Quotations Taken from the Works and Sayings of Francis Bacon


  • A king that would not feel his crown too heavy for him, must wear it every day; but if he think it too light, he knoweth not of what metal it is made.
  • A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth of philosophy bringeth a man’s mind about to religion.
  • All rising to a great place is by a winding stair.
  • A man who studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.
  • A prudent question is one-half wisdom.
  • A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open.
  • A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
  • Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt and cannot last; and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance; but if it light well, it makes virtue shine and vice blush.
  • Believe not much them that seem to despise riches; for they despise them that despair of them; and none are worse when they come to them. Be not penny-wise; riches have wings, and sometimes they fly away of themselves, sometimes they must be set flying to bring in more.
  • Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
  • Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable.
  • Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.
  • Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men’s minds, vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds, of a number of men, poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?
  • For those who intend to discover and to understand, not to indulge in conjectures and soothsaying, and rather than contrive imitation and fabulous worlds plan to look deep into the nature of the real world and to dissect it – for them everything must be sought in things themselves.
  • Fortune is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall.
  • For what a man would like to be true, that he more readily believes.
  • God has placed no limits to the exercise of the intellect he has given us, on this side of the grave.
  • He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator.
  • History makes men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend.
  • Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
  • I could hold every man a debtor to his profession; from the which as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavor themselves by way of amends to be a help and ornament thereunto.
  • If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune, for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.
  • If any human being earnestly desire to push on to new discoveries instead of just retaining and using the old; to win victories over Nature as a worker rather than over hostile critics as a disputant; to attain, in fact, clear and demonstrative knowlegde instead of attractive and probable theory; we invite him as a true son of Science to join our ranks.
  • If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him.
  • Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.
  • It is impossible to love and to be wise.
  • Knowledge itself is power.
  • Libraries are the shrines where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and that without delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed.
  • Man, being the servant and interpreter of nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature: beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
  • Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.
  • Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience.
  • Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.
  • Now the true and lawful goal of the sciences is none other than this: that human life be endowed with new discoveries and powers.
  • Nuptial love maketh mankind, friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth and embaseth it.
  • Our humanity were a poor thing were it not for the divinity which stirs within us.
  • Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt; when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.
  • Prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue.
  • Praise from the common people is generally false, and rather follows the vain than the virtuous.
  • Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.
  • Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
  • Rebellions of the belly are the worst.
  • Silentium, stultorum virtus: Silence is the virtue of fools.
  • Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
  • Study the Heaven and the Earth, the works of God Himself and do so while celebrating his praises and singing hymns to your creator.
  • Testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has equal force though shot by a child.
  • The aim of magic is to recall natural philosophy from the vanity of speculations to the importance of experiments.
  • The arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man’s self.
  • The art of discovery grows with discovery.
  • 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 or angels come into danger by it.
  • 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.
  • There are three parts in truth: first, the inquiry, which is the wooing of it; secondly, the knowledge of it, which is the presence of it; and thirdly, the belief, which is the enjoyment of it.
  • 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.
  • There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
  • There is no great concurrence between learning and wisdom.
  • The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits but not when it misses.
  • To choose time is to save time.
  • To read without reflecting, is like eating without digesting.
  • Towards the effecting of works, all that man can do is put together or part asunder natural bodies. The rest is done by Nature working within.
  • Truth will come sooner out of error than from confusion.
  • We take cunning for a sinister and crooked wisdom, and certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty but in point of ability.
  • Whensoever he shall be able to call the creatures by their true names he shall again command them.
  • Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul. Men must not turn into bees, and kill themselves in stinging others.
  • Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
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