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CHAP. plished. He displays a most intimate knowledge of the miseries of Ireland, their causes and cure. "This desolate and neglected country is blessed with almost all the dowries of nature-with rivers, havens, woods, quarries, good soil, temperate climate, and a race and generation of men, valiant, hard, and active, as it is not easy to find such confluence of commodities, if the hand of man did join with the hand of nature: but they are severed,—the harp of Ireland is not strung or attuned to concord."

His speeches.

Bacon as a philosopher.

We must not suppose that he was either insincere or unenlightened in his political theories by merely regarding his practice; for he had no moral courage, and no power of selfsacrifice or self-denial. Hence we account for his clinging to every minister who could advance him,- for his sealing patents to create a monopoly in all articles of necessity and luxury, and for his writing in defence of a Spanish war, for which he knew there was no just cause, and which he knew could promote no national object.

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His published speeches (which he evidently thought might be compared to the choice specimens of ancient eloquence) do not support his fame as an orator. They are superior to those of his contemporaries, and even to those of the leaders of the Long Parliament, who, as boys, were studying under him, but who suffered the effect of their masculine thinking to be weakened by endless heads and subdivisions, and to be counteracted by courtly ribaldry, or by puritanical cant. Nevertheless, no speech of his at the bar or in parliament, even approaches the standard of pure and sustained eloquence set us by Erskine and Burke,— and to get at his weighty, rich, and pathetic passages, we must pass over much that is quaint, pedantic, and dull. *

But it was as a philosopher that Bacon conquered immortality, and here he stands superior to all who went before, and to all who have followed him. If he be not entitled to a place in the interior of the splendid temple which he imagined

* In his own time he seems to have been considered equally eminent as an orator and as an author. Raleigh, no mean judge, declared that Lord Salisbury was a great speaker but a bad writer, and Lord Northampton was a great writer but a bad speaker, while Lord Bacon was equally excellent in speaking and writing.


for those who, by inventing arts, have embellished life, his CHAP.
statue ought to appear in the more honourable position of the
portico, as the great master who has taught how arts are to be
invented-with this inscription on its pedestal,

"O tenebris tantis tam clarum extollere lumen
Qui primus potuisti, illustrans commoda vitæ."

However, I must limit myself to declaring my humble but
hearty concurrence in the highest praises that have been be-
stowed upon him for what he did for science. No one is so
absurd as to suppose that he was the first to render experience
available in the search after truth; but he it was that first sys-
tematically showed the true object of philosophical inquiry,
and the true means by which that object was to be attained.
Before and during his time discoveries were accidentally made;
but they were retarded and perverted by fantastical à priori
theories, which they were supposed to illustrate. He taught
as one inspired, that the labour of all who think ought to be
to multiply human enjoyments and to mitigate human suf-
ferings, and that for this purpose they must observe and reason
only from what they see. All who have studied the history
of ancient or modern science, must be aware of the host of
established errors he had to encounter, which were supposed
to be sanctioned by names of no meaner note than those of
Plato and Aristotle. But with what courage, steadiness, and
perseverance did he proceed with his undertaking! Luckily
he was in no danger of losing the place of Solicitor, or At-
torney General, or Lord Chancellor, by exposing the idola
tribus, the idola specus, the idola fori, or the idola theatri.

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His plan was left unfinished, but amidst all the distractions of professional drudgery and grovelling ambition, — although, in the language of Sir Thomas Bodley, "he wasted many years on such study as was not worthy of such a student,”he accomplished more for the real advancement of knowledge than any of those who spent their lives in calm meditation under sequestered porticoes or academic groves.

With all his boldness he is entirely free from dogmatism and intolerance,-unlike the religious reformers of his day, who, assailing an ancient superstition, wished to burn all who


Benefits conferred by his writings.

A great

ethical writer.

His style.

doubted the new system which they set up in its place. Having put down tyranny, he did not himself assume the sceptre, but proclaimed freedom to mankind.

I deny the recent assertion that little practical benefit arose from his writings-which is founded on the false statement that they were little read in England, and were hardly known abroad till analysed in the Preface to the French Encyclopædia by D'Alembert and Diderot. They were eagerly read and studied in this country from the time they were respectively published; and as soon as they appeared here, they were reprinted and translated on the Continent. Attacked by obscure men, they were defended by Gassendi, Puffendorff, and Leibnitz. They made a deep impression on the public mind of Europe, which has never been effaced, and to their direct and indirect influence may be ascribed many of the brilliant discoveries which illustrated the latter half of the seventeenth century.


I must likewise indignantly repel the charge brought against him that he is a mere "utilitarian "— in the contracted and bad sense of the word - having regard only to our physical wants. He always remembered that man is a social and reasonable and accountable being, and never erred by supposing that his true welfare could be promoted without ample provision for cultivating his affections, enlightening his understanding, and teaching him his duties to his Maker. A most perfect body of ethics might be made out from the writings of Bacon, and though he deals chiefly, in his examples, with natural philosophy, his method is equally well adapted to examine and classify the phenomena of mind.

I may not enter into any minute criticisms on the style of his philosophical works whether English or Latin, yet I cannot refrain from remarking that while he instructs he is ever exact, perspicuous and forcible, -charming his reader with a felicity of illustration peculiar to himself, — ever se

It is not very creditable to England that Bacon's philosophical works have fallen into comparative neglect in his own country. Aristotle excludes them at Oxford, and they are not the subject of any lectures or examinations at Cambridge, while at most foreign universities "the Baconian system" is regularly taught, and it is to Scotch professors, Reid, Dugald Stewart, Robison, and Playfair, that it owes its best illustrations.

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conded by the commanding powers of a bold and figurative CHAP eloquence. To the beginner," the Advancement of Learning" is certainly the most captivating performance,- but let him proceed, and he will soon be familiar with the "De Augmentis," — and the most abstract aphorisms in the "NOVUM ORGANUM" will yield him delight.

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Bacon's miscellaneous literary productions would of them- Essays. selves place him high as an author. Many of the observ ations on life and manners in his Essays have passed into maxims, and are familiar to us from infancy. Of all the compositions in any language I am acquainted with, these will bear to be the oftenest perused and re-perused, and after every perusal they still present some new meaning and some new beauty. He was himself conscious of his power in this department of literature, and of the "lustre and reputation these recreations of his other studies would yield to his name.

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His New Atlantis" he seems to have intended as a rival to the "Utopia" of Sir Thomas More, although his object was less to satirise existing institutions and manners than to point out the unbounded progress that might be made in discovery and improvement. † Some of his suggestions which must have appeared the most extravagant to his contemporaries have been realised in the present age.

"New At



His tract "On Church Controversies" is admirably written, Tract "On -to inculcate the salutary precept that Christians should Contro. contend "not as the brier with the thistle, which can wound versies." deepest? but as the vine with the olive, which bears best fruit?"

of the An


His derivation of all physical and moral truth from mytho- "Wisdom logical fables in his "Wisdom of the Ancients," is often forced and far-fetched; but no where do we trace more striking proofs of his imagination, and his power of discovering

Letter to Bishop of Winchester. Again, he resembles his short Essays to the reformed coin, "where the pieces are small, but the silver is good."

This work seems to have been deeply studied by Swift, who has happily ridiculed some parts of it in Gulliver's travels, particularly in the voyage to Laputa. Another Lord Chancellor has attempted a philosophical romance, but Lord Erskine's "Armata" does not encourage his successors to venture again

CHAP. resemblances and differences, in which consist wit and wisdom.


Latin and

English writings.

His private character.


His Latin style, though pointed and forcible, is not sweet nor pure; but he has left us some of the best specimens of genuine Anglicism, and the few antiquated words and turns of expression which we find in his writings, as in the contemporary translation of the Bible, only give additional weight and solemnity to the sentiments which he expresses. Addison, who knew what good composition was, talks with rapture of his "beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments."

In considering his private character, we must begin with the formidable admission that he was without steady attachments as well as aversions, and that, regardless of friendship or gratitude, he was governed by a selfish view of his own interest. But he was perfectly free from malignity; he was good-natured and obliging; when friends stood between him and his object, sacrificing them to the necessary extent,-he did them as little further damage as possible,-and instead of hating those whom he had injured, he was rather disposed to be reconciled to them, and to make them amends by courtesy, if he could not render them real service.

I find no impeachment of his morals, and he certainly must have been a man of very great temperance, for the business and studies through which he went would be enough to fill up the lives of ten men who spend their evenings over their wine, and awake crapulous in the morning. "Nullum momentum aut temporis segmentum perire et intercidere passus est","knowing that if he took good care of sections of an hour, entire days would take care of themselves.

All accounts represent him as a most delightful companion, companion. adapting himself to company of every degree, calling, and humour, not engrossing the conversation,-trying to get all to talk in turn on the subject they best understood, and not disdaining to light his own candle at the lamp of any other. He was generally merry and playful, bringing out


t "Convivantium neminem aut alias coloquentium pudore suffundere gloriæ sibi duxit, sicut nonnulli gestiunt; sed facultates eorum qualescunque fovere et provehere paratus erat. Quin et sermonis licentiam sibi soli arripere in more

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