Page:Cousins's Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature.djvu/31

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Dictionary of English Literature

committee to inquire whether the confession was really his, he replied, "My lords, it is my act, my hand, and my heart; I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed." He was sentenced to a fine of £40,000, remitted by the king, to be committed to the Tower during the king's pleasure (which was that he should be released in a few days), and to be incapable of holding office or sitting in parliament. He narrowly escaped being deprived of his titles. Thenceforth he devoted himself to study and writing. In 1622 appeared his History of Henry VII., and the 3rd part of the Instauratio; in 1623, History of Life and Death, the De Augmentis Scientarum, a Latin translation of the Advancement, and in 1625 the 3rd edition of the Essays, now 58 in number. He also pub. Apophthegms, and a translation of some of the Psalms. His life was now approaching its close. In March, 1626, he came to London, and shortly after, when driving on a snowy day, the idea struck him of making an experiment as to the antiseptic properties of snow, in consequence of which he caught a chill, which ended in his death on 9th April 1626. He left debts to the amount of £22,000. At the time of his death he was engaged upon Sylva Sylvarum. The intellect of B. was one of the most powerful and searching ever possessed by man, and his developments of the inductive philosophy revolutionised the future thought of the human race. The most popular of his works is the Essays, which convey profound and condensed thought in a style that is at once clear and rich. His moral character was singularly mixed and complex, and bears no comparison with his intellect. It exhibits a singular coldness and lack of enthusiasm, and indeed a bluntness of moral perception and an absence of attractiveness rarely combined with such extraordinary mental endowments. All that was possible to be done in defence of his character and public conduct has been done by his accomplished biographer and editor, Mr. Spedding (q.v.). Singular, though of course futile, attempts, supported sometimes with much ingenuity, have been made to claim for B. the authorship of Shakespeare's plays, and have indeed been extended so as to include those of Marlowe, and even the Essays of Montaigne.

Summary.—B. London 1561, ed. Trinity Coll., Cambridge, dissatisfied with Aristotelean philosophy, entered Gray's Inn 1576, in France 1576-79, called to Bar 1582, enters Parliament 1584, became friend of Essex 1591, who presents him with estate 1593, pub. 1st ed. of Essays 1597, prosecutes Essex 1601, pub. Advancement of Learning 1605, Solicitor-Gen. 1607, pub. Wisdom of the Ancients 1609, Attorney-Gen. 1613, prosecuted Somerset 1616, Lord Keeper 1618, Lord Chancellor with title of Verulam 1619, Visc. St. Albans 1621, pub. Novum Organum 1620, charged with corruption, and retires from public life 1621, pub. Henry VII. and 3rd part of Instauratio 1622, d. 1626.

The standard edition of B.'s works is that of Spedding, Ellis, and Heath (14 vols. 1857-74), including Life and Letters by Spedding. See also Macaulay's Essays; Dean Church in Men of Letters Series; Dr. Abbott's Life (1885), etc. For philosophy Fowler's Novum Organum (1878).

Bacon, Roger (1214?-1294)—Philosopher, studied at Oxford and Paris. His scientific acquirements, regarded in that