Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)was professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania at the time of his death. He is best known in America as a writer and poet. He greatly admired Sir Francis Bacon.

The following quotations are from Francis Bacon and the Modern Dilemma by Loren Eiseley, University of Nebraska Press 1962.

 

--Special thanks to Harold Dronen for preparation of text


AN AMERICAN TRIBUTE TO FRANCIS BACON

 

"To Francis Bacon

and Sir Thomas Meautys

his faithful secretary

who erected his monument

and chose in death

to lie at his feet

sharing honor and disgrace

this tribute

from one who

more than three centuries beyond their grave

is still seeking

the lost continent of their dream

(from The Dedication)


Loren Eiseley in his beautifully written book about Bacon The Man Who Saw Through Time remarks that Bacon: "...more fully than any man of his time, entertained the idea of the universe as a problem to be solved, examined, meditated upon, rather than as an eternally fixed stage, upon which man walked."

 

"Not all men, like Sir Francis Bacon, are fated to discover an unknown continent, and to find it not in the oceans of this world but in the vaster seas of time. Few men would seek through thirty years of rebuff and cold indifference a compass to lead men toward a green isle invisible to all other eyes." (page 4)

 

"King, jurist, scientific experimenter alike saw nothing where Francis Bacon saw a world, a new-found land greater than that reported by the homing voyagers, the Drakes, the Raleighs of the Elizabethan seas. We of the western continent that stirred his restless imagination should particularly honor him because we are also a part, a hopeful foreshore, of the world he glimpsed in time." (page 8)

"It was his task to summon the wise men, not for one day's meeting or contention, not to build a philosophy of permanence under whose shadow small men might sit and argue, but to leave, instead, a philosophy forever and deliberately unfinished -- not, as he so ably put it, as a belief to be held but rather as a work to be done."
(page 15f)

 

"Bacon, too, in spite of an active and original cast of mind, took in and transmuted much that came to him from Greek and Roman sources. Unlike his associates, however, he saw the Ancients in the dawning light of modernity, not as Colossi whose achievements the living could not equal, but, rather, reduced to their true stature as men -- men whose accomplishments the hoarded experience of succeeding generations might enable us to surpass." (page 36)

 

"If Bacon meant anything at all, he meant that working with the clay that sticks to common shoes was the only way to ensure the emergence of order and beauty from the misery of common life as his age knew it. He eliminated, in effect, reliance upon the rare elusive genius as a safe road into the future. It partook of too much risk and chance to rely upon such men alone. One must, instead, place one's hopes for Utopia in the education of plain Tom Jones and Dick Thickhead." (page 50f)

 

"As an educator in a country which has placed its faith in the common man, I can only say that the serenity of Bacon's faith takes our breath away and gives him, at the same time, our hearts. For he, the Lord Chancellor, was willing to build his empire of hope from common clay -- from men such as you and I." (page 52)

 

"America was mountains and savages and untamed horizons. Bacon's ideas would lodge there like flying seeds and find suitable soil in the wilderness." (page 59)

 

"The great synthesizer who alters the outlook of a generation, who suddenly produces a kaleidescopic change in our vision of the world is apt to be the most envied, feared, and hated man among his contemporaries.
Almost by instinct they feel in him the seed of a new order; they sense, even as they anathematize him, the passing away of the sane, substantial world they have long inhabited. Such a man is a kind of lens or gathering point through which past thought gathers, is reorganized and radiates outward again into new forms." (page 68f)

 

"To change nature, mystical though it sounds, we have to change ourselves. We have to draw out of nature that ideal second world which Bacon sought. The modern world is only slowly beginning to realize the profound implications of that idea." (page 87)

 visit Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning

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