"I Have Taken All Knowledge To Be My Province"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Famous English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon was appointed Lord Chancellor under James I in 1618 and was created Baron Verulam in 1618 and Viscount St. Albans in 1621. These were the crowning political and social achievements for a man who possessed unquestioned abilities and a rather crass determination to exploit them. Without doubt he was one of the most brilliant men of his day. He carried on scientific and philosophic investigations and planned to reorganize the epistemological systems of his time on an experimental inductive basis. He was stubbornly opposed to reasoning from authority and the syllogistic quibbling to which the Scholastic philosophy had declined in the early seventeenth century. Much of his philosophic work was written in Latin, most significant of which are Novum Organum and De Augmentis Scientarium. In literature he is, of course, best known for his essays. At the age of thirty-one ("I wax somewhat ancient; one and thirty years is a great deal of sand in the hour-glass"), in good health, and with aspiring ambitions, he writes in 1592 to Lord Burghley to request a place and opportunity for service to his lordship and the crown:

Again, the meanness of my estate doth somewhat move me: for though I cannot accuse myself that I am either prodigal or slothful, yet my health is not to spend, nor my course to get. Lastly, I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends, as I have moderate civil ends: for I have taken all knowledge to be my province; and if I could purge it of two sorts of rovers, whereof the one with frivolous disputations, confutations, and verbosities, the other with blind experiments and auricular traditions and impostures, hath committed so many spoils, I hope I should bring in industrious observations, grounded conclusions, and profitable inventions and discoveries; the best state of that province.