Of Adversity by Bacon — explanation

Of Adversity

IT WAS an high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things, which belong to prosperity, are to be wished; but the good things, that belong to adversity, are to be admired.

A word about Seneca .. Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca,also known as Seneca the Younger) was an erudite person with profound wisdom. He was an intellectual of renown – a writer, philosopher and statesman, all rolled intone. From AD 54 to AD 62, he was the advisor to Emperor Nero. He sang the praise of Stoicism and counselled people to face sorrow and suffering with courage and forbearance.
Meaning … In a memorable speech, Seneca expatiate that all good things like happiness, wealth etc. In one’s fate must be joyfully and gratefully received and enjoyed. At the same time, sorrows and sufferings dispensed by fate should also be accepted gracefully and with equanimity.

Bona rerum secundarum optabilia; adversarum mirabilia.
Meaning .. This Latin sentence literally means, “Goods of success are desirable; opposing wonderful”. More or less, it is a reiteration of what has been explained above – Humans must learn to treat grief and joy equally.

Certainly if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other (much too high for a heathen), It is true greatness, to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God.

Meaning …. During times of adversity, miracles do happen to completely neutralize the agony and angst caused by the mishap. It is God’s hand that brings the suffering, and it is His hand that brings the deliverance from it. Humans are powerless before Him.

Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei.

Meaning … When translated into English, this Latin sentence means, “The frailty of man is truly great to have the security of God.” So, the frail, powerless man must seek refuge in God.

This would have done better in poesy, where transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing, which figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the world.

Meaning ….. Miracles find place in poetry rather frequently. Poets resort to miracles to add charm, intrigue and suspense to their writings.
Prometheus was a Titan. But he had great compassion for humans. He gave the mortals n the gift of Fire and the ability to heal. On one occasion, Hera wickedly stole the Eternal Torch from Prometheus. Without Fire, the entire human race was put to great peril. Unfortunately, in this time of distress, Prometheus lay frozen in his abode. He was immobilized and still. Luckily, Hercules discovered him after sailing through the turbulent ocean seated inside an earthen pot, and in a great noble Christian act, restored the torch to its rightful place.
Bacon alludes to this Greek mythological episode to underscore the virtue of stoicism and fortitude.

But to speak in a mean. The virtue of prosperity, is temperance; the virtue of adversity, is fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New; which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God’s favor.

Meaning … Prosperity and adversity come hand in hand in life. Prosperity must bring with it an urge to abstain from indulgence. In the same way, adversity should foster fortitude.
Both are the gifts of God: Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, and adversity is that of the New Testament. Adversity is the greater blessing, and is a manifestation God’s benign nature.

Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David’s harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in describing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of Solomon.

Meaning … Even the Old Testament has umpteen descriptions of sorrow and happiness going together. There are laments pertaining to death and burial. There are, at the same time, songs of joy and celebration.
Job was a God-fearing person of high moral. Yet, he suffered a very long period of suffering and distress as a result of the curse of Satan. Job and his friends endured the pain with great patience and beseeched God for respite. Finally, God relented and Job was freed from his afflictions.
In the Bible, the Holy Ghost has described Hob’s story in much greater detail, than it has done to felicitate Solomon.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle-works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work, upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work, upon a lightsome ground: judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart, by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Meaning …. Finally, Bacon says that prosperity is not always full of joy and gaiety. In the same vein, adversity is not always barren and hopeless. In embroidery, a lively design juxtaposed on a dull and staid background looks better than a sedate pattern in the midst of a lively background.
So, one must discern between what pleases the heart and what feasts the eyes. A source of aroma or scent exudes its goodness when it is crushed. In the same way, in the midst of vice, prosperity (genuine wholesome joy) feels better. Adversity, likewise helps us to discover virtue.
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Of Revenge by Francis Bacon — Explanation

Of Revenge
by Francis Bacon

Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
Meaning .. The urge to avenge the humiliations, injustices and wrongs heaped on us by others gives us some pleasure, relief and satisfaction. Such tendency to pay back our tormentors in their own coins is so pervasive and universal. However, such a toxic and in-born tendency must be curbed through legal means.

For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office.

Meaning .. When the tormentor inflicts harm on his subject, he breaks the law, as no member of the civilized society is permitted to take law into his hand and cause physical or mental harm to a fellow human. In the same vein, the person who has been wronged, can’t hit back at his adversary. Logically, he should seek legal recourse to the injustice meted out to him, but if he impulsively harms the enemy, he breaks the law himself. Such acts of instant retribution is not permitted under law.
Certainly, 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.
Meaning …. Avenging a wrong, or a defeat or a humiliation lets the wronged person to draw level with his foe, and derive satisfaction. However, he chooses to forgive and forget, and does not allow the perpetrator’s evil act besmirch his self, he emerges as the true victor. Pardoning the evil-doer is not a sign of weakness or timidity. It takes great courage, moral strength, and magnanimity of mind to pardon the sinner. Such ability to ignore the scars left by the wrong-doer needs a big heart and a sagacious soul. Ordinary humans can not bring themselves to rise to the occasion and let the quality of pardon come to the fore.
It is, therefore, seen that a person in exalted position such as a prince is given the authority to grant royal pardons to sinners. A prince, because of his status and clout is seldom harmed or belittled. So, he is not generally gripped by anger against commoners. This allows him to pardon the evil-doers.

And Solomon, I am sure, saith, “It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.” That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labor in past matters.

Meaning … Prophet Solomon had proclaimed, “It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.”. This means that a person who ignores the hurt and humiliation caused to him by others can lay claim to great glory and adulation.
An evil, once done, becomes history. It can not be reversed. There is little prudency in grumbling and burning in the bitterness left behind. Wise and conscientious people choose to think of works at hand and the tasks in the future. They realize the folly of crying over spilt milk. No doubt, they discern that whining over past injustices is futile, and unproductive. Worrying over the unpleasant past is an unnecessary and ruinous exercise.

There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong’s sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honor, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other.

Meaning … Seldom does a man indulge in a wicked or immoral act just for the heck of it. What motivates him to do an abominable act can be just anything – the lure of profit, getting some pleasure, get some un-deserved honour, or any such urge. In the process, he stands to gain some material benefit or some mental pleasure.
With great equanimity, and rare sense of accommodation, Bacon asks himself why he should be annoyed if someone does something to amuse himself. In instances where a person does something that is really very upsetting, we must pause and reali8ze that he has been cursed to have a mind that loves sadistic pleasure. Such people are condemned to miserable existence. In a way they deserve to be pitied and forgiven, because, like a thorn, they can’t do anything other than pricking others and inflicting pain. An ill-natured man is like a thorn condemned to live like a mischief-maker and a nuisance in society. This is enough punishment for him.

The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; but then let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man’s enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh. This is the more generous.

Meaning … Bacon now proceeds to make certain concessions for the revenge seeker. He feels, there are can be certain loathsome and irritable acts for which there is no legal remedy. As a result, the perpetrator can not be brought to book, and so, get away with his crime. In such circumstances, taking revenge can be an acceptable recourse. Bacon, however, adds a caveat here. The act of revenge must be carefully chosen. It should be outside the purview of the prevailing law, so that the victim (wrong-doer, earlier) can’t sue the avenger.
In some cases, the avenger sets up his act such that the victim (wrong-doer, earlier) gets to know the source of his trouble. This gives the avenger some satisfaction. Such a move could not be as evil as the leaving the victim to wonder who harmed him. Bacon seems to approve of this as it limits the chance of the person turning on other innocent people.

For the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable; “You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.

Meaning …. When the perpetrator gets to know that the person he wronged has come back to him with vengeance, he will be deterred from repeating his earlier mischief. He may feel some remorse thinking that he should not have, in the first place, indulged in the evil act. However, vile and crooked persons do not have the moral strength to admit that they did the wrong thing. This complicates the situation.
Cosmus, the Duke of Florence, had some friends who were either deceitful or insincere in their friendship. Their nature used to annoy Cosmus a lot. He admonished their supercilious and favour-seeking attitude rather strongly. He warned them that he would never pardon them, although he was fully empowered to pardon offenders.

” But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: “Shall we (saith he) take good at God’s hands, and not be content to take evil also?” And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate.

Meaning … Job, the Biblical character, gave some sound advice in the matter. He wondered if we gratefully accept from the hands of God only those things that we like, and refuse those, not to our liking. This is also true in friendship. Both good and not so good friends are to be adored. A vengeful person never allows the scars left by other’s misdeeds to heal. Had he not been so vindictive, memories of hurt and humiliation would fade off with the passage of time.
Acts of revenge, committed in full view of the public, can often have some salutary effect at times. The events such as the death of Caesar, the death of Pertinax, the death of Henry the Third of France were generally considered desirable, although these events were driven by revenge.
On the other hand, urge for revenge lying deep in one’s mind can be really toxic. Surely, but slowly, this devilish passion consumes the bearer. These people live miserably and die miserably.
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Of Travel by Francis Bacon

Of Travel by Francis Bacon
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.
Meaning … When a young child travels around in alien places, he learns a lot from the sight and sound around him. In the process, his awareness grows and his learning process is accelerated. So, travel for a young child has good educational value. So, the countryside becomes a school for him, although in an informal way.
That young men travel under some tutor, or grave servant, I allow well; so that he be such a one that hath the language, and hath been in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things are worthy to be seen, in the country where they go; what acquaintances they are to seek; what exercises, or discipline, the place yieldeth.
Meaning ….. A youngster travelling to an unknown place under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable chaperon is always desirable. By virtue of the knowledge and experience, the chaperon can guide the young traveler where to go, what to see, and the type of people to befriend. The able guide can also tell the youngster about the pastime, hobbies and crafts the places are famous for.
For else, young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little. It is a strange thing, that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to be seen, but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but in land-travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if chance were fitter to be registered, than observation.
Meaning… Without the company of a guide, he will fail to observe the important and interesting things in the new places. While on a voyage in the sea, the sea farer gets to see nothing other than the vast expanse of blue water and the un-ending sky above. In such a case, the voyager should maintain a travel diary. When travelling over land, there is an overwhelming abundance of new sights and sounds and myriad things to observe. People generally fail to keep note of every detail of what they come across.

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Francis Bacon’s essays now available on nominal payment.
Paragraph by paragraph explanation of the following 11 essays of Francis Bacon are now available on nominal payment of Rs.150 (Rupees one hundred and fifty) only.
Titles of the essays
1. Of Studies
2. Of Friendship
3. Of Ambition
4. Of Travel
5. Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self
6. Of Death
7. Of Anger
8. Of Marriage and Single Life
9. Of Truth
10. Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
11. Of Envy
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Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self by Francis Bacon

Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self
By Francis Bacon

 

AN ANT is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing in an orchard or garden. And certainly men that are great lovers of themselves waste the public. Divide with reason between self-love and society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others; specially to thy king and country.
Meaning … An ant lives in a well-knit community where every one of the ants assiduously works to ensure security, food availability, and welfare for all members. This is why the inside of an anthill has such intelligently designed passages, rooms, and common spaces. All this becomes possible because the ant works hard, with great discipline and dedication. Despite this, an ant’s contribution to the garden or orchard in which it lives is negligible. Because, it is so self-centered, it finds no time or motivation to work for the common good of the other inhabitants or the orchard itself.
Similar is the case of the humans. There are many amongst us, who love everything about them. They work really hard to ensure progress of their career, enhancement of their wealth, beautification of their personal appearance, decoration of their homes etc. Sadly, these humans have little time for working for the society they live in. They do not share the grief of others and do not believe in charity. These men are obviously following a wrong path in life. While working for your own good and advancement, you must not forget others, and surely, not your king or your motherland.

 

 

It is a poor centre of a man’s actions, himself. It is right earth. For that only stands fast upon his own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring of all to a man’s self is more tolerable in a sovereign prince; because themselves are not only themselves but their good and evil is at the peril of the public fortune.
Meaning …. Concentrating all your creative energy for your own good is obviously undesirable. As a simile, one can look at the earth. The earth stands on itself, with no prop or foundation. All creatures living on it, who look towards the Heavens, have their foothold on Earth. Self-indulgence is, however, tolerable on the part of kings and emperors. There is reason why such relaxation has to be given to the supreme rulers. First, they occupy very exalted positions at the zenith of the society. So, luxury is their natural entitlement. Secondly, keeping them unhappy or craving for certain happiness will impair the welfare of the subjects.

 

 

But it is a desperate evil in a servant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic. For whatsoever affairs pass such a man’s hands, he crooketh them to his own ends; which must needs be often eccentric to the ends of his master or state. Therefore let princes, or states, choose such servants as have not this mark; except they mean their service should be made but the accessory.
Meaning …. When a public servant or a close confidant of the sovereign takes a cut of the revenue illicitly, he commits a grave crime. Using his access to the source of funds and privileges, he begins to steal them for his own use. This is nothing but corruption of the vilest nature. He steals from the king and from the state treasury by siphoning off small chunks of the revenue / resources meant to be passed on untouched to the exchequer. Therefore, the kings and modern day rulers must choose people of impeccable honesty as civil servants. These bureaucrats must be dedicated to their duty and to their masters.

 

 

That which maketh the effect more pernicious is that all proportion is lost. It were disproportion enough for the servant’s good to be preferred before the master’s; but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little good of the servant shall carry things against a great good of the master’s.
Meaning ….. When a civil servant becomes corrupted and begins to steal, he becomes a slave of his greed. He digs his hand deeper and deeper into the revenue and resource stream of his state. In due course, he becomes a bloated and selfish official. The state’s coffers diminish in the process. The welfare measures for the citizens thus get hit.

 

 

And yet that is the case of bad officers, treasurers, ambassadors, generals, and other false and corrupt servants; which set a bias upon their bowl, of their own petty ends and envies, to the overthrow of their master’s great and important affairs. And for the most part, the good such servants receive is after the model of their own fortune; but the hurt they sell for that good is after the model of their master’s fortune.
Meaning … The corrupt officials both in the armed forces and in civilian functions swindle public money. Driven by their greed and petty-minded nature, they indulge in more and more of their looting. Such plunder undermines the nobler functions of the monarch with regard to state’s administration and welfare measures. The bloater they are, the more they receive from the state by both fair and unfair means. In the process, they harm the sovereign, the state and the society at large.

 

 

And certainly it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs; and yet these men many times hold credit with their masters, because their study is but to please them and profit themselves; and for either respect they will abandon the good of their affairs.
Meaning …. These corrupt and self-serving officers have little regard for the interests of the state. Like an arsonist setting a house afire to roast his egg, these corrupt officers put their own interest well above the collective interest of the state. Curiously, these officers are often seen to be the favourites of the sovereign. Using their intelligence and cunning minds, they work their way up to the proximity of the unsuspecting monarch who confides in them willingly. Such high position facilitates more looting.

 

 

Wisdom for a man’s self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger, who digged and made room for him. It is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they could devour.
Meaning ….. Wisdom of a human being is not necessarily a noble gift. At times, it can lead the man to do many utterly hideous acts. A rat deserts his house when it is on fire. In the same way, a fox evicts the badger from the hole although the badger has dug the hole himself with his labour. The crocodile sheds his tears to attract its prey to come within his reach.

 

 

But that which is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of Pompey) are sui amantes, sine rivali [lovers of themselves without a rival] are many times unfortunate. And whereas they have all their times sacrificed to themselves, they become in the end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they sought by their self-wisdom to have pinioned.
Meaning …. Relentless pursuit of self-interest is not always the guarantee for permanent affluence and access to luxury. These self-centered individuals often suffer from a cursed fate. Wealth does not stay with its possessor permanently. Quite often it is squandered or stolen or is frittered away. So, the possessor suffers ignominy, hear-break, and deprivation. Nothing can be sadder than this.
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OF DEATH by Francis Bacon

Of Death  by Francis Bacon

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.
Meaning … Mortals dread death as much as children fear to venture out in darkness. Such fear is in-born, but gets accentuated when we get to hear horrific accounts woven around death, and the perils of darkness.

 

Certainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is weak.
Meaning … Thinking of death is a normal trait. Thinking about with equanimity is the characteristic of a profoundly wise mind. In the same vein, worrying about the consequences of committing a sinful act is the sign of a noble mind. A holy and religious person has these traits. On the contrary, fearing death as a possible retribution of Nature is not correct. Fearing death can not be a way of acknowledging the supremacy of Nature.

 

Yet in religious meditations, there is sometimes mixture of vanity, and of superstition. You shall read, in some of the friars’ books of mortification, that a man should think with himself, what the pain is, if he have but his finger’s end pressed, or tortured, and thereby imagine, what the pains of death are, when the whole body is corrupted, and dissolved; when many times death passeth, with less pain than the torture of a limb; for the most vital parts, are not the quickest of sense.
Meaning … Despite adequate awareness among humans about such a folly, prayers, or similar religious practices are often underlined by a sense of futility. A lot of superstition might be intertwined with sermons and prayers. Some religious gurus or preachers ask their followers to inflict a certain minor on themselves to realize how painful inflicting pain or death on others could be to the victims. By doing this, one in impelled to experience remorse for being the cause of others suffering. One can die suffering less pain than when one’s limbs are wounded grievously. A person’s vital parts such as heart, brain, lungs, kidney etc. do not experience as much excruciating pain as a badly hurt or mauled limb.

 

And by him that spake only as a philosopher, and natural man, it was well said, Pompa mortis magis terret, quam mors ipsa. Groans, and convulsions, and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and blacks, and obsequies, and the like, show death terrible.

Meaning …. The pragmatist Pompa, with his deep understanding of philosophy said, “The thought of approaching death scares humans more than the death itself.” What makes the advent of death more horrifying is the dying man’s wails and groans, and the breast-beating expression of frustrations of his near and dear ones who flock to his side. Such cacophony of sorrowful voices makes death appear much more frightening than it really is.

 

It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man, so weak, but it mates, and masters, the fear of death; and therefore, death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him.
Meaning ….. Seen from a different angle, a dying man has so many near and dear ones maintaining vigil around him that he does not feel lonely, uncared for or abandoned as he bids adieu to this world. So, death brings salvation from suffering and the ravages of dotage that should bring great relief to the dying person.

 

Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear preoccupateth it; nay, we read, after Otho the emperor had slain himself, pity (which is the tenderest of affections) provoked many to die, out of mere compassion to their sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers.
Meaning ….. When the popular emperor Otho killed himself, his subjects were devastated with grief. The wave of sympathy for the departed emperor drove some of his subjects to suicide as their burden of sorrow became unbearable. When someone takes revenge and succeeds to kill his victim, he feels he has won. Death is considered to be spiteful to love as it severs the link between the victim and the person whose heart is filled with love. Death is considered as a vindication of Honor. On the other hand, a dying man’s mind is preoccupied with the thoughts of death.

Nay, Seneca adds niceness and satiety: Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris; mori velle, non tantum fortis aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest.
Meaning … Serena, the renowned philosopher said so wisely, “Think of it as long as you do; wanted to die, not only the brave or unhappy, but also it can be monotonous.” In simple language it means that one will be well-advised to think and welcome death as it brings deliverance from the life’s sorrows and sufferings. One’s life can be too monotonous to endure and in such a situation, death brings relief and peace.

 

A man would die, though he were neither valiant, nor miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft, over and over.
Meaning … A man may be leading a placid uneventful life with no thrills or no excitement. It may not be courageous, nor even sorrowful. However, the drudgery and monotony of the mundane life may be too painful to endure over a long period.

 

It is no less worthy, to observe, how little alteration in good spirits, the approaches of death make; for they appear to be the same men, till the last instant.
Meaning … When a man stands on the doorway to death, he often welcomes it thinking that it would free him from the monotony of leading the same unchanging life day after day, seeing the same faces over and over again.

 

Augustus Caesar died in a compliment; Livia, conjugii nostri memor, vive et vale. Tiberius in dissimulation; as Tacitus saith of him, Jam Tiberium vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant. Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool; Ut puto deus fio. Galba with a sentence; Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani; holding forth his neck. Septimius Severus in despatch; Adeste si quid mihi restat agendum. And the like.
Meaning …. Augustus Cæsar diedtriumphantly saying, “Farewell, Livia; and forget not the days of our marriage.” Looking at Augustus Cesar’s defiant words, Tiberius had exclaimed, “His (Ceaser’s) powers of body are gone, but his power to conceal his feelings still remains.” Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool commented, “As I think, I am becoming a god.” Holding forth Caesar’s neck, Galba commanded, “Strike, if it be for the good of Rome.” Septimius Severus said, “Be at hand, if there is anything more for me to do.”

 

Certainly the Stoics bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations, made it appear more fearful.
Meaning … The Stoic philosophers attached a lot of importance to death. They made elaborate preparations to usher in death when the time came. Such preparation, however, added to the dread of death.

 

Better saith he, qui finem vitae extremum inter munera ponat naturae.
Meaning … Wise people used to say, “Who accounts the close of life as one of the benefits of nature.”

 

It is as natural to die, as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful, as the other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed, and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth avert the dolors of death.
Meaning … As Tagore had said, “Meetings and partings is the go of the world.” The cycle of birth and death is unbreakable. One has to be born: one has to die. There is no respite from this. For an infant, both the process o9f being born and dying are equally painful. A person frenetically pursuing success is too immersed in his endeavour to feel the pain of any possible hurt or injury. A valiant soldier seldom feels pain when he gets wounded in the process of fighting in the battlefield.

 

But, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is’, Nunc dimittis; when a man hath obtained worthy ends, and expectations. Death hath this also; that it openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy. – Extinctus amabitur idem.
Meaning .. In conclusion, Bacon extols the virtues of valiantly pursuing and dying for a noble cause. When a man dies while engrossed in his work or in the battlefield, he attains great fame and wins a lot of adulation even from those who loathed and envied him during his lifetime.
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OF ANGER by Francis Bacon

Of Anger

TO SEEK to extinguish anger utterly, is but a bravery of the Stoics.
Meaning … Anger is so innate to human nature that to banish it altogether is but an exercise in futility. Only the Stoics, who have absolute mastery over their minds, can ever try to subdue anger. Through patient pursuit of self-control, the Stoics attain a state of impassiveness. As a result, they keep anger along with its ruinous effects at bay. For common human beings, shaking off the savage instinct of anger is a Herculean task.

 

We have better oracles: Be angry, but sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Anger must be limited and confined, both in race and in time.
Meaning ….. But, we have recourse to some sane counsel. We may get angry occasionally, but must rein it in so that it does not drive us to dome some heinous, immoral or sinful act. Anger must not find a permanent abode in the mind. It can come, but leave our mind as early as possible. Anger’s fire must not be allowed to engulf our mind and burn down our self.

 

We will first speak how the natural inclination and habit to be angry, may be attempted and calmed. Secondly, how the particular motions of anger may be repressed, or at least refrained from doing mischief. Thirdly, how to raise anger, or appease anger in another.
Meaning … Bacon proceeds to examine the different dimensions of anger. Fortunately, there are a few ways to keep anger under control. Secondly, there are ways to keep anger under wraps so that it does not affect our outward demeanor, and besmirch our lives with its toxicity. Thirdly, there are ways to arouse anger in others and also, douse it through clever means.
For the first; there is no other way but to meditate, and ruminate well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles man’s life. And the best time to do this, is to look back upon anger, when the fit is thoroughly over.
Meaning …. Meditation offers one of the most effective ways to stop anger from overpowering our minds. Honest and deep introspection and retrospection also is efficacious in staving off anger. The way it robs us of peace, unsettles our daily lives, and distorts our sense of judgment should warn us of keeping anger at arm’s length. When we recover from a fit of anger, we must look back at our conduct and scrutinize it dispassionately. Such self-scrutiny helps us to realize the harm caused to us when we are under the spell of anger.

 

Seneca saith well, That anger is like ruin, which breaks itself upon that it falls. The Scripture exhorteth us to possess our souls in patience. Whosoever is out of patience, is out of possession of his soul. Men must not turn bees;
… animasque in vulnere ponunt.
Meaning …. Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher. He was a man of profound wisdom with multifarious talent. Seneca had warned commoners about the destructive potential of anger. Anger harms the target as much as the person who harbours it and vents it. Like the ruins of a building burying the remnants of the building, anger shrouds the goodness of the beholder, and blights his error of judgment. The scriptures calls upon us to preserve the purity of ourselves and let any worldly feelings sully it. A person, who expends his patience, loses his soul too. His moral moorings are uprooted. Men must be like the weak bees who aggressively sting whoever comes their way. Such eagerness to hit back at the slightest provocation brings highly unpleasant experiences later.
Anger is certainly a kind of baseness; as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns; children, women, old folks, sick folks. Only men must beware, that they carry their anger rather with scorn, than with fear; so that they may seem rather to be above the injury, than below it; which is a thing easily done, if a man will give law to himself in it.
Meaning …. Anger finds the weaker humans good and easy hosts. A strong man loses his cool only after intense and continuous provocation, where as a child, woman, a sick person, or a frail old man gets irritated easily. A man must reckon his propensity to get angry as an evil tendency, and not a desirable trait. He should keep it under a tight leash, and not fall prey to it easily. Such capacity to keep one’s anger in check does not come easily. A great deal of discipline and self- control is essential to keep a lid on anger.
For the second point; the causes and motives of anger, are chiefly three. First, to be too sensible of hurt; for no man is angry, that feels not himself hurt; and therefore tender and delicate persons must needs be oft angry; they have so many things to trouble them, which more robust natures have little sense of.
Meraning … Bacon now proceeds to analyze why people fall victim to anger. People who are unduly sensitive can not tolerate minor irritants, criticisms, jokes etc. They express their displeasure by behaving angrily. On the contrary, men who are robust and self-confident take criticisms and irritants on their stride and seldom lose their cool. These people get angry, no doubt, but only after grave provocation. The weaklings can not laugh off criticism, and get annoyed frequently.
The next is, the apprehension and construction of the injury offered, to be, in the circumstances thereof, full of contempt: for contempt is that, which putteth an edge upon anger, as much or more than the hurt itself. And therefore, when men are ingenious in picking out circumstances of contempt, they do kindle their anger much.
Meaning …. When people get angry, they begin to hate the person who hurts them, either intentionally or inadvertently. They think the insult heaped on them was a calculated move. This is why contempt for the offender always follows their anger. Such a combination of hurt feelings and loathing makes the man irascible and resentful. Such consequence bode ill for his well-being.

 

Lastly, opinion of the touch of a man’s reputation, doth multiply and sharpen anger. Wherein the remedy is, that a man should have, as Consalvo was wont to say, telam honoris crassiorem. But in all refrainings of anger, it is the best remedy to win time; and to make a man’s self believe, that the opportunity of his revenge is not yet come, but that he foresees a time for it; and so to still himself in the meantime, and reserve it.
Meaning …. When a man is maligned by criticism he feels very aggrieved, because his standing in society is called into question. At times, he seethes in anger to avenge the undeserved humiliation caused to him by vilification by some wicked elements. Bacon has a word of advice here. He wants his readers, aggrieved by mud-slinging, not to act impulsively against the offender. Instead, he should wait out the period of torment, and wait for the opportune time to strike back at the foe. He must learn to contain the rage and maintain equanimity in his conduct. This will help him to decide upon the best way to deal with the offender.
To contain anger from mischief, though it take hold of a man, there be two things, whereof you must have special caution. The one, of extreme bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate and proper; for cummunia maledicta are nothing so much; and again, that in anger a man reveal no secrets; for that, makes him not fit for society. The other, that you do not peremptorily break off, in any business, in a fit of anger; but howsoever you show bitterness, do not act anything, that is not revocable.
Meaning …. Bacon says that it is not easy to hold back anger and hide it inside one’s self. Anger leads to mischief, bringing very undesirable consequences at times. To avoid such a situation, one needs to exercise restraint on one’s emotions. The angry man must eschew tendencies to utter hurtful words at his tormentors. In the heat of the moment, he can say something very unbecoming to his stature in the society or divulge some secrets to his own detriment. The consequences can be quite unpleasant for him in the long run. In the event of disagreement or acrimony with a business partner, one must not walk away in a huff, severing all ties. Similarly, one must not say or do something which can not be retracted later.

For raising and appeasing anger in another; it is done chiefly by choosing of times, when men are frowardest and worst disposed, to incense them. Again, by gathering (as was touched before) all that you can find out, to aggravate the contempt. And the two remedies are by the contraries. The former to take good times, when first to relate to a man an angry business; for the first impression is much; and the other is, to sever, as much as may be, the construction of the injury from the point of contempt; imputing it to misunderstanding, fear, passion, or what you will.
Meaning …. In conclusion, Bacon offers some practical advice. If you intend to annoy someone, or mollify him, you must be careful to select the opportune time to do so. When a man is in an awkward situation or vulnerable due to whatever reasons, it would be wise to turn on him. One must learn to garner all facts to add venom to one’s assault on the offender. The contrary way is to counter the urge for contempt by assuming that the root cause was baseless fear, ignorance, and misunderstanding.
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Of Marriage and Single Life by Francis Bacon

Of Marriage and Single Life

by Francis Bacon

 

HE that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
Meaning … A married man has a wife and children, to whose upkeep, welfare and security he remains deeply committed. This is true for all societies, in all ages and in all lands. Such entanglement restricts his freedom to endeavor for something that his heart yearns for. It can something very noble and sublime or something wicked and devious.

 

Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public.
Meaning …. When a person is yet to be betrothed, he is un-fettered and free of cares and worries. History shows that most mind-boggling achievements in the fields of art, literature, science etc. have come from men and women when they were single.

 

Yet it were great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times; unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges.
Meaning … However, it is also a fact that men with children tend to think of future with great seriousness and commitment. This drives them to give their best to enterprises or efforts that can bring fruit in the years to come.

 

Some there are, who though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences.
Meaning … But, there are some men, who during their bachelorhood, while away their time and energy in wasteful ways or in indolence. They seldom show any remorse or regret for such frittering away of opportunity. No feeling of shame comes to their mind for such inaction.

 

Nay, there are some other that account wife and children but as bills of charges. Nay more, there are some foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer.
Meaning …. There are some married men who feel their wives and children are nothing but unwanted burden. There are some half-witted rich people, who willingly do not want to procreate and have offspring. They fear that by having children, they create claimants to their property. Such thinking is ludicrous and bizarre.

 

For perhaps they have heard some talk, Such an one is a great rich man, and another except to it, Yea, but he hath a great charge of children; as if it were an abatement to his riches.
Meaning …. Such greedy rich people are influenced by
loose gossip. They hear people talking about the fabulous wealth of some men, but at the same time qualifying their awe by saying that the man has a large family to look after as burden. Such ill-conceived opinion sways some greedy people not have any progeny at all.

 

But the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles.
Meaning ….. There are people who choose to remain single because they feel, though absurdly, that unmarried life assures them of lifelong freedom from cares and worries and obligations. These persons are self-centered and naïve. They feel marriage leads to bondage, no matter the bliss and fulfillment it brings.

 

Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants; but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away; and almost all fugitives are of that condition.
Meaning … Unmarried men make good employees, good friends, and good people to work under, because they give their full time and attention to their jobs. But, these people are unsteady and volatile. With no roots (family) to hold them, they can desert you at any time.

 

A single life doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife.
Meaning …. Wealthy bachelors are much sought after by churches, because they can donate generously with no family liability to worry about. A married man thinks twice before parting with their wealth as they need to provide for the sustenance of their family members. Judges and magistrates hold great responsibility for the society. They should be honest, dutiful, and capable of fine reasoning. A free-wheeling bachelor with no restraint and no family as anchor, is more likely to be flippant and indiscrete in his thinking and action. If such as person is appointed as a judge or magistrate, he will prove to be a big liability for the society and to himself. The responsibility of a wife’s upkeep and security is much less than the burden of being erratic as in case of a bachelor.

 

For soldiers, I find the generals commonly in their hortatives put men in mind of their wives and children; and I think the despising of marriage amongst the Turks maketh the vulgar soldier more base.
Meaning …. In armies, the generals remind the soldiers of their commitment to their wives and children while extolling the virtues of chivalry, patriotism and duty in the battlefield. It has been seen among the Turks that unmarried soldiers tend to be very uncouth and vile in their conduct while dealing with a vanquished enemy.

 

Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they may be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hardhearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon.
Meaning … Wife and children curb animal tendencies in men by creating a salutary and loving atmosphere at home. Single men may be relatively more wealthy, and, thus, capable of making larger donations to charity. However, they are deprived of the soft touch of feminine companionship. As a result, they tend to be more brutal, vengeful and cruel in their conduct. They do not get to engage in introspection to examine their deeds from a moral standpoint.

 

Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of Ulysses, vetulam suam prætulit immortalitati [he preferred his old wife to immortality]. Chaste women are often proud and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity.
Meaning …. Men with self-respect, who are steady and ethical, make good husbands. They do not waver or stray. They remain loyal to their wives in their dotage. In the same way, woman value chastity, and guard it as a precious treasure. They are conscious of the fact that have preserved their purity by spurning temptations of immoral sex.

 

It is one of the best bonds both of chastity and obedience in the wife, if she think her husband wise; which she will never do if she find him jealous.
Meaning … A chaste woman is not only proud of herself, but of her loyal husband. The bond between the two is enduring, and based on mutual respect. If a man is jealous, he will undermine his standing before his wife, and lose her adoration.

 

Wives are young men’s mistresses; companions for middle age; and old men’s nurses. So as a man may have a quarrel to marry when he will. But yet he was reputed one of the wise men, that made answer to the question, when a man should marry,—A young man not yet, an elder man not at all.
Meaning.. For a recently married young man, a wife becomes the source of all sensual pleasure. He gets the attention and love that a mistress lavishes on her paramour. As he reaches her middle age, the wife becomes companion sharing his moments of joy and sorrow, successes and failures, and triumphs and tragedies. In the old age, when limbs weaken and vision fails, a man gets a helping hand from his wife to move on. So, the opportune time to tie the nuptial knot may present a cruel dilemma for young man as his body craves for courtship. Wise men have given some sane advice in this regard. They have suggested that a young man must not rush into a marriage when he is immature to shoulder the responsibilities of family. He should patiently wait for appropriate time. In the same vein, an old man must not take a wife just because there are maidens available to be his wife. Marrying in old age leads to many undesirable consequences.

 

It is often seen that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price of their husband’s kindness when it comes; or that the wives take a pride in their patience.
Meaning .. At times, we get to see patient, noble and kind wives ending up with tyrannical, cruel and insensitive husbands. These wives feel greatly elated when their cruel husbands show even a small gesture of love and kindness. Such noble women feel proud about their capacity to endear hardship in their effort to preserve their marriages.

 

But this never fails, if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends’ consent; for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.
Meaning …. Despite having such noble women as their wives, if some husbands do not mend their ways, it will be judged that it is their monumental failure.
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Francis Bacon — Of Truth – Line by line meaning

Of Truth -Line by line meaning
WHAT is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.
Meaning … Here Francis Bacon refers to Pontius Pilate, who occupied a position of influence in the Emperor Tiberius’s court. For his involvement in the persecution of Jesus Christ, Pilate was not looked upon favourably by Christians. He enjoyed a somewhat sullied reputation. Here Bacon takes Pilate’s name to express how humans, in general, avoid Truth. They find Truth inconvenient and difficult to imbibe.

Certainly there be that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as in acting.

Meaning .. People do not seek Truth, and enjoy resorting to falsehood and lies. People like ambiguity , and inaccuracy, so that they can couch the harshness of Truth in convenient language.

And though the sects of philosophers, of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them as was in those of the ancients.

Meaning ….. Bacon goes back to the ancient Greek philosophers, who often lost their way while looking to ascertain what really ‘truth’ was. He laments the fact that some of these independent-minded, free-thinking philosophers proposed that there was nothing real as ‘truth’. But, while trying to prove the contrary, they soon wavered, and came out with conflicting decisions. These types of thinkers have all but ceased to exist. The present day ones lack the rigor and verve of the ancient great minds. They are paler versions of their illustrious predecessors. Nevertheless, they, too, doubt the existence of truth, and tend to drift towards falsehood.

But it is not only the difficulty and labor which men take in finding out of truth, nor again that when it is found it imposeth upon men’s thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but a natural though corrupt love of the lie itself.
Meaning … Undoubtedly, people do make very sincere and strenuous attempts to discover ‘truth’. They succeed, but regrettably, they find the burden and demands of ‘truth’ to be unbearable. Expediently, they abandon the pursuit of ‘truth’, and drift towards ‘lies’ knowingly very well that resorting to ‘lies’ is degrading. The world of ‘lies’ is dark, but people, somehow’ develop a fascination for lies at the expense of truth.

One of the later school of the Grecians examineth the matter and is at a stand to think what should be in it, that men should love lies, where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advantage, as with the merchant; but for the lie’s sake.
Meaning …Some Greek philosophers of later periods delved in to this matter. They tried to know why and what attracts people towards ‘lies’. In poetry, some distortion of truth adds to a poem’s literary beauty. So allowance needs to be made to accommodate fantasy and fiction as they enhance the readers’ literary pleasure. Merchants and traders resort to a certain amount of falsehood to entice the customers to buy their merchandize. But, why do common folks resort to lies despite knowing its unsavoury consequences.
But I cannot tell; this same truth is a naked and open day-light, that doth not show the masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candle-lights.
Meaning .. ‘Truth’ depicts everything very honestly, faithfully and transparently. There is no place for extravagant praise or derision, superficial description or sycophantic eulogy in ‘’ truth’. Emperors, heroes, military commanders and other men and women of prominence are described with the minimum laudatory language. Truth builds no artificial aura of greatness around them. So, bereft of their unrealistic praise, they appear vastly diminished in stature.
Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights.
Meaning … A pearl shines in the day. A diamond or a carbuncle glow at night giving an unreal feeling of light in the midst of total darkness. ‘Truth’ is like a pearl. It shows what is visible to the naked eye. It can’t show anything by lighting up something unrealistically. Only ‘falsehood’ has that capacity to make something apparent in total darkness.
A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men’s minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?
Meaning … A cocktail of lies and truth has the potency to please humans more than only lies or only truth. Bacon, paradoxically, suggests the utility of such combination of lies and truth. If everything is portrayed in their true colours with no addition of superficial praise, flaterring comments and allusions, the society will appear drab and indolent. Vanity and aggrandizement induce creativity, energy and intellectual activity. For example, if a poet is not felicitated or a player is not rewarded, how will they be motivated to reach higher levels of accomplishments? While showering praise, use of a certain amount of unreal description of one’s feat is needed. Otherwise, the praise will be bland and ineffective.

One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum dæmonum [devils’-wine], because it filleth the imagination; and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt; such as we spake of before.

Meaning .. Some very revered men of great wisdom denigrated poetry saying it contained lies. They felt, the poet adds fiction, exaggerations, allusions etc. to his poem to impart it some charm and attraction for the reader. Bacon says, most of these lies actually may not stay permanently in the mind of the reader. However, a part of such falsehood does get embedded in the reader’s mind impairing the sense of the readers. This could indeed be a sad consequence of reading poetry.

But howsoever these things are thus in men’s depraved judgments and affections, yet truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that 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.

Meaning .. So, lies, undoubtedly, deprave the mind. Truth, on the other hand, remains unblemished always. It is absolute and does not lend itself to differing interpretations. Inquiry of truth is a romantic pursuit that demands indulgence of the pursuer. Knowledge of truth means owning this unique gift. When one reposes absolute faith in truth, the feeling becomes very enjoyable . It symbolizes the ultimate good of human nature.

The first creature of God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his sabbath work ever since is the illumination of his Spirit. First he breathed light upon the face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light into the face of man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of his chosen.

Meaning .. When God created the world, He gave the light of sense to the mankind. Using this, human beings could see and feel the world around them. Then God gave the power of reason. Using this, human beings could reason what was good or bad in the things happening pr being said around them. As a result, human beings got the power of enlightenment. After this, God radiated light that illuminated the world which was so disorderly then. Then His light fell on human beings to make them superior in knowledge and wisdom to other species. After this, He focused his kindly light on the face of those human beings whom He loved most.

The poet that beautified the sect that was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore and to see ships tossed 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 the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors and wanderings and mists and tempests in the vale below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride. Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man’s mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.

Meaning .. When one stands in the sea beach and gets to see ships being rocked violently by the winds, it becomes a breath-taking experience. In the same way, one can stand by the window of a high castle and watch the fight raging below. This also is a unique experience. In the same way, when a human being can realize truth, he can feel as if he stands atop a high mountain enjoying its beauty and bliss. But attaining such an exalted status must not make the man to feel proud. Instead, he should be humble, and benign towards others. He should engage in charity.

To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil business; it will be acknowledged even by those that practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honor of man’s nature; and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it. For these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent; which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet. There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious. And therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he inquired the reason why the word of the lie should be such a disgrace and such an odious charge.

Meaning … Theosophical and philosophical truth belong to a certain domain. While dealing with our day-to-day mundane matters, one finds it difficult to stick to the truth always. To make his business and dealings smoother, he mixes some lies to his dealings. This, at times, appears to be a practical necessity. Although, he might succeed and emerge a winner, such conduct is vile and degrading. It is like an alloy where a foreign element is added in small quantities to a metal like gold and silver to give it more strength and toughness. However, such alloying robs the silver or gold of its luster. It is like a snake that moves on its belly always, and can never stand up erect and upright. This is why, eminent men like Montaigne declared that falsehood was universally degrading and loathsome.

Saith he, If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much to say, as that he is brave towards God and a coward towards men. For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man. Surely the wickedness of falsehood and breach of faith cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that it shall be the last peal to call the judgments of God upon the generations of men; it being foretold that when Christ cometh, he shall not find faith upon the earth.

Meaning .. When analyzed deeply, he said, it means that a person who lies is afraid of ordinary mortals and has the temerity to face God. He is a lowly soul bereft of any wisdom or intellectual heft. When the Day of the Judgment arrives, a person who has lied all his life, can not face God, and will be punished for his guilt. It has been said that gradual erosion of moral values in the world will slowly drag the earth to a state where ‘Faith’ ceases to exist.
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Of Friendship by Bacon — Para by para meaning

Of Friendship –Para by para explanation

IT HAD been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and untruth together in few words, than in that speech, Whatsoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.
Meaning …..Francis Bacon starts his essay with a grand statement modeled after the views of Aristotle. Finding pleasure in solicitude is contrary to human character and mind. He expresses his belief in rather strong words. Anyone, who shuns fellow human beings and retreats to isolation, is degraded to the level of a wild beast. The other possibility is that he is god.

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For it is most true, that a natural and secret hatred, and aversation towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast; but it is most untrue, that it should have any character at all, of the divine nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out of a love and desire to sequester a man’s self, for a higher conversation: such as is found to have been falsely and feignedly in some of the heathen; as Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana; and truly and really, in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the church.

MeaningBacon, however, is not totally dismissive of people who assiduously shy away from the crowd, and head for the wilderness. Bacon realizes that remaining silent and cut off from others helps the mind to engage in deep contemplative thinking. Through such deep insightful dissection of mind, a person rediscovers himself. The truth and wisdom that dawn on the meditator’s mind through such prolonged isolation, can be profoundly rewarding for the hermit. The consequence can be both questionable or desirable. In case of Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana, the theories they propounded were somewhat non-confirmist for the commoners, but were of great philosophical value. Spiritual men who retreat from public eye in and around places of worship have been instrumental in delivering sermons of immense spiritual benefit to mankind. So, voluntary abstention from society is not always a bad idea, after all.

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Paragraph by paragraph explanation of Francis Bacon’s essays now available on nominal payment.

Paragraph by paragraph explanation of the following 11 essays of Francis Bacon are now available on nominal payment of Rs.150 (Rupees one hundred and fifty) only.

Titles of the essays

  1. Of Studies
  2. Of Friendship
  3. Of Ambition
  4. Of Travel
  5. Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self
  6. Of Death
  7. Of Anger
  8. Of Marriage and Single Life
  9. Of Truth
  10. Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
  11. Of Envy

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Of Ambition — By Francis Bacon

OF AMBITION

Ambition is like choler; which is an humor that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped.
Explanation …. In medieval times, it was believed that the body has four bodily fluids– blood, phlegm, choler or yellow bile, melancholy or black bile. It was then thought to determine emotional and physical disposition. Choler or yellow bile makes people restless, irritable, and itching for action.
A person bubbling with ambitions can hardly lead an un-hurried, contented, and a relaxed life. Since he sets his eyes high, he will continuously think to do something newer, better, and harder. He will knowingly accept challenges, and strive to solve them. The more he succeeds, the more he will drive himself to do things which others don’t dare to do. Such a person will be a go-getter, a perfectionist, and a workaholic. He will be continuously restless with ideas and energy. Naturally, he will find people around him indolent, mediocre, sulking and un-worthy.
But if it be stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh adust, and thereby malign and venomous.
Explanation …. If such an ambitious man is restrained, and not allowed to pursue his goal, he will feel stifled, angry and rebellious. Finally, all his creative energy and dynamism will be numbed and wasted. Due to his frustration, he will develop a negative mindset and hostility to other people.
So ambitious men, if they find the way open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy than dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are best pleased, when things go backward; which is the worst property in a servant of a prince, or state.
If a person, with ambition burning within him, gets a conducive environment to pursue his goal with little hindrance, he will be totally lost in his work. No ill-feeling will enter his mind. He will not harm anyone. On the other hand, if the same person is held back and not allowed to work towards his vision, he will seethe in frustration and anger. Driven by his internal discontent, he will begin to dislike others and perceive everyone as wicked and hideous. When something bad happens to his boss, the organization, society, or the government, he will derive some wicked pleasure out of the misfortune of others. Employees developing such negative mindset are a liability to the government, and the society, at large.
4. Therefore it is good for princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it, so as they be still progressive and not retrograde; which, because it cannot be without inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all.
It is, therefore, imperative that ambitious people be given sufficient freedom to let their creativity blossom. If this is made possible, the individuals will be an asset. They will not be hostile and angry. If it is not possible to afford or grant such freedom to an ambitious person, it will be a good idea not to employ them at all and invite problem later.
5. For if they rise not with their service, they will take order, to make their service fall with them.
If these ambitious employees continue to remain disgruntled, they might bring disgrace and downfall to their employers.
6. But since we have said, it were good not to use men of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is fit we speak, in what cases they are of necessity.
It is now realized that there is an inherent risk in employing ambitious men, so, unless essential, they should not be employed. But, this is not a rule written on stone (meaning ‘rigid’). There are situations where ambitious people should be the preferred choice for engagement.
7. Good commanders in the wars must be taken, be they never so ambitious; for the use of their service, dispenseth with the rest; and to take a soldier without ambition, is to pull off his spurs.
While selecting the right person for positions of key commanders for the battlefield, existence of ambition in the commander-designate cannot be a disqualification. After all, for a man in arms, a contented, laid-back temperament is a huge negative trait. Such a soldier can never fight. Shirking his responsibility, he will run away from the battlefield at the slightest sign of defeat. Only a brave ambitious and egoistic commander can confront the enemy boldly and vanquish it.
8. There is also great use of ambitious men, in being screens to princes in matters of danger and envy; for no man will take that part, except he be like a seeled dove, that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him.
Ambitious men are also essential where safeguarding the personal safety of the king or government’s senior-most functionaries are concerned. Ambitious men make reliable and astute body guards. For such responsibilities, the guard may have to shed his own life for saving the life of his employer. This calls for a spirit of extreme sacrifice on the call of duty. For the person employed as body guard, nothing is more sacrosanct than the life of the person he has to protect. Such single-minded dedication to duty is akin to the blind-folded dove (a small, robust bird) soaring higher and higher into the sky without bothering to worry about the distance and its limited energy. At one stage, it gets too exhausted to fly and comes crashing on to the ground. An ambitious guard can make similar sacrifice.
9. There is use also of ambitious men, in pulling down the greatness of any subject that overtops; as Tiberius used Marco, in the pulling down of Sejanus.
Sejanus was a gallant and ambitious warrior who was officiating as the emperor in Rome. Sejanus discharged royal duties in the absence of the real emperor Tiberious, who lived in a distant island. At one stage, receiving credible intelligence inputs, Tiberious began to suspect that Sejanus was contemplating to usurp power by dethroning and destroying him. He did not venture to challenge Sejanus frontally. Instead, he resorted to crafty intrigues to create confusion in the minds of the Senate members. He managed this subterrfuge by sending letters to them with ambiguous messages. Sometimes, he praised Sejanus in his letter, while deriding him in the next letter.
In Rome, Sejanus had created enough enemies by his boastful and brash manners. He was a brute too. Teberious plotted with the valiant and ambitious Marco to kill Sejanous. Teberious returned to Rome and summoned Sejanus early in the dawn ostensibly to decorate him. Marco seized this opportunity to take control of the mounted guards functioning under Sejanus’s command till then. After this, he attacked Sejanus and killed him and threw his body unceremoniously to the river.
Had an ambitious man like Marco not been there, Teberious could not have neutralized Sejanus. Hence, kings, generals and senior government leaders need ambitious people around them.
10. Since, therefore, they must be used in such cases, there resteth to speak, how they are to be bridled, that they may be less dangerous.
Having thus pleaded in favour of engaging ambitious men, Bacon gives an advice of caution. He suggests that such people in the payroll must be kept under a leash either covertly or overtly. If this is not done, the danger of these men turning against their benefactors and employers is a real possibility.
11. There is less danger of them, if they be of mean birth, than if they be noble; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and popular: and if they be rather new raised, than grown cunning, and fortified, in their greatness.
If these ambitious men offering security to the heads of state or king are from the lower sections of the society, they pose lesser danger than those who are from the aristocratic class. If the security personnel are ill-mannered and boorish, they pose less danger to their employers than those who are suave and popular. Similarly, newer recruits are less dangerous than those bloated ones who have been around for a long time. Since they are privy to the affairs of the palace and the court, they might feel tempted to misuse their knowledge to harm their masters.
12. It is counted by some, a weakness in princes, to have favorites; but it is, of all others, the best remedy against ambitious great-ones.
In all ages, kings, heads of states and men of importance have preferred to employ their known and trusted people to form the security around them and to give them counsel during crises. Some say, this is an unsound and imprudent policy that smacks of nepotism. As per Bacon, this is a wise policy as it helps to keep unduly pretentious and scheming people reasonably satisfied with the cl;out they enjoy because of their proximity to the emperor. Some disgruntled ambitious people can upstage their superiors and employers whom they are duty-bound to serve. So, keeping them in good humour is a prudent policy.
13. For when the way of pleasuring, and displeasuring, lieth by the favorite, it is impossible any other should be overgreat.
In course of his duty, the favoured person, chosen by the king to do the duty, may either endear himself or antagonize his master because of his proximity to him. This may not be detrimental to the interests of the state or the king (employer), because the man will not possibly harm his master. On the other hand, an unknown ambitious person, despite his quality and talent does not fit well to this responsibility. He may have hidden hostility which might tempt him to rebel against his master.
14. Another means to curb them, is to balance them by others, as proud as they.
If at all such ambitious persons are employed, it is essential to preempt any over-zealous tendency in him by employing another person of equivalent talent in a parallel position.
15. But then there must be some middle counsellors, to keep things steady; for without that ballast, the ship will roll too much.
Bacon says, even this is not enough. What if the two persons collude to plot against the king? They may also fall out with each other creating disharmony and undesirable hostility around the master. To prevent such a situation from happening, a few counselors or high-level officials or ministers may be appointed to bring stability and coherence to the set-up.
16. At the least, a prince may animate and inure some meaner persons, to be as it were scourges, to ambitions men.
The prince / king / employer / head of state may prop up and bring in a person of somewhat lesser upbringing and inferior attributes to the inner circle. Although these persons may appear misfits and, even, disagreeable to be in the inner circle, they offer a counterweight to the overly ambitious and crafty employee.
17. As for the having of them obnoxious to ruin; if they be of fearful natures, it may do well; but if they be stout and daring, it may precipitate their designs, and prove dangerous.
Bacon exhibits his keen sense of observation and judgment here. If the potential candidate for the post of security-in-charge and advisor (similar to a minister’s job) has an awesome exterior, repulsive persona and an unpleasant aura around him, he may well be the right candidate for the job of the body-guard cum protector. In contrast, if the person is robustly-built with a daring nature, his appointment may invite disaster.
18. As for the pulling of them down, if the affairs require it, and that it may not be done with safety suddenly, the only way is the interchange, continually, of favors and disgraces; whereby they may not know what to expect, and be, as it were, in a wood.
If suspicion arises about the integrity and loyalty of the aides, and they are perceived to be potential usurpers, it would be advisable to ease them out cleverly. No rash action against them should be taken against them, lest they explode and do something nasty. In order not to upset them with the impression that they are facing dismissal, the ruler may confuse them through deception. He may reward them today, reprimand them tomorrow. Such ambiguous signals from the ruler will leave them wondering as to where they stand. Such confusion in their minds will unwittingly freeze their evil thoughts and put their unwanted ambitions in cold storage.
19. Of ambitions, it is less harmful, the ambition to prevail in great things, than that other, to appear in everything; for that breeds confusion, and mars business.
Bacon proceeds to argue that ‘ambition’, per se, is not bad. For example, a budding author wanting to write well to outshine his contemporaries is a good thing. A musician trying to blaze a new trail through his creative music is a great gift to society. A doctor trying to rise to world eminence by his medical skill is a boon to humanity. But, such burning ambition and zeal should be restricted to the area they excel in. It should not spill over to other domains like administration, military and other state’s affairs. In such case, an overly ambitious person is a potential hazard. He carries the seed of destruction of the state.
20. But yet it is less danger, to have an ambitious man stirring in business, than great in dependences.
So, it is welcome when ambitious people excel in their areas through single-minded effort. But it is fraught to have ambitious people in key administrative positions. The ruler depends on these functionaries to run the day-to-day administrations. Ambitious people may play havoc when they realize that the ruler leans on them to run the administration.
21. He that seeketh to be eminent amongst able men, hath a great task; but that is ever good for the public.
Pursuit of excellence, fame and adulation by gifted individuals can never be bad for the mankind. These people should be nurtured and rewarded.
22. But he, that plots to be the only figure amongst ciphers, is the decay of a whole age.
However, if a person wants to tower over others and sway ordinary people to his control, we can conclude that his rise is ominous for the state. If not nipped in the bud early, he will destroy his own state and his generation.
23. Honor hath three things in it: the vantage ground to do good; the approach to kings and principal persons; and the raising of a man’s own fortunes.
Honor, as understood generally, brings the following benefits to an individual.
a. Reaching an exalted position in society, b.The access to the king and the upper echelons of power, and c. Affluence, prosperity and well-being.
24. He that hath the best of these intentions, when he aspireth, is an honest man; and that prince, that can discern of these intentions in another that aspireth, is a wise prince.
An ambitious man who limits his aspirations to the above three goals is the right man to be engaged, encouraged and rewarded. The prince who correctly reads these attributes in an aspiring person and decides to take him on board is the wise ruler worthy of appreciation.
25. Generally, let princes and states choose such ministers, as are more sensible of duty than of using; and such as love business rather upon conscience, than upon bravery, and let them discern a busy nature, from a willing mind.
In conclusion, Bacon dons the garb of the modern HR manger for the princes, rulers and people in the highest authority of power. He wants a. People with their mind rigidly anchored to their duty to be nominated. b. People, who have propensity to use their position to further their own ambitions, should be shunned. c. People, who are driven by their conscience rather than by their bravery to discharge their duty, are to be chosen. d. People who love to remain engrossed in their work are to be given preference over those who exhibit obedience and servility.

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