Francis Bacon

Francis
Bacon
1561
1626

English Scientist, Author, Philosopher

Author Quotes

The stage is more beholding to love than the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever a matter of Comedies , and now and then of tragedies . It is strange to note the excess of this passion; and how it braves the nature and value of things, that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but love.

The vices of authority are chiefly four: delays, corruption, roughness, and facility. For delays give easy access; keep times appointed; go through with that which is in hand, and interlace not business but of necessity. For corruption doth not only bind thine own hands or thy servants from taking, but bind the hands of suitors also from offering: for integrity used doth the one; but integrity professed, and with a manifest detestation of bribery, doth the other; and avoid not only the fault, but the suspicion. Whosoever is found variable, and changeth manifestly without manifest cause, giveth suspicion of corruption: therefore, always, when thou changest thine opinion or course, profess it plainly, and declare it, together with the reasons that move thee to change, and do not think to steal it. A servant or a favorite, if he be inward, and no other apparent cause of esteem, is commonly thought but a by-way to close corruption. For roughness, it is a needless cause of discontent: severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth hate. Even reproofs from authority ought to be grave, and not taunting. As for facility, it is worse than bribery; for bribes come but now and then; but if importunity or idle respects lead a man, he shall never be without; as Solomon saith, “To respect persons it is not good, for such a man will transgress for a piece of bread.”

There are four classes of Idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names,—calling the first class Idols of the Tribe; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market Place; the fourth, Idols of the Theatre … The Idols of the Tribe have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it. The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For every one (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolors the light of nature; owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature; or to his education and conversation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in a mind indifferent and settled; or the like. There are also Idols formed by the intercourse and association of men with each other, which I call Idols of the Market-place, on account of the commerce and consort of men there. For it is by discourse that men associate; and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar, and therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding. Nor do the definitions or explanations where with in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right. But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies. Lastly, there are Idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call Idols of the Theatre; because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage-plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion.

There is a great difference betwixt a cunning man and a wise man. There be that can pack the cards, who yet cannot play well; they are good in canvasses and factions, and yet otherwise mean men.

There is no other way but to meditate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger,—how it troubles man’s life; and the best time to do this is to look back upon anger when the fit is thoroughly over. Seneca saith well, “that anger is like rain, which breaks itself upon that it falls.” The Scripture exhorteth us “to possess our souls in patience:” whosoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul…. Anger is certainly a kind of baseness; as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns,—children, women, old folks, sick folks. Only men must beware that they carry their anger rather with scorn than with fear; so that they may seem rather to be above the injury than below it; which is a thing easily done, if a man will give law to himself in it…. To contain anger from mischief, though it take hold of a man, there be two things whereof you must have special caution: the one of extreme bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate and proper; for “communia maledicta” are nothing so much; and again, that in anger a man reveal no secrets; for that makes him not fit for society: the other, that you do not peremptorily break off in any business in a fit of anger; but howsoever you show bitterness, do not act anything that is not revocable.

There's no fortune so good, but it bates an ace.

Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly.

Those Spaniards in Mexico who were chased of the Indians tell us what to do with our goods in our extremity. They being to pass over a river in their flight, as many as cast away their gold swam over safe; but some, more covetous, keeping their gold, were either drowned with it, or overtaken and slain by the savages: you have received, now learn to give.

The more a man drinketh of the world, the more it intoxicateth; and age doth profit rather in the powers of understanding, than in the virtues of the will and affections.

The poets make fame a monster: they describe her in part finely and elegantly, and in part gravely and sententiously: they say, Look how many feathers she hath! so many eyes she hath underneath! so many tongues! so many voices! she pricks up so many ears!

The strength of all sciences is, as the strength of the old man's faggot, in the bond. For the harmony of a science, supporting each part the other, is and ought to be the true and brief confutation and suppression of all the smaller sort of objections. But, on the other side, if you take out every axiom, as the sticks of the faggot, one by one, you may quarrel with them and bend them and break them at your pleasure: so that, as was said of Seneca, so a man may truly say of the schoolmen. For were it not better for a man in fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small watch-candle into every corner?

The vine produces more grapes when it is young, but better grapes for wine when it is old, because its juices are more perfectly concocted.

There are numbers of the like kind: especially if you include dreams and predictions of astrology; but I have set down these few only of certain credit for example. My judgment is, that they ought all to be despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by the fire-side: though when I say despised, I mean it as for belief; for otherwise, the spreading or publishing of them is in no sort to be despised, for they have done much mischief; and I see many severe laws made to suppress them.

There is a great difference in the delivery of the mathematics, which are the most abstracted of knowledges.

There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be discovered in a lie; for as Montaigne saith, A liar would be brave toward God, while he is a coward toward men; for a lie faces God, and shrinks from man.

These are not places merely of favor, the charge of souls lies upon them; the greatest account whereof will be required at their hands.

Things will have their first or second agitation. If they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune.

Those who aspire not to guess and divine, but to discover and know, who propose not to devise mimic and fabulous worlds of their own, but to examine and dissect the nature of this very world itself, must go to facts themselves for everything.

The most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles.

The problem is, whether a man constantly and strongly believing that such a thing shall be, it donÂ’t help anything to the effecting of the thing.

The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding.

The virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in mortals is the heroic virtue.

There are some other that account wife and children but as bills of charges.

There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think they do best if they go farthest from the superstition,-by which means they often take away the good as well as the bad.

There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious: and therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he inquireth the reason why the word of the lie should be such a disgrace, and such an odious charge, “If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth is as much as to say that he is brave towards God, and a coward towards men: for a lie faces God, and shrinks from man.”

Author Picture
First Name
Francis
Last Name
Bacon
Birth Date
1561
Death Date
1626
Bio

English Scientist, Author, Philosopher