Bacon, Francis by Faye Huntington
When I was a girl in school, the teacher
used to give out topics once a month for
essays. One evening she gave to Fanny Rhodes
this topic—"Bacon." Poor Fannie hated essays
worse than any of the others, I believe, and
over this subject she fairly groaned. "As if
I could!" she said. But she did. In just a
month from the day the subjects were given
out, the essays were to be read. Fanny was
among the first to be called forward. I ought
to tell you that these monthly essays were not
passed in for correction until after they were
read. They were to be given to the school exactly
as they came from the author's hand. So
The subject assigned to me for this month is
bacon. I do not see how it is possible for any
one to say much on such a subject. Everybody
knows all that there is to say about it. It is
simply the flesh of hogs, salted, or pickled, or
Before she had reached the close of this sentence,
the pupils were in such roars of laughter
that her voice was drowned. She looked around
upon us with such astonished eyes that the
thing grew all the funnier, and the boys fairly
Even the gentle teacher was laughing.
"O Fannie, Fannie!" she said at last. "Did
you really think I meant pork?"
"Why, what else could you mean?" said bewildered
Fannie. And then we all laughed
"Why, Fannie," said Miss Henderson, "I
thought of course you would understand that I
meant Lord Bacon."
"Lord Bacon!" repeated poor Fannie in dismay;
"I never heard of him."
So lest you too make the same mistake, I want
to introduce you, not to a piece of pork, but to
Francis Bacon, who was born in London considerably
more than three hundred years ago.
Isn't that a long time to be remembered?
What about him? Why, he was a very learned
man. A lawyer who wrote books that the lawyers
of to-day study carefully.
Also he wrote essays on a great variety of subjects—essays
that scholars in these days read
and enjoy. In fact, as I look them over, I
see many sentences which girls and boys might
enjoy before they are old enough or wise enough
to be called scholars. Isn't that a queer idea,
that you must be quite wise before people will
say of you "he, or she, is a scholar?"
I have been reading Lord Bacon's essay on
"Cunning," and it certainly shows that the people
who lived hundreds of years ago, were at least
as cunning as they are now.
Listen to this: "It is a point of cunning, when
you have anything to obtain of present despatch,
to amuse the party with whom you deal, with
some other discourse, that he may not be too
much awake to make objections.
"I knew a secretary who never came to Queen
Elizabeth of England, with bills to sign, but he
would always first put her in some discourse of
state, that she might the less mind the bills."
And this: "The breaking off in the midst of
that, one was about to say, as if he took himself
up, breeds a greater appetite in him, with whom
you confer, to know more."
Did you never hear girls talk together according
to this hint?
"Girls, it was the queerest thing you ever
heard of! And then Minnie said—but dear me!
I don't suppose I ought to tell you that—"
At which the girls are almost sure to say,
"Oh, yes, do! We'll never repeat it in the
It is my opinion that a great many boys and
girls must have studied Bacon very carefully.
Here is another wise saying: "In things that
a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point
of cunning to borrow the name of the world:
beginning, 'the world says,' or, 'there is a
If Lord Bacon were living in these days, he
would know that the way to do it would be to
commence all such sentences with "Why, they
say," etc. Have you never wondered who
"they" were, who are all the time saying such
important, and often such disagreeable things?
Lord Bacon says, "I knew one that when he
wrote a letter, he would put that which was
most material in the postscript; as if it had been
a by matter." I have received just such letters
as that, and sometimes they are from boys and
girls. Remember, the great Lord Bacon does
not say that it is a wise thing to do, but "a
point of cunning."
I do not find that he wrote about getting into
debt, but perhaps he did, for he certainly knew
a great deal about it. He has the name of having
been all his life in debt to some of his friends.
So, wise man as he was, like most other men, we
can, as soon as we begin to study his life, find
something to avoid, as well as something to copy.
Yet we are to remember him as a wonderful
man. Here is what one writer says of him: "A
man so rare in knowledge, of so many several
kinds, endued with the facility and felicity of
expressing it in so elegant, significant, abundant
and yet so choice a way of words, of metaphors,
of allusions, perhaps the world has not seen
since it was a world." That sentence was written
long ago, yet men think much the same of
He was not only a lawyer, but a philosopher.
Now just what does that word mean? Do you
know? I thought not. Let us go to the dictionary
and see. "Philosopher: one devoted to
philosophy." Very well, Webster, but what is
philosophy? Look again. "Philosophy: the
love of, or search after wisdom." Why, that is
extraordinary! Then we may all be philosophers!
But Webster says a great deal more about
the word. If you have a bit of the philosopher
in your nature, I think after reading this article,
you will go at once to the dictionary, and have
more wisdom after you have carefully studied the
word Philosophy than you had before. Here is
one more definition of the word, to give you a
hint of what Lord Bacon filled his time with.
Philosophy: "The science of things divine and
human, and the causes in which they are contained."
I wonder if you now feel introduced to this
great man? Enough so, certainly, not to think of
him as a piece of pork! It is more than two hundred
and fifty years since he died. He was not
an old man, only about sixty-five, I believe; yet
he had done a great deal of work, and will be
remembered, I suppose, as long as there are books