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Quotations from Francis Bacon


Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of new work, since the subtlety of Nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument.


For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.

Essays: Of Friendship (1597-1625)

He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.

Essays: Of Innovations (1597-1625)

Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtle; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend.

Essays: Of Studies (1597-1625)

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will consent to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

The Advancement of Learning, book1, chapter 5 (1605)

It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth... and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.

Essays: Of Truth (1597-1625)

It is nothing won to admit men with an open door, yet to receive them with a shut and reserved countenance.


Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.

Essays: Of Seditions and Troubles (1597-1625)

No man is angry that feels not himself hurt.


Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.

Essays: Of Studies (1597-1625)

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall.

Essays: Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature (1597-1625)

The human understanding is no dry light, but receives infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding.

Novum Organon (1620)

The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon.

Essays: Of Adversity (1597-1625)

There was a young man in Rome that was very like Augustus Caesar; Augustus took knowledge of it and sent for the man, and asked him "Was your mother never at Rome?" He answered "No Sir; but my father was."

Apothegms, no. 87 (1624)

They are ill discoverers that think there is no land when they see nothing but sea.

The Advancement of Learning, book 2, chapter 7 (1605)

What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.

Essays: Of Truth (1597-1625)

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