OFB XV: Essayes and Counsels (1625)

Oxford Francis Bacon XV:
The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall

Ed. by Michael Kiernan

Bacon’s essays reflect the experience and wide reading of a Renaissance man – philosopher, historian, judge, politician, adviser to the Prince – above all, astute observer of human nature. With uncompromising candour, he exposes man as he is, not as he ought to be, examining such givens of Renaissance power as negotiating for position, expediting a personal suit, speaking effectively, and the role of dissimulation in social and political situations. He scrutinizes judicial prerogatives and probes the causes and dangers of atheism and superstition. Even such topics as boldness or love or deformity have a practical bent. In Bacon’s own phrase, these essays ‘come home to Mens Businesse and Bosomes.’ It is especially through their matchless style that they come home–with imaginative vigour, concrete language, and the colloquial force of individual sentences. An introduction places the essays in their original context, examines their evolution over Bacon’s lifetime, and elucidates their form and prose style; a commentary examines his sources and relates essays to his other writings; a glossary and index are also included.


1 Essayes (1625) (1625) Ess
2 A fragment of an essay of fame (n.d.) EsF(57)

For further details, please see Oxford University Press.

The Oxford Francis Bacon XV: The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall, ed. by Michael Kiernan (Oxford University Press, 2000 [1985]), pp. 258. ISBN: 978-0-19-818673-1.