The Essays (Penguin Classics)
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One of the major political figures of his time, Sir Francis Bacon served in the court of Elizabeth I and ultimately became Lord Chancellor under James I in 1617. A scholar, wit, lawyer and statesman, he wrote on politics, philosophy and science, declaring early in his career that 'I have taken all knowledge as my province'.
stone was substituted. 3. Affection. 4. Orderly, free from turmoil. 5. See Essay 15, note 12. 6. Religious conference convened in 1545 to oppose Protestant doctrines and settle disputed Catholic ones. 7. Medieval philosophers and teachers in the universities who sought to regulate the doctrines of the Christian Church according to the rules of Aristotelian logic. 8. As it became obvious that the simple Ptolemaic astronomy (a theory of concentric spheres moving around the earth) could not
choler adust was the condition where too much black bile made him melancholic. 2. Worst possible characteristic. 3. So that they continue to progress in their advancement, and never fall back. 4. Arrange things. 5. Makes up for. 6. A dove with its eyelids sewn up. 7. See Dio, Roman History, LVIII.9. 8. Accustom. 9. Exposed. 10. Bold. 11. Followers. 12. Out of a sense of duty rather than a desire to show off. Text: 1625 1. Court entertainments which combined music, song, dance and
man’s self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger, who digged and made room for him. It is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of Pompey) are sui amantes sine rivali,8 are many times unfortunate. And whereas they have all their time
APPENDIX 5: A Poetical Essay 286 Bacon was one of those thinkers who found what he wanted to say early on, and then said it a lot of times throughout his life. His thought doesn’t really evolve, so much as fill out. The things he was convinced of in the early 1590s, he was equally sure of in his last years. On the occasions when he tried to change tack, as with his natural history experiments in the 1620s, he could be painfully limited. But when he stuck to his first principles – attack the
printed here are taken, with slight alterations, from the translation by Spedding in Works, VI.714–17, 720–22, and 745–53. The standard study of how Bacon put these interpretations together is by C. W. Lemmi, The Classic Deities in Bacon, Baltimore, 1933. PERSEUS or WAR Perseus was sent, it is said, by Pallas to cut off the head of Medusa, from whom many nations in the westernmost parts of Spain suffered grievous calamities – a monster so dreadful and horrible that the mere sight of her turned