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Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Francis Bacon (1561-1626) • Francis Bacon, a representative of the English renaissance, is a well-known philosopher, scientist and essayist. • He began his professional life as a lawyer, but he has become best known as a philosophical advocate and defender of the scientific revolution. • Bacon’s works establish and popularize an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method. Induction implies drawing knowledge from the natural world through experimentation, observation, and testing of hypotheses. In the context of his time, such methods were connected with the occult trends of hermeticism and alchemy Bacon's works • Bacon's works include his Essays, as well as the Colours of Good and Evil and the Meditationes Sacrae, all published in 1597. His famous aphorism, "knowledge is power", is found in the Meditations. • Bacon also wrote In felicem memoriam Elizabethae, a eulogy for the queen written in 1609; and various philosophical works which constitute the fragmentary and incomplete Instauratio magna, the most important part of which is the Novum organum (published 1620). Bacon’s Importance to Literature • 1st, he was the first English writer to pay attention to the audience to whom he was writing. • 2nd, he wrote the greatest tracts on education in the English language, Advancement of Learning. • 3rd, he and Newton represent the advancement of science during the 17th century. In fact, Bacon devised the inductive method of doing research. • 4th, he introduced the essay as a literary form into the English language. • Unlike other authors who were writing self- analyzing autobiographies and meditations, Bacon was writing to inform, generally young men of his own station/class how to be more efficient, introducing and using the essay into the English language. • His style is very plain, and he tends to start his essays with a Latin quotation or classical anecdote. Essay: A Definition • It is a relatively short literary composition in prose, in which a writer discusses a topic, usually restricted in scope, or tries to persuade the reader to accept a particular point of view. • the term essai was first applied to the form in 1580 by Montaigne, one of the greatest essayists of all time, to his pieces on friendship, love, death, and morality. In England the term was inaugurated in 1597 by Francis Bacon, who wrote shrewd meditations on civil and moral wisdom. Two Kinds of Essay • Montaigne and Bacon, in fact, illustrate the two distinct kinds of essay— the informal and the formal. • The informal essay is personal, intimate, relaxed, conversational, and frequently humorous. Some of the greatest exponents of the informal essay are J. Swift, C. Lamb, W. Hazlitt, T. De Quincey, and M. Twain. • The formal essay is dogmatic, impersonal, systematic, and expository. Significant writers of this type include J. Addison, Dr. Johnson, M. Arnold, J. S. Mill, R. W. Emerson, and H. D. Thoreau. In the latter half of the 20th cent. the formal essay has become more diversified in subject and less stately in tone and language, and the sharp division between the two forms has tended to disappear. Two Kinds of Essay • Montaigne was particularly concerned to discover himself in his writing. As he states in his preface, ‘my selfe am the groundworke of my booke’. It is Montaigne’s aim then to simply follow the trains of his thought wherever they may lead him, describing ‘not the essence, but the passage’ of himself. • Bacon’s Essays, in contrast, seem smooth and straightforward. There is no rumination on personality, given that he studies the world rather than the self. The aphorisms that tend to open his essays seem to represent a finished idea rather than an attempt to find one. Bacon’s Essays • His Essays is the first example of that genre in English literature, which has been recognized as an important landmark in the development of English prose. • Bacon’s essays are famous for their brevity, compactness and powerfulness. And the neatness, the preciseness, the gravity, and the weightiness are the essential qualities of his writings. • Balance and opposition are the most common strategies he uses to achieve both the appearance of balance and the concealment of his own opinions under the cloak of the opposing alternatives. Of Marriage and Single Life Fortune • He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges. • 有妻与子的人已经向命运之神交了抵押品了； 因为妻与子是大事底阻挠物，无论是大善举 或大恶行。无疑地，最好，最有功于公众的 事业是出自无妻或无子的人的；这些人在情 感和金钱两方面都可说是娶了公众并给以奁 资了。然而依理似乎有子嗣的人应当最关心 将来，他们知道他们一定得把自己最贵重的 保证交代给将来的。 • "He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief." • It means once you have a wife (or husband) and children or other people depending on you, you can't go off on a reckless, great adventure. Of Marriage and Single Life Selfishness • Some there are who, though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences. Nay, there are some other that account wife and children but as bills of charges. Nay more, there are some foolish rich covetous men that take a pride in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer. For perhaps they have heard some talk, "Such an one is a great rich man", and another except to it, "Yea, but he hath a great charge of children", as if it were an abatement to his riches. • 有些人虽然过的是独身生活，他们的思想却 仅限于自身，把将来认为无关紧要。并且有 些人把妻与子认为仅仅是几项开销。尤有甚 者，有些愚而富的悭吝人竟以无子嗣自豪， 以为如此则他们在别人眼中更显得富有了。 也许他们听过这样的话：一人说，“某某人 是个大富翁”，而另一人不同意地说，“是 的，可是他有很大的儿女之累”，好象儿女 是那人底财富底削减似的。 Of Marriage and Single Life Liberty • But the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants; but not always best subjects, for they are light to run away; and almost all fugitives are of that condition. • 然而独身生活底最普通的原因则是自由，尤 其在某种自喜而且任性的人们方面为然，这 些人对于各种的约束都很敏感，所以差不多 连腰带袜带都觉得是锁链似的。独身的人是 最好的朋友，最好的主人，最好的仆人，但 是并非最好的臣民；因为他们很容易逃跑， 差不多所有的逃人都是独身的。 • Sir Francis Bacon here associates the desire for freedom with the irresponsible and self- indulgent. • Bacon makes a valid point—the desire for freedom is not exclusively for righteous reasons. After all, Satan desired freedom to attain absolute power. When given freedom of choice, Adam and Eve chose to go against God’s rule. Freedom, though often characterized as a liberator of responsibility, can become a burden in its own right. Of Marriage and Single Life Professional Preference • A single life doth well with churchmen, for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates, for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife. For soldiers, I find the generals commonly in their hortatives put men in mind of their wives and children; and I think the despising of marriage amongst the Turks maketh the vulgar soldier more base. • 独身生活适于僧侣之流，因为慈善之举若先 须注满一池，则难于灌溉地面也。独身于法 官和知事则无甚关系，因为假如他们是易欺 而贪污的，则一个仆人之恶将五倍于一位夫 人之恶也。至于军人，窃见将帅激厉士卒时， 多使他们忆及他们底妻子儿女；又窃以为土 耳其人之不尊重婚姻使一般士兵更为卑贱也。 Of Marriage and Single Life Humane Discipline • Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline on humanity; and single men, though they may be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hard-hearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of Ulysses, Vetulam suam praetulit immortalitati [he preferred his old wife to immortality]. • 妻子和儿女对于人类确是一种训练；而独身 的人，虽然他们往往很慷慨好施，因为他们 底钱财不易消耗，然而在另一方面他们较为 残酷狠心（作审问官甚好），因为他们不常 有用仁慈之处也。庄重的人，常受风俗引导， 因而心志不移，所以多是情爱甚笃的丈夫； 如古人谓攸立西斯：“他宁要他底老妻而不 要长生”者是也。 Of Marriage and Single Life Chastity • Chaste women are often proud and forward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity. It is one of the best bonds both of chastity and obedience in the wife if she think her husband wise, which she will never do if she finds him jealous. • 贞节的妇人往往骄傲不逊，一若她们是自恃 贞节也者。假如一个妇人相信她底丈夫是聪 慧的，那就是最好的使她保持贞操及柔顺的 维系；然而假如这妇人发现丈夫妒忌心重， 她就永不会以为他是聪慧的了。 Of Marriage and Single Life • To Marry or Not? • Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses. So as a man may have a quarrel to marry when he will. But yet he was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question when a man should marry: "A young man not yet, an elder man not at all". • It is often seen that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price of their husband's kindness when it comes or that the wives take a pride in their patience. But this never fails if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends' consent; for then they will be sure to make good their own folly. • 妻子是青年人底情人，中年人底伴侣，老年 人底看护。所以一个人只要他愿意，任何时 候都有娶妻底理由。 • 然而有一个人，人家问他，人应当在什么时 候结婚？他答道：“年青的人还不应当，年 老的人全不应当”。这位也被人称为智者之 一。常见不良的丈夫多有很好的妻子；其原 因也许是因为这种丈夫底好处在偶尔出现的 时候更显得可贵，也许是因为做妻子的以自 己底耐心自豪。但是这一点是永远不错的， 就是这些不良的丈夫必须是做妻子的不顾亲 友之可否而自己选择的，因为如此她们就一 定非补救自己底失策不可也。 Of Marriage and Single Life • This essay considers "wives" and children (assuming his readers are male) and balances their advantages against their disadvantages in such a way that it's difficult to decide whether marriage is a good or a bad idea. Bad marriages, however, he suggests can be analyzed more easily by their effects upon the women in them. • Bacon first states with apparent confidence that ‘He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises’, a statement that on the face of it is closed and certain. Of Marriage and Single Life • However, Bacon’s essays are also motivated by a sense of exploration, and any resolution of idea is soon left behind. Following the above sentence he departs from the question of whether women and children are impediments and continues: – Certainly the best works […] have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest treasures. Some there are, who though they lead a single life, their thoughts do end with themselves, and count future times impertinences. Of Marriage and Single Life • The word ‘certainly’, with which this passage begins is progressively demolished till only uncertainty is left. The argument winds back to contradict itself: men without children are more likely to endow the future, yet men with them want the future to be good for their offspring, while some single men think anything beyond their own lives irrelevant. All that remains is a suggestion of various truths, none of which is absolute. Of Marriage and Single Life • Bacon views marriage as bondage. First, "they are impediments to great enterprises". Second, "the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men ..." Notice what else Bacon says about single men: They are "best friends, best masters, best servants ..." However, everything Bacon says about single men and women is not complimentary. • He goes on to say how a wife and children as "a kind of discipline of humanity". One of Bacon's well known quotes is toward the end of his essay: "Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses". • Notice how straightforward are Bacon's writings.
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