Essay On Bacons Prose Style

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"^ fC3 Oa^H — (_p Z^^ = 00 *"' i::-^ •—^ ' ^ ~~- — o CD - = =o ^^^ — O — —rrr-r- ^ CD — rC^ ^ 00 PaOSE STYLE OF FRANCIS BACON BY THEODOrtE wT' ' HUNT (Extract from ^representative English Prose and Pr ose writers.) y- \, -'-^^ ^17377 Charaer I i The ?rz,5e Style of Trends Bacon. Brlrf riogrtphical S--:etch. to ?-ri£ Trith fj"* 7:r.-;lish A-.z:- ssf r'or . '.-~itte-! lo the Ear iL lcS£. Ir. Pariianient 1554 ircrr. I'elcozhe; licQ f^o.:: Teur.tcn; 1565 fro3 Liverpool; lc?2 frs.i .^idr-leoe:-:. Degree of !^.A. {Z^z,' rif'ge) 15r4 . In ?i-rlia.ient 1537 iroji Ips7.-:ch; 16Gi fr'^n Ipsvich. /.nighte^ Ij Ja-es I ISO?. Ir- ?^ rlia.-erit 1615-4 frozi Ipsxich. Co .r.£€.l to the Crov.T.. Solicitor leneral, 1307. Attorne:,' C-eneral, 1515. In Parlia.'ient 1514, iroz. I;.s-ivirh. ''ec;-!- of ""he Seal, 1517. lord Bacon's uie of Latin. The .r.ost important ft. :t to :e home in nin~ st this point is, that ?£Con vrrote r.ost of his -.vorks in Litin. ?.e ^as, as -e^e and Ac-lfric before hir., an Anglo-Latin ^.uihor. It is of co-^rse, with his -.vorks in English onlv that •K'e hnve to do, save in so f^r as '-••cc >— _cr cv^w'.iw j..» "_^ -._w •<.^ v^ii^ a '.^^'Jcc -t«itr. fc_^ ^^.a^-^^^c^ _'^ It is -uite i.-pos£icle at this distant date to ex- plain -he reason of that particular attitude 7;hich racon assured relative to English and ':^.\z decided partiality for the latin, •fthich ke love-' to call "-.hat ^aniversal Irnguage vvhich .-aaj l£?t.^ zz long s£ cooks last". :."ot only -id he ?o.nrose his ff.v.'.rite'^.n L'^tin, rut regretted that he had co-'.posed any in his native trngne and rs speedily as possible converted then into ^atin. Though, as -e have z&en, the vernec-jlar was then used hy the poets - by Hooker ^ Sj^-ne:-' and others xith efficEic;.-- tho--igh it :vas co'tarativel;.- free fror. the cr-adeness of Eirst /.iddle English t line. a, still Bacon was suspicious of it. Specially je?l.:.-u3 as to his rep-jtat:" on , he felt that he -ight as.-.-^ell his v-orks to the flF-es rs to the vernacular. In a letter to .V.r. Vatths?., shortly before his oim death, he zhr^\ ""Iz is t--e, zy labor is nov. z;ost set to have those T/orks ?.hich I had f :--erly published (in English) well trans- lated into Latin, for these nodern langus^es will =t one tine or other, play the benrcru.t with books, and since I tsve lost nuch Line wi-th this fge, I nroulo be glad, as lod w:-jld give e leave to recover it ?.lth tosterity." There is fsr t^re vLnitr --"etv in this outburst; still, it exrre-iises his view. He ap-.lied these senti.r.ents, among other works, to those very essays which by nis D.-.ii sc:- n •v;lc'^ -p .ent to Buo' ir.£^h£m "of all his -ither works had been most current, for that as it see.r.F, they crie hone t.o '.en's basiness and bosons." It is strange indee'^ that this far-si^hted could not have seen the vital 'Connection ^ etween the currency of the eGse;-s end their appearance in Fnglish. It ic 5tr'n£;er ^till that right at th<--^ centre :.f a ?reot awaken- ing of English th:)U:_;ht he sho'ild not have felt that the path of literary duty, honour ^nd wisdom, w^s straight in the line of this ho le-speech. It was r^trsn^est of all that s 'nsin of ^^.con's acunen could have • --fore him the actual products of the English Lan,^u5£,'e in prose find verse frorri Hookfr znr' Shakespeare, and think of this speech "pl'^ying the ban-rupt" with an author's farae, and resorting to the dead Inngue^es to secure his ^enutfition with posterity. It .T-ay here be sug.^ested that in Lord Bacon's preference for the Latin and his extensive use of it, there is a strong historical end literary ^r.'Wuent a-ainst the ha'^onian autnorship of Shakespeare's Plr^ys. These P', ^.yj ' r^ En.;;^li.=?h to the .Ti.r-rrow and bone and could not ^.^v" '-een ■rri^'-en by c.ny other than an enthusia£^tic lover of the ho^ne-spe^^r :h. '"/hile every English .^ :holar .ca'inot but ref et that Paeon should thus have .iiiojucge:^ the genius -nd ever A-'^'ening s-^o^^e of his vernacular, v/e can yet rej :)ice in the fa^;t, ex-l-in it as we lay, that apparently he he) ouCwitttd) hi-m^e^^'ind done good work in his native tongue. We caii lot say, vdtri a receat "^n-'lish \vriter, that we have lost in the Latih ^acon on English classic. If some of his Lest works are what they --re in snd thro'i,-h thf'ir English dress, English schol.^rs should take the ■ enefit of it. .vlr. Taine's eulogy is extrs:ne whon he says:- "There is no'-hing in English prose superior to his diction," still , he has a record as an English author. Bacon is not the Eajlish writ r he aight have been h'^d he U3ed nothing but his om sp^^^ch . Still he is e stf^n-^^Hrd to the "degree in which he u^es it nor aust it be forgotten that it was ioinly in the -region of scholastic philosoohy outside of the * province of general literature that he was Anglo-Lstin in his style. To the student of English Prose, as lit-rary an-^' not speculative, Bacon has few rel^tion^ rs a writer of English. His Prose Works in. English. Facon vvas a versatile and voluiiinous author. His writings b-gin in ^.,522, when he w:.s just past his .-najority, and continue nearly to 'he year of his death. Th.' list opens with the - TE '."OR^r^ ^AdTV.S lAXI'.llTS - and closes fitly with a translation of th' r-T.l.-ns. It ennr'-ces a vest variety of suVjf-ct - philoso,>hy, chu-ah v:»a*.r y/-;:'.sy, y-^et-enes in ?r.rlisn:ent, le^al trcYati-'^es an-^' ^ ^nis, nolLti;?^! t-acts, .-thical dis .uisitions, •'u.tar^il science, history, trancl.-t ' on^^ aoothegns, ro r.£'nce ^m-i jiiscell^nies . :'.athe:nctic3 i .- s^.i^' to* -Pnthe only sc rence .vith whi::h he y.-as not ^on'^'^r'nsnt. It Is v.lth his Fn^^lish only, that wf- are concerned in the >-il3Cu sion of his style, an-fi in such ^ riscu-slon th'^ire '?re r-ut I'ow ;vor-:s which neeH^ occupy,' our attention, viz: THE KSSAY^ ;.rvA".JCE;.r::jT or lfa-.^ji^g duTORf. Df HF::;i:'. "m THE :if;v atla::ti3 * The first -dition of t'-.e EG.xAY:; was puMishei in l-^T, - n'^ con- sisted of Len; the s con:^. appeared in 161?, to -hr-- nu'-^'r of thlrty- eijht - of the nature he says, "which I nriyself v/ill not suffer to -e lost and it seeTieth the -.vorld will not;" and the third appeared in 1625 - one ye?-r ^-f^re his death. This last and present --dif on nu-nhers fifty-oijht and is entitled - Fss-^y-j or Counsels, Civil and .'.'oral. It incl.ides, --Iso, a fr'^'.ent of an Fssay on Fr-:ne. These essays e-./craC'- r; l::^-e v-^l'-ty 'f th*>'aer', ov --t-r.-. >-{^ nr^^'^, jra;tical hn'" sr- .narked thr^^i.-hout ^y the peci.jl 1 ^^-r fp'^t ires of the author's style. THF /•DV..JCF 'iFNT DF LFArUNG - wes purlished in 1605, -etween the first and second irsue of the Essays. It rns afterwc^rd trans- lated L'iZj Latin nn'^. enl-^rjed into nine books vjn"''^r the title - le A'a^^.uentis S.'ien-ciaruin - published in 16 ?5. T.iese t.vo books of, THE ADVANCEvi:-:^'T, constitute the first part of hi.= work -fjhich he ji;lled - Th e Gr eat Reconstruction (inst^'^.urfttio '/'a^'na) as he s-r-ys in writing, to Bishop Andrewes:- "For that my book of Advancenent of Learning :Tiay be preparation or key for the better opening of the Insta-ui-ation." He adds significantly - "I hcve tlnou^ht good to procure a translation of that ook into the gf^neral l-.n,-;--:'3ge." As V.r. Fr'^-dding suggests:- "aeon ha^ no fai'-h in the |Fngli--..- as a clcss^-^al (stand-rd) Im-juage. In the first book he discusses the Tiscr^idits and the Tdgnity of Learning; in the second, he discusses Huiian Learnin--' ^nd I ivine Learning. Here again the area traversed is a wide one and the :;EConian style is everywhere apparent. This work is esp.-cially inter?sting in that it shov73 the close relation of .'aeon's philosophical to his literary character, THE HI3T1HY OF HE:\IRY YXI.- needs little ex]olanati>>rx-. In the author's preparatory letter addressed to Prin-e Charles, be s-'.ys of Henri'- VI1.,"I have not flattered hi.Ti, but took him to life as well as I could," It is a n?>rrative, pur^ and siiiple, rarely e,ver rising to the discussion of causes and principles. N. le record ^ors on -vith gr^-^^t si ipli dty and we forget thp rijt.hor 1 the story. This is a true test of skill in art. In his ov/n ua-jU'-i:;e ne would ter:n p history of "narrations or' relations". Lnto's state..:ent, "that it is probably the very best history of :s kiori" is extreiae, 1 ut reveals the attituiie of -nodern ci-iticis:ji ijp.r'":ng it. THE ME?/ ATLAJITIS - is nothing ^ore nor less then p. ro.nancie; 5 :v aI'V writ33 in the preface, "This fable my lord devised to the ri thpt he fui^ht exhi-it th^^rein a model or description of a college istituted for the interpreting of nature." This fabulous sle-nont ? the ..'--'.n one throughout and is especially interesting as coring "jii the "lasculine^^oT Bacon. It reads li'-ie t^ .Vore's Utor^ia and .s reference to a kind of philosophical golden .-ige yet to appear. These four works, it will be noted, respect 'vely rev-^al the Lscellnaeous, philosophical, narrative ?tnd des."ri_-^tive orders of 'ose, as ?.lre';dy studied, an" serve to show, st once, the ver- • itij|Lity of Bacon's thought an-" style. In the c-iocuss'on befor us, spe.:ial reference will be had ) the ESSAYS and - tHE ADV;:JCE-.iE:^T Df LFAR^JING. Leadjq-T viU';lities o f Gtvle^ (l) Con'^ensation 2n6 Ooaoactness. Many of the paragraphs and sentences are burdened -A-ith tbjelr jl^ht 01 thou,:;ht . They retnind one of an nutu:iin*^l scene ^hen the 'ees of the orchards are bending to the e°.~th with th-^ir fruitage. i:h a collection as the ESSATS is a real intellectual tresr^iry. The leas are packed in so ::lj3ely &s to defy any ni:er adjust '.ent of 'uth to truth. It is as if the author had been li.nited iri his 'ovince, and was obliged fro.n the outset," to com press his th^u^hts ito the 'Tiost li.nited area. This conpoctness of i^ea is esneci^^lly . )ticeable in th&t successive readings of the text only s^rve to iepen the conviction of i^^.s terseness . The t-uthor himself see^s ) have been conscious of this ch.'..rhCteristic, an-^" to h^ ve aade it "J., the outset a pri.iie orject in his '/n^iting. It is, thus, thtt in jeakiiig of his ESSAYS, he re.aatks: "They be like the late new ;lf-p<^nce; the silver go.^d and the pieces snail;" " certain brief notes it doviTi rather significantly than curiously, requiring both leisure 1 the vfriter and reader." It is worthy of re;Tiark, here, that this Jrseness of style is as true of his Latin as of his English writ- igs and arises fro:a the fact, that in whatever language he wrote, Ls thinking was clear and close and demanded a correspon'^ing forsi r^ei-ipression.' In what are called The Apothegms, and Elegant Sentences id V/isdom of The Ancients, this feature of style appears consnic- uoaslj, e.g.:- »He conquers twice who restrains hiniselT in victory." "To deliberate aKout useful things is the safest delay." "It is a sti-ange desire that men have, to seek power and lose liberty." "Discretion in speech is more than eloquence." "In great piece ask counsel of both tiniesj- of the oncient time, what is best, end of the latter ticie vhat is fittest." "iu.ches are the bagrejje of virtue; they cannot te spared nor left behind but they hinder the rritrchj" or as he says in the ESSAYS — "Tie are to seek thei- only as we inay get them justly, use them soberly, distribute then cheerf'illy, and leave thea contentedly." In THE ADVANCEMKNT Of LE^RxNING speaking of the use of the aphoristic style, he gives us in a single paragraph, a definition and specimen of it: "It trieth the writer whether 'vA he re superficial or solid, for aphorisms cannot be rcade ^^r^ but of the pith and heart of science, for discourse of illustration is cut off; recital^ of- exajiples is cut of f ; <i'>to"«^ ovit/ ivcof oPf , descriptions of practice are cut off. So there reraaineth i>«. ^ nothing to fill the aphorism but some good quantity of .'v-. ol servation, end, therefore no nian can suffice to write '^- " aphorisms but he that is sound and grounded." This is that kind of c ondensed utteranc e ywhich will not allow the reader a moment's Icdaure, and vrfiich in its Spartan find Senecan brevity has called forth the praise of all critics, from Joijnson to Dugald -Ssiuaptl^'ln its sententiousnes s ^ it extorts from a foreign critic of English the avowal, "that Shakespeare and the seers do not contain more vigorous and expressive condensations." In the ti70 treatises specially referred to, we are free to say that there is more menta l stuff in the same space than in any other sLr.ilar section from English literature. To attempt to quote any farther would be folly • The reader may open these books at random for this Baconian quality. (2) /.nalytical Clearness and Suggestion . The subject in hand is always dissected and spread out in its various, parts bef or e the reader so that he sees into it and throiiigh it. ?:3 sees it in its natui'e, relations and applications. It is a couplete rhato^cal and logical framework with all the parts ih due adjustment to each other. It is thus that his distinctively philosphi- cal citings are seiainal and ger-ainal rather than fully ^evelr^ped; i^^nn ggeatlve rather than demonstrative. Their special use therefore is that of education rather than* instruction. They are designed to lead the student on by gradual stages through a series_of _ hin ts and ter.chings to the ':est expression of his personal powers, :-a';d t^ ^^ Mij>.t-t t forir.s of Denttil efficiency. It is thus that tiie author aptly terriis his essays^^ "£ KiiXns of salt that vdll rather rive onn an anoet ite than offend with satiety ." As ex^^^-ples of this special feature we note the Fssay on Sir.ulJition and rissiniulati_on w and tjjat on ^ Atheism./ In the APVANCF-VPINT as X^orJey states it, "Bacon r.akes ty a sort of exhaustive analysis, e ground plf^n of ftll subjects of study, as en intellectu al Tiap^ helping the right inquirer i^i in his search for the right path," If the stu- dent or reader will consult the analysis of each book given \y bright in his edition of Bacon's ADVH\'CF:v.F.NT, he will see what is r.eant by this "intellectual map." Kis great philosj.hical work - The Novim Organum - affords fn- illi^stration of the analytical habit vrithout any parfdlel in our l&ngusge. /It is on the basis of this c riticsl t x^^. deep reaching dissection of a su ject that we have in Bacon that peculiar form of ejqpression i^ which rr.ay be' called imllcat iye- or ^ ^ ^ ^ ^nential rather than declf-ratlve entitling him to the appellation given him by T/^ine:- "a producer of conceptions." He suggest ed far more _ then he stated, ^l,^ (3) Inci siveness. The reference here is to a cr isp curt and cle an-cut style. It might be called excisive. Ever ything superfluous is removed. The truth is given in its essence,. The old teriLS conciseness, preciseness ? express it. Thomas Fuller would call it the"pruning process". It is E aeon's favorite lo-^ical method of Inclusion and Exclusion strictly applied to the domain of rhetorical art. While leaving nothing^jinsaid that is^j>f_vityl importance, the special object is, to say nothing that - i s not imji'orta nt. The writer is here on the defensive and resists the ^ CO .^on tendency to the verbose and irrelevant. Even vjhat is called ^-^plifi cation in literary art is viewed with caution ^and retrenchment is the order. It is in this connection that the ep igra ms and antJJ:.hesis- of Bacon's prose ere properly noted. V?hatever might be the objections • to then in ordinary literature and in the hands of unskilful writers "vx^ey rere t o Bacon the most natural form of expression, end the most- .^ e- — -I."-, by reasoh of the closeness of his reasoning. Bacon's think- ing was incisive. There were those of his own time under the influence of Euphuism with ?;hom this incisive characteristic of stj'le was the veriest artifice and t±lo sacrificed to mechanism all beauty and vigor of ex-pressicn. Antithesis is a dangerous instrument in the hands of a weakling. The Pointed Style with such, is all point, ^s in mathematics. it has position without magnitude; place but no power. Bacon was intellectually strong enough to use it without abusi.^ing it and its effect is telling.- ''Tis thus that he speaks in praise of the Queen "that if Plutarch were now living to v.xite lives of parallels, it night trouble him to find one for Elizfi^eth;" "that God ALT^ighty planted the first qarden;*' " that in evil the best condition is not ito Tilll ; the nextf not toucan;" "that the best of beauty is that which e picture cannot exp essj" "that it is good to corrjnit the beginning of all great actions to Argus with an himdred eyes, end, the end ofr-^ then to Briareus with a hundred hands; first, to watch, end then to speed." Such pithy sayings as these are what Eacon ealled in another-^ iiaying as incisive as any of then "the seeds of arguments to he cast up into some brief and acute sentences, not to be cited but to be as c^keins or bottoms of threads ^ to be uhvinound at large when they come "to be used." Sentences such as these are sufficient to, classify Bacon with the iriasters of anti thesis - with Dryden and Pope, '^Johnson and Car- lyle, and those of other Zands who have shotm special aptness in the use of balanced structure y. Such e quality of style when isolated from others Is objectionable ahd servrB but to reveal their absenc^4nd the need of them, .while in connection with other and higher qualities lit serves a most valuable end. There is a tonic influence in the pungency of // it. It comf>el5 attention, if not indeed assent. It states the case so biimtly that there is no evasion end the alternative must be accepted. It acts as seasoning in food. It makes the pages spicy ^jit? 4)alatable to the most fastidious. "It is with times," says Eacon, '"as it is with ways; some are -nore uphill and downhill and some are r.ore fist and plain." Sc^me styles, we nay add, fire all downhill or uphill or all flat -j^-** plain. There is no variety of contrast. Abruptness is preferable to monotony. Modern English and American prose islnneed of tha incisive quality. Other things being equal, it marks mental life and spirit and saves the book from Veing shelved shortly after publication. Eacon* s best prose, though written three centuries ago, is still read, not simply because it is in itself so me^terfull, but because it is so presented as to awaken interest and fix the truth in the mind. (4) Strength end I'orce • This may be said to result fro". the xmited action of the other qualities or to be the ground of then. They interact. The style of Bacon is golid . To defins style as mere ^ona or external presentation will not suffice here. It is the form of substance. It is itselT substantial* It i3 thus, that in the perusal of the best prose of Eacon, reading rises to the rack of & study and his ovm theory is carried out es he says in his Essay on Studies:- "rlead to weigh and consider. Sonie (books) are to be read uho Lly with diligence '■ind attention." He des- pises books that he calls "flashy" and like «*distilled waters". As T?e read the Trritings of Bacon, we feel that vve are engaged in a mental gycinastic. The experience is disciplinary oiore than entertaining. We feel the healthful pressure of a strong mind and a strongstyle, end ne are nade strong by the contact. The effect on the ndnd is like to that of en October morning von the body, - bracing and vital. ' -L It is thus that his biographer, iiav/ley, most justly remarks :- . "In the composing of his books, he did rather drive at a mesciiline end clear expression than at any fineness of phrase." It was this sane vigor that elicited from JcQjison that high eulogium on Bacon as an orator without i-tiicb no analysis of his style seems to be complete:- "Yet there appeared in ray time one noble speaker who was full of gravity in his speaking. No man ever spoke more pressly or more weight- ily. " There is no one synonym that xrHl better answer to the word Baconian, as applied to style, than the word, vigorous. In this respec" the type of Bacon's mind and style was closely akin to Hooker ' s . Tnat sa-ce philosophic gravity and mental force belonged to each. What Hooke: was, in the narrov/er field of theological controversy, Bacon was as • a man and a writer in the wider field of secular thought. Hence, it may be said of Bacon as of Hooker, that his style will never be popular in the sense in which that of Goldsmith is popular. It is too heavily laden with idea and substance, too condensei analytic and substantial to admit of this. V<hatever its incisive power may be, or its illus"craave clearness, it is too full of "sterner stuff" to please most men. Herein, however, lies its special attractiveness to special classes in every age, and herein are found those elements of power which will preserve it as a classic as long es classic prose is valued, ft is this very quality of strength which exalts the Essays of Bacon above the Arcadia of Sydney , and makes it nec6ssary for every student of modem prose to begin with his writings and those of Ho^er as the accepted point of departure. Bacon, is, thus, one of the best examples in literatxire of the true relation of thou£^ht to -expression. He establishes forA^he vital principle that, given a method of thinking, cogent and clear,._ we have, ' ,/ as_&_necjessary result, „a similar style. Instead of shaping the thought I to the expression and making the matter surbordinate to the f om, the V/ 1^^ must be, to . roach the man-'cr through the mat:; ^ '-uch of the merit ofi^ith© Baconian sxylo lies in this, that it magniiies the principle that a wall furnished, disciplined mind intent upon the expression of the truth for noble ends, will rarely give utterance to its reflections without a good degree of clearness and force. The expression is not a ^ som ething apart froa the subject matter, but evolved from it by logical ?(* a nd rhetoricsl Istts. Bacca never stu-^ied forzsl eriressicn arart froz tic tus-jght zer..:.-: it. It is thus, that -Rhile th.Dse cuthorE cf his dav -K-ho poltzhed their p-ararraphs v-iih eztre-e nicety, are fcrgotten, the repute of Bacon is fresh and full. It is just 'ecause Bacon's prose style is unstudied by ::i~ that the careful study cf it by others is the part of risdc-. Naturalness is power. (5) I:::a?in£tlon and IllustrEticn. This quslity is esp-ecially noticeable as found connected Fith those already nentioned. It is ^questionable wr.ether there is a nore striking exanpls in English Prose of the clc^ reletioa of the . intellectual and inaginetire, the philosophic eilz the p-oetic' This faculty in Bacon's -ind and art iras eninently TTith other prose irriters of his tine -^ Stdney, B.aleigh and Burton -it iras . ^With Bacon, the iiiagin ation r^s '^tfrr thr ^---lete ccntrcl :f the jr-^7P-p..r.t and Ttill. so that i- all .-- -:. ^_ it nr^l; si^e above US. ■c^ — -e English Tri tings ti_it; ^.Ith the one exception of The Kew Atlantis, he avoids the sphere of the purely fanciful. In A 7n- ITisdoa of the An- - cien*s, -;> "sritten in Latin, be takes special pains to allude to the :'.anner in. -nhich allegory has been rrested fro- its true purpose as an aid -to the truth, and -2.ze to ninister to the wildest fancy. His :;:ethod here tras not so nuch that of Paul's when he knew not whether he ras in or out of the body, as that of Jacob's, ifho in his vision sa»f a ladder, the base of trhich rested on the earth .^'iore philoso- phic than poetic in its c'-iality, his i.taginatioa nicely £d;usted the relation of all cognate faculties: ^aspiring no higher than to be a faithful interpreter of nature; isaiting for the day Khen the kin^doi of .tan sho^J.d one." Hence, his sinilitude s ar e for v. . . :-ke \/of s etting forth the truth. His figur es are i lit strati cas_£^P nar: ^^t v'^E-ne^-: " :n3:^':---i- n arks his lite r il Irng'uage. It is 'tius that in the styu.c of Bacon the gravity of a nasculine prose unites sotewhat v'Trith the freedon and facility of poetic e?rpression. A good test zC hi: style lies just here. To the degree in ^.ich he succeeds in nal-iing this union and interaction apparent, is he worthy cf the title given bin bj Hazlitt - the "prose ia-^eate" of tne tine of Elizabeth and -Jaces. As far as Hooker went he tras not inferior to Bacon, but Bacon \*ent nuch further as a writer, and in that respect holds a higher place. • (6) Versatility and Varie ty. This rill be readily adnitted ihen. it is renenbered that the History of Henry Vll; The liew Atlantis; The Speeches; The Advancenent of Learning amd the Essays illustrate respectively each of the five different representative foras of prose as stated. There is a true sense, therefore, in which his prose say be said to be all-inclusive as to cla-sses of style, T/hile it is not to be for- gotten that outside of this literary area he did a large and effect- ive T7oric as a writer in the technical department of mental science. History, Prose Fiction, oratorical prose, didactic treatises land miscellanies are all e2iiibited, uniXied and controlled by the |didacti c_ as the prime characteristic. It is safe to say that we look in vain along the line of English Prose Literature for any author Tiho eidiibits a inore varied co.abination of qualities and kinds of style. Johnson and Carlyle approzi-iiate him the nearest. Versatility in itself is not a mark of poorer. Tilth many it is the very sign of wealmess and neans the superficial and shallow. With Bacon, it is othenjd-se. He had "large discourse of reason look- ing before and after." He complained of the statesmen of his time "that they never looked ahead into universality" and dedicated his New Atlantis "to the enlarging of the bounds of hurian empire." With Bacon, versatility was a necessity. His capacious mind de.T.anded various outlets and forms of expression. He passes by easy transit- ions from HistoTyto philosophy; from essays to speeches and romance. He aimed to live on his own theory: "sTnatever is'^'orthy of existence is worthy, also, to be known." This diversity of intellect and style aakes ever new clair^ upon the interest of the reader and adds new profit. As his biographer states: "Tie kaJ. not his knowledge from books but from some grounds and notions within himself." Had his moral character remained unsullied, he would still be the most ccm-iianding presence in English Prose, and next to Shakespeare in English Letters. The open question as to the authorship of the Shai-iespearian Plays connects the two names more closely still. Fro.-:: the imaginative and versatile elements of his style, this question of authorship has not failed to seek material in his favor. Main Faxalts or Defects of his Style. _ (1) Want of a pu^-e English Diction. It is scarcely possible to endorse the extreme view of Llinto as to the SI'fiPLICITI of Bacon's lar^guage. Even if we confine our- selves to his purely English works, there is a noticeable absence of a pure English diction. As in theca^e of Hooker and all the writ- ers of that age, this defect is scarcely a fault. The language was in such a transition f'-om twiddle to Modern fo^ms, that either grammatical or literary purity was quite impo33it)le. This was in<» creased in Bacon's prose '^ the fact that he was thoroughly versed in Latin lore; was in full sympathy with it, and, moreover, the very nature of the subjects he was discussing called for it. If , ; not controversial as vdth Hooker, they rare largely didactic and . ^^.C-^'" ■"■ so:ce\:hat technical. His studies caused him to live, to a good v-^ degree, in the past and made it all the more difficult for him to anticipate and further the great movement in the direction of English speech. YJhatever the causes, however, his language cannot be called simple. Though far superior to Hooker in the construction of his sentences, he is more at fault in the use of complex and ^^ ambiguous terms. Even in the narrative portions of his prose, this error is very com.-noa, while in the strictly scientific and technical portions, it amounts to a serious literary evil. He is so extremely fond of Latin quotations and of reference to the older authorities that it lends an air of ^antiquity to the general style as well as 'to the words themselves. As in Hooker, so here, words have become essentially modified in meaning: such as - advise, anatomy, artifi- cial, censure, climatic, co.iifort, convince, delicacy, etc. As to obsolete wrords these abound in Bacon^s prose: sugh as - adoptive, adventive, casuosity, cautel, celsitude,- dictature, dolation, etc. This modification and loss of T7ords malce a glossary needful in the study of Bacon even more than is true of Hooker. Had Bacon been in more decided sympathy -with the English and had he seen v^at its future was to become his vocabulary would have been more native and simple. In this respect, he was quite inferior to the best poets of the day as he was also to some of the less celebrated prose writers, as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Philip S^<^ney. Bacon's str<i^^'-'^ -esg^th- as a writer lay in those other characteristics to which atten- tion has been called. ( 2) Want of Development of Idea . This xms Bacon* s prime defect. He was, as wa have seen, fertile in thought, vigorous, versatile, incisive, compact and analytical, / and yet, in the literary sense of the word, not sufficiently elabor- ative. His very terseness of statement and variety of suggestion le d to a n undue brevity as to any one topic under discussion. This is especially noticeable in the Essays. liany of them are painfully short. Condensation overreaches itself and the reader looks for the fuller statement and the unfolding of the idea. Hence, that apparent ABRUPTilESS of style V3hich critics have marked. It arises from the too rapid transition, from point to point ■Sore the subject has been discussed . In THE ADV;JJCE'.IE::T OF LFJ^=J^::G, this is less manifest but much too frequentl'^The treatise is made upr^of a number of px'inciples briefly stated rather than consecutively enlarged and applied. In modem times, this error would be charged to the credit of xmdus analysis. The logical mechanism of the prose is often too 'prominent over the rhetorical and literary expression of it. hy this method Bacon e:;capes everything in the line of the desultory and^discursive but fftlls into the opposite extrf-ime of being too rigid and sententious. The letter is the less fre.^uent and less injurious extreme, but still it is an extreme. The very ideal of prose composition is that of elaboration - the working out of the thoU:^ht in all its forms and bearings, /nnlysis pnd Synthesis are preparative only. Eiscourse, es the word implies, is going through a subject; it is discussion. (5) Wan t of Literary Finish. \ We have spoken of i the imaginative element in Bacon's style but were careful to note that this (is present in the line of cleer- ness more than in that of grace or beauty. The cast of his mind [ v;as philosophical ahd not poetic, /^ll his gifts were gifts of power rather than of elegance. He had little to do with the aesthetics of life. He v/as a literary artisan rather than artist. One of his collections he calls:- Orntimenta RrtfonaliP - Elegant Sentences. In reading them we find that elegnnt, means forcible or excellent. They ere a collection of brief and weighty epigrams.^ In his Essays, he writes on Beauty and Pefor.-iijcy, but speaks of them in a physical sense only;,"! !H4.s,gr^'t- ^i^ ^ wi'iting was didfctic. He had no time, inclin- ation or ability to make discourse pleasing for pleesure's sake or even in the interests of literary art. He spoke what v/as in his mind in a cpg^ent and often a crude form, /For finish of style the student must look elsewhere. Even Hooker had more artistic grace, \ Faleigh and Sydney had far more, /.'hat Hacoia lacked here, however, he siore than supplied in other and higher qualities, end it is on these' that his style rests as a standard for"the times succeeding," Reff-rences a nd Author ities , Church's Bacon (Eng. ".Jen of Letters.). Advencecient of Learning (Wright's edition,). Essays (Wright's edition.). Essays (V'/hateley's edition). Bacon's Works and Life (Spedding and tVlontagu) . Hazlitt's "^ Elizabethan Age, PLEASE DO NOT d«=-' 'E CARD-*^ '"^ OCKET ^RY PR Himt, Theodore './hitefield 2208 Prose style of Francis H8 Bacon cop. 3 <

If brevity is the soul of wit, Bacon's essays reflect that style. Bacon's writing is direct and to the point, the kind of plain prose his role model in essay writing, Montaigne, excelled at. For example, in his essay "On Truth," Bacon writes in direct terms, "A mixture of a lie doeth ever add pleasure," meaning that will like our truths softened by untruths. Likewise, in "Of Studies," he is similarly direct, writing the following:


If brevity is the soul of wit, Bacon's essays reflect that style. Bacon's writing is direct and to the point, the kind of plain prose his role model in essay writing, Montaigne, excelled at. For example, in his essay "On Truth," Bacon writes in direct terms, "A mixture of a lie doeth ever add pleasure," meaning that will like our truths softened by untruths. Likewise, in "Of Studies," he is similarly direct, writing the following:

Crafty men condemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them.

These sentences have the feel of aphorisms, pithy, and memorable truths stated in a just a few words. 

Bacon's style is also systematic, moving logically from point to point. He is considered one of the early empiricists, basing his ideas on observation from real life, not received truths. In his essay, "Of Love," for example, he is methodical, moving from a comparison of love as depicted on stage to what love is like in real life, then categorizing good and bad kinds of love.

Finally, Bacon's essays mix the Greek and Latin phrases an educated person would be familiar with alongside homey images of every day life, such as comparing natural abilities to plants, rendering his essays accessible to both highly and moderately educated people of his time.

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