Skip to main content

Francis Bacon: Of Law, Science, & Philosophy - Fall 2013

Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room

  • This exhibit celebrates and shares a spectacular gift of books by and about English lawyer, scientist, and philosopher Francis Bacon from our own Daniel R. Coquillette, J. Donald Monan, S.J. University Professor.

    The exhibit aims to illustrate the depth and breadth of Francis Bacon’s intellect, as the works displayed cover topics as diverse as a mortality, treason, terrorism, and gardens. Bacon once stated in a letter to his uncle, “I have taken all knowledge to be my province.” (Works, 8.109) This indeed was the case.

    Please visit us to view a sampling of the beautiful books that represent a mere part of Professor Coquillette’s gift to our law school. In addition to being a great friend and benefactor to our Rare Book Room, Professor Coquillette teaches and writes in the areas of legal history and professional responsibility. He has written extensively on the subject of this exhibit, including Francis Bacon (Stanford/Edinburgh, 1992) and "Past the Pillars of Hercules: Francis Bacon and the Science of Rulemaking," 46 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 549 (2012).

    You are invited to view the exhibit anytime the room is open—generally weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The exhibit will remain on view through the Fall 2013 semester.

    The exhibit catalog is also available for download.

  • Fr. Baconi de Verulamio, Sermones Fideles, Ethici, Politici, Econimici. Amsterdam, 1662.

    This is a Latin translation of Bacon’s Essayes, the first of his works to be printed (earlier works had circulated in manuscript). In this work, Bacon pontificates on a wide range of matters—atheism, judicature, friendship, gardens, love, superstition, etc.—and offers his observations and advice. It is characterized by a multitude of examples, quotations, and aphorisms, many quite famous today.

  • C.M.D., an Essay on Gardens by Francis Bacon.1912.

    This manuscript was done in elegant calligraphy by “C.M.D.” in red and black ink. The lovely little book is inscribed to a Mrs. E. Wrigley by the famous Bacon bibliographer R.W. Gibson.

  • The Learned Reading of Sir Francis Bacon, One of Her Majesties Learned Counsell at Law, Upon the Statute of Uses…London, 1642.

    Though better known by many today as a scientist and philosopher, Francis Bacon was an important lawyer and jurist. He served as counsel to Queen Elizabeth and James I and held the positions of solicitor-general, attorney-general, and Lord Chancellor. Learned lawyers, such as Bacon, would give lectures on law at their Inn of Court. One “reading” was usually a series of lectures on a given statute. Bacon selected the Statute of Uses (1536) for his reading at Gray’s Inn in 1600.

  • The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Knight, His Majesties Attourney Generall, Touching Duells…London, 1614.

    Bacon became attorney-general in 1613, and one of his first tasks was to abolish the practice of dueling. In this speech to Parliament, he proposed that offenders be prosecuted in the Star Chamber, arguing that “men of birth and quality will leave the practice when it begins to be vilified, and come so low as to barber-surgeons and butchers, and such base mechanical persons.”

  • Sir Francis Bacon, the Wisedom of the Ancients. London, 1619.

    First published in 1609, this is a collection of classical fables summarized and interpreted by Bacon and used a vehicles for his political and philosophical ideas. Traditionally categorized with his literary pieces, this work recently has been viewed as critical to Bacon’s thinking on natural and civil philosophy. The photo shows the beautifully ornamented first page of text.

  • Francis Bacon, of the Advancement and Proficiencie of Learning: Or the Partitions of Sciences Nine Books. London, 1674.

    The first part of this work (first published in 1605 in two books instead nine) lays out Bacon’s view of the value of knowledge and his belief that it is not dangerous or sacrilegious but rather useful and divine. The second part moves into the ways in which true knowledge should be sought and secured, namely by devoting more money, facilities, and personnel to contemporary education.

  • Francis Lord Verulam, Viscount S. Alban, The Historie of Life and Death with Observations Naturall and Experimentall for the Prolonging of Life. London, 1638.

    Bacon was long obsessed with immortality and viewed the achievement of the prolongation of life as one of the “true ends of knowledge.” The captions to the illustrations on the gorgeous half-title page are “Art can flay Nature’s decay”; “Let time Looke on this booke”; “To death all…”; “At last fall.”

  • Francisci Baconi de Verulamio, Scripta in Naturali et Universali Philosophia. Amsterdam, 1653.

    This lovely book contains a collection of Bacon’s works on natural philosophy.

  • Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban, the Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh.London, 1622.

    This political history is notable to theorists who think Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays, as there’s no Shakespeare work on Henry VII and this work picks up where Richard III ends. Professor Coquillette rejects that theory, but says this work fits in with the Natural Histories portion of Bacon’s great philosophical scheme, the Instauratio Magna, and reflects his deep admiration for the great Tudor monarchs.

  • Francis Lo. Verulam Viscount St Alban, Sylva Sylvarum: or, a Naturall Histoire. In Ten Centuries. London, 1639.

    Bacon’s infamous, unfinished work The New Atlantis is appended at the end of Sylvia Sylvarum, which is an exhaustive list (1000 entries) of his natural observations on all sorts of things from gravity to the tenderness of teeth. The New Atlantis encompasses the idea that science and technology can be extremely dangerous and thus require intense social and political control. The prophetic nature of this work—Bacon envisions a world of great research universities, airplanes, submarines, genetic modification, and also predicts the potential for a darker, terroristic side of science—has generated a great deal of interest from scholars for centuries.

  • William Rawley, Resuscitatio or, Bringing into Publick Light Several Pieces of the Works Civil, Historical, Philosophical, and Theological, Hitherto Sleeping of the Right Honourable Francis Bacon Baron of Verulam, Viscount Saint Alban. London, 1671.

    This is an early compilation of Bacon’s writings. Following Bacon’s death in 1626, his loyal chaplain and secretary, William Rawley, gathered and published several compilations of his works, many of which had remained unpublished during Bacon’s life. The frontispiece portrait, which is featured in many of the books in this gift, was done very shortly before Bacon died at age 66.