« AnteriorContinuar »
BARON VERULAM, VISCOUNT ST. ALBANS, AND LORD HIGH
THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
FRANCIS BACON, Baron of Verulam, Viscount of St. Albans, and in the reign of James T. lord high chancellor of England, one of the most illustrious ornaments of his age, and among the moderns the first great reformer of philosophy, was born in London on the 22d of January 1561. He was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper of the great seal, and of Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Cook, eminent for her skill in the Latin and Greek languages. His childhood afforded strong indications of a vigour of intellect above the common level. When queen Elizabeth asked him how old he was, he readily and smartly replied, « Just two years younger than your majesty's happy reign.” The queen was so well pleased with this sprightly compliment from a child, that she afterwards frequently amused herself with talking with him, and asking him questions, and pleasantly called him her young lord keeper. At the age of 13 he was entered a student at Trinity-college, Cambridge; and made such incredible progress in his studies, that, before he was 16, he had not only run through the whole circle of the liberal arts as they were then taught, but began to perceive those imperfections in the reigning philosophy, which he afterwards so
effectually exposed, and thereby not only overturned that tyranny which prevented the progress of true knowledge, but laid the foundation of that free and useful philosophy which has since opened a way to so many glorious discoveries. On his leaving the university, his father sent him to France; where, before he was 19 years of age, he wrote a general view of the state of Europe: but Sir Nicholas dying, he was obliged suddenly to return to England; when he applied himself to the study of the common law, at Gray's Inn. At this period the famous Earl of Essex, who could distinguish merit, and who passionately loved it, entered into an intimate friendship with him; zealously attempted, though without success, to procure him the office of queen's solicitor; and, in order to comfort his friend under the disappointment, conferred on him a present of land to the value of 18001. Bacon, notwithstanding the friendship of so great a person; notwithstanding the number and power of his own relations; and, above all, notwithstanding the early prepossession of her majesty in his favour, met with many obstacles to his preferment during her reign. In particular, his enemies represented him as a speculative man, whose head was filled with philosophical notions, and therefore more likely to perplex than forward public business. It was not without great difficulty that lord treasurer Burleigh obtained for him the reversion of register to the star-chamber, worth about 16001. a year, which place fell to him about 20 years after. Neither did he obtain any other preferment all this reign; though if obedience to a sovereign in what must be the most disagreeable of all offices, viz. the