A Lack of Personal Touch

In Francis Bacon’s Essays (published, 1597 & 1625) he wrote about things people would encounter in life like envy, friendship, love, money, and usury (The practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender. Originally, usury meant interest of any kind*).  He discussed how you can benefit and avoid conflict from these things.  His main target audience appeared to be formerly educated males as his essays were written in Latin, a language not widely known by common people.

When a person writes something like an essay and gives advice in it, it is often more interesting and persuasive if the author includes an example from his life on what he is writing about.  When an author shares something from his own life he is opening up to the reader and adding a personal touch, the reader then feels like he has a deeper connection to the author and his words.  But to my understanding, Bacon did not give any examples from his life that related to the topics in his essays when, in fact, he had many real-life examples that he could have used.

Bacon himself fell into the trap of usury as he went into major debt and was charged with 23 counts of corruption in the year 1621 thanks to his rival.  This debt was such a big deal that he was removed from his political office as Lord Chancellor under King James I of England.  He certainly must have learned some great lessons from that ordeal, so why didn’t he include his experiences in his Essays to help his readers  avoid getting into debt themselves?  Maybe he was so ashamed of his faults that he couldn’t bring it up again to share it with the whole world.

He also had experience in the area of love.  At the age of 36, Bacon fell in love with Elizabeth Hatton as they courted, but she was not as pleased with the relationship as he was for she left him to marry his wealthier,  life-long rival.  About ten years later after recovering from his heartbreak Bacon found love again and married Alice Barnham.  Unfortunately it is said that this marriage had some conflicts due to Bacon’s lack of abundant wealth.

Mr. Bacon had his fair share of life challenges just as we all do.  If he would have included how he resolved his life issues he might have been able to help other people recover and avoid getting into these issues in the first place.  Bacon wrote, “He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both…”  Why didn’t Francis Bacon take his own advice to the next level by telling his readers about his experiences in life?

Whatever the reason for Bacon’s lack of openness, hopefully other authors in the future will learn from his deficiencies and write advice that corresponds to experiences that the author has had in his or her life.

“The greatest trust, between man and man, is the trust of giving counsel.”

-Francis Bacon





Wikipedia on Francis Bacon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon

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