Portrait of Sir Francis Bacon ©Bacon was an English philosopher and statesman, and a pioneer of modern scientific thought.
Francis Bacon was born on 22 January 1561 in London. He was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, keeper of the great seal for Elizabeth I. Bacon studied at Cambridge University and at Gray's Inn and became a member of parliament in 1584. However, he was unpopular with Elizabeth, and it was only on the accession of James I in 1603 that Bacon's career began to prosper. Knighted that year, he was appointed to a succession of posts culminating, like his father, with keeper of the great seal.
However, Bacon's real interests lay in science. Much of the science of the period was based on the work of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. While many Aristotelian ideas, such as the position of the earth at the centre of the universe, had been overturned, his methodology was still being used. This held that scientific truth could be reached by way of authoritative argument: if sufficiently clever men discussed a subject long enough, the truth would eventually be discovered. Bacon challenged this, arguing that truth required evidence from the real world. He published his ideas, initially in 'Novum Organum' (1620), an account of the correct method of acquiring natural knowledge.
Bacon's political ascent also continued. In 1618 he was appointed lord chancellor, the most powerful position in England, and in 1621 he was created viscount St Albans. Shortly afterwards, he was charged by parliament with accepting bribes, which he admitted. He was fined and imprisoned and then banished from court. Although the king later pardoned him, this was the end of Bacon's public life. He retired to his home at Gorhambury in Hertfordshire, where he continued to write. He died in London on 9 April 1626.
Francis Bacon was a legendary English philosopher, scientist, lawyer, author, statesman, jurist and father of the scientific methods. He was one of the most influential personalities in natural philosophy and was also a key thinker to develop new scientific methodologies. He served both as Attorney General as well as Lord Chancellor of England. Leaving apart the disgraceful ending of his political career, throughout his life, Bacon continued to be quite an influential politician because of his work, specifically as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method and pioneer in the scientific revolution. He has been known as the âFather of Empiricismâ. Francis Baconâs work led and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry. These methodologies are also often denoted as Baconian method. The rhetorical and theoretical composition for science faced a new turn as a result of the Baconâs appeal for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural, most of which still encircle ideas of proper methodology even today.
Francis Bacon was born on January 22, 1561 at York House near the Strand in London. He was born to Sir Nicholas Bacon and his second wife Anne (Cooke) Bacon. His mother was the daughter of great humanist Anthony Cooke. It is believed that junior Bacon received education at home only, in the starting years of his life due to bad health. He received tuitions from John Walsall who was a graduate of Oxford with a strong bending towards Puritanism. On April 5, 1573, Bacon gained admission in Trinity College, Cambridge at the age of 12. He lived there for three years with his older brother, Anthony under the personal guardianship of Dr John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury.
Young Bacon was taught mainly in Latin followed by the medieval curriculum. He went on to get education from the University of Poitiers. At the Cambridge, he met Queen Elizabeth, who was influenced by his exceptionally smart intellect called him "the young Lord Keeper". Bacon’s studies guarded him to the belief that the methods and results of science as practiced then were completely wrong. His high opinion for Aristotle conflicted with his strong disliking of Aristotelian philosophy. He took the Aristotelian philosophy as unprofitable, argumentative and incorrect in its objective. He and his brother, Anthony entered de societate magistrorum at Gray's Inn on 27th June, 1576. After some months, Bacon went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador at Paris. His brother continued studying at home only.
In France, the state of government and society under Henry III gave Bacon valuable political instructions. Following three years, Bacon visited Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy and Spain. He studied languages, statecraft, and civil law while accomplishing routine diplomatic tasks. He also delivered diplomatic letters to England for Walsingham, Burghley, and Leicester and for the queen as well. In 1579, Bacon’s father died suddenly inducing him to return to England. Sir Nicholas arranged a nice amount of money to buy an estate for his youngest son but died before the same. Francis got only a fifth of that sum of money thereafter. As Bacon had taken loan, he went bankrupt. He, then, in 1579, accommodated his residence in law at Gray’s Inn.
The three chief goals of Bacon were to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. Bacon looked further to these by attempting to get a prestigious post. He also applied for a post in the court through his uncle; Lord Burghley in 1580 which he believed would allow him to pursue a life of learning but his application was rejected. Following two years, he worked at Gray’s Inn, only to be admitted as an outer barrister in 1582. He took his seat in the parliament for Melcombe in Dorset in 1584 and afterwards for Taunton in 1586. This was the time when Bacon started writing on the condition of church parties and also on the topic of philosophical reform in the lost tract, Temporis Partus Maximus.
Even after working for long, Bacon did not succeed in acquiring the position he desired for that would lead him great success. He exhibited signs of sympathy to Puritanism by attending the sermons of the Puritan chaplain of Gray's Inn. He also accompanied his mother to the chapel to hear Walter Travers. As a result, his earliest surviving track got published which criticized the English church's suppression of the Puritan clergy. In the year 1586, Bacon openly disapproved the execution of queen of Scots, Mary. Due to his increasing progress at the bar, Bacon contacted his uncle for help. The same year, he became Bencher and was chosen as a reader in 1587. He delivered his first lecture in Lent the very next year. Bacon accepted the valuable appointment of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber in 1589, though he took to office formally only in 1608.
Francis Bacon acquainted with Robert Devereux who was 2nd Earl of Essex and favorite of Queen Elizabeth and by 1591, became the earl's confidential adviser. The following year, Bacon was authorized to write a tract in response to the Jesuit Robert Parson's anti-government polemic, which he gave the headline as “Certain Observations Made Upon A Libel”, recognizing England with the ideals of democratic Athens opposite of the belligerence of Spain. In February 1593, Queen Elizabeth called parliament to investigate a Roman Catholic plot against her. His opposition to a bill that would impose triple allowance in half of the normal time was repelled by a lot of people. He was blamed as a popularity seeker by the opponents and was expelled by the royal court for some time.
Year 1594 and 1595 did not bring much of good news for Bacon as he meted with failure. First, in 1594, he failed to bag the Attorney-Generalship seat that had gone vacant. Next in 1595, he failed to save the lesser office of Solicitor-General. Even Lord Essex also could not use much of his power and influence on both the occasions. In 1596, Bacon was appointed as the Queen's Counsel. During this phase, Bacon’s financial position remained dubious. The effort of his friends to find him a public office also seemed to go in vain as they couldn’t find any. Also, his strategy for recovering his lost position by marrying a rich and young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton failed, when she broke off with him and married a wealthier man. As such, in 1598, Bacon was arrested for debt.
However, slowly but steadily, his image in the eyes of Queen improved, as he grabbed himself a place in the standing of the learned counsels, though without any salary, commission or warranty. He further raised his image in the Queen’s eye by making a clever move by detaching ties with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex as he was executed in 1601 for treason. Also, Bacon with the team was asked to investigate all the charges against Essex. Bacon was a member of the legal team at Essex's treason trial led by Attorney General, Sir Edward Coke. Post execution, Bacon was appointed to write the official government account of the trial by the Queen. These accounts were published as ‘A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons’. However, the first draft presented by the Bacon was edited by the Queen and her ministers up to a great extent.
Meeting James I
When James I came to the power, he brought great favors for Bacon, for the latter was knighted in 1603. Bacon also did another clever move by writing an apology in consideration of his proceedings in Essex case. This was mainly because Essex played a major role in letting James come to power. At last, Bacon was given an office of Solicitor-General in June 1607. The next year, he started working as the Clerkship of the Star Chamber and had a good income. But still because of his old debts, he remained indebted. Bacon continued to support King James and his absolute policies to grab promotion and wealth. The forth session of James’s firstparliament took place in 1610. Not heeding Bacon’s advice, James and the Commons discovered themselves at odds over royal prerogatives.
The parliament dissolved in February 1611. All through this time, Bacon remained in the favor of the King and also retained the confidence of the Commons. Bacon was appointed as Attorney General, after he gave advice to the King on the shuffling of judicial appointments in 1613. In the April of 1614, the “Prince's Parliament" raised questions on Bacon’s presence in the Cambridge seat and all the royal plans supported by him. Therefore a law came into being that prohibited Attorney General to sit in parliament. In 1616, after becoming the Attorney General, he prosecuted Somerset. Most of his peers were jealous and angry of him seeing his closeness with the King. But King remained in the influence of Bacon and in March 1617, he was appointed as the temporary Regent of England and subsequently as Lord Chancellor in 1618.
As A Lord Chancellor
The image of Bacon among public ended disgracefully in 1621. He again fell into debts and a parliamentary committee on the administration of the law charged Bacon with twenty-three separate counts of corruption. Later, Bacon was sentenced with a fine of £40,000. The punishment was remitted by King and Tower of London committee. Bacon was imprisoned just for few days only. Thereafter, the parliament declared him inadequate for holding future office. Bacon escaped from the eyes of people and indulged in study and writing.
Bacon was courting a young widow Elizabeth Hatton but she broke up with him and accepted marriage to a wealthier man- Edward Coke. Later at 45, Bacon married Alice Barnham. She was the daughter of a London MP. Bacon also wrote two poems expressing his love towards Alice, first during his courtship and second on their wedding anniversary on May 10, 1606. But their relationship turned dicey when Bacon fell into debts. Later, Bacon decided to stay away from her, as she was in a secret relationship with John Underhill. Also, Bacon rewrote his will and took back all his wealth from her. Many people also speculated that despite his marriage, he was attracted towards the same sex. Examples were also set of the King-Bacon relationship.
On April 9 1629, Francis Bacon died at Arundel mansion at Highgate outside London due to severe pneumonia. John Aubrey gave a brief description on the account of his death. It is said they were experimenting some scientific method by using snow for preserving meat. Bacon went to poor lady’s home at the Highgate hill. He brought fowl from there after asking woman to clean the same. Then he stuffed fowl with lots of snow but developed dangerous disease, pneumonia. During the process, he felt so ill that he was unable to get well again. Rather he went to the Earle of Arundel's house at Highgate where he was put into a damp cloth. Due to the cold, he died of suffocation. At Bacon’s funeral, 30 great minds praised him a lot, which were later published as a collection in Latin.