|Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Bacon, Francis, Lord Verulam, and Viscount St. Alban's.
Philosopher and statesman. In his 13th year was sent with his elder brother Anthony to Trinity Coll., Cambridge.
Here he became dissatisfied with the Aristotelian philosophy as being unfruitful and leading only to resultless disputation. In 1576 he entered Gray's Inn, and in the same year joined the embassy of Sir Amyas Paulet to France, where he remained until 1579. The death of his flourished in that year, before he had completed an intended provision for him, gave an adverse turn to his fortunes, and rendered it necessary that he should decide upon a profession. He accordingly returned to Gray's Inn, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to induce Burghley to give him a post at court, and thus enable him to devote himself to a life of learning, he gave himself seriously to the study of law, and was called to the Bar in 1582.
He did not, however, desert philosophy, and published a Latin tract, Temporis Partus Maximus (the Greatest Birth of Time), the first rough draft of his own system. Two years later, in 1584, he entered the House of Commons as member for Melcombe, sitting subsequently for Taunton (1586), Liverpool (1589), Middlesex (1593), and Southampton (1597).
In the Parliament of 1586 he took a prominent part in urging the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
The accession of James VI in 1603 gave a favourable turn to his fortunes.
In 1605 he published The Advancement of Learning, dedicated, with fulsome flattery, to the king. The year 1618 saw him Lord Keeper, and the next Lord Chancellor and Baron Verulam, a title which, in 1621, he exchanged for that of Viscount St. Albans. Meanwhile he had written the New Atlantis, a political romance, and in 1620 he presented to the king the Novum Organum, on which he had been engaged for 30 years, and which ultimately formed the main part of the Instauratio Magna.
In his great office Bacon showed a failure of character in striking contrast with the majesty of his intellect. He was corrupt alike politically and judicially, and now the hour of retribution arrived. In 1621 a Parliamentary Committee on the administration of the law charged him with corruption under 23 counts; and so clear was the evidence that he made no attempt at defence. He narrowly escaped being deprived of his titles. Thenceforth he devoted himself to study and writing. In 1622 appeared his History of Henry VII, and the 3rd part of the Instauratio; in 1623, History of Life and Death, the De Augmentis Scientarum, a Latin translation of the Advancement, and in 1625 the 3rd edition of the Essays, now 58 in number. He also published Apophthegms, and a translation of some of the Psalms.
His life was now approaching its close. In March, 1626, he came to London, and shortly after, when driving on a snowy day, the idea struck him of making an experiment as to the antiseptic properties of snow, in consequence of which he caught a chill, which ended in his death on 9th April 1626.