FRANCIS BACON, 1ST VISCOUNT ST ALBAN, PC KC (/ˈbeɪkən/ ; 22
January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman,
scientist, jurist, orator, and author. He served both as Attorney
General and as
Bacon has been called the father of empiricism . His works argued for the possibility of scientific knowledge based only upon inductive reasoning and careful observation of events in nature . Most importantly, he argued this could be achieved by use of a sceptical and methodical approach whereby scientists aim to avoid misleading themselves. While his own practical ideas about such a method, the Baconian method , did not have a long lasting influence, the general idea of the importance and possibility of a sceptical methodology makes Bacon the father of scientific method . This marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, the practical details of which are still central in debates about science and methodology today.
Bacon was generally neglected at court by Queen Elizabeth , but after
the accession of King James I in 1603, Bacon was knighted . He was
Baron Verulam in 1618 and Viscount St. Alban in 1621.
Because he had no heirs, both titles became extinct upon his death in
1626, at 65 years of age. Bacon died of pneumonia , with one account
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life
* 1.2 Parliamentarian
* 1.3 Final years of the Queen\'s reign
* 1.4 James I comes to the throne
* 2 Philosophy and works
* 3 Influence
* 4 Historical debates
* 4.1 Bacon and Shakespeare * 4.2 Occult hypotheses
* 5 Bibliography * 6 See also * 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 8.1 Secondary Sources * 8.2 Primary sources
* 9 Further reading * 10 External links
The young Francis Bacon. Inscription around his head reads: Si
tabula daretur digna animum mallem, Latin for "If one could but paint
National Portrait Gallery, London
Biographers believe that Bacon was educated at home in his early
years owing to poor health, which would plague him throughout his
life. He received tuition from John Walsall, a graduate of Oxford with
a strong leaning toward Puritanism . He entered Trinity College,
Cambridge , on 5 April 1573 at the age of 12, living for three years
there, together with his older brother Anthony Bacon under the
personal tutelage of Dr
His studies brought him to the belief that the methods and results of science as then practised were erroneous. His reverence for Aristotle conflicted with his rejection of Aristotelian philosophy , which seemed to him barren, disputatious and wrong in its objectives. The Italianate York Water Gate – the entry to York House, built about 1626, the year of Bacon's death
On 27 June 1576, he and Anthony entered de societate magistrorum at
Gray\'s Inn . A few months later, Francis went abroad with Sir Amias
Paulet , the English ambassador at Paris, while Anthony continued his
studies at home. The state of government and society in France under
Henry III afforded him valuable political instruction. For the next
three years he visited
The sudden death of his father in February 1579 prompted Bacon to return to England. Sir Nicholas had laid up a considerable sum of money to purchase an estate for his youngest son, but he died before doing so, and Francis was left with only a fifth of that money. Having borrowed money, Bacon got into debt. To support himself, he took up his residence in law at Gray's Inn in 1579, his income being supplemented by a grant from his mother Lady Anne of the manor of Marks near Romford in Essex, which generated a rent of £46.
Francis Bacon's statue at Gray\'s Inn , South Square,
Bacon stated that he had three goals: to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. He sought to further these ends by seeking a prestigious post. In 1580, through his uncle, Lord Burghley , he applied for a post at court that might enable him to pursue a life of learning, but his application failed. For two years he worked quietly at Gray\'s Inn , until he was admitted as an outer barrister in 1582.
His parliamentary career began when he was elected MP for Bossiney,
Cornwall , in a by-election in 1581. In 1584 he took his seat in
parliament for Melcombe in Dorset, and in 1586 for Taunton . At this
time, he began to write on the condition of parties in the church, as
well as on the topic of philosophical reform in the lost tract
Temporis Partus Maximus. Yet he failed to gain a position that he
thought would lead him to success. He showed signs of sympathy to
Puritanism, attending the sermons of the
About this time, he again approached his powerful uncle for help; this move was followed by his rapid progress at the bar. He became a bencher in 1586 and was elected a Reader in 1587, delivering his first set of lectures in Lent the following year. In 1589, he received the valuable appointment of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber , although he did not formally take office until 1608; the post was worth £1,600 a year.
In 1588 he became MP for Liverpool and then for
He became known as a liberal-minded reformer, eager to amend and simplify the law. Though a friend of the crown, he opposed feudal privileges and dictatorial powers. He spoke against religious persecution. He struck at the House of Lords in its usurpation of the Money Bills. He advocated for the union of England and Scotland, which made him a significant influence toward the consolidation of the United Kingdom; and he later would advocate for the integration of Ireland into the Union. Closer constitutional ties, he believed, would bring greater peace and strength to these countries.
FINAL YEARS OF THE QUEEN\'S REIGN
Bacon soon became acquainted with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex , Queen Elizabeth's favourite. By 1591 he acted as the earl's confidential adviser.
In 1592 he was commissioned to write a tract in response to the Jesuit Robert Parson 's anti-government polemic, which he titled Certain observations made upon a libel, identifying England with the ideals of democratic Athens against the belligerence of Spain.
Bacon took his third parliamentary seat for
When the office of Attorney General fell vacant in 1594, Lord Essex's
influence was not enough to secure the position for Bacon and it was
given to Sir
In 1596 Bacon became Queen\'s Counsel , but missed the appointment of Master of the Rolls . During the next few years, his financial situation remained embarrassing. His friends could find no public office for him, and a scheme for retrieving his position by a marriage with the wealthy and young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton failed after she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to Sir Edward Coke, a further spark of enmity between the men. In 1598 Bacon was arrested for debt. Afterward, however, his standing in the Queen's eyes improved. Gradually, Bacon earned the standing of one of the learned counsels, though he had no commission or warrant, and received no salary. His relationship with the Queen further improved when he severed ties with Essex—a shrewd move, as Essex would be executed for treason in 1601.
With others, Bacon was appointed to investigate the charges against
Essex. A number of Essex's followers confessed that Essex had planned
a rebellion against the Queen. Bacon was subsequently a part of the
legal team headed by the Attorney General Sir
According to his personal secretary and chaplain, William Rawley , as a judge Bacon was always tender-hearted, "looking upon the examples with the eye of severity, but upon the person with the eye of pity and compassion". And also that "he was free from malice", "no revenger of injuries", and "no defamer of any man".
JAMES I COMES TO THE THRONE
The succession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote his Apologies in defence of his proceedings in the case of Essex, as Essex had favoured James to succeed to the throne.
The following year, during the course of the uneventful first
parliament session, Bacon married
Alice Barnham . In June 1607 he was
at last rewarded with the office of solicitor general. The following
year, he began working as the Clerkship of the
In 1610 the fourth session of James's first parliament met. Despite Bacon's advice to him, James and the Commons found themselves at odds over royal prerogatives and the king's embarrassing extravagance. The House was finally dissolved in February 1611. Throughout this period Bacon managed to stay in the favour of the king while retaining the confidence of the Commons.
In 1613 Bacon was finally appointed attorney general , after advising
the king to shuffle judicial appointments. As attorney general, Bacon,
by his zealous efforts—which included torture—to obtain the
conviction of Edmund Peacham for treason, raised legal controversies
of high constitutional importance; and successfully prosecuted Robert
Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset , and his wife, Frances Howard, Countess of
Somerset , for murder in 1616. The so-called Prince's Parliament of
April 1614 objected to Bacon's presence in the seat for Cambridge and
to the various royal plans that Bacon had supported. Although he was
allowed to stay, parliament passed a law that forbade the attorney
general to sit in parliament. His influence over the king had
evidently inspired resentment or apprehension in many of his peers.
Bacon, however, continued to receive the King's favour, which led to
his appointment in March 1617 as temporary Regent of England (for a
period of a month), and in 1618 as
Bacon continued to use his influence with the king to mediate between the throne and Parliament, and in this capacity he was further elevated in the same peerage, as VISCOUNT ST ALBAN , on 27 January 1621.
LORD CHANCELLOR AND PUBLIC DISGRACE
Bacon's public career ended in disgrace in 1621. After he fell into
debt, a parliamentary committee on the administration of the law
charged him with 23 separate counts of corruption. His lifelong enemy,
There seems little doubt that Bacon had accepted gifts from litigants, but this was an accepted custom of the time and not necessarily evidence of deeply corrupt behaviour. While acknowledging that his conduct had been lax, he countered that he had never allowed gifts to influence his judgement and, indeed, he had on occasion given a verdict against those who had paid him. He even had an interview with King James in which he assured:
The law of nature teaches me to speak in my own defence: With respect to this charge of bribery I am as innocent as any man born on St. Innocents Day. I never had a bribe or reward in my eye or thought when pronouncing judgment or order... I am ready to make an oblation of myself to the King — 17 April 1621
He also wrote the following to Buckingham:
My mind is calm, for my fortune is not my felicity. I know I have clean hands and a clean heart, and I hope a clean house for friends or servants; but Job himself, or whoever was the justest judge, by such hunting for matters against him as hath been used against me, may for a time seem foul, especially in a time when greatness is the mark and accusation is the game.
The true reason for his acknowledgement of guilt is the subject of debate, but some authors speculate that it may have been prompted by his sickness, or by a view that through his fame and the greatness of his office he would be spared harsh punishment. He may even have been blackmailed, with a threat to charge him with sodomy, into confession.
The British jurist Basil Montagu wrote in Bacon's defence, concerning the episode of his public disgrace:
Bacon has been accused of servility, of dissimulation, of various base motives, and their filthy brood of base actions, all unworthy of his high birth, and incompatible with his great wisdom, and the estimation in which he was held by the noblest spirits of the age. It is true that there were men in his own time, and will be men in all times, who are better pleased to count spots in the sun than to rejoice in its glorious brightness. Such men have openly libelled him, like Dewes and Weldon, whose falsehoods were detected as soon as uttered, or have fastened upon certain ceremonious compliments and dedications, the fashion of his day, as a sample of his servility, passing over his noble letters to the Queen, his lofty contempt for the Lord Keeper Puckering, his open dealing with Sir Robert Cecil, and with others, who, powerful when he was nothing, might have blighted his opening fortunes for ever, forgetting his advocacy of the rights of the people in the face of the court, and the true and honest counsels, always given by him, in times of great difficulty, both to Elizabeth and her successor. When was a "base sycophant" loved and honoured by piety such as that of Herbert, Tennison, and Rawley, by noble spirits like Hobbes, Ben Jonson, and Selden, or followed to the grave, and beyond it, with devoted affection such as that of Sir Thomas Meautys.
When he was 36, Bacon courted
Elizabeth Hatton , a young widow of 20.
Reportedly, she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage
to a wealthier man, Bacon's rival,
At the age of 45, Bacon married
Alice Barnham , the 14-year-old
daughter of a well-connected
However, an increasing number of reports circulated about friction in the marriage, with speculation that this may have been due to Alice's making do with less money than she had once been accustomed to. It was said that she was strongly interested in fame and fortune, and when household finances dwindled, she complained bitterly. Bunten wrote in her Life of Alice Barnham that, upon their descent into debt, she went on trips to ask for financial favours and assistance from their circle of friends. Bacon disinherited her upon discovering her secret romantic relationship with Sir John Underhill . He subsequently rewrote his will, which had previously been very generous—leaving her lands, goods, and income—and instead revoked it all.
Several authors believe that despite his marriage Bacon was
primarily attracted to the same sex. Forker, for example, has
explored the "historically documentable sexual preferences" of King
James and Bacon and concluded they were both orientated to "masculine
love", a contemporary term that "seems to have been used exclusively
to refer to the sexual preference of men for members of their own
gender." The well-connected antiquary
This conclusion has been disputed by others, who point to lack of consistent evidence, and consider the sources to be more open to interpretation. Publicly, Bacon distanced himself from homosexuality. In his New Atlantis , Bacon describes his utopian island as being "the chastest nation under heaven", in which there was no prostitution or adultery , and further saying that "as for masculine love , they have no touch of it".
Monument to Bacon at his burial place, St Michael\'s Church in
On 9 April 1626,
After stuffing the fowl with snow, Bacon contracted a fatal case of
pneumonia . Some people, including Aubrey, consider these two
contiguous, possibly coincidental events as related and causative of
his death: "The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so
extremely ill, that he could not return to his Lodging ... but went to
the Earle of Arundel's house at Highgate, where they put him into ...
a damp bed that had not been layn-in ... which gave him such a cold
that in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of
Suffocation." Aubrey has been criticised for his evident
credulousness in this and other works; on the other hand, he knew
Being unwittingly on his deathbed, the philosopher wrote his last letter to his absent host and friend Lord Arundel :
My very good Lord,—I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius
Plinius the elder , who lost his life by trying an experiment about
the burning of
Another account appears in a biography by William Rawley, Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain:
He died on the ninth day of April in the year 1626, in the early morning of the day then celebrated for our Saviour's resurrection, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, at the Earl of Arundel's house in Highgate, near London, to which place he casually repaired about a week before; God so ordaining that he should die there of a gentle fever, accidentally accompanied with a great cold, whereby the defluxion of rheum fell so plentifully upon his breast, that he died by suffocation.
He was buried in St Michaels church in St Albans. At the news of his death, over 30 great minds collected together their eulogies of him, which were then later published in Latin. He left personal assets of about £7,000 and lands that realised £6,000 when sold. His debts amounted to more than £23,000, equivalent to more than £3m at current value.
PHILOSOPHY AND WORKS
Main article: Works by Francis Bacon Bacon, Sylva sylvarum
Francis Bacon's philosophy is displayed in the vast and varied writings he left, which might be divided into three great branches:
* Scientific works – in which his ideas for an universal reform of
knowledge into scientific methodology and the improvement of mankind's
state using the
Frontispiece to 'The History of Royal-Society of London',
picturing Bacon (in the right) among the founding influences of the
National Portrait Gallery, London
Bacon's seminal work
Novum Organum was influential in the 1630s and
1650s among scholars, in particular Sir
Thomas Browne , who in his
Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646–72) frequently adheres to
a Baconian approach to his scientific enquiries. This book entails the
basis of the Scientific Method as a means of observation and
induction. During the Restoration , Bacon was commonly invoked as a
guiding spirit of the
He also wrote a long treatise on Medicine, History of Life and Death, with natural and experimental observations for the prolongation of life.
One of his biographers, the historian William Hepworth Dixon , states: "Bacon's influence in the modern world is so great that every man who rides in a train, sends a telegram, follows a steam plough , sits in an easy chair, crosses the channel or the Atlantic, eats a good dinner, enjoys a beautiful garden, or undergoes a painless surgical operation, owes him something."
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
A Newfoundland stamp, which reads "Lord Bacon – the guiding spirit in colonization scheme"
Bacon played a leading role in establishing the British colonies in
North America , especially in
In 1910 Newfoundland issued a postage stamp to commemorate Bacon's
role in establishing the colony. The stamp describes Bacon as "the
guiding spirit in Colonization Schemes in 1610". Moreover, some
scholars believe he was largely responsible for the drafting, in 1609
and 1612, of two charters of government for the
Although few of his proposals for law reform were adopted during his
lifetime, Bacon's legal legacy was considered by the magazine New
Scientist in 1961 as having influenced the drafting of the Napoleonic
Code as well as the law reforms introduced by 19th-century British
Sir Robert Peel . The historian William Hepworth Dixon
referred to the
Harvey Wheeler attributed to Bacon, in Francis Bacon's
Verulamium—the Common Law
* using cases as repositories of evidence about the "unwritten law"; * determining the relevance of precedents by exclusionary principles of evidence and logic; * treating opposing legal briefs as adversarial hypotheses about the application of the "unwritten law" to a new set of facts.
As late as the 18th century some juries still declared the law rather
than the facts, but already before the end of the 17th century Sir
Matthew Hale explained modern common law adjudication procedure and
acknowledged Bacon as the inventor of the process of discovering
unwritten laws from the evidences of their applications. The method
combined empiricism and inductivism in a new way that was to imprint
its signature on many of the distinctive features of modern English
Paul H. Kocher writes that Bacon is considered by some
jurists to be the father of modern
Bacon is commemorated with a statue in Gray\'s Inn , South Square in
More recent scholarship on Bacon's jurisprudence has focused on his advocating torture as a legal recourse for the crown. Bacon himself was not a stranger to the torture chamber: in his various legal capacities in both Elizabeth I's and James I's reigns, Bacon was listed as a commissioner on five torture warrants. In 1613(?), in a letter addressed to King James I on the question of torture's place within English law, Bacon identifies the scope of torture as a means to further the investigation of threats to the state: "In the cases of treasons, torture is used for discovery, and not for evidence." For Bacon, torture was not a punitive measure, an intended form of state repression, but instead offered a modus operandi for the government agent tasked with uncovering acts of treason.
BACON AND SHAKESPEARE
Main articles: Baconian theory and Bacon\'s cipher
The Baconian hypothesis of Shakespearean authorship, first proposed
in the mid-19th century, contends that
Main article: Occult theories about Francis Bacon
The link between Bacon's work and the Rosicrucians ideals which Yates allegedly found was the conformity of the purposes expressed by the Rosicrucian Manifestos and Bacon's plan of a "Great Instauration", for the two were calling for a reformation of both "divine and human understanding", as well as both had in view the purpose of mankind's return to the "state before the Fall".
Another major link is said to be the resemblance between Bacon's New Atlantis and the German Rosicrucian Johann Valentin Andreae 's Description of the Republic of Christianopolis (1619). Andreae describes a utopic island in which Christian theosophy and applied science ruled, and in which the spiritual fulfilment and intellectual activity constituted the primary goals of each individual, the scientific pursuits being the highest intellectual calling—linked to the achievement of spiritual perfection. Andreae's island also depicts a great advancement in technology, with many industries separated in different zones which supplied the population's needs—which shows great resemblance to Bacon's scientific methods and purposes.
The Rosicrucian organisation AMORC claims that Bacon was the "Imperator" (leader) of the Rosicrucian Order in both England and the European continent, and would have directed it during his lifetime.
Bacon's influence can also be seen on a variety of religious and spiritual authors, and on groups that have utilised his writings in their own belief systems.
Main article: Francis Bacon bibliography
Some of the more notable works by Bacon are:
* Essays (1st edition 1597) * The Advancement and Proficience of Learning Divine and Human (1605) * Essays (2nd edition – 38 essays, 1612) * Novum Organum Scientiarum ('New Method', 1620) * Essays , or Counsels Civil and Moral (3rd/final edition – 58 essays, 1625) * New Atlantis (1627)
* ^ There is some confusion over the spelling of "Viscount St.
Alban". Some sources, such as the Dictionary of National Biography
(1885) and the 11th edition of the
* ^ Fowler (1885) , p. 346.
* ^ Adamson & Mitchell 1911 , p. 135.
* ^ A B C D E F Peltonen (2007) .
* ^ A B Adamson (1878) , p. 200.
* ^ "Bacon" entry in
Collins English Dictionary , HarperCollins
* ^ "Empiricism: The influence of Francis Bacon, John Locke, and
David Hume". Sweet Briar College. Archived from the original on
2013-07-08. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
* ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than
14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 2105-2106).
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
* ^ "Sir Francis Bacon's Journals". p. 191. universe, 2007
* ^ "Bacon, Francis (BCN573F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database.
University of Cambridge.
* ^ Collins, Arthur (1741). The English Baronetage: Containing a
Genealogical and Historical Account of All the English Baronets, Now
Existing: Their Descents, Marriages, and Issues; Memorable Actions,
Both in War, and Peace; Religious and Charitable Donations; Deaths,
Places of Burial and Monumental Inscriptions . Printed for Tho. Wotton
at the Three Daggers and Queen's Head. p. 5.
* ^ A B C D E F Adamson & Mitchell 1911 , p. 136.
* ^ A B
Stephen Gaukroger (2001). "
* Adamson, Robert (1878), "Francis Bacon", in Baynes, T.S.,
* Bacon, Francis. The Essays and Counsels, Civil and Moral of Francis Bacon: all 3 volumes in a single file. B&R Samizdat Express, 2014. * Andreae, Johann Valentin (1619). "Christianopolis". Description of the Republic of Christianopolis. * Spedding, James ; Ellis, Robert Leslie ; Heath, Douglas Denon (1857–1874). The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St Albans