Quotes by Francis Bacon

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Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, KC (22 January 1561 - 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman and essayist but is best known for leading the scientific revolution with his new 'observation and experimentation' ... more

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The worst solitude is to have no real friendships.

Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.
Nuptial love makes mankind; friendly love perfects it; but wanton love corrupts and debases it.
For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
Knowledge is power.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others, but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are, like common distilled waters, flashy things.
Natural abilities are like natural plants; they need pruning by study.
Life, an age to the miserable, and a moment to the happy.
The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.
Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.
It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire and many things to fear.
They that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils.
Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.
Imagination was given man to compensate for what he is not, and a sense of humor to console him for what he is.
Anger makes dull men witty -- but it keeps them poor.
Cure the disease and kill the patient.
The desire of excessive power caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge caused men to fall.
It is a strange desire, to seek power, and to lose liberty; or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man's self.
Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.
Our humanity is a poor thing, except for the divinity that stirs within us.
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.
Who ever is out of patience is out of possession of their soul.
All colors will agree in the dark.
Without friends the world is but a wilderness. There is no man that imparteth his joys to his friends, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his grieves to his friend, but he grieveth the less.
If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.
That things are changed, and that nothing really perishes, and that the sum of matter remains exactly the same, is sufficiently certain.
He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.
It is as hard and severe a thing to be a true politician as to be truly moral.
Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue.
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
None of the affections have been noted to fascinate and bewitch but envy.
In contemplation, if a man begins with certainties he shall end in doubts; but if he be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.
In thinking, if a person begins with certainties, they shall end in doubts, but if they can begin with doubts, they will end in certainties.
The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding.
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.
The mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands.
Science is but an image of the truth.
The best armor is to keep out of gunshot.
They are ill discoverers that think there is no land when they see nothing but sea.
If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient in them, we shall end in certainties.
Small amounts of philosophy lead to atheism, but larger amounts bring us back to God.
There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as is a man's self.
There is a difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.
Truth arises more readily from error than from confusion.
Money makes a good servant, but a bad master.
The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.
Nothing destroys authority more than the unequal and untimely interchange of power stretched too far and relaxed too much.
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.
Silence is the virtue of fools.
Speech of yourself ought to be seldom and well chosen.
Knowledge and human power are synonymous.
Next to religion, let your care be to promote justice.
In every great time there is some one idea at work which is more powerful than any other, and which shapes the events of the time and determines their ultimate issues.
Therefore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune; for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
Suspicions that the mind, of itself, gathers, are but buzzes; but suspicions that are artificially nourished and put into men's heads by the tales and whisperings of others, have stings.
Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words, or in good order.
Of great wealth there is no real use, except in its distribution, the rest is just conceit.
Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable.
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.
Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
Discern of the coming on of years, and think not to do the same things still; for age will not be defied.
Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business.
Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set.
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
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.
No man's fortune can be an end worthy of his being.
The French are wiser than they seem, and the Spaniards seem wiser than they are.
Nature is commanded by obeying her.
Opportunity makes a thief.
Antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.
The genius, wit, and the spirit of a nation are discovered by their proverbs.
God hangs the greatest weights upon the smallest wires.
A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open.
I would live to study, and not study to live.
Lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion brings on substance.
Houses are built to live in, and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had. Leave the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to the enchanted palaces of the poets; who build them with small cost.
It is the true office of history to represent the events themselves, together with the counsels, and to leave the observations and conclusions thereupon to the liberty and faculty of every man's judgment.
God almighty first planted a garden: and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasure.
Fortune is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall.
Riches are for spending.
Philosophy when superficially studied, excites doubt, when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.
God's first creature, which was light.
A good conscience is a continual feast.
In charity there is no excess.
Boldness is ever blind, for it sees not dangers and inconveniences whence it is bad in council though good in execution.
Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, even if religion vanished; but religious superstition dismounts all these and erects an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.
For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with columbine innocence, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent: his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil: for without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced.
Nay, number itself in armies importeth not much, where the people is of weak courage; for, as Virgil saith, It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep be.
Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.
What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.
It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth... and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.
Time is the measure of business.
To choose time is to save time.
If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him.
Be not penny-wise. Riches have wings. Sometimes they fly away of themselves, and sometimes they must be set flying to bring in more.
Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.
Mysteries are due to secrecy.
Nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body, and it addeth no small reverence to men's manners and actions if they be not altogether open. Therefore set it down: That a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral.
Many a man's strength is in opposition, and when he faileth, he grows out of use.
Pictures and shapes are but secondary objects and please or displease only in the memory.
We are much beholden to Machiavel and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do.
The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, because the office of medicine is but to tune the curious harp of man's body.
He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?.
I hold every man a debtor to his profession.
A man who contemplates revenge keeps his wounds green.
Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
Riches are a good hand maiden, but a poor mistress.
People of great position are servants times three, servants of their country, servants of fame, and servants of business.
There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little, and therefore men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not keep their suspicions in smother.
Studies serve for delight, for ornaments, and for ability.
Studies perfect nature and are perfected still by experience.
Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
God has placed no limits to the exercise of the intellect he has given us, on this side of the grave.
By indignities men come to dignities.
As the births of living creatures, at first, are ill-shapen: so are all Innovations, which are the births of time.
Acorns were good until bread was found.
The person is a poor judge who by an action can be disgraced more in failing than they can be honored in succeeding.
For my name and memory I leave to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations and the next ages.
A graceful and pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommendation.
Ill Fortune never crushed that man whom good fortune deceived not.
Good fame is like fire; when you have kindled you may easily preserve it; but if you extinguish it, you will not easily kindle it again.
Certainly, Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen and drowns things weighty and solid. But if persons of quality and judgement concur, then it is, (as the Scripture saith) Nomen bonum instar unguenti fragrantis : it filleth all round about, and will not easily away. For the odours of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
Men on their side must force themselves for a while to lay their notions by and begin to familiarize themselves with facts.
Suspicion amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they never fly by twilight.
The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three. First to lay asleep opposition and to surprise. For where a man's intentions are published, it is an alarum to call up all that are against them. The second is to reserve a man's self a fair retreat: for if a man engage himself, by a manifest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall. The third is, the better to discover the mind of another. For to him that opens himself, men will hardly show themselves adverse; but will fair let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of thought.
I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.
It is natural to die as to be born.
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 aver the dolours of death.
People usually think according to their inclinations, speak according to their learning and ingrained opinions, but generally act according to custom.
The place of justice is a hallowed place.
Look to make your course regular, that men may know beforehand what they may expect.
Consistency is the foundation of virtue.
To be free minded and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat and sleep and of exercise is one of the best precepts of long lasting.
Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried, or childless men.
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.
It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.
Atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man.
People of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon and seldom drive business home to it's conclusion, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
Age will not be defied.
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; adversity not without many comforts and hopes.
It was prettily devised of Aesop, The fly sat on the axle tree of the chariot wheel and said, what dust do I raise!
The fortune which nobody sees makes a person happy and unenvied.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. 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. He was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question, when a man should marryA young man not yet, an elder man not at all.
Croesus said to Cambyses; That peace was better than war; because in peace the sons did bury their fathers, but in wars the fathers did bury their sons.
Ask counsel of both timesof the ancient time what is best, and of the latter time what is fittest.
Young men are fitter to invent, than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business; Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold; stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly; care not to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniences; use extreme remedies at first; and that, which doubleth all errors, will not acknowledge or retract them, like an unruly horse, that will neither stop nor turn. Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
There be three things which make a nation great and prosperous: a fertile soil, busy workshops, easy conveyance for men and goods from place to place.
The winning of honour is but the revealing of a man's virtue and worth without disadvantage. For some in their actions do woo and affect honour and reputation, which sort of men are commonly much talked of, but inwardly little admired. And some, contrariwise, darken their virtue in the show of it, so as they be undervalued in opinion. . . . Envy, which is the canker of honour, is best extinguished by declaring a man's self in his ends, rather to seek merit than fame, and by attributing a man's successes, rather to divine Providence and felicity, than to his own virtue or policy.
Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter; they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death.
Physicians are some of them so pleasing and conformable to the humour of the patient, as they press not the true cure of the disease; and some are so regular in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient. Take one of a middle temper; or if it may not be found in one man, combine two of either sort; and forget not to call, as well the best acquainted with your body, as the best reputed of for his faculty.
The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. . . . Certainly, virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant, when they are incensed, or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him, but maintain a correspondence by letters with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth. And let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse let him be rather advised in his answers, than forward to tell stories.
In dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider their ends, to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and that which they least look for. In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow and reap at once, but must prepare business, and so ripen it by degrees.