About the BookThe Essays, first published in 1597, contains essays written in a wide range of styles—from the plain and unadorned—to the epigrammatic and concise. The essays became immediately popular because they presented a contrast to the discursive and ornate prose written by most writers of that time. The civilized tone of the essays added to their charm.
These essays reveal Bacon as an inquisitive but also an appreciative man possessing wit and reason enough to interest the readers. The topics covered in the essays relate to both public and private life. Each essay views the topic from a number of different angles, weighing one argument against another.
An enlarged second edition appeared in 1612 with 38 essays. Another edition containing 58 essays under the title, Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall, was published in 1625. Translations into French and Italian also appeared during Bacon’s lifetime.
Bacon considered his essays as just the recreation of his other studies, but his contemporaries gave him high praise and some even credited him with having invented the essay form. A few annotated editions of the essays also came.
The essays have remained in the highest repute and are read with interest. Henry Hallam, a well-known literary historian has stated that Bacon’ s essays “are deeper and more discriminating than any earlier, or almost any later, work in the English language”. Bacon's essays contain many phrases which were used by later writers like Adous Huxley. The 1999 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations includes more than 90 quotations from Bacon’s essays.About the Author/sFrancis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was an English statesman, scientist, jurist, philosopher and writer. He stated that he had three goals: to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. He sought to achieve them by getting a prestigious post. His parliamentary career began when he was elected MP for Bossiney, Cornwall in 1581. In 1588 he became MP for Liverpool and in 1593 for Middlesex. He was appointed Attorney General in 1613 after advising the king to shuffle judicial appointments. King James appointed him Lord Chancellor in 1618.
Bacon’s public career ended in disgrace in 1621 when a parliamentary committee on the administration of the law charged him with cases of corruption. He was sentenced to a fine of £40,000 and committed to the Tower of London. However, the imprisonment lasted only a few days and the fine was remitted by the king.
After this disgrace, Bacon devoted himself to study and writing. He put forth his knowledge and philosophy in his writings in a highly impressive manner. His vast and varied writings can be divided into three categories: scientific works in which he gave his ideas for a universal reform of knowledge into scientific methodology; religious and literary works in which he presented his moral philosophy and theological meditations; and juridical works wherein he proposed reforms in English law.
Bacon’s writings inspired the founding of the Royal Society in 1662. His intellectual activities were directed towards practical ends from which the whole of society could benefit. He wanted the universities to widen their curriculum from the then three traditional professions (theology, law and medicine) to include arts and sciences at large. He is said to be ahead of his time in realizing that a continuous growth of knowledge was possible.
The full edition of Bacon’s works prepared by James Spedding has 14 volumes. He had a considerable influence on Hobbes, Boyle, Locke, Defoe and many others.