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1576. Æt. 16. France.
enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting
In these glorious inventions of one rich mind, may be
After three years residence in the university, his father sent him, at the age of sixteen, to Paris, under the care of Sir Amias Paulett, the English ambassador at that court:(a) by whom, soon after his arrival, he was entrusted with a mission to the queen, requiring both secrecy and dispatch: which he executed with such ability as to gain the approbation of the queen, and justify Sir Amias in the choice of his youthful messenger.
From the confidence thus reposed in him, and from the
We have also particular pools where we make trials upon fishes, as we have said before of beasts and birds.
We have also places for breed and generation of those kinds of worms and flies which are of special use, such as are with you your silk-worms and bees,
We have also precious stones of all kinds, many of them of great beauty and unknown; crystals and glasses of divers kinds. We represent also ordnance and instruments of war, and engines of all kinds; and likewise new mixtures and compositions of gunpowder, wild-fires burning in water and unquenchable; also fire-works of all variety, both for pleasure and use. We imitate also flights of birds; we have some degrees of flying in the air; we have ships and boats for going under water, and brooking of seas; also swimming girdles and supporters.
We have also sound houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds, and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter sounds, and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music, likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have; with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet.
We have also a mathematical house, where are all instruments, as well of
(n) See Note N at the end, for an account of the New Atlantis.
impression made upon all with whom he conversed, upon men of letters, with whom he contracted lasting friendships, upon grave statesmen and learned philosophers, it was manifest that the promise in his infancy of excellence, whether for active or for contemplative life, seemed beyond the most sanguine expectation to be realized.(a)
After the appointment of Sir Amias Paulett's successor, Bacon travelled into the French provinces, and spent some time at Poictiers. He prepared a work upon Cyphers,(6) which he afterwards published, with an outline of the state of Europe, (c) but the laws of sound and of imagination continued to occupy his thoughts. (z)
(a) It is a fact not unworthy of notice, that an eminent artist, to whom, when in Paris, he sat for his portrait, was so conscious of his inability to do justice to his extraordinary intellectual endowments, that he has written on the side of his picture: Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem.-See the last note in the Notes to this Life.
(6) In the Augmentis Scientiarum, Lib. vi. speaking of Cyphers, he says, Ut verò suspicio omnis absit, aliud inventum subjiciemus, quod certè cùm adolescentuli essemus Parisiis excogitavimus, nec etiam adhuc visa nobis res digna est quæ pereat. Watts’ English Translation of this part is as follows: But that jealousies may be taken away, we will annex another invention, which, in truth, we devised in our youth, when we were at Paris: and is a thing that yet seemeth to us not worthy to be lost. It containeth the highest degree of cypher, which is to signify omnia per omnia, yet so, as the writing infolding, may bear a quintuple proportion to the writing infolded; no other condition or restriction whatsoever is required. See p. 314, of vol. viii. of this edition.
(c) See note Q at the end.
(7) His meditations were both upon natural science and human sciences, as will appear from the following facts.
In his history of life and death, speaking of the differences between youth and old age, and having enumerated many of them, he proceeds thus : When I was a young man at Poictiers in France, I familiarly conversed with a young gentleman of that country, who was extremely ingenious, but somewhat talkative; he afterwards became a person of great eminence. This gentleman used to inveigh against the manners of old people, and would say, that if one could see their minds as well as their bodies, their minds would appear as deformed as their bodies; and indulging his own
1579. Æt. 19.
Whilst he was engaged in these meditations his father died suddenly, on the 20th February, 1579. He instantly returned to England.
humour, he pretended, that the defects of old men's minds, in some measure corresponded to the defects of their bodies. Thus dryness of the skin, he said, was answered by impudence ; hardness of the viscera, by relentlessness; blear-eyes, by envy; and an evil eye, their down look, and incurvation of the body, by atheism, as no longer, says he, looking up to heaven; the trembling and shaking of the limbs, by unsteadiness and inconstancy; the bending of their fingers as to lay hold of something, by rapacity and avarice; the weakness of their knees, by fearfulness; their wrinkles, by indirect dealings and cunning, &c.*
And again, for echoes upon echoes, there is a rare instance thereof in a place which I will now exactly describe. It is some three or four miles from Paris, near a town called Pont-Charenton; and some bird-bolt shot or more from the river of Sein. The room is a chapel or small church. The walls all standing, both at the sides and at the ends. Speaking at the one end, I did hear it return the voice thirteen several times. (a)
There are certain letters that an echo will hardly express; as S for one, especially being principal in a word. I remember well, that when I went to the echo at Pont-Charenton, there was an old Parisian, that took it to be work of spirits, and of good spirits. For, said he, call “Satan,” and the echo will not deliver back the devil's name; but will say, “va t'en;" which is as much in French as "apage," or avoid. And thereby I did hap to find, that an echo would not return an S, being but a hissing and an interior sound.(6)
So too the nature of imagination continued to interest him. In the Sylva, art. 986,(c) he says, the relations touching the force of imagination and the secret instincts of nature are so uncertain, as they require a great deal of examination ere we conclude upon them. I would have it first throughly inquired, whether there be any secret passages of sympathy between persons of near blood; as parents, children, brothers, sisters, nurse-children, husbands, wives, &c. There be many reports in history, that upon the death of persons of such nearness, men have had an inward feeling of it. I myself remember, that being in Paris, and my father dying in London, two or three days before my father's death I had a dream, which I told to divers English gentlemen, that my father's house in the country was plastered all over with black mortar.
* See vol. xiv. of this ed. p. 408.
FROM THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER TILL HE ENGAGED
IN ACTIVE LIFE. 1580 to 1590.
Discovering, upon his arrival in England, that, by the sudden death of his father, he was left without a sufficient Æt. 20. provision to justify him in devoting his life to contemplation, (a) it became necessary for him to select some pursuit for his support, “ to think how to live, instead of living only to think.”(c)
Law and Politics were the two roads open before him; in both his family had attained opulence and honor. Law, the dry and thorny study of law, had but little attraction for his discursive and imaginative mind. With the hope, therefore, that, under the protection of his political friends, and the Queen's remembrance of his father, and notice of him when a child, he might escape from the mental slavery of delving in this laborious profession, he made a great effort to secure some small competence, by applying to Lord Burleigh to recommend him to the queen, and interceding with Lady Burleigh to urge his suit with his uncle. (d)
(a) Rawley Biog. Brit.
My humble duty remembered, and my humble thanks presented for your lordship’s favour and countenance, which it pleased your lordship, at my being with you, to vouchsafe me, above my degree and desert: My
But his application was unsuccessful; the queen and the lord treasurer, distinguished as they were for penetration into character, being little disposed to encourage him to
letter hath no further errand but to commend unto your lordship the
Your most dutiful and bounden Nephew,
B. FRA. this 16th of September, 1580.
To Lady Burghley, to speak for him to her Lord. My singular good Lady, I was as ready to shew myself mindful of my duty, by waiting on you ladyship, at your being in town, as now by writing, had I not feared le: