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Bacon the Man, #5 of
Francis Bacon: "The Secretary of Nature"

Carlyle thought Bacon was one of the few who could "converse with this universe, first hand." And Lord Macaulay thought that Bacon "had a wonderful talent for packing thought close, and rendering it portable ... brilliant, expedient"; but, nonetheless, Bacon was to Macaulay a "thoroughly dishonest man."8 One who so dazzled others by his brilliant mind that he made them forget "the standards of ordinary decency and morality." Bacon acknowledged his weakness: "I will not question whether you ... pass for a disinterested man or no; I freely confess myself that I am not, and so, I leave it there."
"Francis Bacon's life, with its slow rise to political power and its sudden awful fall, is a drama on the heroic scale of the old Greek tragedies. The world knows the famous last will and testament, where Bacon left his "soul to God above, his body to be buried obscurely, his name to the next ages, and to foreign nations." The world knows his writings, or the titles of them, at least. But there is a composition of Bacon's which the world has lately forgotten or overlooked. In the fullness of his power and reputation as Lord Chancellor of England, Bacon was impeached by Parliament for taking bribes in office, convicted, and banished from London and the law courts. ...
We shrink from the evidence; it is painful to see genius stoop for a mean prize. Perhaps the times were to blame. To live in the shadow of a Queen's favor, to strive continually for a King's smile, is not pretty work. It drove Sir Walter Raleigh to fantastic plots, to despair, egregious lying and the executioner's block. Outside the circle of royal patronage there was no way for an ambitious man to rise in government, no way at all." (Bowen, pp. 3-18.)


A featured sketch in a book


Biographical Sketches: The Thinkers

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Peter Landry