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What do the following statements by Francis Bacon mean?1- "studies serve for delight,...

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sadnesss | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted June 29, 2010 at 5:20 AM via web

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What do the following statements by Francis Bacon mean?

1- "studies serve for delight, for ornament and for ability"

2- "crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them"

3- "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed , and some few to be chewed and digested"

4- "to spend too much time in studies is sloth, to use them too much for ornament is affectation, to make judgment by their rules is the humor of a scholar"

5- "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man"

6- what is the meaning of these Latin phrases: a - Abeunt studia in mores, b. cymini sectores

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mistermicawber | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 29, 2010 at 8:10 AM (Answer #1)

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Francis Bacon was a great proponent of the Rule of Three (q.v.), the rhetorical technique that appears in #1-5.  Each of them are intended to be memorable maxims-- small truths of life-- and all here have to do with books and learning.

The words themselves seem straightforward enough to me, so I would like you to indicate more specifically what parts you do not understand.  Meanwhile, however, we can look at the most difficult one, the only metaphoric maxim, #3.

Bacon is explaining to us that there are all sorts of books, of various qualities, and he represents those qualities using the metaphor of food (for books are 'food for the mind', so to speak).  The verbs he uses are 'tasted', 'swallowed', and 'chewed and digested', and if you use your imagination as to how those words might be applied to the contents of the books that we read, you will probably come up with images similar to these:  some books we need only browse through, others should be read completely, and yet others should be read and re-read to be carefully understood.  He is making it clear that different books hold different significances for the reader and that some should be read and understood more thoroughly than others.

Now, the other sayings of Bacon I think you should be able to work out with no more than your dictionary, but if you have any specific questions remaining after that effort, please ask again.

As for the Latin sayings, translations are easily found by asking Google.

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