English Class: Western Literature

Try Some Bacon

Francis Bacon’s Essays were quite interesting to me and I found his language compelling. However, I believe that if Bacon had used some personal experience in certain essays they would have been even more persuasive. In his essay Of Great Place, he wrote:

“Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. So as they have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self. The rising unto place is laborious; and by pains, men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes base; and by indignities, men come to dignities. The standing is slippery, and the regress is either a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melancholy thing.”

This is a powerful description of what happens to people in high positions, and in fact, what also happened to Bacon himself. After having had a successful career in British politics he was exposed for taking bribes. He was, as his quote says, a servant and bound to fall. As persuasive as his essay was, I think that offering his personal experience could have given the readers a more powerful admonition about the slippery slope of politics, fame and power. He could have written how he did not experience satisfaction from being in a high position and how it even lead to his downfall.

In another essay, Of Expense, he exhorts the readers to watch their expenses:

“Certainly, if a man will keep but of even hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; and if he think to wax rich, but to the third part.”

This is good advice on keeping expenses to a half of one’s income, or if one wants to get rich, to keep expenses to a third of one’s income. His arguments in Of Expense are well said, but once again he could mention his own experience. Giving a personal example of what happens when one does not control their expenses is always useful. The reader can see how irresponsibility in one’s finances can lead to ruin.

Overall I think that Bacon’s essays are quite convincing, but some added personal experience would have given greater proof to his arguments and made it more persuasive.


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