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Define Aphorism With Respect To Bacon As An Essayist Umberto

For other people named Roger Bacon, see Roger Bacon (disambiguation).

Roger BaconOFM (;[6]Latin: Rogerus or Rogerius Baconus, Baconis, also Frater Rogerus; c. 1219/20 – c. 1292), also known by the scholastic accoladeDoctor Mirabilis, was an Englishphilosopher and Franciscanfriar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empiricism. In the early modern era, he was regarded as a wizard and particularly famed for the story of his mechanical or necromanticbrazen head. He is sometimes credited (mainly since the 19th century) as one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method inspired by Aristotle and by Arab scientistAlhazen.

His linguistic work has been heralded for its early exposition of a universal grammar. However, more recent re-evaluations emphasise that Bacon was essentially a medieval thinker, with much of his "experimental" knowledge obtained from books in the scholastic tradition. He was, however, partially responsible for a revision of the medieval university curriculum, which saw the addition of optics to the traditional quadrivium. A survey of how Bacon's work was received over the centuries found that it often reflected the concerns and controversies that were central to his readers.

Bacon's major work, the Opus Majus, was sent to Pope Clement IV in Rome in 1267 upon the pope's request. Although gunpowder was first invented and described in China, Bacon was the first in Europe to record its formula.


Roger Bacon was born in Ilchester in Somerset, England, in the early 13th century, although his date of birth is sometimes narrowed down to c. 1210, "1213 or 1214", or "1215". However, modern scholars tend to argue for the date of c. 1220, but there are disagreements on this. The only source for his birth date is a statement from his 1267 Opus Tertium that "forty years have passed since I first learned the Alphabetum". The latest dates assume this referred to the alphabet itself, but elsewhere in the Opus Tertium it is clear that Bacon uses the term to refer to rudimentary studies, the trivium or quadrivium that formed the medieval curriculum. His family appears to have been well off.

Bacon studied at Oxford.[n 2] While Robert Grosseteste had probably left shortly before Bacon's arrival, his work and legacy almost certainly influenced the young scholar and it is possible Bacon subsequently visited him and William of Sherwood in Lincoln. Bacon became a master at Oxford, lecturing on Aristotle. There is no evidence he was ever awarded a doctorate. (The title Doctor Mirabilis was posthumous and figurative.) A caustic cleric named Roger Bacon is recorded speaking before the king at Oxford in 1233.[19]

In 1237 or at some point in the following decade, he accepted an invitation to teach at the University of Paris. While there, he lectured on Latin grammar, Aristotelian logic, arithmetic, geometry, and the mathematical aspects of astronomy and music. His faculty colleagues included Robert Kilwardby, Albertus Magnus, and Peter of Spain, the future Pope John XXI. The CornishmanRichard Rufus was a scholarly opponent. In 1247 or soon after, he left his position in Paris.

As a private scholar, his whereabouts for the next decade are uncertain but he was likely in Oxford c. 1248–51, where he met Adam Marsh, and in Paris in 1251. He seems to have studied most of the known Greek and Arabic works on optics (then known as "perspective", perspectiva). A passage in the Opus Tertium states that at some point he took a two-year break from his studies.

By the late 1250s, resentment against the king's preferential treatment of his émigré Poitevin relatives led to a coup and the imposition of the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster, instituting a baronial council and more frequent parliaments. Pope Urban IV absolved the king of his oath in 1261 and, after initial abortive resistance, Simon de Montfort led a force, enlarged due to recent crop failures, that prosecuted the Second Barons' War. Bacon's own family were considered royal partisans: De Montfort's men seized their property[n 3] and drove several members into exile.

In 1256 or '57, he became a friar in the Franciscan Order in either Paris or Oxford, following the example of scholarly English Franciscans such as Grosseteste and Marsh. After 1260, Bacon's activities were restricted by a statute prohibiting the friars of his order from publishing books or pamphlets without prior approval. He was likely kept at constant menial tasks to limit his time for contemplation and came to view his treatment as an enforced absence from scholarly life.

By the mid-1260s, he was undertaking a search for patrons who could secure permission and funding for his return to Oxford. For a time, Bacon was finally able to get around his superiors' interference through his acquaintance with Guy de Foulques, bishop of Narbonne, cardinal of Sabina, and the papal legate who negotiated between England's royal and baronial factions.

In 1263 or '64, a message garbled by Bacon's messenger, Raymond of Laon, led Guy to believe that Bacon had already completed a summary of the sciences. In fact, he had no money to research, let alone copy, such a work and attempts to secure financing from his family were thwarted by the Second Barons' War. However, in 1265, Guy was summoned to a conclave at Perugia that elected him Pope Clement IV. William Benecor, who had previously been the courier between Henry III and the pope, now carried the correspondence between Bacon and Clement. Clement's reply of 22 June 1266 commissioned "writings and remedies for current conditions", instructing Bacon not to violate any standing "prohibitions" of his order but to carry out his task in utmost secrecy.

While faculties of the time were largely limited to addressing disputes on the known texts of Aristotle, Clement's patronage permitted Bacon to engage in a wide-ranging consideration of the state of knowledge in his era. In 1267 or '68, Bacon sent the Pope his Opus Majus, which presented his views on how to incorporate Aristotelian logic and science into a new theology, supporting Grosseteste's text-based approach against the "sentence method" then fashionable.

Bacon also sent his Opus Minus, De Multiplicatione Specierum,De Speculis Comburentibus, an optical lens, and possibly other works on alchemy and astrology.[n 4] The entire process has been called "one of the most remarkable single efforts of literary productivity", with Bacon composing referenced works of around a million words in about a year.

Pope Clement died in 1268 and Bacon lost his protector. The Condemnations of 1277 banned the teaching of certain philosophical doctrines, including deterministic astrology. Some time within the next two years, Bacon was apparently imprisoned or placed under house arrest. This was traditionally ascribed to Franciscan Minister-GeneralJerome of Ascoli, probably acting on behalf of the many clergy, monks, and educators attacked by Bacon's 1271 Compendium Studii Philosophiae.

Modern scholarship, however, notes that the first reference to Bacon's "imprisonment" dates from eighty years after his death on the charge of unspecified "suspected novelties"[31] and finds it less than credible. Contemporary scholars who do accept Bacon's imprisonment typically associate it with Bacon's "attraction to contemporary prophesies", his sympathies for "the radical 'poverty' wing of the Franciscans", interest in certain astrological doctrines, or generally combative personality rather than from "any scientific novelties which he may have proposed".

Sometime after 1278, Bacon returned to the Franciscan House at Oxford, where he continued his studies and is presumed to have spent most of the remainder of his life. His last dateable writing—the Compendium Studii Theologiae—was completed in 1292. He seems to have died shortly afterwards and been buried at Oxford.


Medieval European philosophy often relied on appeals to the authority of Church Fathers such as St Augustine, and on works by Plato and Aristotle only known at second hand or through (sometimes highly inaccurate) Latin translations. By the 13th century, new works and better versions—in Arabic or in new Latin translations from the Arabic—began to trickle north from Muslim Spain. In Roger Bacon's writings, he upholds Aristotle's calls for the collection of facts before deducing scientific truths, against the practices of his contemporaries, arguing that "thence cometh quiet to the mind".

Bacon also called for reform with regard to theology. He argued that, rather than training to debate minor philosophical distinctions, theologians should focus their attention primarily on the Bible itself, learning the languages of its original sources thoroughly. He was fluent in several of these languages and was able to note and bemoan several corruptions of scripture, and of the works of the Greek philosophers that had been mistranslated or misinterpreted by scholars working in Latin. He also argued for the education of theologians in science ("natural philosophy") and its addition to the medieval curriculum.

Opus Majus[edit]

Main article: Opus Majus

Bacon's Greater Work, the Opus Majus or Opus Maius,[n 5] contains treatments of mathematics, optics, alchemy, and astronomy, including theories on the positions and sizes of the celestial bodies. It is divided into seven sections: "The Four General Causes of Human Ignorance" (Causae Erroris),[37] "The Affinity of Philosophy with Theology" (Philosophiae cum Theologia Affinitas),[38] "On the Usefulness of Grammar" (De Utilitate Grammaticae),[39] "The Usefulness of Mathematics in Physics" (Mathematicae in Physicis Utilitas),[40] "On the Science of Perspective" (De Scientia Perspectivae),[41] "On Experimental Knowledge" (De Scientia Experimentali),[42] and "A Philosophy of Morality" (Moralis Philosophia).[43]

It was not intended as a complete work but as a "persuasive preamble" (persuasio praeambula), an enormous proposal for a reform of the medieval university curriculum and the establishment of a kind of library or encyclopedia, bringing in experts to compose a collection of definitive texts on these subjects. The new subjects were to be "perspective" (i.e., optics), "astronomy" (inclusive of astronomy proper, astrology, and the geography necessary in order to use them), "weights" (likely some treatment of mechanics but this section of the Opus Majus has been lost), alchemy, agriculture (inclusive of botany and zoology), medicine, and "experimental science", a philosophy of science that would guide the others. The section on geography was allegedly originally ornamented with a map based on ancient and Arabic computations of longitude and latitude, but has since been lost.[45] His (mistaken) arguments supporting the idea that dry land formed the larger proportion of the globe were apparently similar to those which later guided Columbus.[45]

In this work Bacon criticises his contemporaries Alexander of Hales and Albertus Magnus, who were held in high repute despite having only acquired their knowledge of Aristotle at second hand during their preaching careers. Albert was received at Paris as an authority equal to Aristotle, Avicenna, and Averroës, a situation Bacon decried: "never in the world [had] such monstrosity occurred before."

In Part I of the Opus Majus Bacon recognizes some philosophers as the Sapientes, or gifted few, and saw their knowledge in philosophy and theology as superior to the vulgus philosophantium, or common herd of philosophers. He held Islamic thinkers between 1210 and 1265 in especially high regard calling them "both philosophers and sacred writers" and defended the integration of Islamic philosophy into Christian learning.

Calendrical reform[edit]

Main: Calendrical reform and Gregorian calendar

In Part IV of the Opus Majus, Bacon proposed a calendrical reform similar to the later system introduced in 1582 under Pope Gregory XIII.[40] Drawing on ancient Greek and medieval Islamic astronomy recently introduced to western Europe via Spain, Bacon continued the work of Robert Grosseteste and criticized the then-current Julian calendar as "intolerable, horrible, and laughable".

It had become apparent that Eudoxus and Sosigenes's assumption of a year of 365¼ days was, over the course of centuries, too inexact. Bacon charged that this meant the computation of Easter had shifted forward by 9 days since the First Council of Nicaea in 325.[51] His proposal to drop one day every 125 years[40] and to cease the observance of fixed equinoxes and solstices[51] was not acted upon following the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268. The eventual Gregorian calendar drops one day from the first three centuries in each set of 400 years.


See also: History of optics

In Part V of the Opus Majus, Bacon discusses physiology of eyesight and the anatomy of the eye and the brain, considering light, distance, position, and size, direct and reflected vision, refraction, mirrors, and lenses.[41] His treatment was primarily oriented by the Latin translation of Alhazen's Book of Optics. He also draws heavily on Eugene of Palermo's Latin translation of the Arabic translation of Ptolemy's Optics; on Robert Grosseteste's work based on Al-Kindi's Optics; [53] and, through Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham), on Ibn Sahl's work on dioptrics.


A passage in the Opus Majus and another in the Opus Tertium are usually taken as the first European descriptions of a mixture containing the essential ingredients of gunpowder. Partington and others have come to the conclusion that Bacon most likely witnessed at least one demonstration of Chinesefirecrackers, possibly obtained by Franciscans—including Bacon's friend William of Rubruck—who visited the Mongol Empire during this period.[n 6] The most telling passage reads:

We have an example of these things (that act on the senses) in [the sound and fire of] that children's toy which is made in many [diverse] parts of the world; i.e. a device no bigger than one's thumb. From the violence of that salt called saltpetre [together with sulphur and willow charcoal, combined into a powder] so horrible a sound is made by the bursting of a thing so small, no more than a bit of parchment [containing it], that we find [the ear assaulted by a noise] exceeding the roar of strong thunder, and a flash brighter than the most brilliant lightning.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry William Lovett Hime of the Royal Artillery published the theory that Bacon's Epistola contained a cryptogram giving a recipe for the gunpowder he witnessed.[59] The theory was criticized by Thorndike in a 1915 letter to Science and several books, a position joined by Muir,Stillman,Steele, and Sarton.Needham et al. concurred with these earlier critics that the additional passage did not originate with Bacon and further showed that the proportions supposedly deciphered (a 7:5:5 ratio of saltpetre to charcoal to sulphur) as not even useful for firecrackers, burning slowly with a great deal of smoke and failing to ignite inside a gun barrel. The ~41% nitrate content is too low to have explosive properties.

Secret of Secrets[edit]

Main article: Secretum Secretorum

Bacon attributed the Secret of Secrets (Secretum Secretorum), the Islamic "Mirror of Princes" (Arabic: Sirr al-ʿasrar‎), to Aristotle, thinking that he had composed it for Alexander the Great. Bacon produced an edited edition complete with his own introduction and notes and his writings of the 1260s and 1270s cite it far more than his contemporaries did. This led Easton and others including Robert Steele to argue that the text spurred Bacon's own transformation into an experimentalist. (Bacon never described such a decisive impact himself.) The dating of Bacon's edition of the Secret of Secrets is a key piece of evidence in the debate, with those arguing for a greater impact giving it an earlier date, but it certainly influenced the elder Bacon's conception of the political aspects of his work in the sciences.


Bacon has been credited with a number of alchemical texts.

The Letter on the Secret Workings of Art and Nature and on the Vanity of Magic (Epistola de Secretis Operibus Artis et Naturae et de Nullitate Magiae), also known as On the Wonderful Powers of Art and Nature (De Mirabili Potestate Artis et Naturae), dismisses practices such as necromancy but contains most of the alchemical formulae attributed to Bacon, including one for a philosopher's stone and another possibly for gunpowder. It also includes several passages about hypothetical flying machines and submarines, attributing their first use to Alexander the Great.On the Vanity of Magic or The Nullity of Magic is a debunking of esoteric claims in Bacon's time, showing that they could be explained by natural phenomena.


Main article: Summa Grammatica

See also: Universal grammar

Bacon's early linguistic and logical works are the Overview of Grammar (Summa Grammatica), Summa de Sophismatibus et Distinctionibus, and the Summulae Dialectices or Summulae super Totam Logicam. These are mature but essentially conventional presentations of Oxford and Paris's terminist and pre-modist logic and grammar. His later work in linguistics is much more idiosyncratic, using terminology and addressing questions unique in his era.[75]

In his Greek and Hebrew Grammars (Grammatica Graeca and Hebraica), in his work "On the Usefulness of Grammar" (Book III of the Opus Majus), and in his Compendium of the Study of Philosophy,[75] Bacon stresses the need for scholars to know several languages.[76] Europe's vernacular languages are not ignored—he considers them useful for practical purposes such as trade, proselytism, and administration—but Bacon is mostly interested in his era's languages of science and religion: Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.[76]

Bacon is less interested in a full practical mastery of the other languages than on a theoretical understanding of their grammatical rules, ensuring that a Latin reader will not misunderstand passages' original meaning.[76] For this reason, his treatments of Greek and Hebrew grammar are not isolated works on their topic[76] but contrastive grammars treating the aspects which influenced Latin or which were required for properly understanding Latin texts.[77] He pointedly states, "I want to describe Greek grammar for the benefit of Latin speakers".[78][n 7] It is likely only this limited sense which was intended by Bacon's boast that he could teach an interested pupil a new language within three days.[77][n 8]

Passages in the Overview and the Greek grammar have been taken as an early exposition of a universal grammar underlying all humanlanguages.[79] The Greek grammar contains the tersest and most famous exposition:[79]

Grammar is one and the same in all languages, substantially, though it may vary, accidentally, in each of them.[82][n 9]

However, Bacon's disinterest in studying a literal grammar underlying the languages known to him and his numerous works on linguistics and comparative linguistics has prompted Hovdhaugen to question the usual literal translation of Bacon's grammatica in such passages.[83] She notes the ambiguity in the Latin term, which could refer variously to the structure of language, to its description, and to the science underlying such descriptions: i.e., linguistics.[83]

Other works[edit]

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Bacon states that his Lesser Work (Opus Minus) and Third Work (Opus Tertium) were originally intended as summaries of the Opus Majus in case it was lost in transit.Easton's review of the texts suggests that they became separate works over the course of the laborious process of creating a fair copy of the Opus Majus, whose half-million words were copied by hand and apparently greatly revised at least once.

Other works by Bacon include his "Tract on the Multiplication of Species" (Tractatus de Multiplicatione Specierum), "On Burning Lenses" (De Speculis Comburentibus), the Communia Naturalium and Mathematica, the "Compendium of the Study of Philosophy" and "of Theology" (Compendium Studii Philosophiae and Theologiae), and his Computus. The "Compendium of the Study of Theology", presumably written in the last years of his life, was an anticlimax: adding nothing new, it is principally devoted to the concerns of the 1260s.


The Mirror of Alchimy (Speculum Alchemiae), a short treatise on the origin and composition of metals, is traditionally credited to Bacon.[87] It espouses the Arabian theory of mercury and sulphur forming the other metals, with vague allusions to transmutation. Stillman opined that "there is nothing in it that is characteristic of Roger Bacon's style or ideas, nor that distinguishes it from many unimportant alchemical lucubrations of anonymous writers of the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries", and Muir and Lippmann also considered it a pseudepigraph.

The cryptic Voynich manuscript has been attributed to Bacon by various sources, including by its first recorded owner,[91] but historians of scienceLynn Thorndike and George Sarton dismissed these claims as unsupported.[92][93][94] and the vellum of the manuscript has since been dated to the 15th century.[95]


Bacon was largely ignored by his contemporaries in favor of other scholars such as Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas, although his works were studied by Bonaventure, John Pecham, and Peter of Limoges, through whom he may have influenced Raymond Lull. He was also partially responsible for the addition of optics (perspectiva) to the medieval universitycurriculum.

By the early modern period, the English considered him the epitome of a wise and subtle possessor of forbidden knowledge, a Faust-like magician who had tricked the devil and so was able to go to heaven. Of these legends, one of the most prominent was that he created a talking brazen head which could answer any question. The story appears in the anonymous 16th-century account of The Famous Historie of Fryer Bacon,[n 10] in which Bacon speaks with a demon but causes the head to speak by "the continuall fume of the six hottest Simples",[99] testing his theory that speech is caused by "an effusion of vapors".

Around 1589, Robert Greene adapted the story for the stage as The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay, one of the most successful Elizabethan comedies. As late as the 1640s, Thomas Browne was still complaining that "Every ear is filled with the story of Frier Bacon, that made a brazen head to speak these words, Time is".[104] Greene's Bacon spent seven years creating a brass head that would speak "strange and uncouth aphorisms"[105] to enable him to encircle Britain with a wall of brass that would make it impossible to conquer.

Unlike his source material, Greene does not cause his head to operate by natural forces but by "nigromantic charms" and "the enchanting forces of the devil":[106] i.e., by entrapping a dead spirit or hobgoblin.[107] Bacon collapses, exhausted, just before his device comes to life and announces "Time is", "Time was", and "Time is Past"[108] before being destroyed in spectacular fashion: the stage direction instructs that "a lightening flasheth forth, and a hand appears that breaketh down the Head with a hammer".[109]

A necromantic head was ascribed to Pope Sylvester II as early as the 1120s,[110][n 11] but Browne considered the legend to be a misunderstanding of a passage in Peter the Good's c. 1335Precious Pearl where the negligent alchemist misses the birth of his creation and loses it forever.[104] The story may also preserve the work by Bacon and his contemporaries to construct clockwork armillary spheres. Bacon had praised a "self-activated working model of the heavens" as "the greatest of all things which have been devised".[114]

As early as the 16th century, natural philosophers like Bruno, Dee, and Francis Bacon were attempting to rehabilitate Bacon's reputation and to portray him as a scientific pioneer who had avoided the petty bickering of his contemporaries to attempt a rational understanding of nature. By the 19th century, commenters following Whewell considered that "Bacon... was not appreciated in his age because he was so completely in advance of it; he is a 16th or 17th century philosopher, whose lot has been by some accident cast in the 13th century". His assertions in the Opus Majus that "theories supplied by reason should be verified by sensory data, aided by instruments, and corroborated by trustworthy witnesses"[117] were (and still are) considered "one of the first important formulations of the scientific method on record".

This idea that Bacon was a modern experimental scientist reflected two views of the period: that the principal form of scientific activity is experimentation and that 13th-century Europe still represented the "Dark Ages". This view, which is still reflected in some 21st-century popular science books,[121] portrays Bacon as an advocate of modern experimental science who emerged as a solitary genius in an age hostile to his ideas. Based on Bacon's apocrypha, he is also portrayed as a visionary who predicted the invention of the submarine, aircraft, and automobile.

However, in the course of the 20th century, Husserl, Heidegger, and others emphasized the importance to modern science of Cartesian and Galilean projections of mathematics over sensory perceptions of nature; Heidegger in particular noted the lack of such an understanding in Bacon's works. Although Crombie,Kuhn,

A diorama of Bacon presenting one of his works to the chancellors of Paris University
A 19th-century engraving of Bacon observing the stars at Oxford
Ernest Board's portrayal of Bacon in his observatory at Merton College
A manuscript illustration of Bacon presenting one of his works to the chancellor of the University of Paris.
Bacon's diagram of light being refracted by a spherical container of water
"Roger Bacon discovers gunpowder", "whereby Guy Fawkes was made possible",[55] an image from Bill Nye's Comic History of England[56]
A 19th-century etching of Bacon conducting an alchemical experiment
A portrait of Roger Bacon from a 15th-century edition of De Retardatione[84]
The first page of the letter from Bacon to Clement IV introducing his Opus Tertium
"Friar Bacon's Study" in Oxford. By the late 18th century this study on Folly Bridge had become a place of pilgrimage for scientists, but the building was pulled down in 1779 to allow for road widening.
The Westgate plaque at Oxford

Introduction: Bacon’s fame as a writer depends most of all on the fact that he is the father of modern English prose. He evolved a prose style that proved for the first time that English could also be used to express the subtleties of thought, in clear and uninvolved sentences.
The critics have noticed that there is a marked difference between Bacon’s earlier and later essays. Macaulay, contrasting extracts from of Studies (1597) and Of Adversity (1625) illustrates what he calls the two styles of Bacon.

It is true that there is a vast difference between the styles of Bacon. But it is rather questionable whether this difference could be attributed to the fact that Bacon had gained a maturity of mind and intellect.  Bacon wrote in more than one style. The stately movement of The Advancement of Learning and Of Adversity has been achieved in 1605 itself.  Does that mean that Bacon had achieved maturity of mind and imagination in eight years? This is not convincing. The explanation lies in the fact that Bacon’s very conception of the essay underwent a change. Bacon described his essays as “Dispersed Meditations”. The first collection of essays is fully illustrative of Bacon’s definition of the essay as dispersed meditations set down significantly rather than curiously. The original idea was to make the essays into a sort of diary in which significant observations on various topics of practical importance. His essays were jotted down in a terse and pithy and concise language. His first essays were a mere skeleton of thought, grouped around central themes with suitable titles. There was no attempt polishing the style or clothing the statements with literary beauty or imaginative grace. When, however, Bacon saw that his essays had gained an unexpected popularity, he thought that it was worth while polishing them and making them richer. These essays are very brief in length. The ideas have not been developed. The sentences are all crisp, short and sententious. Each sentence stands by itself. There is so much of condensation that each sentence can easily be expanded into a paragraph. That is to say that one single sentence does the job of a paragraph.

Essays not quite dispersed meditations:  It would, however, be a mistake to call all the essays of Bacon “Dispersed Meditations”. There are some which have received at his hand, a rather detailed treatment and which cannot be termed as “Sketchy”. In these essays, Bacon finds room for conjunctions and connective clauses. Ideas are not left underdeveloped and transitions from one thought to another are not so abrupt.  In Of Friendship, there is a logical approach in the enumeration of the principle fruits of friendship. Each advantage is properly handled and ideas are developed smoothly. There is not that abrupt transition of thought that characterized some of Bacon’s other essays. Of Empire can be said to contain almost exhaustive treatment of the dangers that beset a king in those days. In Of Seditions and Troubles, there is a quite closely reasoned and connected account of the causes and remedies of discontentment and agitation that may fester and burst out into trouble for the country. Aphoristic sentences are found in these essays too, but attention has been given to other factors as well. 

Aphoristic style of Bacon: An aphoristic style means a compact, condensed and epigrammatic style of writing. Bacon’s writing has been admired for various reasons. Some have admired them for dazzling rhetoric, others his grace. In Bacon we find a style which is distinct and at the same time characteristic of his age.  His style includes various qualities. Firstly, he remains the best aphoristic, so he stands the most quotable writer. There is terseness of expression and epigrammatic brevity, in the essays of Bacon. His sentences are brief and rapid, but they are also forceful. As Dean Church says, “They come down like the strokes of a hammer.” The force of aphoristic style depends on other stylistic qualities which supplement it. He weighs the pros and cons of a statement and immediately counter-balances it. (Give examples from the above the extracts).

A Rhetorician:  Bacon’s style is definitely rhetorical. In this connection, Saintsbury has remarked that no one, “knows better than —- (Bacon) how to leave a single word to produce all its effects by using it in some slightly uncommon sense. He has great powers of attracting and persuading his readers even though he may not convince them. In prose rhetoric, in the use, that is to say, of language to dazzle and persuade, not to convince. He has few rivals and no superiors in English.”  There is a constant use of imagery and analogy in Bacon’s essays.  The apt and extensive use of metaphors,  images, similitudes and analogies is in keeping with the view of the rhetoricians of the ancient as well as of the Renaissance. Bacon draws his imagery from the familiar objects o nature, or from the facts of every day life. 

His Allusions and Quotations:The essay bear witness to Bacon’s learned mind in the extensive use of quotations and allusions drawn from various sources, classical fables, the Bible, History, the ancient Greek and the Roman writers. Of Truth includes Pilate, Lucian and Montaigne, In Of Great Place; we have Tacitus, Galba and Vespacian, and Of Friendship includes reference to Aristotle. Thus Bacon employs allusions to and quotations in order to explain his point. They serve to make his style more scholarly and enrich it while lending to his ideas. Though, his style is heavy with learning, yet it is more flexible than any of his predecessors and contemporaries. His sentences are short and with this shortness comes lucidity of expression. Thus he shows mastery of the principles of prose. There almost no humor in Bacon’s essays, but his essays are packed with astounding wit.

Conclusion:The style of Bacon is not the personal and chatty style of the subjective essayist like Montaigne and Lamb. It is dignified and aphoristic style. He was indeed a consummate artist who polished and chiseled his expressions and who could change his style to suit to his subject.

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