From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to:navigation, search
For other people named Francis Bacon, see Francis Bacon (disambiguation).
Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban
22 January 1561 Born London, England
9 April 1626 (aged 65) Died Highgate, England
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Francis Bacon, 1st and Only Viscount of St. Alban, KC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Although his political career ended in disgrace, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially
as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific revolution. His dedication brought him into a rare
historical group of scientists who were killed by their own experiments. His works established and popularized deductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian
or simply, the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural method
marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions
of proper methodology today.
Bacon was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and Viscount St Alban in 1621; as he died without heirs
both peerages became extinct upon his death.
; 1 Biography
o 1.1 Early life
o 1.2 Parliamentarian
o 1.3 Attorney General
o 1.4 James I comes to the throne
o 1.5 Lord Chancellor and public disgrace
o 1.6 Relationships
o 1.7 Death
; 2 Philosophy and works
o 2.1 Bacon's Utopia
o 2.2 Baconian method
o 2.3 List of published works
; 3 Influence
o 3.1 North America
; 4 Historical debates
o 4.1 Bacon and Shakespeare
o 4.2 Secret societies
o 4.3 Religious influence
; 5 See also
; 6 Notes
; 7 Sources
; 8 External links
o 8.1 About Bacon
o 8.2 Collected Works
o 8.3 Individual Works
o 8.4 Quotations
o 8.5 Related Organizations
 Early life
The Italianate York Water Gate - the entry to York House, built about 1626 after Bacon's death Bacon was born on 22 January at York House near the Strand in London, the son of Nicholas Bacon by his second wife
Anne (Cooke) Bacon. Biographers believe that Bacon was educated at home in his early years owing to poor health (which plagued him throughout his life), receiving tuition from John Walsall, a graduate of Oxford with a strong
leaning towards Puritanism. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on 5 April 1573 at the age of twelve, living
for three years there together with his older brother Anthony under the personal tutelage of Dr John Whitgift, future
Archbishop of Canterbury. Bacon's education was conducted largely in Latin and followed the medieval curriculum. He was also educated at the University of Poitiers. It was at Cambridge that he first met Queen Elizabeth, who was
impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to calling him "the young Lord Keeper".
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 loathing of Aristotelian philosophy, which seemed to him barren, disputatious, and wrong in its objectives.
Trinity College, Great Court with fountain
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 Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy, and Spain. During his travels, Bacon studied language,
statecraft, and civil law while performing routine diplomatic tasks. On at least one occasion he delivered diplomatic letters to England for Walsingham, Burghley, and Leicester, as well as for the queen.
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.
Bacon's threefold goals were to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. Seeking a prestigious post would aid him toward these ends. In 1580, through his uncle, Lord Burghley, he applied for a post at court,
which might enable him to pursue a life of learning. His application failed. For two years he worked quietly at Gray's Inn, until admitted as an outer barrister in 1582.
The Hall, Gray’s Inn, 1892, by Herbert Railton
In 1584, he took his seat in parliament for Melcombe in Dorset, and subsequently for Taunton (1586). At this time,
he began to write on the condition of parties in the church, as well as philosophical reform in the lost tract, Temporis Partus Maximus. Yet, he failed to gain a position he thought would lead him to success. He showed signs of sympathy to Puritanism, attending the sermons of the Puritan chaplain of Gray's Inn and accompanying his mother to the Temple chapel to hear Walter Travers. This led to the publication of his earliest surviving tract, which
criticised the English church's suppression of the Puritan clergy. In the Parliament of 1586, openly, he urged execution for Mary, Queen of Scots.
About this time, he again approached his powerful uncle for help, the result of which may be traced in his rapid progress at the bar. He became Bencher in 1586, and he 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 - a post which was worth ?16,000 per annum.
 Attorney General
Memorial to Francis Bacon, in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge
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 response to the Jesuit Robert Parson's anti-government polemic, which
he entitled Certain observations made upon a libel identifying England with the ideals of Republican Athens against
the belligerence of Spain.
Bacon took his third parliamentary seat for Middlesex when in February 1593 Elizabeth summoned Parliament to
investigate a Roman Catholic plot against her. Bacon's opposition to a bill that would levy triple subsidies in half the usual time offended many people. Opponents accused him of seeking popularity. For a time, the royal court excluded him.
When the Attorney-Generalship fell vacant in 1594, Lord Essex's influence was not enough to secure Bacon's candidacy
into the office. Likewise, Bacon failed to secure the lesser office of Solicitor-General in 1595. To console him
for these disappointments, Essex presented him with a property at Twickenham, which he sold subsequently for ?1,800.
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 bad. 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 a wealthier man. In 1598 Bacon was arrested because of his debts. Afterwards 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 because Essex was executed for treason in 1601. With others, Bacon was appointed to investigate the charges against Essex, his former friend and benefactor. Bacon pressed the case hard against Essex. To justify himself, Bacon wrote A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons,
. He received a gift of a fine of ?1200 on one of Essex's accomplices. etc., of ... the Earl of Essex
 James I comes to the throne
The accession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote Apologie in defence of his proceedings in the case of Essex, as Essex had favoured James to ascend to 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 Star Chamber. In spite of a generous income, old debts and spendthrift ways kept him indebted. He sought further promotion and wealth by supporting King James and his arbitrary policies. In 1610 the fourth session of James' 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 prosecuted Somerset 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 which 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 the temporary Regent of England (for a period of a month), and in 1618 as Lord Chancellor.
 Lord Chancellor and public disgrace
The Tower of London
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 twenty-three separate counts of corruption. To the lords, who sent a committee to inquire whether a 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 King
James, to be committed to the Tower of London during the king's pleasure (his imprisonment lasted only a few days).
More seriously, parliament declared Bacon incapable of holding future office or sitting in parliament. Narrowly, he escaped being deprived of his titles. Subsequently the disgraced viscount devoted himself to study and writing.
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. The true reason for his acknowledgement of guilt is the subject of debate, but it may have been prompted by his poor state of health, 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 threats to expose his homosexuality,
Though the well-connected antiquary John Aubrey noted among his private memoranda concerning Bacon, "He was a Pederast.
His Ganimeds and Favourites tooke Bribes", biographers continue to debate about Bacon's sexual inclinations and
the precise nature of his personal relationships.
When he was 36, Bacon engaged in the courtship of Elizabeth Hatton, a young widow of 20. Reportedly, she broke off
their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man—Edward Coke. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his
regret that the marriage to Elizabeth had never taken place.
At the age of forty-five, Bacon married Alice Barnham, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a well-connected London
alderman and MP. Bacon wrote two sonnets proclaiming his love for Alice. The first sonnet was written during his courtship and the second sonnet on his wedding day, 10 May 1606. When Bacon was appointed Lord Chancellor, "by special Warrant of the King", Lady Bacon was given precedence over all other Court ladies.
Engraving of Alice Barnham
Reports of increasing friction in his marriage to Alice appeared, with speculation that some of this may have been due to financial resources not being as readily available to her as she was accustomed to having in the past. Alice was reportedly interested in fame and fortune, and when reserves of money were no longer available, there were
complaints about where all the money was going. Alice Chambers Bunten wrote in her Life of Alice Barnham that,
upon their descent into debt, she actually 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 John Underhill. He rewrote his will, which had previously been very generous to her (leaving her lands, goods, and income), revoking it all.
Several authors believe that despite his marriage Bacon was primarily attracted to the same sex. Professor
Forker for example has explored the "historically documentable sexual preferences" of both King James and Bacon - and concluded they were all oriented 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 Jacobean antiquarian,
Sir Simonds D'Ewes implied there had been a question of bringing him to trial for buggery. This conclusion has
been disputed by others, who consider the sources to be more open to interpretation.
Monument to Bacon at his burial place, St Michael's Church in St Albans
On 9 April 1626 Bacon died while at Arundel mansion at Highgate outside London of pneumonia. An influential account
of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey. Aubrey has been criticized for his evident credulousness
in this and other works; on the other hand, he knew Thomas Hobbes, Bacon's fellow-philosopher and friend. Aubrey's
vivid account, which portrays Bacon as a martyr to experimental scientific method, had him journeying to Highgate through the snow with the King's physician when he is suddenly inspired by the possibility of using the snow to preserve meat:
"They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. They alighted out of the coach and went into a poor woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a fowl, and made the woman exenterate it".
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."
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 Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's House, I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's House was happy to me, and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write with any other hand than mine own, but by my
troth my fingers are so disjointed with sickness that I cannot steadily hold a pen."
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.
At his funeral, over thirty great minds collected together their eulogies of him, which was then later published
He left personal assets of about ?7,000 and lands that realised ?6,000 when sold. His debts amounted to more than
?23,000, an equivalent to over ?3m at today's prices.
 Philosophy and works
Bacon did not propose an actual philosophy, but rather a method of developing philosophy. He argued that although
philosophy at the time used the deductive syllogism to interpret nature, the philosopher should instead proceed
through inductive reasoning from fact to axiom to law. Before beginning this induction, the inquirer is to free
his or her mind from certain false notions or tendencies which distort the truth. These are called "Idols" (idola),
and are of four kinds:
; "Idols of the Tribe" (idola tribus), which are common to the race;
; "Idols of the Den" (idola specus), which are peculiar to the individual;
; "Idols of the Marketplace" (idola fori), coming from the misuse of language; and
; "Idols of the Theatre" (), which result from an abuse of authority. idola theatri
The end of induction is the discovery of forms, the ways in which natural phenomena occur, the causes from which they proceed.
Derived through use of his methods, Bacon explicated his somewhat fragmentary ethical system in the seventh and
eighth books of his De augmentis scientiarum (1623) - where he distinguished between duty to the community, an ethical matter, and duty to God, a religious matter. Bacon claimed that:
; Any moral action is the action of the human will, which is governed by belief and spurred on by the passions;
; Good habit is what aids men in directing their will toward the good; and
; No universal rules can be made, as both situations and men's characters differ.