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LIFE OF BACON.
FROM HIS BIRTH TILL THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER.
1560 to 1580.
Francis Bacon was born at York-House,(a) in the Strand, 1560-1. on the 22nd of January, 1560. He was the youngest son of His birth. Sir Nicholas Bacon, and of Anne, a daughter of the learned and contemplative Sir Anthony Cooke, tutor to King Edward the Sixth. (6)
Of Sir Nicholas, it has been said, that he was a man full of wit and wisdom, a learned lawyer, and a true gentleman; of a mind the most comprehensive to surround the merits of a cause; of a memory to recollect its least circumstance;* of the deepest search into affairs of any man at the council table, and of a personal dignity so well suited to his other excellencies, that his royal mistress was wont to say, “ My Lord keeper's soul is well lodged.”(c)
He was still more fortunate in the rare qualities of his mother,(d) for Sir Anthony Cooke, acting upon his favorite
(a) See note A at the end.
(6) See note B at the end. * “ He who cannot contract his sight as well as dilate it, wanteth a great faculty ;" says Lord Bacon. (c) See note C at the end.
(d) See note D at the end.
opinion then very prevalent,(e) that women were as capable of learning as men, carefully instructed his daughters every evening, in the lessons which he had taught the King during the day; and amply were his labors rewarded; for he lived to see all his daughters happily married; and Lady Anne distinguished, not only for her conjugal and maternal virtues, but renowned (a) as an excellent scholar, and the translator, from the Italian, of various sermons of Ochinus, a learned divine; and, from the Latin, of Bishop Jewel's Apologia, recommended by Archbishop Parker for general use. (b)
It was his good fortune not only to be born of such parents, but also at that happy time “ when learning (c) had made her third circuit; when the art of printing gave books with a liberal hand to men of all fortunes; when the nation had emerged from the dark superstitions of popery; when peace, throughout all Europe, permitted the enjoyment of foreign travel and free ingress to foreign scholars; and, above all, when a Sovereign of the highest intellectual attainments, at the same time that she encouraged learning and learned men, gave an impulse to the arts, and a chivalric and refined tone to the manners of the people.
(e) See note E at the end.
(a) She translated from the Italian fourteen sermons concerning the predestination and election of God, without date, 8vo. See Watt's Bibliotheca Britannica. Title, Ochinus and Anne Cooke.—N.B. There is a publication entitled, “ Sermons to the number of twenty-five, concerning the Predestination.” London: Printed by J. Day, without date, 8vo.--Query, If by Lady Bacon.
(b) Ochinus Barnardin, an Italian monk of extraordinary merit, born at Sienna 1487. Died 1594. Watts (S.A.) Jewel's Apologia translated by Anne Bacon 1600, 1606, 1609, Fol. 1626, 12mo. 1685, 1719, 8vo. See Watts Tit.“ Jewel.”
(c) See Bacon's beautiful conclusion of Civil Knowledge in the advancement of learning, which is in vol. 2. page 297 of this edition.
Bacon's health was always delicate, and his temperament was of such sensibility, as to be affected, even to fainting, by very slight alterations in the atmosphere; a constitutional infirmity which seems to have attended him through life.(g)
While he was yet a child, the signs of Genius, for which he was in after life distinguished, could not have escaped the notice of his intelligent parents. They must have been conscious of his extraordinary powers, and of their responsibility that, upon the right direction of his mind, his future eminence, whether as a statesman or as a philosopher, almost wholly depended.
He was cradled in politics; he was not only the son of the Lord Keeper, but the nephew of Lord Burleigh. He had lived from his infancy amidst the nobility of the reign of Elizabeth, who was herself delighted, even in his childhood, to converse with him, and to prove him with questions, which he answered with a maturity above his years, and with such gravity that the Queen would often call him her young Lord Keeper.(h) Upon the Queen's asking him, when a child, how old he was, he answered, “ two years younger than your majesty's happy reign.”
But there were dawnings of genius of a mạch higher nature. (1) When a boy, while his companions were diverting themselves near to his father's house in St. James's Park, he stole to the brick conduit to discover the cause of a singular echo;(c) and, in his twelfth
(g) See note G at the end. (1) See note H at the end.
(1) See Paradise Regained, B. I. “When I was yet a child,” &c.-See Burns: “I saw thee seek the sounding shore,” &c.—See Beattie's Minstrel; “ Baubles he heeded not," &c.
(c) The laws of sound were always a subject of his thoughts. In the third Century of the Sylva, he says, “we have laboured, as may appear, in this
1573. Et. 13. The university.
year, he was meditating upon the laws of the imagination.(t)
At the early age of thirteen, it was resolved to send him to Cambridge, of which university, he, with his brother Anthony, was matriculated as a member, on the 10th of
inquisition of sounds diligently; both because sound is one of the most hidden portions of nature, and because it is a virtue which may be called incorporeal and immateriate, whereof there be in nature but few.”
As one of the facts, he says in his Sylva Sylvarum, (Art. 140.) “There is in St. James's fields a conduit of brick, unto which joineth a low vault; and at the end of that a round house of stone; and in the brick conduit there is a window; and in the round house a slit or rift of some little breadth: if you cry out in the rift, it will make a fearful roaring at the window. The cause is, for that all concaves, that proceed from more narrow to more broad, do amplify the sound at the coming out.”
(t) In the tenth century of the Sylva, after having enumerated many of the idle imaginations by which the world then was, and, more or less, always will be, misled, he says, “With these vast and bottomless follies men have been in part entertained. But we, that hold firm to the works of God, and to the sense, which is God's lamp, lucerna Dei spiraculum hominis, will inquire with all sobriety and severity, whether there be to be found in the footsteps of nature, any such transmission and influx of immateriate virtues ; and what the force of imagination is, either upon the body imaginant, or upon another body.
He then proceeds to state the different kinds of the power of imagination, saying it is in three kinds: the first, upon the body of the imaginant, including likewise the child in the mother's womb; the second is, the power of it upon dead bodies, as plants, wood, stone, metal, &c.; the third is, the power of it upon the spirits of men and living creatures; and with this last we will only meddle.
The problem therefore is, whether a man constantly and strongly believing that such a thing shall be; as that such a one will love him; or that such a one will grant him his request; or that such a one shall recover a sickness, or the like, it doth help any thing to the effecting of the thing itself.
In the solution of this problem he, according to his custom, enumerates a variety of instances, and, amongst others, the following fact, which occurred to him when a child, for he left his father's house when he was thirteen.
For example, he says, I related one time to a man, that was curious and
June, 1573.(k) They were both admitted of Trinity College, under the care of Dr. John Whitgift,(c) a friend of the Lord Keeper's, then master of the college, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and distinguished through life, not only for his piety, but for his great learning, and unwearied exertions to promote the public good.
vain enough in these things; that I saw a kind of juggler, that had a pair of cards, and would tell a man what card he thought. This pretended learned man told me, it was a mistaking in me; for (said he) it was not the knowledge of the man's thought, (for that is proper to God,) but it was the inforcing of a thought upon him, and binding his imagination by a stronger, that he could think no other card. And thereupon he asked me a question or two, which I thought he did but cunningly, knowing before what used to be the feats of the juggler. Sir, (said he), do you remember whether he told the card the man thought himself, or bade another to tell it. I answered, (as was true), that he bade another tell it. Whereunto he said, so I thought; for (said he) himself could not have put on so strong an imagination, but by telling the other the card, (who believed that the juggler was some strange man, and could do strange things,) that other man caught a strong imagination. I hearkened unto him, thinking for a vanity he spoke prettily. Then he asked me another question : saith he, do you remember whether he bade the man think the card first, and afterwards told the other man in his ear, what he should think, or else that he did whisper first in the man's ear, that should tell the card, telling that such a man should think such a card, and after bade the man think a card; I told him, as was true; that he did first whisper the man in the ear, that such a man should think such a card; upon this the learned man did much exult, and please himself, saying, lo, you may see that my opinion is right; for if the man had thought first, his thought had been fixed; but the other imagining first, bound his thought. Which though it did somewhat sink with me, yet I made lighter than I thought, and said, I thought it was confederacy between the juggler and the two servants ; though (indeed) I had no reason so to think; for they were both my father's servants; and he had never played in the house before.
(k) An. 1573. Jun. 10. Antonius Bacon Coll. Trin. Convict. i. admissus in matriculam acad. Cantabr.
Franciscus Bacon Coll. Trin. Convict. i. admissus in matriculam academiae Cantabr. eodem die & anno. (Reg' Acad.)
(c) See the Biog. Brit. In 1565, Whitgift so distinguished himself in the pulpit, that the Lord Keeper recommended him to the queen.