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Francis Bacon et ses émules

“L’immortel Chancelier d’Angleterre” : Francis Bacon, Memory and Method

« L’immortel Chancelier d’Angleterre » : Francis Bacon, mémoire et méthode
Andrew Hiscock

Résumés

Cet article se propose d’examiner l’importance et les fonctions de la mémoire chez le philosophe Francis Bacon (1561-1626). La première partie de l’article s’intéresse à l’héritage philosophique de l’Antiquité et du Moyen-Âge, qui continue à influencer fortement les milieux intellectuels à la fin du XVIe siècle dans toute l’Europe. Puis l’article examine la manière dont Bacon perçoit la persistance de l’influence aristotélicienne sur le système éducatif de l’époque. La lecture de ses écrits du début du XVIIe siècle montre que Bacon considère la fascination des « intellectuels » pour la mémoire comme un obstacle important au progrès scientifique de l’Europe. La dernière partie de cet article explicite la manière dont Bacon affirme le rôle de l’écrit (plutôt que celui de la mémoire) dans le progrès intellectuel de l’homme. En conclusion, l’article s’intéresse brièvement à la fortune critique de Bacon aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 “Commentary on On Memory and Recollection,” in St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentaries on Aristotle’s On S (...)

“The role of prudence is to direct the prudent man to do what ought to be done by considering not only the present but also the past. This is why Cicero sets down as the parts of prudence not only foresight, through which future things are attended to, but also understanding, through which present things are considered, and memory, through which past things are apprehended. [...] there can be a science about future contingents inasmuch as some sciences know that there may be inclinations to such-and-such effects. In this sense, there is a natural science dealing with things subject to generation and corruption. This is how astronomers are able, through their science, to foretell certain future events, like fertility or sterility, because of the disposition of the heavenly bodies toward such effects.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s De Memoria et Reminiscentia1

  • 2 Quoted in Dorothy Stimson, The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory, New York : Co (...)
  • 3 Quoted in Roger Ariew, “Descartes and Leibniz as Readers of Suárez : Theory of Distinctio (...)

1As has long been appreciated, at the heart of intellectual learning in medieval Europe there had been great and sustained cultural emphasis upon the preservation and the re-configuring of systems of pagan knowledge which might be aligned with Christian doctrine. Aquinas is only among the most notable of generations of medieval intellects devoted to the marriage of the sapience of antiquity to the revealed truth of the Christian theology. And those in succeeding centuries across early modern Europe who consecrated their studies to Scripture and classical philosophy (most especially the writings of Aristotle) often saw themselves as custodians of received wisdom which required reverence and perhaps explication – but, certainly not innovation. Indeed, in the mid-sixteenth century Calvin reputedly enquired, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit ?2” ; and the close friend of the philosopher Francisco Suárez, Claudio Aquaviva (1581-1615), argued for his fellow Jesuits, “Let us try, even when there is nothing to fear for faith and piety, to avoid having anyone suspect us of wanting to create something new or teaching a new doctrine [...] Let no one adopt new opinions in the questions already treated by other authors.”3

2Turning more specifically to early modern England in this context, we may here be reminded of Hythloday’s sardonic contention in Thomas More’s Utopia (a century before Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis was penned) that scholars would consider it

  • 4 Sir Thomas More, Utopia, trans. Robert M. Adams, New York : W.-W. Norton & Company, 2nd e (...)

[...] a very dangerous matter if a man were found to be wiser in any point than his forefathers were. As a matter of fact, we quietly neglect the best examples they have left us; but if something better is proposed, we seize the excuse of reverence for times past and cling to it desperately. Such proud, obstinate, ridiculous judgments I have encountered many times, and once even in England.
“What!” I asked. “Were you ever in England?”4

3Furthermore, the medieval insistence upon a contemptus mundi, the desirability of severing affective bonds with this mortal existence, continued to have a powerful hold over the meditative life of very many in the early modern period – indeed, Francis Bacon’s fellow essayist, Robert Johnson speculated in his own Essaies (1601) :

  • 5 “Of Greatness of Mind,” in Robert Johnson, Essaies, or rather Imperfect Offers, London : (...)

[…] how can they bee carried to embrace worthy deedes, who so highly prize this interim of life, how can they bee wise, who distracted with vaine feares, doe not settle in this resolution, that all worldly happinesse hath his being onely by opinion, how can they be liberal, whose mindes confined to the world, think of liuing continually ?5

  • 6 See respectively: Daniel Tuvill [D.T.], Essaies Politicke, and Morall, London: Humphrey L (...)

4Yet, by 1615, Nicholas Breton had dedicated his collection Characters vpon essaies morall, and diuine to “The Honorable, and my much worthy honored, truly learned, and Iudicious Knight, Sr Francis Bacon, his Majesties Attourney Generall”, proposing that his own essays, or “Trauells of my Spirit”, were but “Imitators of your [Bacon’s] breaking the ice.”6 In this case, Bacon’s prose labours with the experimental genre of the “essay” at the close of the sixteenth century might be seen to prefigure in miniature his vehement and more general commitment to radical intellectual innovation. However, his unfailing promotion of the material environment and of life in society as the proper objects of human investigation placed him not only in opposition to medieval traditions of spiritual dedication, but also in a number of ways to many of the dominant epistemological discourses inherited from the Ancients. The Platonic (and Aristotelian) emphases that the laws governing temporality, for example, were radically different from those operating in realms elsewhere in the cosmos would repeatedly come under vigorous interrogation in Bacon’s treatises. He continued to resist such centuries-old doctrines fiercely as they challenged the core project of his natural philosophy, as becomes apparent in the unfinished Cogitationes de Natura Rerum (1604) :

  • 7 Francis Bacon, Cogitationes de natura rerum, V.437. Unless otherwise indicated, all textu (...)

For neither is heaven indued with that eternity which they suppose nor, the earth with that mutability. For with regard to the heaven, we may not con-clude that there are no changes there, because there are none which we can see; for the sight is defeated both by subtlety of the body and distance of place.7

5In addition, whereas Plato had insisted that all knowledge remained latent in the human mind from a pre-natal existence and was retrieved with the assistance of the deliberative workings of memory, Bacon’s scientific undertaking was profoundly engaged in the systematic commemoration of knowledge gained solely a posteriori.

Bacon and Learning

6Despite growing signs of unrest, the pedagogic structures of the university systems which early modern Europe inherited were still deeply wedded to the explication and inculcation of Aristotelian teachings. Aquinas had been at pains to showcase the continuities and the lines of convergence between these teachings handed down in the literatures of Greece and Rome and the doctrines of the Catholic faith community. However, at the turn of the seventeenth century, Bacon would not be swayed by arguments that Aristotle had invested more energetically in the importance of medical and cognitive theories promoting the strategic role of the senses (most particularly relating to visual images) and deliberative recollection (involving the sequential organisation of ideas) in knowledge acquisition and retention than many other significant thinkers from early antiquity such as his mentor, Plato.

  • 8 Ben Jonson, Ben Jonson, vol. VIII, eds. C.-H. Herford, Percy Simpson & Evelyn Simpson, (...)
  • 9 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, Book Two, “To the King”. See III.321. See also J (...)
  • 10 For broader discussion of these questions, see Andrew Hiscock, Reading Memory in Early (...)

7Aquinas often remained content to record simply in his own cogitations “Philosophus dixit” with reference to the authority of Aristotle. However, Bacon’s celebrated contemporary Ben Jonson confided to his commonplace book Timber, or Discoveries, “I cannot thinke Nature is so spent, and decay’d, that she can bring forth nothing worth her former yeares. She is alwayes the same, like her selfe : And when she collects her strength, is abler still. Men are decay’d, and studies: Shee is not.”8 And Bacon himself seemed similarly minded, railing in The Advancement of Learning, “why should a few received authors stand up like Hercules’ columns, beyond which there should be no sailing or discovering.”9 Deeply mistrustful of the integrity of the systems of textual mediation which early modern Europe inherited from earlier centuries, Bacon was determined in his dual commitments as humanist scholar and natural philosopher to return (as Erasmus had earlier counselled) “ad fontes”.10 If his contemporaries fail to scrutinize the legacies of the past, Bacon argued,

  • 11 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.226-7.

Then begin men to aspire to the second prizes; to be a profound interpreter and commenter, to be a sharp champion and defender, to be a methodical compounder and abridger [...] the patrimony of all knowledge goeth not on husbanded or improved, but wasted and decayed.11

8This profound epistemological crisis was wholly governed, in Bacon’s eyes, by the inordinate cultural pressure in contemporaneous societies to stifle enquiry and debate, experimentation and empirically-based hypothesis, with the leaden protocols of dialectical reasoning. Indeed, Brian Vickers justly underlines that

  • 12 See Brian Vickers, “Bacon among the Literati : Science and Language,” Comparative Criti (...)

[Bacon’s] rejection of the syllogism as a basis for scientific logic (since it was based on verbal propositions and could only have verbal results) was historically right, forcefully expressed and timely. The whole thrust of his inductive method was that it should result in works, not words, and his concept of science as operative and active was new and important.12

9In his energetic commitment to the development of human understanding through the precisely calibrated and systematic interrogation of the material world, Bacon gives ample testimony of his consuming interest in questions of perception, rather than those of logic in the course of his career as a natural philosopher. Building upon these emphases, the present discussion focuses particular attention upon the status and function which Bacon believed the faculty of memory might command in the epistemological paradigm shift which he envisaged for humanity’s future. He confessed in The Advancement of Learning that

  • 13 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.326.

[…] a lack I find in the exercises used in the universities, which do make too great a divorce between invention and memory. For their speeches are either premeditate, in verbis conceptis, where nothing is left to invention; or merely ex-temporal, where little is left to memory. Whereas in life and action there is least use of either of these, but rather of intermixtures of premeditation and invention, notes and memory [...].13

10Interestingly, such is the primary and persisting importance of the nature of this enquiry into the cognitive development of humanity and into the limits of memorial powers that the validity of its intellectual undertaking would be widely renewed and reiterated at the dawn of the modern period by Henri Bergson in the magisterial study Matière et Mémoire. Essai sur la relation du corps à l’esprit (1896). However, in Matière et Mémoire, Bergson chose to broach this enquiry in response to the scrutiny of human psychology being developed by his contemporaries and to the politics of identity being negotiated at his very own fin-de-siècle :

  • 14 Henri Bergson, Matière et Mémoire. Essai sur la relation du corps à l’esprit, Paris : P (...)

Nos perceptions sont sans doute imprégnées de souvenirs, et inversement un souvenir [...] ne redevient présent qu’en empruntant le corps de quelque perception où il s’insère. Ces deux actes, perception et souvenir, se pénètrent donc toujours, échangent toujours quelque chose de leurs substances par un phénomène d’endosmose.14

The Discipline of Recollection

11Building upon influential Ancient Greek discussions of the faculty of memory (such as those in evidence in Plato’s Phaedrus and Aristotle’s De Memoria et Reminscentia), the clearest statements of memorial training inherited from the Roman period were developed in the anonymous collection Rhetorica Ad Herennium (86-82 BC), in Cicero’s De Oratore (55 BC) and in Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria (c. AD 95). Although these collections, each in their own ways, bear witness to an Aristotelian emphasis upon the mental replaying of images/objects/situations drawn from the material world (memoria rerum), there remains an abiding interest in the pragmatics of memorial training (the cultivation of “artificial memory”) and how this might relate to linguistic performance (memoria verborum). More generally, the Latin writers concerned themselves principally with memoria as a key procedure alongside the other elements of rhetorical delivery, such as : inventio (generation of material) ; dispositio (marshalling of material) ; elocutio (linguistic embellishment) ; and actio (oratorical display).

12In addition, Cicero, Quintilian and the author of the Rhetorica Ad Herennium devoted particular attention to the role which the visual powers of recall might assume in successful rhetorical performance in the civitas. Quintilian, for example, was notable amongst many others, for advocating a procedure of imaginative memnotechnology – the mental imaging of a complex architectural structure or landscape in which every chamber or building would contain a piece of relevant information – in the educative regime preparing rhetoricians for service to the civitas :

  • 15 Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, trans. H.-E. Butler, London : Willia (...)

Some place is chosen of the largest possible extent and characterised by the utmost possible variety, such as a spacious house divided into a number of rooms [...]. The first thought is placed, as it were, in the forecourt; the second, let us say, in the living room; the remainder are placed in due order [...] as soon as the memory of the facts requires to be revived, all these places are visited in turn and the various deposits are demanded from their custodians [...]15

  • 16 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.53.

13Although clearly conversant with such intellectual models inherited from antiquity, Bacon would remain profoundly sceptical of their intents and efficacy, because (he believed) they depended so explicitly upon the vagaries of the speculative imagination, upon fanciful inculcation rather than rational apprehension. Indeed, more generally, Bacon would conclude in the Novum Organum (1620) that “not much can be known in nature by the way which is now in use.”16 Elsewhere, in the “Aphorisms concerning the Interpretation of Nature and the Kingdom of Man” in the Novum Organum, the reader is invited to ponder that

  • 17 Ibid., IV.83-84.

[…] if a man turn from the workshop to the library, and wonder at the immense variety of books he sees there, let him but examine and diligently inspect their matter and con¬tents, and his wonder will assuredly be turned the other way; for after observing their endless repetitions, and how men are ever saying and doing what has been said and done before, he will pass from admiration of the variety to astonishment at the poverty and scantiness of the subjects which till now have occupied and possessed the minds of men.17

14Bacon thus sought a more dynamic function for memory than could be recovered in the syllogisms of scholastic modes of reasoning. He proposed a quite different modus operandi with which to challenge the present pedagogic edifice in “The Plan of the Work” to The Great Instauration :

  • 18 F. Bacon, The Great Instauration, IV.24. For further discussion here, see Perez Zagorin (...)

For in the ordinary logic almost all the work is spent about the syllogism. Of induction the logicians seem hardly to have taken any serious thought, but they pass it by with a slight notice, and hasten on to the formulae of disputation. I on the contrary reject demonstration by syllogism, as acting too confusedly, and letting nature slip out of its hands.18

  • 19 Ibid., IV.25.

15Having thus dispensed with conventional practices of learning, Bacon went on to promote his own “method” with magisterial authority : “my plan is to proceed regularly and gradually from one axiom to another, so that the most general are not reached till the last.”19

  • 20 Perez Zagorin, Francis Bacon, op. cit., 103.
  • 21 See respectively : Michel Malherbe, “Bacon’s Method of Science,” in Markku Peltonen (ed (...)

16The exact nature of the mode of epistemological investigation envisaged by Bacon has warranted continuing comment and questioning down the centuries. Perez Zagorin, for example, has proposed that “the essence of Baconian experimental science” should be seen as “a fusion of reason and critically sifted experience in pursuit of the laws of nature and the production of works.”20 Michel Malherbe argues that under the terms of the Baconian methodology, “Knowledge starts from sensible experience, rests upon natural history which presents sense data in an ordinate distribution, rises up from lower axioms or propositions to more general ones, tries to reach the more fundamental laws of nature (the knowledge of forms) and, from there, by a practical deduction, derives new experiments or works,” whereas Ian Box contends that in the Baconian vision, “the advancement of knowledge is an incremental process depending not on the revelation of a secret wisdom but on the gradual development of axioms of increasingly general application.”21 In this context, Lisa Jardine offers one of the most sustained and illuminating accounts of Bacon’s intellectual proceeding in this area which indicates the natural philosopher’s knowledge of the Ramists’ desire to position memoria firmly within the clutches of logic. However, Bacon and his later followers maintained a guarded response to the Ramist investment in an essentially Aristotelian concern with universal laws – lex veritatis, lex justitiae, and lex sapientiae – looking back to the Posterior Analytics. If Bacon’s methodology was intent upon securing knowledge of the scrutable mechanic forces which shape and organise the material world, it was committed to populating tables of human knowledge with specifics, rather than general paradigms of intellectual demonstration. Jardine argues :

  • 22 See Lisa Jardine, “Experientia literata or Novum Organum ? The Dilemma of Bacon’s Scien (...)

The goal of the Inductive Method is essential definitions. Its starting point is a finite a priori list of simple natures primitive qualities which provide the building blocks for the spectrum of properties of natural phenomena [...]. In order to make his essential definitions active, Bacon couples his list of simple natures with a list of simple motions : inclinations, appetites, attractions, and varieties of locomotion, out of which the mobile features of natural phenomena (including growth and decay, sympathies and antipathies) are constructed.22

  • 23 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.52.

17Most pertinent to the present discussion of memoria, in turning to Bacon’s own writings on the formulation of “method”, we discover a recurring deployment of a discourse of purgation and catharsis. In the “Aphorisms” from the Novum Organum, for example, the reader is assured that, “It is idle to expect great advancement in science from the superinducing and engrafting of new things upon old. We must begin anew from the very foundations unless we would revolve for ever in a circle with mean and contemptible progress.”23 Moreover, if, in the twenty-first century, it is difficult on occasions to remain cognizant of the radical nature of this commitment on Bacon’s part to a revolution in his Age’s intellectual modus operandi, we have only to consult contemporaneous print culture to shed further light on the philosopher’s striking departure from the cultural expectations of the time. In these opening decades of the seventeenth century, there are ample opportunities in productions rolling from the English presses to reflect upon the contrary motions of early modern epistemology. Bacon’s contemporary and fellow essayist, Sir William Cornwallis, for example, found little to inspire him in terms of human achievement or potential in his meditations upon the sublunary world, and argued vigorously in “Of Human Contentment” from his own Essayes (1600-1601) that

  • 24 “Of Human Contentment”, in Sir William Cornwallis, Essayes, London, 1600-1601, (...)

[…] our humaine liues runne after contentment, but neuer ouertake her, we cannot, for contentment is diuine, our bodyes earthly, our mindes we feele ouertakes her, for the propounded contentment pleaseth her, she imbraceth it, and is already in possession, but when it comes, so short dooth it fall of her expectation, as shee erects another, a plaine argument of her diuinitie, and a true signe, that reall contentment is not of this world, nor to be grasped within our earthly armes.24

  • 25 Ibid., vol. II: “Of Essayes and Bookes”, sig. Hh1r–v.

18If his reader were in any doubt whatsoever, Cornwallis underlined in another of his meditations, “Of Essayes and Bookes”, that he reserved for himself a thoroughly non-Baconite intellectual undertaking : “When I thinke of the abilities of man, I promise myselfe much out of my reading, but it prooues not so, Time goeth, and I turne leaues yet still finde my selfe in the state of ignorance [...] for I will choose rather to be an honest man then a good Logitian.”25 Moreover, decades later during the period of the Civil Wars, Sir Thomas Browne might be still discovered thoroughly receptive on occasions to late medieval traditions of memento mori and contemptus mundi, lamenting in his Religio Medici (1642) :

  • 26 Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, London, 1642, 147, 149, 158.

[…] for the world, I count it not an Inn, but an Hospital, and a place, not to live, but to dye in. [...] surely it is not a melancholy conceit to thinke we are all asleepe in this world, and that the conceits of this world, are as meare dreames to those of the next, as the Phantasmes of the night; to the conceit of the day. [...] I conclude therfore, and say that there is no happinesse under (or as Copernicus will have it, above) the Sun, in that repeated verity and burthen of all the wisdome of Solomon, All is vanity and vexation of spirit ; there is no felicity in that the world adores.26

19For generations to come, Bacon’s conceptual undertaking to interrogate materiality would have to compete with a pervasive cultural and spiritual denigration of mere temporality.

  • 27 See B. Jonson, Timber or Discoveries (pub. 1641), op. cit., vol. VIII, 592.
  • 28 Cited in Charles Whitney, Francis Bacon and Modernity, New Haven : Yale UP, 1986, 17.
  • 29 John Dryden, “To my Honour’d Friend, Dr Charleton”, ll. 23-24. Critical attention has a (...)

20In his own commonplace book dating from the Caroline period, Timber or Discoveries, Ben Jonson included what he termed a “Scriptorum Catalogus” producing a roll call of the notable intellects of his age. Here, Jonson celebrated the Novum Organum as “not penetrated, nor understood” by “superficiall men”, and shone a light upon a work which he believed “really openeth all defects of Learning whatsoever ; and is a Booke.”27 However, such acclaim was not always voiced by his contemporaries. Even his sovereign, James VI/I, allegedly observed that the scientific thinking of this most eminent jurist was “like the peace of God, which passeth understanding.”28 It seems that Bacon’s intellectual legacies would have to await the passing of his own generation, for the institution of the Royal Society in the quite different cultural climate of Restoration England before his achievement could meet with more universal approval. Such approval would indeed find a voice in John Dryden’s verse “To my Honour’d Friend, Dr Charleton,” where he argued that the world “does not only owe/Its present knowledge, but its future too” to the Jacobean natural philosopher.29

Writing and Memory

  • 30 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.397.

21Plato’s Phaedrus had posited that the act of writing itself would negotiate the extent (and herald the demise) of human memorial prowess. Bacon himself remained preoccupied by the intellectual exchanges and the potential limits which shaped the movements back and forth from memory to writing and how these might have an impact upon in the desired “proficience” of human knowledge. In The Advancement of Learning he argued that “[t]he custody or retaining of knowledge is either in Writing or Memory,”30 and this point is developed further in the fifth Book of De Augmentis :

  • 31 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.435.

The great help to the memory is writing; and it must be taken as a rule that memory without this aid is unequal to matters of much length and accuracy; and that its unwritten evidence ought by no means to be allowed. This is particularly the case in inductive philosophy and the interpretation of nature; for a man might as well attempt to go through the calculations of an Ephemeris in his head without the aid of writing, as to master the interpretation of nature by the natural and naked force of thought and memory, without the help of tables duly arranged.31

  • 32 F. Bacon, Historia ventorum, V.145.

22However, if Bacon advocated that human intellectual progress per se must be shaped by the formulation of an appropriate methodology, a sceptical interrogation of received thinking, and the exercise of informed speculation, such enquiries repeatedly prompted him to consider the human faculty of memory. Indeed, when we turn to the leads given by Bacon in the business of scientific investigation, they often form an intriguing example of meticulous observation combined with the unexpected exercise of memorial knowledge. In the Historia Ventorum (“The History of the Winds”, pub. 1622), for example, we are informed that “For the sake of clearness and to assist the memory, we give a new set of names to the winds according to their order and degrees, instead of using the old proper names”32 ; and we are promptly furnished with a listing or analytic table to assist in this aim. The listings or tables, such as those given in the Historia Ventorum, are deployed tactically as spatial or organisational devices for the practical purposes of knowledge acquisition, as he indicates in a sister work, the Historia Densi & Rari (1623) :

  • 33 Translation of Historia Densi & Rari, in Francis Bacon, The Instauratio Magna : Last Wr (...)

It does the mind a power of good to see how finite and comprehensible is the nature of things in tangible bodies. For the table gets to grips with nature as if in a wrestling match. Let no one therefore go astray or go in for fictions or dreams.33

23Such diagrams may also assist the investigator’s memory in delimiting the field of research prior to the formulation of the requisite axioms, as he highlights in the Novum Organum :

  • 34 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.96.

[...] hitherto more has been done in matter of invention by thinking than by writing; and experience has not yet learned her letters. Now no course of invention can be satisfactory unless it be carried on in writing [...] little is to be hoped [...] unless all the particulars which pertain to the subject of inquiry shall, by means of Tables of Discovery, apt, well arranged, and as it were animate, be drawn up and marshalled; and the mind be set to work upon the helps duly prepared and digested which these tables supply.34

24Thus, Bacon’s intellectual undertaking took particular care to attend to the relative authorities of memory and writing and to outline the parameters and competencies which might be established effectively for these complementary activities. Memory could not and should not be dispensed with wholly in any consideration of the processes of human cognition, but its usefulness in the analysis of empirical data should not, in Bacon’s eyes, be overestimated. And in seventeenth-century Britain, Bacon would not remain a lone voice in pondering the manner in which knowledge might be organised for subsequent retrieval and analysis. In The Holy State (1642), for example, Thomas Fuller cautioned :

  • 35 See Chapter Ten “Of Memory”, in Thomas Fuller, The Holy State, Cambridge, 1642, (...)

Adventure not all thy learning in one bottom, but divide it betwixt thy Memory and thy Note-books. He that with Bias carries all his learning about him in his head will utterly be beggerd and bankrupt, if a violent disease, a mercilesse thief, should rob and strip him. I know some have a Common-place against Common-place-books, and yet perchance will privately make use of what publickly they declaim against. A Common-place-book contains many Notions in garison, whence the owner may draw out an army into the field on competent warning.35

  • 36 See Francis Bacon. The Major Works, xlii-xliii.
  • 37 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.436.

25Intriguingly, in his review of the development of Bacon’s scholarly pursuits, Brian Vickers draws attention to an early 1594 notebook in which “he seems to have set himself an exercise, writing out from memory all the quotations he could remember, a total of over 1,600 items, including 255 from Erasmus Adagia, 110 from Virgil, 107 from the Bible, 46 from Ovid, a huge collection (443) of proverbs in Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian, together with a large number of metaphors, similes, and ‘mottoes’, or brief phrases.”36 Yet, in this context, we might be reminded that Bacon declared himself adamant in Fifth Book of the De Augmentis that “the being able to repeat at once and in the same order a great number of names or words upon a single hearing, or to make a number of verses extempore on any subject [...] all such things I esteem no more than I do the tricks and antics of clowns and rope-dancers.”37

26Such examples can only serve to indicate the (perhaps inevitably) contrary motions in the thinking of a natural philosopher within a society beginning to negotiate radical transformations in its very understandings of epistemology and ontology. Bacon proposed himself as a mentor for those who wished to pursue the investigation of the material world with the critical apparatus of observation, experimentation, data analysis and storage, and empirically-based hypothesis; and, as is amply indicated in his celebrated, but unfinished work The New Atlantis (pub. 1627), he constantly formulated textual visions in which those committed to intellectual enquiry and rigour might govern the cultural direction of the larger community. However, this natural philosopher would never be able to rid himself of the prevailing systems in his society by which cultural privilege was awarded: he was located at the very heart of an intellectually diverse society in which cultures of learning, religious worship, artistic performance and legal training, to name but a few, continued to invest deeply in schemes of rote-learning and to venerate the accomplished mnemonicist.

27More generally, it is striking how frequent the philosophical meditation of the faculty of memory is linked to a reconsideration of the status and function of modernity in any age. Sounding a rather apocalyptic note at the close of the nineteenth century, Henri Bergson would argue :

  • 38 H. Bergson, Matière et Mémoire, op. cit., 49.

Pour évoquer le passé sous forme d’image, il faut pouvoir s’abstraire de l’action présente, il faut savoir attacher du prix à l’inutile, il faut vouloir rêver. L’homme seul est peut-être capable d’un effort de ce genre. Encore le passé où nous remontons ainsi est-il glissant, toujours sur le point de nous échapper, comme si cette mémoire régressive était contrariée par l’autre mémoire, plus naturelle, dont le mouvement en avant nous porte à agir et à vivre.38

  • 39 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.325.

28While we must remain acutely sensitive to the question of historical difference in the cultural moments and intellectual investments which Bacon negotiated in the early decades of the seventeenth century and Bergson in his own nineteenth-century fin-de-siècle, they both present themselves as profoundly exercised by the conflicting obligations which the past imposes and the prospective commitment of their own intellectual undertakings. For his own part, responding keenly to competing cultural and intellectual legacies of his Age, Bacon continued to scrutinize the status and function of memory firmly within his vision of legitimate scientific investigation and, indeed, of the human act of apprehension. He insisted in the De Augmentis that “he who remembers or recollects, thinks ; he who imagines, thinks; he who reasons, thinks ; and in a word the spirit of man, whether prompted by sense or left to itself, whether in the functions of the intellect, or of the will and affections, dances to the tune of the thoughts,”39 and this concern with memory’s role in the processes of knowledge acquisition would again be problematised later in the seventeenth century in an equally celebrated manner by the political theorist Thomas Hobbes in his Elements of Philosophy (1656) :

  • 40 Thomas Hobbes, Elements of Philosophy, London, 1656, Pt. IV, xxv, 1, 290. More generall (...)

And as for the causes of Sense, we cannot begin our search of them from any other Phænomenon then that of Sense it self. But you will say, by what Sense shall we take notice of Sense ? I answer, by Sense it self, namely, by the Memory which for some time remains in us of things sensible, though they themselves pass away. For he that perceiues that he hath perceived, remembers.40

  • 41 John Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. Richard Barber, Suffolk : Boydell & Brewer, 1982, 31.
  • 42 William Prynne, Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, London, 1633, (...)

29When John Aubrey visited the Bacon family house at Gorhambury, he pondered whether Sir Nicholas Bacon (the father of Francis) had not been thinking of the artes memoriae when he first conceived of certain aspects of the building’s architecture : “a stately gallery, whose glass windows are all painted ; and every pane with several figures of beast, bird and flower: perhaps his lordship might use them as topics for local memory.”41 However, it is clear that the debate concerning memorial training was no more resolved in the seventeenth century than it had been for the generation of Erasmus and Melanchthon, a hundred years earlier. Richly sensitive to the manifold temptations on offer to a sinning populace in seventeenth-century London at the beginning of the period of Charles I’s “Personal Rule”, the Puritan lawyer and author, William Prynne, railed against the activities of the playhouses, arguing that “Nothing more powerfully sinkes into the memory, then that which is apprehended by the eye.”42 Equally interestingly, a decade later in The Holy State (1642), Thomas Fuller returned specifically to the question of the ars memorativa, insisting that

  • 43 See chapter 10 – “Of Memory”, in Fuller, The Holy State, op. cit., 174.

Artificiall memory is rather a trick then an art, and more for the gain of the teacher then profit of the learners. Like the tossing of a pike, which is no part of the postures and motions thereof, and is rather for ostentation then use, to shew the strength and nimblenesse of the arm, and is often used by wandring Souldiers as an introduction to beg. Understand it of the artificiall rules which at this day are delivered by Memory-mountebanks; for sure an art thereof may be made (wherein as yet the world is defective) and that no more destructive to naturall Memory then spectacles are to eyes, which girls in Holland wear from 12 years of age. But till this be found out [...]43

30and so Fuller proceeds to counsel the prudent exertion of the faculty.

Bacon and the artes memoriae

  • 44 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.398.
  • 45 Ibid., III.398.
  • 46 Ibid., III.399.

31In The Advancement of Learning Bacon confessed that he found “the faculty [of memory] [...] weakly enquired of”, but acknowledged that “An art there is extant of it”.44 He then took the opportunity to reflect upon the practices of the artes memoriae which, as we have seen, had exercised minds since antiquity. At a number of points in his writing career Bacon offered guarded appreciations of this ancient art of mnemnotechnology which, like his interrogations of alchemy, sought to denigrate the extravagant claims made by the practitioners while acknowledging that some intellectual paradigms might be salvaged from its undertakings. In a brief consideration of alchemical practices in the Second Book of The Advancement of Learning, for example, he concluded that “It is certain the art (as it is) may be raised to points of ostentation prodigious : but in use (as it is now managed) it is barren.”45 Nonetheless, in turning his attentions to the cognitive status and function of memory, he did recognize that the human mind responds to the directives of specificity and circumscribed enquiry (“prenotion” in Bacon’s terminology, having analogies with the “loci” of the artes memoriae) and the reduction of “conceits intellectual to images sensible” (“emblem” in Bacon’s terminology, having analogies with the “imagines” of the artes memoriae).46 The recognition of these cognitive structures was still found to warrant some attention for this natural philosopher as he reviewed the intellectual procedures which might be exploited by future generations :

  • 47 Ibid., III.398-9. See also II.659, III.552-3, IV.127, 163, 435-7, VII.101. For further (...)

This art of memory is but built upon two intentions ; the one prenotion, the other emblem. Prenotion dischargeth the indefinite seeking of that we would remember, and directeth us to seek in a narrow compass, that is, somewhat that hath congruity with our place of memory. Emblem reduceth conceits intellectual to images sensible, which strike the memory more; out of which axioms may be drawn much better practique than that in use; and besides which axioms, there are divers moe touching help of memory, not inferior to them. But I did in the beginning distinguish, not to report those things deficient, which are but only ill managed.47

  • 48 F. Bacon, Letter to Sir Henry Savile, VII.101.

32If Bacon is eager on a number of occasions to disparage the ancient literatures of memorial training, it nonetheless quickly becomes evident that memory did form part of what he envisaged to be the strategic mental equipment of the intellectual. In a letter (1596-1604?) to Sir Henry Savile, he underlined that the faculty could be improved (“Artificial memory greatly holpen by exercise”48), and indeed might be usefully subjected to a vigorous regime of training :

  • 49 Ibid., VII.97.

[...] the experience is manifest enough that the motions and faculties of the wit and memory may be not only governed and guided, but also confirmed and enlarged, by custom and exercise duly applied: as if a man exercise shooting, he shall not only shoot nearer the mark but also draw a stronger bow.49

  • 50 Ibid., VII.102.
  • 51 T. Browne, Religio Medici, op. cit., 14.

33In this letter to Savile, Bacon (like earlier generations of humanist scholars, such as Erasmus and Vives) recognized that in certain circumstances the faculty might require vigorous government : “if want of memory grow through lightness of wit and want to stayed attention, then the mathematics or the law helpeth; because they are things wherein if the mind once roam it cannot recover.”50 There were, however, other, dissenting voices during the Early Stuart period, like that of Thomas Browne, who contended that the intellect or spirit required freedom from discipline in order to appreciate the multifariousness of the human condition. He famously argued in the Religio Medici, for example, that “me thinks there be not impossibilities enough in Religion for an active faith; the deepest mysteries ours containes, have not onely beene illustrated, but maintained by syllogisme, and the rule of reason : I love to lose my selfe in a mystery to pursue my reason to an o altitudo.”51

  • 52 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.496.

34Elsewhere, in his strenuous commitment to the training of the mind to the rigorous pursuit of knowledge, Bacon strikingly also addressed the question in the Sixth Book of De Augmentis that dramatic representation might be beneficial in stimulating the power of recall : “stage-playing [...] strengthens the memory, regulates the tone and effect of the voice [...] gives not a little assurance, and accustoms men to bear being looked at.”52 In this manner, he may be seen to transform the cultural construct of the memory theatre for contemporary scrutiny. Yet as radical Protestant voices became increasingly shrill in the public sphere of debate in the cultural life of the British nations as the seventeenth century wore on, it would become increasingly difficult to associate the built environment of the theatre with any form of rigour, memorial or moral. In Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie (1633), for example, the Puritan William Prynne thundered :

  • 53 W. Prynne, Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, op. cit(...)

O therefore let Stage-Players perish, yea, for ever perish, which thus revive the cursed memory of Pagan Idols, and their infernall wickednesses, whose remembrance should for ever be forgotten lest we perish by them : O let those filthy Enterludes, those shamelesse Actors, who feare not to display those shamefull workes of darkenesse in the sight of thousands on the open Theater [...] be ever execrable to all pious Christians. [...] For Comicall fables treat of the rapes of Virgins, or of the loves of Harlots, and by how much the more eloquent the Poets are who have feined these wickednesses [...] and the more easily doe their wel-composed and adorned verses sticke in the memory of the Hearers.53

  • 54 F. Bacon, Apophthegms New and Old, VII.123.

35As has become apparent throughout this discussion, Bacon returned in a host of different ways to the cultural agency and the intellectual exploitation of the faculty of memory. And, as so often in his theoretical ruminations, he appears not to have fully resolved his thinking in this conflicted area of investigation. Indeed, in his Apophthegms New and Old (pub. 1624) he took time and space to ponder the benefits of a trained and capacious “artificial” memory : “[apophthegms] serve to be interlaced in continued speech. They serve to be recited upon occasion of themselves. They serve if you take out the kernel of them and make them your own.”54 Furthermore, in De Augmentis we are asked to remain in a state of awe when summoned into the presence of the memory experts :

  • 55 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.374.

What a wonderful thing, for example, is that which is told of Caesar that he could dictate to five secretaries at once [...] A thing inferior in use, but as a matter of display and ability perhaps still greater, is that which Cicero relates of his master Archias – that he could speak extempore a great number of excellent verses about anything that happened to be going on at the time. That Cyrus or Scipio could call so many thousands of men by name was a great feat of memory.55

  • 56 F. Bacon, Sapientia Veterum, VI.698.

36Indeed, the very undertaking of his Sapientia Veterum (“The Wisdom of the Ancients”) was to analyse fables bequeathed to us from the earliest human communities, and to unlock their didactic potential as “sacred relics and light airs breathing out of better times.”56 Perhaps inevitably, Bacon’s writings on memory reflected the very multifariousness of intellectual perspectives available to him in the wider culture of Early Modern Europe.

Bacon’s Legacies

  • 57 See “A.P. to the Reader”, in Sir John Hayward, The First part of the life and raigne (...)
  • 58 For further discussion here, see Michael W. Twomey, “Inventing the Encyclopedia,” in Al (...)

37In a prefatory text to John Hayward’s First part of the life and raigne of King Henrie the IV (1599), the reader is reminded that “death commeth by nature to all men alike, onely with difference of memory with posterity,”57 and it would seem timely in the final phase of this discussion to ponder briefly this “difference of memory” with regard to Bacon himself. As we have seen, after the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, Bacon’s writings were addressed with a renewed attention and increasing respect reinforced with the newly-minted authority of the Royal Society. As the eighteenth century wore on, successive publications of his works in England were also accompanied with an ever growing reputation abroad. Diderot and D’Alembert, for example, acknowledged his preeminent influence (along with that of Locke and Newton) in the creation of the Encyclopédie (first volumes published 1751-1765).58 Indeed, D’Alembert argued in the “Discours Préliminaire” to the Encyclopédie that

  • 59 Jean Le Rond D’Alembert, Discours Préliminaire de l’Encyclopédie par D’Alembert, Paris  (...)

À la tête de ces illustres personnages doit être placé l’immortel Chancelier d’Angleterre, François Bacon, dont les Ouvrages si justement estimés, plus estimés pourtant qu’ils ne sont connus, méritent encore plus notre lecture que nos éloges. À considerer les vûes saines étendues de ce grand homme, la multitude d’objets sur lesquels son esprit s’est porté, la hardiesse de son style qui réunit par-tout les plus sublimes images avec la précision la plus rigoureuse, on seroit tenté de le regarder comme le plus grand, le plus universel, le plus éloquent des Philosophes.59

38By the next century, appreciations of Bacon’s exalted status in the history of learning were becoming common currency. In its account of the importance of The Advancement of Learning in 1806, the periodical The Lady’s Monthly Museum declared authoritatively for its readership that

  • 60 The Lady’s Monthly Museum, 1 September 1806, 114.

Bacon examined the whole circle of sciences; and if [The Advancement of Learning] be carefully perused, as it ought to be by every one who is desirous of methodizing and enlarging his conceptions on the general objects of science, the reader will not fail to admire the active and penetrating genius of the author, who could alone discover so many things, of which former ages had been ignorant, and hold up to posterity a light, by which they have been so successfully guided into new fields of science.60

  • 61 See George Henry Lewes, A Biographical History of Philosophy, IV vols., London, 1852-18 (...)
  • 62 Moonshine, December 24th 1887, 317.

39If, later in the century in A Biographical History of Philosophy (1852-3), George Henry Lewes submitted that Bacon “may excite our admiration historically ; [but] his method excites no admiration for its present intrinsic value,”61 it appears that this was not the perception nurtured among the wider public. Indeed, the periodical Moonshine announced the following for its general readership in 1887 : “A portrait model of Sir Francis Bacon has been added to the collection at Madame Tussaud’s. Sir Francis is waxing famous.”62

  • 63 “A New Abecedarium of Nature”, in The Instauratio Magna : Last Writings, op. (...)

40These many and various instances of praise would have been warmly received by a natural philosopher who had, he declared in “A New Abecedarium of Nature”, “little faith in the genius of our times” and thus devoted himself to “posterity [...] knowing well enough the nature of the things that I impart, I deal out work for ages to come.”63 Moreover, his lasting commitment to the dissemination of his writings in the lingua franca of intellectual exchange of early modern Europe, namely Latin, meant that he wished to be memorialised, to invest above all in the advancement of learning across the extending spans of time and space, as he reminded his readers in the Novum Organum :

  • 64 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.53.

It was said by Borgia of the expedition of the French into Italy, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark out their lodgings, not with arms to force their way in. I in like manner would have my doctrine enter quietly into the minds that are fit and capable of receiving it; for confutations cannot be employed, when the difference is upon first principles and very notions and even upon forms of demonstration.64

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Bibliographie

AQUINAS Thomas (St.), Commentaries on Aristotle’s On Sense and What is Sensed and On Memory and Recollection, trans. Kevin White & Edward M. Macierowski, Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of America Press, 2005.

AUBREY John, Brief Lives, ed. Richard Barber, Suffolk : Boydell & Brewer, 1982.

BACON Francis (Sir), The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. J. Spedding, R.-L. Ellis, & D.-D. Heath, vols. 1-14, London : Longman et al., 1857-74.

BACON Francis (Sir), The Instauratio Magna : Last Writings. The Oxford Francis Bacon XIII, ed. Graham Rees, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 2000.

BACON Francis (Sir), The Major Works, ed. Brian Vickers, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2002.

BERGSON Henri, Matière et Mémoire. Essai sur la relation du corps à l’esprit, Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1965.

BOX Ian, The Social Thought of Francis Bacon, Lampeter : Edwin Mellen Press, 1989.

BRETON Nicholas, Characters vpon essaies morall, and diuine written for those good spirits, that will take them in good part, and make vse of them to good purpose, London: Edw. Griffin, 1615.

BROWNE Thomas (Sir), Religio Medici, London : for Andrew Crooke, 1642.

CORNWALLIS William (Sir), Essayes, London: Stafford/Read, 1600-1601.

D’ALEMBERT Jean Le Rond, Discours Préliminaire de l’Encyclopédie par D’Alembert, Paris : Bibliothèque Nationale, 1866.

FULLER Thomas, The Holy State, Cambridge : Roger Daniel, 1642.

HAYWARD John (Sir), The First part of the life and raigne of King Henrie the IIII. Extending to the end of the first yeare of his raigne, London : Allde/Judson, 1599.

HILL Benjamin & Henrik LAGERLUND (eds.), The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2012.

HISCOCK Andrew, Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2011.

HOBBES Thomas, Elements of Philosophy, London : Leybourn for Crooke, 1656.

JARDINE Lisa, “Experientia literata or Novum Organum ? The Dilemma of Bacon’s Scientific Method,” in William A. SESSIONS (ed.), Francis Bacon’s Legacy of Texts, New York : Ams Press, 1990, 47-67.

JOHNSON Robert, Essaies, or rather Imperfect Offers, London : John Windet, 1601.

JONSON Ben, Ben Jonson, vol. VIII, eds. C.-H. Herford, Percy Simpson & Evelyn Simpson, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1947.

LEWES George Henry, A Biographical History of Philosophy, IV vols., London, 1852-1853.

MALHERBE Michel, “Bacon’s Method of Science,” in Markku Peltonen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 75-98.

MISZTAL Barbara A., Theories of Social Remembering, Maidenhead /Philadelphia : Open University Press, 2003.

MORE Thomas (Sir), Utopia, trans. Robert M. Adams, New York : W. W. Norton & Company, 2nd ed., 1992.

PRYNNE William, Histrio-mastix. The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, London : Allde et al, 1633.

QUINTILIAN, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, trans. H.-E. Butler, London : William Heinemann; Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 1936.

STEPHENS James, Francis Bacon and the Style of Science, Chicago : Chicago University Press, 1975.

STIMSON Dorothy, The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory, New York : Columbia University Press, 1917.

TUVILL Daniel [D.T.], Essaies Politicke, and Morall, London : Humphrey Lownes, 1608.

TWOMEY Michael W., “Inventing the Encyclopedia,” in Alisdair A. MACDONALD & Michael W. TWOMEY (eds.), Schooling and Society, Leuven : Peeters, 2004, 73-92.

VICKERS Brian, “Bacon among the Literati : Science and Language,” Comparative Criticism, 13, 1991, 249-271.

WHITNEY Charles, Francis Bacon and Modernity, New Haven : Yale University Press, 1986.

ZAGORIN Perez, Francis Bacon, Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1998.

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Notes

1 “Commentary on On Memory and Recollection,” in St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentaries on Aristotle’s On Sense and What is Sensed and On Memory and Recollection, trans. Kevin White & Edward M. Macierowski, Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of America Press, 2005, 184, 187.

2 Quoted in Dorothy Stimson, The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory, New York : Columbia UP, 1917, 46-47.

3 Quoted in Roger Ariew, “Descartes and Leibniz as Readers of Suárez : Theory of Distinctions and Principle of Individuation,” in Benjamin Hill and Henrik Lagerlund (eds.), The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez, Oxford : Oxford UP, 2012, 38-53 (40).

4 Sir Thomas More, Utopia, trans. Robert M. Adams, New York : W.-W. Norton & Company, 2nd ed., 1992, Book One, 8-9.

5 “Of Greatness of Mind,” in Robert Johnson, Essaies, or rather Imperfect Offers, London : John Windet, 1601, sig. B1v.

6 See respectively: Daniel Tuvill [D.T.], Essaies Politicke, and Morall, London: Humphrey Lownes, 1608, sig. I7r: “Of Paines and Industrie” ; Nicholas Breton, Characters vpon essaies morall, and diuine written for those good spirits, that will take them in good part, and make vse of them to good purpose, London : Edw. Griffin, 1615, sigs. A3r, A3v.

7 Francis Bacon, Cogitationes de natura rerum, V.437. Unless otherwise indicated, all textual references are to Francis Bacon, The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. J. Spedding, R.-L. Ellis, and D.-D. Heath, vols. 1-14, London : Longman et al., 1857-74.

8 Ben Jonson, Ben Jonson, vol. VIII, eds. C.-H. Herford, Percy Simpson & Evelyn Simpson, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1947, 567, ll. 124-128.

9 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, Book Two, “To the King”. See III.321. See also Jonson’s Timber or Discoveries, in Ben Jonson, op. cit., VIII, 627, ll. 2095–2098.

10 For broader discussion of these questions, see Andrew Hiscock, Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature, Cambridge : Cambridge UP, 2011.

11 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.226-7.

12 See Brian Vickers, “Bacon among the Literati : Science and Language,” Comparative Criticism, 13, 1991, 249-71 (261).

13 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.326.

14 Henri Bergson, Matière et Mémoire. Essai sur la relation du corps à l’esprit, Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1965, 38.

15 Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, trans. H.-E. Butler, London : William Heinemann ; Cambridge, MA : Harvard UP, 1936, vol. IV, bk. XI.2.1, 18, 20-1, see pages 213, 221, 223.

16 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.53.

17 Ibid., IV.83-84.

18 F. Bacon, The Great Instauration, IV.24. For further discussion here, see Perez Zagorin, Francis Bacon, Princeton : Princeton UP, 1998, 102.

19 Ibid., IV.25.

20 Perez Zagorin, Francis Bacon, op. cit., 103.

21 See respectively : Michel Malherbe, “Bacon’s Method of Science,” in Markku Peltonen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, Cambridge : Cambridge UP, 1996, 62 ; Ian Box, The Social Thought of Francis Bacon, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989, 94.

22 See Lisa Jardine, “Experientia literata or Novum Organum ? The Dilemma of Bacon’s Scientific Method,” in William A. Sessions (ed.), Francis Bacon’s Legacy of Texts, New York : Ams Press, 1990, 52.

23 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.52.

24 “Of Human Contentment”, in Sir William Cornwallis, Essayes, London, 1600-1601, sig. V1v.

25 Ibid., vol. II: “Of Essayes and Bookes”, sig. Hh1r–v.

26 Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, London, 1642, 147, 149, 158.

27 See B. Jonson, Timber or Discoveries (pub. 1641), op. cit., vol. VIII, 592.

28 Cited in Charles Whitney, Francis Bacon and Modernity, New Haven : Yale UP, 1986, 17.

29 John Dryden, “To my Honour’d Friend, Dr Charleton”, ll. 23-24. Critical attention has also been drawn to the establishment of a Baconian college in Cowley’s Davideis, ll.663-934.

30 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.397.

31 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.435.

32 F. Bacon, Historia ventorum, V.145.

33 Translation of Historia Densi & Rari, in Francis Bacon, The Instauratio Magna : Last Writings. The Oxford Francis Bacon XIII, ed. Graham Rees, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 2000, 49.

34 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.96.

35 See Chapter Ten “Of Memory”, in Thomas Fuller, The Holy State, Cambridge, 1642, 175-176.

36 See Francis Bacon. The Major Works, xlii-xliii.

37 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.436.

38 H. Bergson, Matière et Mémoire, op. cit., 49.

39 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.325.

40 Thomas Hobbes, Elements of Philosophy, London, 1656, Pt. IV, xxv, 1, 290. More generally, this philosophical linkage between memory and perception represents a key contention in Bergson’s Matière et Mémoire and a source of ongoing discussion in Barbara A. Misztal, Theories of Social Remembering, Maidenhead/Philadelphia : Open University Press, 2003.

41 John Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. Richard Barber, Suffolk : Boydell & Brewer, 1982, 31.

42 William Prynne, Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, London, 1633, 357.

43 See chapter 10 – “Of Memory”, in Fuller, The Holy State, op. cit., 174.

44 F. Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, III.398.

45 Ibid., III.398.

46 Ibid., III.399.

47 Ibid., III.398-9. See also II.659, III.552-3, IV.127, 163, 435-7, VII.101. For further discussion here, see also James Stephens, Francis Bacon and the Style of Science, Chicago : Chicago UP, 1975, 69ff.

48 F. Bacon, Letter to Sir Henry Savile, VII.101.

49 Ibid., VII.97.

50 Ibid., VII.102.

51 T. Browne, Religio Medici, op. cit., 14.

52 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.496.

53 W. Prynne, Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, op. cit., 93, 334.

54 F. Bacon, Apophthegms New and Old, VII.123.

55 F. Bacon, De Augmentis, IV.374.

56 F. Bacon, Sapientia Veterum, VI.698.

57 See “A.P. to the Reader”, in Sir John Hayward, The First part of the life and raigne of King Henrie the IIII. Extending to the end of the first yeare of his raigne, London, 1599, sig. A4r.

58 For further discussion here, see Michael W. Twomey, “Inventing the Encyclopedia,” in Alisdair A. MacDonald & Michael W. Twomey (eds.), Schooling and Society, Leuven : Peeters, 2004, 73-92.

59 Jean Le Rond D’Alembert, Discours Préliminaire de l’Encyclopédie par D’Alembert, Paris : Bibliothèque Nationale, 1866, 88-89.

60 The Lady’s Monthly Museum, 1 September 1806, 114.

61 See George Henry Lewes, A Biographical History of Philosophy, IV vols., London, 1852-1853, III.33.

62 Moonshine, December 24th 1887, 317.

63 “A New Abecedarium of Nature”, in The Instauratio Magna : Last Writings, op. cit., 173.

64 F. Bacon, Novum Organum, IV.53.

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Andrew Hiscock, « “L’immortel Chancelier d’Angleterre” : Francis Bacon, Memory and Method », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. XII-n°5 | 2014, mis en ligne le 15 octobre 2014, consulté le 24 septembre 2017. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/6298 ; DOI : 10.4000/lisa.6298

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Andrew Hiscock

Andrew Hiscock is Professor of English at Bangor University, Wales. He is English editor for the journal MLR and series editor for the Arden Early Modern Drama Guides and for the Yearbook of English Studies. He has published widely on early modern literature and his latest monograph is Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

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