The result is a portrait of mankind beneath which may be inscribed his characteristic sentence: “It is good to retain sincerity.” So accurate and candid an observer of human life is instinctively disliked by persons of sentimental temperament, and they call Bacon cynical and heartless. Ignoring his realistic intention, they turn, for instance, to the essays on love and on marriage,〖H. C., iii, 21, 26.〗 expecting eloquent praise of what love and marriage may be at the very best; and they are disappointed, perplexed, and sometimes disgusted with what they find. In their haste they exclaim: “What a cold and calculating creature! All he says of the love between husband and wife is ‘Nuptial love maketh mankind!”’ These accusations, which may substantially be found in one of the best known editions of the “Essays,” are as inaccurate as they are typical. Any careful reader, not led astray by the usual misconception of Bacon’s purpose, will observe that the kind of love which he discusses in his essay on that subject is “the wanton love which corrupteth and embaseth,” the condemnation of which should hardly be considered objectionable. As for family life (which, as I have mentioned, he idealizes in “The New Atlantis”), it is true that he dispatches it briefly in the essay on love; but in the essay on marriage he does not estimate it as cynically as we are led to suppose. He points out, to be sure, that, as a matter of sober fact, marriage may interfere with extraordinary public ambition; but he gives it preference over a selfish single life, he scorns those who consider children mere “bills of charges” instead of “dearest pledges,” and he calls matrimony a “discipline of humanity,” that is, a school of kindness or a humane education. To study the comparative merits and defects of many conditions of human life, to mark the extent and the limitations of human faculties, and to do so with even handed justice, is his ruling purpose.

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