Characteristics of Bacon’s Essays
Bacon’s essays are famous for their brevity, compactness and powerfulness. Yet there is an
obvious stylistic change in the Essays.
The sentences in the first edition are charged and crowded with symmetries. They are composed in
a rather affected way. However, the final edition not only enlarges the range of theme , but also brings forth the looser and more persuasive style.
The essays are well-arranged and enriched by Biblical allusions, metaphors and cadence.
Analysis of Of Studies
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.
Reading has three functions.It delights you;it beautifies you; and it strengthens your ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness? and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for
ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business.
privateness: private life
discourse: carrying on a conversation
The delight of reading lies in your private life and retirement. The beautifying of reading lies in how you talk to others.The way reading strengthens your ablity lies in your act of judging, how you assess a person or situation or event and how you deal with it.
For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned.
for: although, despite
expert men: men of experience(the English adjective being used in its Latin sense,experti) execute: carry through, accomplish
marshal: arrange in logical order
Although men with great experience could judge the affairs from each situation and accomplish them well,men who are learned always are the best one to have command of the general direction,the plan and the arrangement.
To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humor of a scholar.
sloth: laziness, inactivity
affectation: a deliberate pretense or exaggerated display
humor of a scholar: mannerism,implying absurd error
Spending too much time in reading makes you exhausted and lazy.Using reading as a tool to beautify yourself is pretending. Making decisions to your heart’s content is too subjective and
They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience.
perfect: make perfect or complete
prune: weed out unwanted or unnecessary things
at large: in general
Reading makes up for your natural disadvantages,and experience is needed to compensate for the disadvantages of reading.We read and know how to weed out the unwanted parts of plants. So does knowledge. We read and we delete what we don’t need.It is reading that gives us detailed
directions, except for some directions that are only guided by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.
Men skilled in a job look down on reading.Men who lack intelligence look up to reading.Men with wisdom apply reading to their life.However, books do not convince others by their usage.The wisdom of reading doesn’t lie inside a book,but outside the book.You could just get it by observation.
The second part is from “Read not to contradict and confute,… he had need have much
cunning to seem to know that he doth not”.
How shall we read books?
In part 2, you can know more about how to read books. so come with me to find the method and benefit of reading.
Method 1、Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Don’t disagree hostilely when you are reading, don’t believe it wholly. We should not only focus on the words and sentences, but also think about it back and forth.
Method2、Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested
Three methods of reading
1. Taste --
To read in the way that you test the taste of food, to read bits here and there
2. Swallow --
To read the whole book or story, but with little attention or without through understanding
3. Chew and digest --
To read carefully and slowly and then think about and understand the meaning or
importance of …
That is to say，different books, different attitudes. Some books are just for appreciation, some for entertainment, however, some should be digested.------that is some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be ready wholly, and with diligence and attetion.
--the most imprtant English rhetoric: parallism and elliptical sentence
Benefit of reading
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
Reading fulfills a man, discussion makes a man witty, note makes a man clear. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had
need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.
Therefore, men who don’t take notes often should strengthen the memory, men who don’t discuss often should be smarter, and men who don’t often read should be more sophisticated.
Author tells how to study. Some books are:
; a. to be tasted
; b. to be swallowed
; c. to be chewed and digested
; d. Some should be read only in parts
; e. Some should be read only for entertainment
; f. Some should be read by deputy
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep, moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
Learning histories makes men clear-minded; learning poems makes men clever; learning mathematics makes men careful and cautious; learning natural philosophy, your mind will be broadened, your principles will be regulated, and your way of thinking will be serious; learning logic and rhetoric, you will be able to argue with others clearly and effectively. Abeunt studia in mores. Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises.
Abeunt studia in mores: This sentence is adapted from the verse Horoides by the Roman poet Ovid. You may cultivate your own temperament while reading
nay: not this merely but also; not only so but;
wit: the ability to say or write things that are both clever and amusing
wrought: the past tense of WORK
impediment: any structure that makes progress difficult;
You may cultivate your own temperament while reading. However, there may be obvious difficulty or disadvantages in your mind. You may solve this problem by proper reading. Just like doing physical exercises could get rid of the diseases. They are the same.
Bowling is good for the stone and reins; shooting for the lungs and breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for the head, and the like.
Playing bowling strengthens your stone and kidney. Shooting strengthens your lung and breast. Gentle walking strengthens your stomach. Riding strengthens your head and brain. They are in the same rule.
So if a man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again.
Therefore, if a man can’t concentrate his mind, let him study the mathematics. He should pay great attention during the process. Once his attention runs miles away, he’ll have to restart.
If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen, for they are Cymini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyer’s cases. So every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
If he is not proper to find out the differences, let him learn from the philosophers and divines of the Middle Ages, because they are splitters of hairs. If he is not proper to investigate matters, prove things, or make examples, let him dig into the lawyers’ cases. As a result, every disadvantages of mind can have an appropriate solution.
1. Parallelism and elliptical sentences
In this part, parallelism and ellipsis have also been used. For example:
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep, moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
With these two rhetorical devices, the sentences have become more simple and the important points are highlighted. In such sentences, parallelism and ellipsis bring great help to express Bacon’s strong emotions.
In Bacon’s essays, except for using a great deal of parallelism and ellipsis, the analogy are also used quite often. For example:
Nay, there is no stand or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises.
In this example, he made an analogy with the solutions of diseases of the body and the disadvantages in mind.
It contains the profound truth in the simple and common-sense examples, and this can help to reduce the difficulty of understanding and avoid being too dull.
Analysis of Bacon’s Of Studies ---------By Using Rhetorical Devices
Francis Bacon plays a significant role in literary history for his works written in the last phase of his life. There are two things remembered in his writings: his contribution to modern empirical science of which he has been regarded as a progenitor, and his achievement in the art of prose writing. Bacon's writings fall into three categories: philosophical, professional , and purely literary. The best of his philosophical works are The Advancement of Learning, a review in English of the state of knowledge in his own time, and Novum Organum; or, Indications Respecting the Interpretation of Nature. His professional works include Maxims of the Law (1630), Reading on the Statute of Uses (1642), pleadings in law cases, and speeches in Parliament. Now regarding to his prose, it is famous for its fresh, powerful, and aphoristic style. His chief contribution to literature, Essays, published at various times between 1597 and 1625, is the most cogent testimony to his wisdom and his unique style.
The Essays has a large number of subjects such as truth, love, envy, high position, good nature, riches, ambition, beauty, vainglory, learning, politics and economy. It mainly reveals his intimate knowledge of human nature. Of Studies is his most famous essay, written in the 17th century. It discusses the purpose of studies and its use, analyzing different attitudes towards studies and demonstrates all kinds of ways of studying. This essay is an succinct writing, its short and strong sentences reasoning accurately, and flashing with light of wisdom between lines. Nowadays many sentences become epigrams prevailing among people all over the world. For instance “Histories make men
wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtitle; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores” and “Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe
and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider”1 which describe t
he advantage of reading and the correct attitude is to weigh and consider. Bacon uses a large quantity of rhetorical devices, such as parallelism, ellipsis, analogy and simile, which makes his essay
more attractive and convincing.
Parallelism means giving two or more parts of the sentences a similar form so as to give the whole
a definite pattern.2 Its orders are always from light to heavy, usually from to climax. This type of arrangement simplies the language structure and creates visual beauty of symmetry. From the stylistic functions, it is advantageous for expressing strong feelings, outstanding the emphasized contents, and enhancing the strength of language. Bacon does well in writing parallel sentences, especially the use of three parallel structures. In this essay, he uses a large amount of parallelism combined with ellipsis, making the essay more concise and the key information more prominent. For example, “Their chief use for delight is in privations and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment, and disposition of business.”3 In this sentence, the author omits “their c
hief use” in the second and third parts in order to avoid repetition and miscellaneous words. Another example is as follows: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exa
ct man.”4 This is also a parallelism. Bacon leaves out the verb “maketh” in the sentence except the
first part. However, the pure parallel structure is another sentence “To spend too much time in stu
dies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar.” 5Here, three absolute sentences make up a long sentence, giving
readers a brief introduction of the three kind adverse ways of reading. It calls us not to spend too much time in studies, to use them too much for ornament and to make judgment wholly by their rules, but study for proper time and practical use and not totally believe what the books say without relating to the reality.
Analogy, a form of comparison, but unlike simile or metaphor which usually uses comparison on one point of resemblance, analogy draws a parallel between two unlike things that have several common qualities or points of resemblance, is another important rhetorical device in Of Studies, “Na
y, there is no stand or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises.”6 In this sentence, the author compares the fit study
to human’s wit to the appropriate exercises to the body. Both fit study and appropriate exercises separately have a good influence on the men’s mental and physical condition. It shows that the fit st
udy is significant to human’s wit as the appropriate sports to human body, which was represented in details in the following sentences. To study the mathematics can make a wandering mind concentrated; to study the Schoolmen can make people be apt to distinguish or find differences; to study the lawyers’ cases can make them to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another. Because of the substantial advantages of study, the author gives us a conclusion that every defect of the mind may have a special receipt, that is to say, no matter what troubles you have which impede you to be intelligent, you can remove them by studying. This analogy between the study and exercises is vivid and make readers easily understand and accept the importance of fit study. With regards to the simile, I should say that Bacon just use it once in this piece of essay. Simile is a figure of speech which makes a comparison between two unlike elements having at least one quality or characteristic in common. To make the comparison, words like as, as...as, as if and like are used to transfer the quality we associate with one to the other. For example, “Some books also ma
y be read by deputy, and extracts made of them bothers; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things.”7 In this sentence, Bacon compares the “distilled books” to common “distilled wate
rs” to criticize those who study books mainly depending on the extracts other readers made. Our studies should not rely on those comments because they are just good for some unimportant works,
which are of little value and limited and inferior subjects. Readers should read the original works to get authors’ thoughts and viewpoints toward the world and the human beings completely and clearly，which are the true purpose of reading.
Of Studies, are not only famous for its dazzling wisdom, but also for its concise language and succient structure, conveying author's idea and warnings of studies. The author uses a lot of rhetorical devices to achieve such effect. About figure of speech, parallelism is widely used in this essay, for proper use of it can make the article more catchy, enhancing the effect of expression and the various forms of parallelism have good rhythm, strengthen the language and deepen the central meaning. Another frequently used rhetorical device is ellipsis, which avoids a large number of the same subjects and verbs in order to shorten the whole article. In conclusion, Of Studies is well written both in language and structure. It is worth to read and with no doubt be worldwide popular. Reflection on Francis Bacon's Of Studies
As we know, study can make a full man, can cultivate a man, and can make a man move forward. In my opinion, a full man should have a positive world view and adopt an active philosophy of life, which are usually based on a balances knowledge structure. And how can we obtain those? Studies are the answer to that question. After I read Francis Bacon’s Of Studies, I know that the essay introduces some methods of reading books and discusses the purposes and function of reading . This essay also analyzes the different attitudes of the people who are reading books. Francis Bacon’s Of Studies says “Histories make men wise, poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle;
natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.” That is to say, we read
all kinds of books that contribute to perfect our knowledge structure and form critical thinking. So we should read books of various fields to make us be a full man. That also can learn more about our world in all aspect.
Reading can make a full man. That is to say, we should read more books which are useful for us. Reading can enlarge our knowledge in different fields. From Of Studies, studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. It means that studies can make people happy, wise, increasing knowledge. If we read all kinds of books, in that way, we are able to taste what might not happen to us in real life, and then ask ourselves what we would do in that situation.
We read more books and fewer mistakes would be made by us. For that, we can learn more mistake examples from books so that we will make few mistakes in the future.
Of Studies also teach us that we should choose some book to read, but not read all the books. Some useful books should be read carefully and taken notes. Different books have different functions, the essay is told us read different books can bring different knowledge which we lack. The essay says that different books have different methods to read.
All in all, reading books of certain field brings certain knowledge and ability we lack. Of Studies gives us the method of reading books and getting knowledge. It is also telling us different books have different functions for us.