Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Francis Bacon

English Scientist, Author, Philosopher

"Natural abilities are like plants that need pruning by study."

"Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise."

"Nothing moderate is pleasing to the crowd."

"Not to resolve is to resolve; and many times it breeds as many necessities, and engageth as far in some other sort, as to resolve."

"Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth and embasseth it."

"Praise from the common people is generally false, and rather follows the vain than the virtuous."

"Seek not proud wealth; but such as thou mayest get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contently, yet have not any abstract or friarly contempt of it."

"Opportunity makes a thief."

"Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt; when thoroughly explored, it dispels it."

"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention."

"Prosperity is not without fears and distaste; and adversity is not without comforts and hope."

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not."

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral philosophy, grace; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."

"Reading serves for delight, for ornament, for ability. The crafty condemn it; the simple admire it; the wise use it."

"Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out."

"Riches have wings."

"Superabundance of suspicion is a kind of political madness."

"Studies teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation."

"Superstition is the Reproach of the Deity... The Master of superstition is the People; and in all Superstition, Wise Men follow Fooles... There is a Superstition in avoiding Superstition."

"Suspicions amongst thoughts are like the bats amongst the birds, they ever fly by twilight: certainly they are to be repressed, or at least well guarded, for they cloud the mind, lose friends, check business, dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, and wise men to irresolution and melancholy; they are defects, not in the heart, but in the brain."

"Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament is in discourse; and ability is in the judgment and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and, perhaps, judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels and the plots and marshaling of affairs come best from those that are learned."

"Some men think that the gratification of curiosity is the end of knowledge; some the love of fame; some the pleasure of dispute; some the necessity of supporting themselves by their knowledge; but the real use of all knowledge is this, that we should dedicate that reason which was given us by God to the use and advantage of man."

"The desire of power in excess caused angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity is no excess, neither can man nor angels come into danger by it."

"The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express."

"That they deny a God, destroy a man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by; his body; an if he is not kin to God by his spirit he is a base and ignoble creature."

"The empire of man over things is founded on the arts and sciences alone, for nature is only to be commanded by obeying her."

"The eye of the understanding is like the eye of the sense; for as you may see great objects through small crannies or holes, so you may see great axioms of nature through small and contemptible instances."

"The first creation of God in the works of the days was the light of the sense; the last was the light of the reason: and His Sabbath-work ever since is the illumination of the spirit."

"The genius wit, and spirit of a nation are discovered in its proverbs."

"The idle levy a very heavy tax upon the industrious when, by frivolous visitations, they rob them of their time. Such persons beg their daily happiness from door to door, as beggars their daily bread."

"The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one, nor they will not utter the other. children sweeten labors, but they make misfortunes more bitter; increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death."

"The mind is the man."

"The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine in Apollo, because the office of medicine is but to tune this curious harp of man’s body and to reduce it to harmony."

"The shortest way is commonly the foulest."

"The road to true philosophy is precisely the same with that which leads to true religion; and from both the one and the other, unless we would enter in as little children, we must expect to be totally excluded."

"The voice of the people has something divine; else how could so many agree in one thing? Marvel not if the vulgar speak truer than the great, for they speak safer."

"The true and lawful goal of the sciences is none other than this: that human life be endowed with new discoveries and powers."

"There is a difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool."

"The world is a bubble."

"There is no great concurrence between learning and wisdom."

"There is no possibility of a holy war."

"The worst solitude is to have no true friendship."

"There is no greater wisdom than well to time the beginning and outsets of things."

"There is no way but to mediate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger - how it troubles man’s life; and the best time to do this is to look back upon anger when the fit is thoroughly over."

"There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little, and therefore men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not keep their suspicions in smother."

"Those that want (lack) friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts."

"To choose time is to save time; and an unseasonable motion is but beating the air. There be three parts of business - the preparation, the debate or examination, and the perfection; whereof, if you look for despatch, let the middle only be the work of many, and the first and last the work of few."

"To speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroic virtue."

"Time is the greatest Innovator."

"To grief there is a limit; not so to fear."