A Blupete Biography Page

Francis Bacon: "The Secretary of Nature"

Bacon's real claim to fame is: not that he, as the lord chancellor, in 1621, was removed from office for accepting a litigant's bribe; nor, that he was the real writer of the Shakespearean plays (one of the controversies in English literature, the "Baconian controversy")3; but rather Francis Bacon is known as a philosopher, one of the first order. Bacon delineated the principles of the inductive method, which constituted a breakthrough in the approach to science, even though philosophers and scientists of the day, - and seemingly today, yet - repudiated both his theories and methodology, alike. Bacon argued that the only knowledge of importance to man was empirically rooted in the natural world; and that a clear system of scientific inquiry would assure man's mastery over the world. He was the originator of the expression, "Knowledge is power." He was quite taken up by the "materialist" theories and the resultant discoveries of both Copernicus and Galileo. Bacon, along with Galileo, are known in the literature as "the great anti-Aristotelians who created the 'modern scientific' view of Nature."

Francis Bacon was born at London. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of twelve. He studied law and became a barrister in 1582; two years later he took a seat in the House of Commons. His opposition, in 1584, to Queen Elizabeth's tax program retarded his political advancement. While in the earlier days he supported the Earl of Essex, Bacon, in 1601, was involved in his prosecution. With the accession of James I (1566-1625) and thereafter, a number of honours were bestowed on Bacon: he was knighted in 1603, made Solicitor General in 1604, Attorney General in 1613, and Lord Chancellor in 1618.

He had powerful enemies, foremost among them was Sir Edward Coke. "Bacon and Coke were bitter political rivals, in Parliament and the law courts." They even contended for the hand of the same woman, a widow, Lady Elizabeth Hatton, - "beautiful, widowed, and rich."

Bacon, not having come from a rich family, and always pressed for money: accepted, and this is one of the great surprises of history, a litigant's bribe. This was in 1621; so, just four months after he was raised to the peerage, Bacon was evicted from office. ("I do plainly and ingenuously confess that I am guilty of corruption, and do renounce all defense.") Francis Bacon went into retirement and died in 1626; he was buried at Saint Michael's Church in St. Albans, just north of London, Hertfordshire



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Peter Landry