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date: 13 April 2024

Francis Bacon 1561–1626
English lawyer, courtier, philosopher, and essayist 

  1. 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.
    The Advancement of Learning (1605) bk. 1, ch. 5, sect. 8
  2. They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    The Advancement of Learning (1605) bk. 2, ch. 7, sect. 5
  3. But men must know, that in this theatre of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on.
    The Advancement of Learning (1605) bk. 2, ch. 20, sect. 8
  4. It is in life as it is in ways, the shortest way is commonly the foulest, and surely the fairer way is not much about.
    The Advancement of Learning (1605) bk. 2, ch. 23, sect. 45
  5. Age appears to be best in four things,—old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
    Apophthegms New and Old (1625) no. 97
  6. Ancient times were the youth of the world.
    De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum (1623) bk. 1 (tr. Gilbert Watts, 1640)
  7. Silence is the virtue of fools.
    De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum (1623) bk. 6, ch. 3, pt. 3 ‘The Antitheta of Things’ no. 31 (tr. Gilbert Watts, 1640)
  8. I hold every man a debtor to his profession.
    The Elements of the Common Law (1596) preface
  9. He is the fountain of honour.
    An Essay of a King (1642); attribution doubtful
  10. The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Adversity’
  11. Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Adversity’
  12. 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.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Atheism’
  13. A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Atheism’
  14. Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Beauty’
  15. There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Beauty’
  16. Books will speak plain when counsellors blanch.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Counsel’
  17. Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Cunning’
  18. 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.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Death’
  19. It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Death’
  20. To choose time is to save time.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Dispatch’
  21. It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and many things to fear.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Empire’
  22. A crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Friendship’
  23. It redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Friendship’
  24. Cure the disease and kill the patient.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Friendship’
  25. God Almighty first planted a garden; and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Gardens’
  26. Nothing is more pleasant to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Gardens’
  27. All rising to great place is by a winding stair.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Great Place’
  28. He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Innovations’
  29. He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Marriage and the Single Life’; see Lucan
  30. A single life doth well with churchmen, for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Marriage and the Single Life’
  31. Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Marriage and the Single Life’
  32. The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Parents and Children’
  33. Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Parents and Children’
  34. Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Praise’
  35. Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Revenge’
  36. A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Revenge’
  37. Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Seditions and Troubles’
  38. The remedy is worse than the disease.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Seditions and Troubles’
  39. Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  40. To spend too much time in studies is sloth.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  41. Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  42. Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  43. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  44. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  45. Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Studies’
  46. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Superstition’
  47. Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Suspicion’
  48. There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Suspicion’
  49. 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.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Travel’
  50. What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Truth’; see Bible
  51. The inquiry of truth, which is the love-making, or wooing of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Truth’
  52. All colours will agree in the dark.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Unity in Religion’
  53. It was prettily devised of Aesop, ‘The fly sat upon the axle-tree of the chariot-wheel and said, what a dust do I raise.’
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Vain-Glory’
  54. Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Wisdom for a Man's Self’; see Shakespeare
  55. It is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set a house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Wisdom for a Man's Self’
  56. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business.
    Essays (1625) ‘Of Youth and Age’
  57. God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world.
    The Great Instauration (1620) tr. J. Spedding
  58. In one and the same fire, clay grows hard and wax melts.
    History of Life and Death (1623)
  59. The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.
    New Atlantis (1627)
  60. The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding.
    Novum Organum (1620) bk. 1, Aphorism 10 (tr. J. Spedding)
  61. Nature cannot be ordered about, except by obeying her.
    Novum Organum (1620) bk. 1, Aphorism 129 (tr. J. Spedding)
  62. I have taken all knowledge to be my province.
    ‘To My Lord Treasurer Burghley’ (1592) in J. Spedding (ed.) The Letters and Life of Francis Bacon vol. 1 (1861)
  63. Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
    For also knowledge itself is power.
    Meditationes Sacrae (1597) ‘Of Heresies’
  64. For what a man would like to be true, that he more readily believes.
    Novum Organum (1620) bk. 1, Aphorism 49 (tr. J. Spedding);see Caesar, Demosthenes
  65. Printing, gunpowder, and the mariner's needle [compass]…these three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world.
    Novum Organum (1620) bk. 1, Aphorism 129 (tr. J. Spedding); see Carlyle
  66. Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
    Resuscitatio (1657) ‘Proposition touching Amendment of Laws’
  67. Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
    J. Spedding (ed.) The Works of Francis Bacon vol. 7 (1859) ‘Apophthegms contained in Resuscitatio’ no. 36
  68. Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.
    often attributed to Queen Elizabeth I from a misreading of the text
    J. Spedding (ed.) The Works of Francis Bacon vol. 7 (1859) ‘Baconiana’
  69. They say late thanks are ever best.
    letter to Robert, Lord Cecil, July 1603