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by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are, like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man; and therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend: Abeunt studia in mores: nay, there is no stond '3 or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies: like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises, bowling 14 is good for the stone and reins, 15 shooting for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the head and the like; so, if a man's wit be wandering,' let him study the mathematics, for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again; if his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen, 18 for they are Cymini sectores;19 if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers' cases: so every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.







1. See John xviii. 38. "Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?" 2. This was hardly the attitude of the Roman governor. Any one of Bacon's acuteness, or a quarter of it," says Whately, 'might easily have perceived, had he at all attended to the context of the narrative, that never was any one less in a jesting mood than Pilate on this occasion."


3. That. The antecedent is omitted; insert persons or people after


4. Giddiness unsteadiness; want of certainty or of fixed beliefs.
5. Affecting = aiming at; from Lat. ad, to, and facere, to do, act.

6. Philosophers of that kind. —A reference probably to Pyrrho and Carneades. Pyrrho, a Greek philosopher of the third century B.C., maintained that certainty could not be attained in anything; hence he is known as the founder of scepticism. Carneades, a philosopher at Cyrene in Africa the second century B.C., held that all the knowledge the human mind is capable of attaining is not science but opinion.

7. Discoursing = discursive, rambling; from Lat. dis, apart, and currere, to run.


8. Imposeth layeth restraints upon; from Lat. in, on, upon, and ponere, to place.

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10. Bacon does not make a distinction between fiction and falsehood. Poetry is opposed, not to truth, but to fact.

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13. Carbuncle
14. Fathers.

= a gem of a deep red color. Lat. carbo, a live coal. This name is applied to the leading ecclesiastical writers

of the first five or six centuries after Christ.

15. Vinum dæmonum


the wine of demons. This quotation is from Augustine, the greatest of the Latin fathers, who was born in Numidia in 354.

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18. Chaos


the original unorganized condition of matter, out of which

it was believed the universe was created.


19. Sect the followers of Epicurus, a Greek philosopher of the fourth century B.C., who held that pleasure is the highest good. Though his life was blameless, his followers made his philosophy a cloak for luxury and licentious. ness. The poet referred to is Lucretius, a Latin author of the first century B.C., whose poem De Rerum Natura is largely devoted to an exposition of the Epicurean philosophy.

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fortunes, chances.

overlooked from some higher hill.

23. Prospect view, survey.

Lat. pro, before, and specere, to look.

24. Round = fair, candid, plain.

25. Alloy = a baser metal mixed with a finer. O. Fr. à loi, according to law, used with reference to the mixing of metals in coinage.

26. Embaseth


27. Montaigne, a celebrated French essayist of the sixteenth century. He died in 1592.


1. Prov. xix. 11. "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”

2. Irrevocable cannot be recalled. Lat. ir (for in), not, re, back, and vocare, to call.

3. Cosmo de Medici, born 1519, was chief of the Florentine republic. He "possessed the astuteness of character, the love of elegance, and taste for literature, but not the frank and generous spirit, that had distinguished his great ancestors."

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8. Julius Cæsar, the leading general, statesman, and orator (excepting Cicero) of his time, was assassinated in the year 44 B.C. Not one of his assassins, it is said, died a natural death.

9. Pertinax, born 126 A.D., was made emperor of Rome by the assassins of his predecessor, Commodus. After a reign of eighty-six days he was put to death by the soldiers, who objected to the reforms he proposed to introduce in the army.

10. Henry III. of France was assassinated in 1589 by Jacques Clement,

a fanatical Dominican friar, who was himself slain on the spot by the royal guard.

II. Witches were supposed to be women who had entered into a compact with the devil, by whose aid they were enabled to perform extraordinary feats, but into whose power they passed entirely at death. "So end they unfortunate."

I. Stoics



followers of Zeno, who taught that men should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to the unavoidable necessity by which all things seem to be governed.

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4. Hercules, the most celebrated of the Grecian heroes, was the ideal of human perfection as conceived in the heroic age. With high qualities of mind he possessed extraordinary physical strength, which was shown in his "twelve labors." Among his other wonderful achievements he released Prometheus, who, for having stolen fire from heaven for mortals, had been chained by Jupiter's command to the rocks of Mount Caucasus. 5. In a mean = with moderation.


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funereal tunes.

7. Incensed = set on fire. Lat. in, in, upon, and candere, to burn, to


1. Impediments


hindrances. Lat. in, and pes, pedis, foot. Frequently used, in the original, to denote baggage, especially of armies. who. Which was formerly used for persons as well as for "Our Father which art in heaven." Matt. vi. 9.




3. Impertinences = things irrelevant. This is the original sense. Lat. in, not, and pertinere, to pertain to.

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"And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace.'


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6. Charge: load or burden. Fr. charge, load, burden; Lat. carrus,
Cf. cargo and caricature.

car, wagon.

7. Humorous = governed by humor or caprice.

8. Churchman = an ecclesiastic or clergyman.

9. Fill a pool = bear the expenses of a family.

10. Hortatives: =

exhortations. Lat. hortari, to excite, exhort.

11. Exhaust = drained, exhausted. Lat. ex, out of, and haurire, to draw, the past part. being exhaustum.

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12. "He preferred his aged wife to immortality." Ulysses was shipwrecked on the coast of Ogygia, the island home of the goddess Calypso. She detained him eight years, and proposed to confer immortality upon him. But with beautiful fidelity the Grecian hero preferred to return to his native Ithaca and his wife Penelope.

13. So as so that. In Bacon as is frequently used in the sense of that. 14. Quarrel cause, reason, excuse. Formerly a not infrequent meaning. O. Fr. querele; Lat. querela, a complaint, from queri, to complain.


1. So as so that. See note 13 of the preceding Essay.
2. Indignities = basenesses, meannessess.


Lat. in, not, and dignus,

3. "Since thou art no longer what thou wast, there is no reason why thou shouldst wish to live."

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right, reasonable. O. Fr. raison, from Lat. rationem,

= retirement.


7. "Death presses heavily upon him who, too well known to all others, dies unknown to himself."


"If any man

8. To will to be willing, to desire. Cf. John vii. 17. will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God."

9. To can to be able.

10. Conscience


together with, and scire, to know.

This is an old meaning. Lat. con,

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sphere or scheme of operation. An unusual and obsolete


12. "And God turned to behold the works which his hands had made, and he saw that everything was very good." Gen. i. 31.

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17. Facility = readiness of compliance, pliability.

18. Steal it do it secretly. So in Shakespeare: ""Twere good, me

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