Sir Francis Bacon

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Sir Francis Bacon, a 17th century English intellectual, was so prolific and influential that, even if the dubious claims that he was the real Shakespeare are true, penning theatrical masterpieces would have been one of his lesser accomplishments. How he would have found the time between proposing judicial reforms credited with forming the backbone of the Napoleonic Code and modern common law, (possibly) drafting the charters for the Virginia colony, completing enough books and treatises that Wikipedia has assigned them their own page, and establishing methods of induction and parallel philosophical arguments to support them that led to the empiricist movement (and arguably the industrial revolution), while simultaneously running himself into financial ruin by holding civic positions that didn’t pay well enough to cover the bills, is a mystery for the historians.

Bacon’s sexuality is a matter of some debate among scholars, though considerable evidence does exist that points to him being, if not gay, at least fond enough of his young Welsh serving-men to cheat on his wife with them. A fellow member of Parliament quoted the following delightful couplet in his diary, footnote and all:

“‘Within this sty a *hogg doth ly,

That must be hang’d for Sodomy.’

(*alluding both to his sirname of Bacon, & to that swinish abominable sinne.)”

Bacon’s own writing on the subject was markedly less crude: “Although nuptial love maketh mankind, friendly love [between men] perfecteth it.”

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