« AnteriorContinuar »
strange tales we hear respecting their fulfil- | example. "We even think that something ment ?"
"The relations, Master Hobbes, touching the force of imagination and the secret instincts of nature, be so uncertain as to require a great deal of examination ere we conclude upon them. There be many reports in history, that upon the death of persons of nearness of blood, men have had an inward feeling of it. I myself remember that, being in Paris, and my father dying in London, two or three days before my father's death I had a dream, which I told to divers English gentlemen, that my father's house was plastered all over with black mortar; that I well remember, and have often mused upon it."
Though in a conversational form, the above are no imaginary or fictitious opinions placed in the mouth of Bacon. In his "Sylva Sylvarum" they are to be found. Though naturally tinctured with the crude notions of the seventeenth century, the extent and variety of his information are perfectly amazing. There is scarcely a subject in science or philosophy to which he had not directed his attention. Reflection, and an aptitude for philosophic inquiry, were qualities inherent in his mind; originality of conception, and facility of execution, his great characteristics. With great minuteness of observation, he had an amplitude of comprehension such as has scarcely been vouchsafed to any other human being.
of hope may be supplied to man from our
Great and varied talents, which would singly have adorned any man, were in Bacon united. His powers of conversation were of the highest order, set off by a keen sense of humor and the most sparkling wit. So completely did his fame as a philosopher fill the world of letters to the exclusion of other points in his history, that Bayle, writing only a century after his death, had not, with all It was his custom, when investigating a his inquisitiveness, so much as heard that subject, to set down inquiries on slips of pa- Bacon had been dismissed with disgrace from per, and at his leisure to reconsider the points, his political offices. His abilities as an orator or submit them to experiment. For exam- have been placed on record by a contempople, amongst other memoranda, Dr. Tenni-rary who had often listened to him with deson found this "Mem. to send to Dr. Mev- light, and who was highly qualified to judge erel. Take iron, and dissolve it in aquafortis, of his pretensions. "There happened in my and put a loadstone near it, and see whether time one noble speaker who was full of gravit will extract the iron; put also a loadstone ity in his speaking. His language, where he into the water, and see whether it will gather could spare or pass by a jest, was nobly cena crust about it." Bacon apparently satis- sorious (censor-like); no man ever spake more fied himself on this point without troubling neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or sufthe doctor; for, in the "Inquisitio de Mag- fered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he nete" (in the "Opuscula Posthuma,") the uttered. No member of his speech but confirst paragraph is a reply to the inquiry, "If sisted of his own graces. His hearers could iron be dissolved in aquafortis, and some not cough or look aside from him without drops of the solution be placed on smooth loss. He commanded where he spoke, and glass, the magnet neither extracts the iron had his judges angry and pleased at his denor attracts the water." votion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was, lest he should make an end."t
To be able to form a correct estimate of our own talents is a characteristic of a superior mind with the modesty of true genius, was united in Bacon a perfect consciousness of his own powers: he calls upon those that follow after to take encouragement from his
* Milton-Account of his own studies.
There is no doubt that the evening of Ba- | he, Madam, I am no good footman.'" This con's life was greatly embittered by pecu- tendency to syncope rendered him cautious niary embarrassments. When in prosperity of exposing himself to unpleasant odors, for he had made no provision against adversity. which reasons his servants invariably appearOn the contrary, large as was his income, his ed before him in boots of Spanish leather, expenditure greatly exceeded it; love of dis- for he had a great aversion to the smell of play was one of the weakest points in his calf-hide. character; his style of living, when chancellor, was princely, and when in banishment he could not give up his darling pomp. It was during that time that Charles I., then Prince of Wales, when coming to town, saw at a distance a coach followed by a large retinue on horseback; being informed that it was the Lord St. Alban's, he exclaimed, with a smile, "Well! do what we will, that man scorns to go out like a snuff." He was not only expensive in his habits, but so careless of money that his servants plundered him in the most barefaced manner, with perfect impunity. When stripped of his offices and emoluments he had a hard struggle against poverty: he was obliged to sell his ancestral town residence, York House, with all its splendid furniture, to reduce his establishment at Gorhambury to a mere shadow of its former self, and to reside chiefly at Gray's Inn. He was sometimes so pinched as to be compelled to borrow trifling sums from his friends. But, embarrassed as he was known to be, it was reserved for Lord Campbell to prove, beyond a doubt, that Lord Bacon died an insolvent. It has been ascertained that after his death a creditor's suit was established for the administration of his estate: his servants were paid their wages in full, after which the fund arising from the sale of his property was divided rateably among the creditors.
Lord Bacon was of a delicate constitution, and inherited from his father a tendency to gout and a calculous disorder. He was extremely susceptible of atmospheric influences, and it is asserted by Dr. Rawley, who, as his chaplain and companion during many years, must have been well aware of his peculiarities, that he was in the habit of fainting at certain changes in the moon. Were the statement from a less questionable quarter, it might have been received with suspicion, but it is to a certain extent corroborated by another contemporary. Aubrey says, "I remember Sir John Danvers told me that his Lordship much delighted in his (Sir John's) curious garden at Chelsey, and as he was walking there one time he fell down in a sowne. My Lady Danvers rubbed his face, temples, &c., and gave him cordial waters. As soon as he came to himself, said
During meditation he often had music in an adjoining room, by which his fancy was enlivened. He had many little whims and peculiarities, some of which may excite a smile for instance, in the spring he would go out for a drive in his open coach whilst it rained, to receive (in the quaint language of Aubrey) "the benefit of irrigation," which he was wont to say was very wholesome, "because of the nitre in the air and the universal spirit of the world." He had extraordinary notions respecting the virtue of nitre, and conceived it to be of inestimable value in the preservation of health. So great was his faith, that he swallowed three grains of that drug, either alone or with saffron, in warm broth, every morning during thirty years! He seems to have been very fond of quacking himself; once a week he took a dose of the "water of Mithridate," diluted with strawberry-water. Once a month, at least, he made a point of swallowing a grain and a half of "castor" in his broth and breakfast for two successive days. And every sixth or seventh day he drank an infusion of rhubarb in white wine and beer immediately before his dinner.
He made it a point to take air in some high and open place every morning, the third hour after sunrise, and if possible he selected a spot where he could enjoy the perfume of musk, roses, and sweet violets. Besides thus breathing the pure air of nature, he was fumigated with the smoke of lign-aloes, with dried bays, and rosemary, adding once a week a little tobacco. On leaving his bed he was anointed all over with oil of almonds, mingled with salt and saffron, and this was followed by gentle friction.
He was rather a hearty feeder, and, when young, preferred game and poultry, but in after life, gave the choice to butchers' meat, which had been well beaten before being roasted. At every meal his table was strewed with flowers and sweet herbs. Half an hour before supper he took a cup of wine, or ale, hot and spiced, and once during supper wine in which gold had been quenched. The first draught which he drank at dinner or supper was always hot, and on returning to bed he ate a bit of bread steeped in a mixture of wine, syrup of roses and amber, and washed
it down with a cup of ale to compose his spirits and send him to sleep. In the spring he was fond of a glass of spiced pomegranate wine early in the morning, and greatly enjoyed water-cresses. These little points may be unimportant in themselves, but they assist us in drawing a mental portrait of the man. During the three first years which succeeded his retirement from public life his health was good; the great care he took of himself, and the regular life he led, warded off attacks of the disorders to which we have referred. The year 1625 was remarkable for the sickness which prevailed, and the friends of Bacon saw with grief a perceptible decay in his health and strength. In this year he published a volume of apophthegms, said to be the result of a morning's dictation as a recreation in sickness, and also a translation of some of the Psalms of David, which, in a dedication to his friend George Herbert, he states was a poore exercise of my sicknesse." This was the last of his literary labors. In the autumn he retired to Gorhambury, and on the 29th of October, he writes, "I thank God, by means of the sweet air of the country I have obtained some degree of health." His feeble frame was, however, unequal to contend against the severe winter of 1625, and serious fears were entertained for his life. On the 19th of December, thinking that his course was well nigh run, he made his will-that remarkable document in which he touchingly appeals to the liberality of future generations.
my fame and memorie, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, to foreign nations, and the next ages."
The genial influence of the spring of 1626 wrought a favorable change in his health; his spirits revived, and his strength increased, sufficiently to enable him to return to his favorite seclusion in Gray's Inn.
It was on the 2d of April of that year that the life of this illustrious man was brought to a close. It is to be regretted that the accounts which have come down to us of the sad event are but meagre, but happily the chief particulars have been preserved. In contemplation of a new edition of his Natural History he was keenly examining the subject of anti-septics, or the best means of preventing putrefaction in animal substances. It struck him that flesh might as well be preserved by snow as by salt. From the length and severity of the winter he expected that snow might still, in shaded situations, be discovered on the ground. Dr. Witherborne, the king's physician, agreed to accompany
him, and assist him in a little excursion to make the experiment. At Highgate they found snow lying behind a hedge in great abundance, and, entering a cottage, they purchased a fowl recently killed. The philosopher, with a keen sense of enjoyment of the experiment, insisted on stuffing the body of the fowl with snow with his own hands. Soon after, the cold and damp struck him with a chill, and he began to shiver. He was carried to his coach, but was so seriously indisposed that he could not travel back to Gray's Inn, and was conveyed to the house of his friend, the Earl of Arundel, at Highgate. There he was hospitably received, and, out of ceremony, placed in the state-bed; but it was damp, not having been slept in for a year before, and he became worse. A messenger was immediately despatched for his old and tried friend Sir Julius Cæsar, Master of the Rolls, who immediately hastened to him. The next day he was a little better, and was able to dictate the following letter to the Earl of Arundel, which proved his dying effort. The allusion to the success of the experiment proves that, despite of his illness, the fowl had been preserved, and is another illustration of "the ruling passion strong in death."
"MY VERY GOOD LORD,
"I was likely to have had fortune of Cajius Plinius the Elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two, touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting (vomiting) as I knew not whether it were the stone, or some surfeit or cold, or, indeed, a touch of them all three. But when I came to your lordship's house I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it; for, indeed, your lordship's house was happy to me; and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write to your lordship with any other hand than mine own, but by my troth my fingers are so disjointed with this fit of sickness that. I cannot steadily hold a pen."
It is evident that Bacon did not think he was dying when he wrote this, but inflammation supervened, and early in the morning of Easter Sunday, 1626, he expired in the arms of Sir Julius Cæsar, who, having shared with Sir Thomas Meautys the glory of steadily
adhering to him through all his reverses, had | chael's, near St. Albans. This church is built. the satisfaction of affording consolation at within the precincts of the ancient city of that dark hour when it is most needed, and Verulam, and crowning a gentle undulation the comfort of rendering the last sacred of the surface, forms a beautiful feature in the offices of friendship, when the immortal spirit landscape. It was founded about the midhad taken its flight. dle of the tenth century, by Abbot Ulsinus, and bears ample evidence of the original Saxon architecture. For some time the spot where lay the remains of Bacon was unmarked by stone or monument, but the omission was nobly supplied by the munificence of his late secretary, Sir Thomas Meautys. him a statue was erected, representing Bacon absorbed in meditation; his head rests upon his hand, and the design is in a style of classic elegance.
After careful consideration of the case, there can be little doubt that the attack which was the immediate cause of death was that form of pulmonary disease called Peripneumonia Notha. Chronic bronchitis, or inflammation of the larger air-tubes of the lungs, is a common complaint of persons advanced in years, and is apt to be converted by exposure to cold into the disease we have mentioned, a characteristic symptom of which is, the secretion, in immense quantities, of viscid mucus which chokes up the lungs, and kills the patient by suffocation, if relief is not afforded by appropriate treatment.
Thus died, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, Francis Bacon, who, notwithstanding all his faults, was one of the greatest ornaments and benefactors of the human race.
A pleasing feature in that great man's character was the love he bore to the memory of his mother; she was a woman of remarkable talent and learning, and from her careful tuition her son derived much of his early knowledge; it was by her care and tender solicitude that his constitution, naturally feeble, acquired strength and his frame health. Through life he regarded her memory with affection, and left special directions in his will that his mortal remains should repose by hers.
No pompous funeral attended the body of the great philosopher to its last resting-place; a few choice and sincere friends shed tears over his coffin, which was interred in the most simple manner in the church of St. Mi
We have thus endeavored to place before our readers a brief sketch of an interesting portion of the life of the immortal founder of true philosophy-a life which was terminated in a characteristic manner by his obtaining, in addition to other distinctions, the diadem of a martyr to science. When young, like Milton, he felt that he was destined for great things. "I confess," said he, "that I have as vast contemplative ends as I have moderate civil ends." We cannot but regret that his lot was cast in such a mould that his own magnificent conceptions were but partially carried out. Had he been enabled to devote the whole of his life to the extensive field of
philosophic inquiry, his character would have come down to us pure and spotless; could he have borne his burden in that promised land, a land to him flowing with milk and honey,-not only would mankind have been immeasurably more his debtors, but his countrymen could have pointed him out with honest pride, not only as the greatest philosopher, but as one of the most perfect characters of all races and all ages.
From Hogg's Instructor.
SIR DAVID BREWSTER.
THE Scotchman looks in vain beyond the, last fifty years for the intellectual glory of his country. That mental vigor, and depth, and capacity, and perspicacity, which so distinguish the Scotusi mind, had only flashed out in premonitory scintillations before the scepticism of Hume aroused it from its sleep of ages, and developed it in all its thoughtful majesty and strength. While England was listening to the graphic and glowing strains of the accomplished Chaucer, Scotland was imbibing ferocity from the screamings of the slogan; and when England had given to mental philosophy and poetry a Bacon, a Locke, a Shakspeare, and a Milton, her northern sister had still to deplore the sterility of her genius. It is true that Sir David Lindsay and Dunbar had struck the harp to higher strains than those which generally characterized Scottish poetical expression; and that John Knox and George Buchanan had invested Scotch controversy with a wild and earnest genius, as well as high scholastic dignity; these, however, were only the precursory flashes of a deeply-hidden fountain of mental fire. They shone amidst a nation rude, and stern, and dark; as if to let that nation know her innate strength of mind and the capacities which she possessed for assuming a dignified position in the arena of intellect.
There is no doubt that Scotland was never destitute of minds of the first order and power. Fierce, fiery energy, and indomitable courage, joined to speculative ideality, were always characteristics of the Scotch; but these qualities were for centuries only exhibited upon the field of war, or the field of polemical strife; and the men who might have enlightened a grateful world with the light of art, or poetry, or mental philosophy, or science, passed away into a dark oblivion, after having struggled their brief hour upon the stage of local controversy. It is scarcely half a century since Scotland could claim a respectable place in the catalogue of British literature or science; within the compass of
that short period, however, she has most effectively presented herself in the van of thinking, teaching nations. The garland of warlike pre-eminence which she had worn with pride upon ner hectic brow for nearly nineteen centuries, red reeking with the blood of her foemen, and of her sons and daughters murdered to satisfy the passions born of feudalism, has been cast aside to wither, or to be regarded as an object of inferior interest; and the voice of her genius has suddenly swelled into a symphony of glory, speaking in the holiest strains of poetry, in the deepest tones of Christian philosophy, in the most humanizing expressions of mechanical power, and in the most exalted eloquence of art. If Scotland could present no parallel to the array of great literary names which graces the annals of England at the epoch of the Reformation and Commonwealth, the era of the first French Revolution finds her second to no country in the majesty of her intellectual soul. In Reid, Brown, Dugald Stewart, Playfair, and Sir James Mackintosh, she exhibited that philosophical courage and illustrious virtue which were essentially requisite to successfully combat with the subtle scepticisms of Hume. In Burns, she gave to the world a poet as versatile as Shakspeare, and a lyrist as burning as Sappho. Her Scott was the Colossus of history, poetry, and romance; her Jeffrey the Aristarchus of literary criticism, and the Cicero of the forensic tribune; while to the mechanical genius of her James Watt the industrial world bends in grateful homage.
In fifty years the Scottish mind made itself a fame as illustrious as other nations have done in centuries. Bold, enterprising, and indomitable, her sons went abroad to conquer the realms of science, and to bring to her shrine the chaplets of loftiest literary honor. They explored the interiors of regions before the unknown dangers of which a Columbus or a Gama would have quailed; they tracked the courses of rivers over burn