished and interesting man,–was Bacon to ignore his official duties? He may have been too harsh in his procedure; but in that age all criminal proceedings were harsh and inexorable,–there was but little mercy shown to culprits, especially to traitors. If Elizabeth could bring herself, out of respect to her wounded honor and slighted kindness and the dignity of the realm and the majesty of the law, to surrender into the hands of justice one whom she so tenderly loved and magnificently rewarded, even when the sacrifice cost her both peace and life, snapped the last cord which bound her to this world,–may we not forgive Bacon for the part he played? Does this fidelity to an official and professional duty, even if he were harsh, make him “the meanest of mankind”?
In regard to sycophancy,–a disgusting trait, I admit,–we should consider the age, when everybody cringed to sovereigns and their favorites. Bacon never made such an abject speech as Omer Talon, the greatest lawyer in France, did to Louis XIII, in the Parliament of Paris. Three hundred years ago everybody bowed down to exalted rank: witness the obsequious language which all authors addressed to patrons in the dedication of their books. How small the chance of any man rising in the world, who did not court favors from those who had favors to bestow! Is that the meanest or the most uncommon thing in this world? If so, how ignominious are all politicians who flatter the people and solicit their votes? Is it not natural to be obsequious to those who have offices to bestow? This trait is not commendable, but is it the meanest thing we see?
IT HAD been hard for him that spake it to haveput more truth and untruth together in fewwords, than in that speech, Whatsoever is delightedin solitude, is either a wild beast or a god. For it ismost true, that a natural and secret hatred, andaversation towards society, in any man, hathsomewhat of the savage beast; but it is most untrue, that it should have any character at all, of thedivine nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out of a love and desire tosequester a man’s self, for a higher conversation:such as is found to have been falsely and feignedlyin some of the heathen; as Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian,and Apollonius of Tyana; and truly and really, indivers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers ofthe church. But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth. For a crowd isnot company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, wherethere is no love. The Latin adage meeteth with it alittle: Magna civitas, magna solitudo; because ina great town friends are scattered; so that there isnot that fellowship, for the most part, which is inless neighborhoods. But we may go further, andaffirm most truly, that it is a mere and miserablesolitude to want true friends; without which theworld is but a wilderness; and even in this sensealso of solitude, whosoever in the frame of hisnature and affections, is unfit for friendship, hetaketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
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Francis Bacon argues in his essay "Of Revenge" that the "wild justice" of personal revenge is a fundamental challenge to the rule of law. analysis of bacon s essay of love
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Critical appreciation of the essay "Of Revenge" by Francis Bacon.00248--OF STUDIES/ESSAY/FRANCIS BACON [English literature free notes] from whom Bacon adopted it.
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So Pope sums up the character of the great Lord Bacon, as he is generally but improperly called; and this verdict, in the main, has been confirmed by Lords Macaulay and Campbell, who seem to delight in keeping him in that niche of the temple of fame where the poet has placed him,–contemptible as a man, but venerable as the philosopher, radiant with all the wisdom of his age and of all preceding ages, the miner and sapper of ancient falsehoods, the pioneer of all true knowledge, the author of that inductive and experimental philosophy on which is based the glory of our age. Macaulay especially, in that long and brilliant article which appeared in the “Edinburgh Review” in 1837, has represented him as a remarkably worldly man, cold, calculating, selfish; a sycophant and a flatterer, bent on self-exaltation; greedy, careless, false; climbing to power by base subserviency; betraying friends and courting enemies; with no animosities he does not suppress from policy, and with no affections which he openly manifests when it does not suit his interests: so that we read with shame of his extraordinary shamelessness, from the time he first felt the cravings of a vulgar ambition to the consummation of a disgraceful crime; from the base desertion of his greatest benefactor to the public selling of justice as Lord High Chancellor of the realm; resorting to all the arts of a courtier to win the favor of his sovereign and of his minions and favorites; reckless as to honest debts; torturing on the rack an honest parson for a sermon he never preached; and, when obliged to confess his corruption, meanly supplicating mercy from the nation he had outraged, and favors from the monarch whose cause he had betrayed. The defects and delinquencies of this great man are bluntly and harshly put by Macaulay, without any attempt to soften or palliate them; as if he would consign his name and memory, not “to men’s charitable speeches, to foreign nations, and to the next ages,” but to an infamy as lasting and deep as that of Scroggs and of Jeffreys, or any of those hideous tyrants and monsters that disgraced the reigns of the Stuart kings.