The New Student's Reference Work/Bacon, Francis
Ba′con, Francis, one of the most extraordinary men that any age can boast. A scholar, a wit, a lawyer, a statesman, a philosopher, his writings will endure as long as the language in which they are written. He was born in London, January 22, 1561. He was sent to the University of Cambridge at the age of twelve. Before he was sixteen he wrote a paper against the philosophy of Aristotle, and at nineteen a work called On the State of Europe, the result of his studies while a member of the suite of the English ambassador at Paris. He was knighted in 1603, appointed consul to the crown, and in 1613 attorney-general. In 1617 he was made keeper of the great seal, and in 1618 appointed lord chancellor, with the title of Lord Verulam, and soon after was created Viscount St. Albans. His fall was as sudden as his rise was rapid. He was accused of bribery and convicted on his own confession. He was fined $200,000, and imprisoned in the Tower. Though the fine was remitted and the imprisonment lasted but two days, shame, added to failing health, kept him from appearing again at court. His death, April 9, 1626, was caused by a cold taken while making an experiment to test the power of snow to preserve flesh. Bacon’s writings are numerous, but he is known best by his philosophical works, Advancement of Learning and Novum Organum, which introduced a new method into philosophy. “He rang the bell which called the other wits together,” is his own description of the effect of these writings. The most popular of his works is his Essays, fifty-eight in number, on such subjects as Pride, Truth, Ambition, Riches, and they well repay study both of their contents and style.