(1561–1626) English philosopher, statesman and writer
English philosopher, statesman and writer
January 22, 1561, London
Trinity College, Cambridge
April 9, 1626, near London
Other Francis Bacon Sites
Brief biography from Oregon State
Biography by William Rawley
Francis Bacon Works
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
Novum Organum Preface (1620)
Novum Organum Aphorisms (1620)
History of Henry VII (1622)
Historia Ventorum (1622)
Historia Vitae et Mortis (1622)
De Augmentis Scientarum (1623)
Complete Essays (1597-1625)
the New Atlantis (1627, posthumous)
The World (1629, posthumous)
Francis Bacon Graphics
Some have links to larger versions if you click on the graphic.
A bachelor's life is a fine breakfast, a flat lunch, and a miserable dinner.
A good conscience is a continual feast.
A graceful and pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommendation.
A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it.
A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.
A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open.
A trust is an obligation of conscience of one to the will of another.
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
Acorns were good until bread was found.
All colors will agree in the dark.
All rising to great place is by a winding stair.
Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.
Antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the
shipwreck of time.
As for the passions and studies of the mind; avoid envy; anxious fears; anger fretting
inwards; subtle and knotty inquisitions; joys and exhilarations in excess; sadness not
As the births of living creatures, at first, are ill-shapen: so are all Innovations, which
are the births of time.
Atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man.
Be not penny-wise. Riches have wings. Sometimes they fly away of themselves, and sometimes
they must be set flying to bring in more.
Be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others.
Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the Infinite.
Boldness is ever blind, for it sees not dangers and inconveniences whence it is bad in
council though good in execution.
Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
But the images of men's wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted from
the wrong of time, and capable of perpetual renovation.
By far the best proof is experience.
By indignities men come to dignities.
Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the
unmarried, or childless men.
Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable.
Come home to men's business and bosoms.
Consistency is the foundation of virtue.
Cure the disease and kill the patient.
Cure the disease and kill the patient.
Death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home.
Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal
is more than to speak in good words, or in good order.
Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty
For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling
cymbal, where there is no love.
For all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an
impression of pleasure in itself.
For cleanness of body was ever esteemed to proceed from a due reverence to
God, to society, and to ourselves.
For it is esteemed a kind of dishonour unto learning to descend to inquiry or meditation upon
matters mechanical, except they be such as may be thought secrets, rarities, and special
subtilities, which humour of vain supercilious arrogancy is justly derided in Plato... But the
truth is, they be not the highest instances that give the securest information; as may well be
expressed in the tale ... of the philosopher, that while he gazed upwards to the stars fell into
the water; for if he had looked down he might have seen the stars in the water, but looking
aloft he could not see the water in the stars. So it cometh often to pass, that mean and
small things discover great, better than great can discover the small.
For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with columbine innocence, except men know
exactly all the conditions of the serpent: his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility
and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil: for
without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced.
For my name and memory I leave to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations and the
Fortune hath somewhat the nature of a woman; if she be too much wooed, she is
the farther off.
Fortune is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall.
God almighty first planted a garden: and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasure.
God hangs the greatest weights upon the smallest wires.
God has placed no limits to the exercise of the intellect he has given us, on this side of
God's first creature, which was light.
Good fame is like fire; when you have kindled you may easily preserve it; but if you
extinguish it, you will not easily kindle it again.
He of whom many are afraid ought to fear many.
He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example,
builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and
pulls down with the other.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to
great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest
innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not
alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep;
moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.
Houses are built to live in, and not to look on: therefore let use be preferred before
I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.
I had rather believe all the Fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than
that this universal frame is without a Mind.
I have taken all knowledge to be my province.
I hold every man a debtor to his profession.
I think of life as meaningless, but we give it meaning during our own existence.
I would live to study, and not study to live.
If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.
If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will
be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties. (1605)
If money be not they servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be
said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him.
If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are
patient in them, we shall end in certainties.
If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us.
Ill Fortune never crushed that man whom good fortune deceived not.
Imagination was given man to compensate for what he is not, and a sense of humor to console
him for what he is.
In charity there is no excess.
In every great time there is some one idea at work which is more powerful than any other, and
which shapes the events of the time and determines their ultimate issues.
In taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is
superior, for it is a prince's part to pardon.
In things that a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point of cunning to borrow the name
of the world; as to say, "The world says," or "There is a speech abroad."
[It has been well said that] the arch-flatterer with whom all the petty
flatterers have intelligence is a man's self.
It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire and many things to fear.
It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea: a pleasure to
stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no
pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth ... and to see the errors,
and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.
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.
It is as hard and severe a thing to be a true politician as to be truly moral.
It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful
as the other.
It is the true office of history to represent the events themselves, together with the
counsels, and to leave the observations and conclusions thereupon to the liberty and faculty of
every man's judgment.
It was prettily devised of Aesop, "The fly sat on the axle tree of the chariot wheel
and said, what dust do I raise!"
Judges must beware of hard constructions and strained inferences, for there is no worse torture
than that of laws.
Judges ought to be more leaned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised
than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
Knowledge is power.
Lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion brings on substance.
Little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth. For a crowd is not company, and
faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
Look to make your course regular, that men may know beforehand what they may expect.
Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it
offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled. Mahomet called the
hill to come to him, again and again; and when the hill stood still he was never a whit abashed,
but said, "If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill."
Man seeketh in society comfort, use and protection.
Many a man's strength is in opposition, and when he faileth, he grows out of use.
Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is
increased with tales, so is the other.
Men in great place are thrice servants, – servants of the sovereign or state, servants of
fame, and servants of business.
Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent
too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content
themselves with a mediocrity of success.
Men on their side must force themselves for a while to lay their notions by and begin to
familiarize themselves with facts.
Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.
Mysteries are due to secrecy.
Nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body, and it addeth no small reverence to men's
manners and actions if they be not altogether open. Therefore set it down: That a habit of
secrecy is both politic and moral.
Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and
studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be
bounded in by experience.
Nature is commanded by obeying her.
Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished.
Next to religion, let your care be to promote justice.
No man's fortune can be an end worthy of his being.
No pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage-ground of truth.
None of the affections have been noted to fascinate and bewitch but envy.
Nothing destroys authority more than the unequal and untimely interchange of power stretched
too far and relaxed too much.
Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.
Nuptial love makes mankind; friendly love perfects it; but wanton love corrupts and debases
Of great wealth there is no real use, except in its distribution, the rest is just conceit.
Opportunity makes a thief.
Our humanity is a poor thing, except for the divinity that stirs within us.
People of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon and
seldom drive business home to its conclusion, but content themselves with a mediocrity of
People of great position are servants times three, servants of their country, servants of
fame, and servants of business.
People usually think according to their inclinations, speak according to their learning and
ingrained opinions, but generally act according to custom.
Pictures and shapes are but secondary objects and please or displease only in the memory.
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; adversity not without many comforts and
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.
Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk
and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.
Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law
to weed it out.
Riches are for spending.
Seek ye first the good things of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied or its loss
will not be felt.
Silence is the virtue of fools.
Small amounts of philosophy lead to atheism, but larger amounts bring us back to God.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be
chewed and digested.
States as great engines move slowly.
Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.
Suspicion amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they never fly by twilight.
Suspicions that the mind, of itself, gathers, are but buzzes; but suspicions that are
artificially nourished and put into men's heads by the tales and whisperings of others, have
That things are changed, and that nothing really perishes, and that the sum of matter remains
exactly the same, is sufficiently certain.
The best armor is to keep out of gunshot.
The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.
The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess
caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger
The fortune which nobody sees makes a person happy and unenvied.
The French are wiser than they seem, and the Spaniards seem wiser than they are.
The genius, wit, and the spirit of a nation are discovered by their proverbs.
The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three. First to lay asleep
opposition and to surprise. For where a man's intentions are published, it is an alarum to call
up all that are against them. The second is to reserve a man's self a fair retreat: for if a
man engage himself, by a manifest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall. The third is,
the better to discover the mind of another. For to him that opens himself, men will hardly show
themselves adverse; but will fair let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of
The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.
The laws of the most kingdoms and states have been like buildings of many
pieces, and patched up from time to time according to occasion, without frame or
model. ... This continual heaping up of laws without digesting them maketh but a
chaos and confusion, and turneth the laws many times to become but snares for
the people. ... Then look into the state of your laws and justice of your land:
purge out multiplicity of laws: clear the incertainty of them: repeal those that
are snaring; and press the execution of those that are wholesome and necessary ...
The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble
spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes the middle course: it
gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and field, but transforms and digests it by
a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy (science); for it neither
relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers
from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay up in the memory whole, as it finds it,
but lays it up in the understanding altered and disgested. Therefore, from a closer and purer
league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never been
made), much may be hoped.
The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power.
The mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands.
The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in describing the afflictions of Job than the
felicities of Solomon.
The person is a poor judge who by an action can be disgraced more in failing than they can
be honored in succeeding.
The place of justice is a hallowed place.
The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, because the office of medicine is but to
tune the curious harp of man's body.
The remedy is worse than the disease.
The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and
The wisdom of our ancestors.
The World's a bubble, and the Life of Man Less than a span.
The worst solitude is to have no real friendships.
There is a difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man
is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.
There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth
himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such
flatterer as is a man's self.
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little.
They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
They that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils.
This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects for it
redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half.
This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his wounds green, which otherwise
would heal and do well.
Time is the measure of business.
To be free minded and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat and sleep and of exercise is one
of the best precepts of long lasting.
To choose time is to save time.
Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. He
that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school,
and not to travel.
Truth arises more readily from error than from confusion.
Truth is a good dog; but always beware of barking too close to the heels of an error, lest you get
your brains kicked out.
Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.
Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set.
We are much beholden to Machiavel and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought
What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.
What then remains but that we still should cry
Who ever is out of patience is out of possession of their soul.
Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust
Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
Without friends the world is but a wilderness. There is no man that imparteth his joys to
his friends, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his grieves to his friend, but
he grieveth the less.
Wives are young men's mistresses; companions for middle age, and old men's nurses.
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most
Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and
more fit for new projects than for settled business.
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