Bacon’s Philosophy of Life As Revealed in His Essays

Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) the most influential and resourceful English writer, is a practically wise man. His essays are store-house of wordy wisdom and practicality. We find a touch of reality and practicality in his views towards truth studies love, friendship etc. Now we are going to discuss his views.

Bacon is very much frank is expressing his view towards truth in the essay “Of Truth”. Truth, according to Bacon, lacks the charm of variety which, falsehood has. Truth gives more pleasure only when a lie is added to it. He believes that, falsehood is a source of temporary enjoyment as it gives the people a strange kind of pleasure. So the essayist says:

“… a mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure”

To Bacon, a liar is brave towards god but cowards towards men. A liar does not have courage to tell the truth to the people but he shows courage to tell a lie disobeying god. As the essayist comments:

“For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man.”

This is indeed a paradox. It means that a man does not fear god when he tells a lie.

Bacon’s attitude towards study is completely practical. He emphasizes the function of studies. To him, reading improves the natural abilities of man. Through reading a person becomes a full man and by discussion he becomes a ready man. Then he needs writing to which makes a learner’s idea clear and accurate. As Bacon says:

“Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

At first, a man should carefully, then discuss the ideas and finally write them.

Again, Bacon suggests us how we should read the books. The books should be read according to their importance. There are some books which are read only for pleasure, a number of books are to be memorized but a few books are to be read deeply with hard work and concentration. As the author says:

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

Bacon points out that, study enlighten human character by removing darkness of fault and follies. Study becomes fruitful only when it is combined with experience.

Bacon also mentions the benefit of reading various subjects in “Of Studies”

“Histories make men wise, poets witty; the mathematics subtle; natural philosophy deep”

Bacon is very practical in treating love. He considers it just one of many passions of human mind. He does not pay extra favour to it emotionally; rather he sees love as a “child of folly” in his essay “Of Love”. As he comments:

“Nuptial love maketh man kind; friendly love perfecteth it, but wanton love corrupteth and embaseth it.”

Moreover in Bacon’s view, the wives and the children are the hindrance in the way of the success. As he says:

“He that hath wife and children hath given hostage of fortune”

In his essay “Of Marriage and Single Life” he tells the readers the practical benefit of wives. In his own speech:

“Wives are young men’s mistress; companions for middle age, and old men’s nurses.”

In the essay “Of Revenge”, he shows a certain high morality by saying that-

“Revenge is a kind of wild justice”. A man takes the revenge on the person by whom he is oppressed. So if he takes revenge, it will be a justice. But at the time when a man takes revenge he takes it more aggressively than he is oppressed. This is why Bacon calls the revenge a kind of wild justice. So he suggests us to be aloof from taking revenge.

In his essay “Of Parents and Children”, he shows both the utility and the futility of having children. As he says:

“Children sweeten labour, but they make misfortune more bitter.”

Last of all, we say that, Bacon is very exact to his views and thoughts. His essays are the hand-book of practical wisdom full of morality and practicality as well as enriched with maxims.