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liminary to his design, and amplifying the matter of the second into eight.
Bacon, however, from his little retreat at Gorhambury, made small account of impressing his mind upon his living countrymen; his eye rested upon Europe and posterity. The fate of Chaucer haunted him: he thought that modern languages would play the bankrupt with books, and that if he did not inshrine his thoughts in a dead language, his name would never travel abroad, and would positively die out among his own countrymen in the next generation. With the assistance of Herbert, Playfair, and some add of Ben Jonson, he gave his new treatise, together with his Essays and many of his minor pieces, a Latin dress; but on contrasting those works with the "Novum Organon," originally written by himself in Latin, it does not appear that he was much indebted to the attainments of his translators.
Bacon, though he followed the pursuits, had not learned to adopt the simple tastes of the philosopher. He gave up York House and its splendid .uxuries with a pang, but retained the greater part of his retinue, and refused to allow one tree of the Gorhambury woods to be felled, even to satisfy the demands of his clamorous creditors. When urged to part with some of the more ostensible fineries of his household, "No," replied the philosopher, with indignation, "I will not be stripped of my feathers." He even entertained hopes of resuming his seat in the Lords, if not on the woolsack, and did not scruple, in his letters to James, to pervert history, with a view to establish similar cases of reintegration. "Demosthenes," says Bacon, in one of these communications, " was banished for bribery of the highest nature, yet was recalled with honour; Marcus Lucius was condemned for exactions, yet afterwards made consul and censor; Seneca was banished for divers corruptions, yet was afterwards restored, and an instrument in the memorable Quinquenium Neronis."
Williams, however, who had succeeded him as Lord Keeper, dreading the gigantic power of the suppliant in opposition, was not idle in multiplying reasons for allowing Bacon to decay among his books, and Buckingham had found agents quite as useful to his purpose as the philosopher of Gorhambury.
After the lapse of three or four years the public feeling against Bacon subsided, and his works had made so favourable an impression upon all classes of society, that the king thought he might with safety cancel the remaining portion of his sentence, and again open to him the avenues of public life. He requited this favour by writing two party pamphlets for the royal favourite, Buckingham, one entitled "Some Considerations touching a War with Spain," in which Bacon strives to excite the nation to make an unjustifiable attack upon an unoffending ally; the other.
called "An Advertisement touching an Holy War," was neither more nor less than a dialogue on the lawfulness of propagating religion by the sword. The king certainly had his hands full in trying to extirpate heresies, reconcile schisms, and reform manners; but our author was inclined to think a war might be undertaken at the same time.
Had nature not interposed, but left the actors to perform their several parts with the same vigour, there is little doubt that Bacon would have climbed back to the woolsack. But a year sufficed to push James off the scene, and when parliament met to hail the advent of a new monarch, Bacon was too enfeebled by premature decay to attend the royal summons. About sixteen months before, when able to tread with firm step the avenues of the court, a writ requesting his attendance in the upper house, to consult circa ardua regni, would have revived his declining spirits. Now, no longer capable of playing a part, he flung the document with an air of contempt on his table, exclaiming, "I have done with such vanities." He survived the king only one year; but true to his beloved restoration of the sciences, he continued to the end to devote every moment rescued from positive sickness to the elaboration of the structure. With remarkable economy of time, he reserved the easiest portion of his labour for the employment of his latter days, and died in its execution. As the collection of mere empirical facts, which form only the unfashioned materials of natural science, could bring him no honour, the toil of his closing years must be regarded as the offspring of pure benevolence. The dry collocation of a heap of phenomena could not but be distasteful to a scholar, but all who presented themselves to build up the sciences aspired to be architects; and Bacon said the work could not advance unless some consented to become the stonemasons of the rest. With the true humility of greatness he descended to the task, and sacrificed his own importance for the welfare of his species. It struck him, when examining the subject of antiseptics, that snow might preserve flesh from corruption, and he resolved to try the experiment. One frosty morning, in the spring of 1626, he alighted at Highgate, and proceeded to stuff a fowl which he had bought at a neighbouring cottage, with snow that he gathered from the ground. At the end of the operation he felt in his limbs a sudden chill, and was obliged to retire to the earl of Arundel's house hard by, where he met with nourishing cordials, dutiful attendants, and a damp bed. The last few lines he scrawled were directed to the owner of the mansion, whose incautions hospitality hastened his end, in which he compares himself to the elder Pliny, who lost his life in exploring the mouth of Vesuvius, and describes the experiment as succeeding "excellently well," which caused his death. A fever imme
diately ensued, attended with a defluxion in the breast. He lingered only a week, expiring on the morning of Easter-day in the sixty-sixth year of his age.
He was buried in St. Michael's church, St. Albans, by the side of his mother. A monument was soon after erected to his memory by his secretary, Sir Thomas Meantys, which represents him in a sitting posture, with an inscription, which_strangely parodies the sublime opening of the instauration, "Franciscus Bacon, Baro de Verulam, St. Albani Viccomes. . . . Sic sedebat." A stranger standing over the grave of the great regenerator of physical science, might fairly expect to be entertained with something better than a pun upon one of the most striking passages in his writings.
His wife, who brought him no issue, died in 1646; a divorce had separated them since his fall.
Though Bacon was constantly attended by a chaplain and a secretary, who appear to have been fully impressed with his intellectual greatness, no chronicle has come down to us either of his private habits, his ingenious sayings, or his social virtues. Rawley has indeed written a vague panegyric, which he called a life, but the colour is so indiscriminately laid on, and some of the incidents so perverted, that doubt may be entertained as to the fidelity of even the leading features. Bacon was invested with mighty intellectual endowments, which struggled to find vent as much by impressing themselves on his own age as by overturning the philosophical systems of antiquity. His mind was pre-eminently of a strong objective character, could see nothing except through the senses, and was disposed with his age, which had given to spiritual supremacy a second fall, to undervalue everything which did not contribute to physical enjoyment or tangible glory. The same impulse which led him to build up the natural sciences on their true foundations, led him also to mistake the false glitter of the world for something real, and to think that his elevation could not be complete, unless the baubles of state were as much at his command as the laws of nature. It is true that the condition of the times offer some excuse for him; and his legal treatises, the settlement of the law of real property, his attempts at law reform, and many of his judicial and political acts, show a nature naturally obeying the impulse of reason and conscience; while the unimpeachable blamelessness of his private life, and the calm earnestness of his moral lessons, prove that he only needed a purer atmosphere, and more civilized times, to act with all the dignity of the sage, and speak with the unadulterated eloquence of an Augustan classic.
It is one of the most striking proofs of the original goodness of Bacon's nature, that he never tyrannised over his inferiors,
or treated them unkindly; nor did he allow his severe habits of study, or even his reverses, to sour his disposition. His nature was abhorrent of avarice, the most degrading of human passions. He enriched himself only to lavish his bounties on others, and to invest his household with an air of splendid magnificence. Selfish distinctions of meum and tuum, so jealously observed by little minds, were hardly impressed upon his noble nature, and he showed as much readiness to dispense gifts as to accept them. With him splendour did not extend to luxurious gratification, or unfit him for acts of benevolence. At table he was exceedingly temperate, and satisfied himself with the simplest food. The needy never left his mansion unrelieved, and his purse was ever open to promote the charitable objects of the benevolent. It is impossible that such a character should not make us forget his vices, and pay tribute to his virtues, as well as his genius.
Of his habits of study we know nothing, except that they were ɛevere. All the long vacations, and such hours as he at other times could steal from his official labours, were passed with his books; and there is little doubt that he made notes of everything important that he read, and distributed his papers under the several heads of human knowledge. No author, however, was less indebted to books for his general views than Bacon, and he seems rather to have turned them over as models of style, and as affording materials for illustration, than to instruct himself. If we were asked to adduce any didactic author, whose thoughts sprang directly out of his own intellect, we should instance Lord Bacon. Of the ancients, Tacitus appears to have been his favourite, and the frequent perusal of that author has left its marks in the laconic terseness of his style and his lucid glimpses into human nature: he was not a strong Grecian, and considerable doubt may be entertained whether he read any book in that language after quitting the university. Al' his citations from the Attic writers are from the Latin text, except one solitary line of Homer.
Bacon was regarded as one of the foremost writers and speakers of his day, and both friends and enemies have left unqualified testimony of his varied abilities. Raleigh, who was no mean judge, characterized Lord Salisbury as a great speaker but a bad writer, Lord Northampton as a great writer but a bad speaker, but Lord Bacon as excelling equally in speaking and writing. Ben Jonson, after sketching the features of a perfect orator, applies them to Bacon; but his colours are no doubt heightened by the warmth of personal friendship. His fame had gained him friends in foreign parts, and many distinguished strangers paid personal homage to him as a philosopher. When the Marquis d'Effiat brought into England the Princess Henrietta Maria, wife to Charles I.. he went to visit Bacon.
who, being in bed, received him with the curtains drawn: "You resemble the angels," said the minister to the philosopher; we hear those beings continually talked of, we believe them superior to mankind, and we never have the consolation to see them." Much of his contemporaneous fame, however, is to be ascribed to his public position, which first drew the attention of a frivolous age to his works. Had he not inhabited a princely mansion in the Strand, and kept a plentiful table at Gorhambury, Ben Jonson, instead of lauding him, might have censured with Hume, and Hobbes have been as niggardly of praise as Bayle. It was the possession of the great seal that made it fashionable to read what few could understand, pushed his works into circulation during an unlettered age, and gave him Europe for an auditory.
All his thoughts were engrossed by pursuits, the glory and advantage of which were to be reaped when he was in his grave. To carry his plans to as high a state of perfection as was compatible with the shortness of human life, he denied himself the relaxation afforded by social pleasures, and came only at intervals into the arena of ordinary life. His constitution, originally delicate, was rendered still more so by study, and during sudden changes of the atmosphere, he became affected with extreme dizziness, which often caused him to swoon. This gave rise to his chaplain's astrological fiction that he was seized with a sudden fainting fit, at every eclipse of the moon. He imagined that he could add many years to his life by systematic doses of nitre, and took about three grains in weak broth every morning for thirty years. He also placed great faith in the efficacy of macerated rhubarb, to carry off the grosser humours of the body without the inconveniences of perspiration, and swallowed an occasional draught before his meals. In his youth, his appearance is said to have been singularly frank and engaging, but his features were much furrowed and darkened by the contests of political life, and the misfortunes of his later years. His severe habits of study early impressed upon him the marks of age, bent his shoulders, and gave him the stooping gait of a philosopher. His stature was of the middle size, with features rather oblong than round. His forehead was spacious and open, his eye lively and penetrating, and his whole aspect venerably pleasing; so that the beholder was insensibly drawn to love, before he knew how much reason there was to admire him. In this respect we may apply to him what Tacitus says of Agricola, "Bonum virum facile crederes, magnum libenter.'
The characteristics of the Baconian philosophy are the introduction of the empiric element into every department of science, the stripping it of that crudeness which had previously rendered it repulsive, and investing it with those scientific views