What Francis Bacon Means To Me

by

Virginia Fellows

2004

After more than 30 years of  rewarding research, I am still reading everything I can find that pertains to Francis Bacon and his contemporaries. Hopefully my enthusiasm will demonstrate how meaningful he has become in my life.  Not only is he the perfect role model for men, he is equally relevant  for women - for today as well as for his century - and for tomorrow - and tomorrow - and tomorrow. Over and over we discover him to have been a super human being even while being the most human - a humble, down to earth man,  involved in the everyday world.  Even at his most earthy times, he was totally committed to the "bigger picture" and  to the benefit of the world at large. One learns how personally caring and compassionate, courteous and helpful he was to everyone he contacted and yet always  "royal to the core". The blood of Tudors and Plantagenets  ran through his veins, often a little too hotly, but it never prevented  him from perceiving and empathizing with the quirks of human psychology and the burdens of the common man. His gentle awareness of the "human comedy" is evident in everything he wrote. This is to me his most endearing quality. (I remember, as all Baconians do, Ben Jonson's remark that 'he could never pass up a jest', and Rawley's observation that 'all who were great and noble loved him'.)  Here was a real-life kind of person, a lovable human being, a highly talented genius, yet  one whom I would have loved to meet personally. He would not have been intimidating, of that I'm sure, and I know he would have managed graciously to make even me, an admirer from another century, feel at home.

The latest addition to my Francis Bacon bookshelf is a recently published book, 2003, called "God's Secretaries", by Adam Nicolson. (st). The title refers to the group of men believed to have been responsible for the editing of  the new King James Version of the Bible. Although the author mentions Bacon only once in the entire book, and that in the most scornful and abusive way, and although he is completely unaware of it himself, he is revealing a great deal of the brilliance and talents  of Bacon, the only man living at that who was capable of tackling the huge task. Who could have been capable of doing such discriminating editing? Who had the deepest understanding of the mentality of the times?  Who could have written in the beautiful style that is so typical of this Bible that is so often compared to that of Shakespeare?  Only one man, of course, and all Baconians know who that was.

Nicolson gives the awkward new King James himself full credit for accomplishing this magnificent job at the same time that he gives an appalling and nauseating picture of the sly and graceless heir (if that's what he was) to the British throne. Bacon himself often called James "the wisest fool in christendom". The new monarch seems to have been cunning and sly in a shifty way, but he certainly was not capable of  producing the magnificent Bible that bears his name.

In spite of  his vastly uninformed mistake about my favorite and gallant writer-statesman-philosopher-satirist etc. etc., author Nicolson gives an extremely fascinating and well researched insight into the religious and political climate of the age. He has filled his accounts with numerous little anecdotes and asides that make for fun and easy reading and in spite of himself, he gives much insight not only into the environment and contemporary  milieu of the post-Elizabethan age but of the man who should have been king but had to "wear his crown" in secret. It's easy to place Bacon into the picture and receive a more accurate depiction of the whole event.

Nicolson's neglect of Bacon is just another example of one of the most frustrating experiences of my world - that of looking into the index of histories and writings of the past and present only to find that its most influential person  has been totally ignored. Not a mention of the one who most likely not only did the writing, but who was also probably responsible for the entire and various projects involved.  The only consolation is to realize that that is exactly the way Lord Francis wanted it. He went to enormous pains to disguise his true identity as was  necessary in his day. But now it is another day and time for a better understanding of one of the most brilliant men of all ages - and  that is why I appreciate this website sirbacon.org so much. At last a little more of the real picture is coming to light.

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