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Sir Francis Bacon and "Help Lord" SirResearch Paper

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Sir Francis Bacon and "Help Lord"

Sir Francis Bacon -- Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a true renaissance man who lived in England. He served as the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England, as well as writing prolifically on philosophy, political science, and literature. Besides a great deal of poetry and prose, Bacon established a deductive method in the sciences that focused on specific inquiry. That is, epistemological observation and notation lead one to more appropriate conclusions. Despite a hugely successful career, Bacon was disgraced in 1621 after being convicted of 23 counts of corruption and sentenced to a huge fine and time in the Tower of London. While he only spent a few days incarcerated, he was banned from holding further office and many of the colleagues now shunned him. He died of some type of respiratory illness during a series of experiments on the effect of cold (Zagorin, 22-4; Francis Bacon).

The Era- Perhaps the most important thing to remember about the late Renaissance is that it was, above all, a kind of rediscovery. The Europeans of the early Renaissance looked back across time to the examples of Greece and Rome. But they wrote their works in their own languages. Although the Renaissance officially began in the fifteenth century, it "peaked" in the sixteenth. The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of unprecedented change. It was the beginning of the modern era, and it saw a revolution in almost every aspect of life. The century opened with the discovery of a new continent. The Renaissance, which began in Italy, was peaking and spreading north, even arriving in backwaters like England. Life was largely prosperous for the average person, the economy was growing. The mechanisms of commerce, systems of international finance, ocean-going trading fleets, an entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, were all building a recognizably capitalist, money-based economy. Geniuses were stepping all over each other on the street corners producing scientific innovation after innovation. Technological innovations like gunpowder were changing the nature of warfare and the military caste nature of society -- the cannon probably had a great deal to do with the rise of the centralized nation state, as we know it (Elizabethan Era).

The impact of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I is difficult to overstate. Under her leadership, England rose to super-power status and helped keep the Protestant faith from being overwhelmed by the Counter Reformation. Queen Elizabeth ruled so effectively because of her ability and willingness to compromise in almost every aspect of English society, including religion, foreign policy, and the economy. In the Elizabethan Era, European philosophers considered the world to be a macrocosm hosting millions of individual microcosms: people.

The Poem, 'Help Lord' -- on the surface, the poem is a plea to God to help mankind understand the issue of good and evil; more specifically, why bad things happen to good people. This theme also moves into the nature of humans, and the age-old question of whether or not humans are created "good" in the image of God, or if there are other issues in the universe that draw humans away from God. and, very clear, Bacon wants us to ponder what happens to those individuals who, for whatever reason, turn towards the darkside for aid and comfort.

"Help, Lord, for godly men have took their flight, and left the earth to be in the wicked's den," indicates that Bacon believed that there was some power, some entitity, and some reason that otherwise good people would gyrate towards Satan. Still, "god cut off the lips… to trap the harmless soul… and pierce the tongues, that seek to counterfeit the confidence of truth." In many ways, this harkens back to the Biblical story of Job in which a rather vituprative God tolerates no disobedience or hesitation, but judges humans by their ability to unquestionably serve him.

And yet, there is not the typical Elizabethan religiosity and concurrent faith and belief in the nature of God. Instead, Bacon seems cyncial at best that God can control evil; "In spit of all, their force and wiles can do… the wicked daily do enlarge their bands." Yet, there is a clear allusion to Psalms when Bacon notes: "Like noble gold, which, since it left the mine, Hath seven times passed through the fiery straight," compared to Psalms 12, verses 6 and 7;… [END OF PREVIEW]

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