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From his birth, Bacon was a delicate child, and so acutely sensible to atmospheric influence, that any peculiar change in this respect would cast him into a fit of fainting. * Notwithstanding this constitutional delicacy of temperament, (too often the fatal attendant upon genius,) he was, at the tender age of thirteen, sent, with his brother Anthony, to Cambridge, and, on the 10th June, 1573, entered of Trinity College, under Dr. Whitgift, who afterwards became Archbishop of Canterbury.* After three years residence in the University, he went to reside at Paris, with sir Amyas Paulett, † the English Ambassador, and afterwards travelled into the French provinces, spending some time at Poictiers, the Limonum of the Pictavi, and famous for its curious collection of antiquities.
ferring to any authority for the fact,) that Bacon, when a boy, while his companions were playing in St. James's Park, stole away to the brick conduit, to discover the cause of a singular echo. (Montagu's Life of Bacon, p. 3.) In his Natural History, Bacon certainly alludes to a brick conduit in St. James's fields, and accounts for the loud sound produced by blowing through a small aperture, on the principle that, as the channel of sound was a concave, proceeding from more narrow to more broad, the air and sound being first contracted at the lesser end, do dilate themselves, and, in coming out, strike more air, whereby the sound is the greater and baser.'—Bacon's Works, vol. 4, p. 87.
* 'It may seem,' says Dr. Rawley, “the moon had some principal place in the figure of his nativity; for the moon was never in her passion or eclipsed, but he was surprised with a sudden fit of fainting; and that, though he observed not, nor took any previous knowledge of the eclipse thereof; and as soon as the eclipse ceased, he was restored to his former strength,' 'I remember,' says Aubrey, sir John Danvers told me that his lordship much delighted in his curious garden at Chelsea ; he was walking there one time, fell down in a swoon. My lady Danvers rubbed his face,
temples, &c., and gave him cordial water: as soon as he came to himself, said he, Madam, I am no good foot
He was so delicate, that he could not bear the smell of neat's leather, and none of his servants durst appear before him without Spanish leather boots.-Bacon's Works, vol. 16, note (G.)
* Strype's Life and Acts of Dr. Whitgift, p. 77.
+ Rawley's Life, and see Bacon's Works, vol. 12, pp. 159, 282.
During his residence abroad, he invented a new system of ciphers, which he afterwards incorporated into the first part of his Instauration. It appears, too, that even at this early period of his life, Bacon was actively employed in examining the phenomena of Nature, and, in particular, of Sound;-a subject not even yet exhausted, and in the investigation of which, some of our most eminent philosophers are now engaged.*
# See sir John Herschel's Treatise on Sound, printed in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana. This distinguished philosopher observes, that Bacon was one of the first who made the nature and laws of Acoustics a matter of experimental inquiry.—Herschel on Natural Philosophy, p. 248. “Whoever,' said the late sir James Mackintosh, 'is desirous of estimating the value of knowledge, will find the noblest observations on that grand subject, which have been made since Bacon, in Mr. Herschel's Discourse on Natural Philosophy,—the finest work of philosophical genius which this age
has In reading it, a momentary regret may sometimes pass through the fancy, that the author of the Novum Organum could not see the wonderful fruits of his labour in two centuries.'-Hist, of England, vol. 2 p. 132, note,
That he had the justest notions on this most interesting and important branch of science, abundantly appears from many passages in his Sylva Sylvarum, among which we may notice his explanation of the phenomenon of echoes upon echoes,* which he correctly ascribed to the reflection of sound‘not echoes from several places, but a tossing of the voice, as a ball to and fro;'+ and it appears (a fact which has not, we believe,
* Bacon's Works, vol. 4, pp. 128, 129.
+ The Poet's description is as just as it is beautiful:
The Rock, like something starting from a sleep,
been ever noticed before,) that, in this country at least, Bacon was the first to suggest the construction of the instrument, since called the ear-trumpet, but to which he gave the name of 'ear-spectacle.'*
These pursuits, so congenial to his mind, the sudden death of his father f compelled
* The following are Bacon's own words:— Let it be tried, for the help of the hearing, and I conceive it likely to succeed, to make an instrument like a tunnel, the narrow part whereof may be of the bigness of the hole of the ear, and the broader end much larger, like a bell at the skirts, and the length half a foot or more. And let the narrow end of it be set close to the ear; and mark whether any sound, abroad in the open air, will not be heard distinctly from farther distance, than without that instrument, being, as it were, an ear-spectacle.'--Bacon's Works, vol. 4, p. 139.
† Sir Nicholas Bacon died on the 20th February, 1578-9, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. (Camden's Brit. vol. 1, p. 315.) 'I remember,' said lord Bacon, 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.'—Works, vol. 4, p. 526.